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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Maholm snub a lousy start

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> The Pirates told Paul Maholm that his $9.75 million option for 2010 will not be picked up, in news broken by our Rob Biertempfel yesterday.

This is a lousy way for the team to start the offseason.

Don’t misunderstand: I think it’s going to prove to be a great development for Maholm. He gets to test the open market, and we’ve seen in recent years that he’ll make his cash many times over. Starters are the second-hottest commodity in the industry, right behind durable starters.

From the Pirates’ angle, though, I don’t get this. Management went out on the open market last winter and made what they described as a competitive offer for another free agent, Jorge De La Rosa, who ended up getting a guaranteed $21.5 million over the first two seasons, plus two club options for additional money. (De La Rosa got hurt right away, but that’s neither here nor there.)

That’s the price. It involves not only money but also term. It’s multiple years. And the reason that many teams, including the Pirates don’t like that price, is that they — rightly — don’t feel it’s worth the risk to give a starter multiple years, only to see him hurt.

Well, with Maholm, they had him locked in for one year. That’s it. And they would have had a solid pitcher, a good guy and, on top of all that, a highly motivated athlete going into a free-agent year.

If you can think of a more compelling explanation for this than the Pirates being cheap, I’m all ears. I know that’s the easy route here, but I’d rather scratch off the rest first.

>> The Pirates signed a multiyear radio rights deal with The Fan, a.k.a. KDKA-FM, a move that’s been in the works for months. The team wanted to be in all-sports environment as opposed to the mostly political programming that was on NewsTalk 104.7. Not that much more to it, though I heard money had become something of an issue in the closing weeks.

Not to be caustic, but most of the radio I hear is music on XM. My life will remain the same.

>> Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin, the Penguins and Capitals, will be side by side on the issue of the Lokomotiv tragedy tonight at the arena.

Columnist Joe Starkey offers his perspective.

>> Ben Roethlisberger, on Rashard Mendenhall: “If Rashard stays patient, he’ll get his time.”

Translation: “I really liked those other guys.”

This is great. I’ll repeat that I’m a believer in Mendenhall’s talent, but I’m all too happy to go with want-to when a team isn’t going well. I saw lots of want-to in Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer on Sunday, and it would be nuts to take the ball from them.

So, why is it that Mendenhall looks set to start?

>> Our weekly chat will take place at the usual time, noon today.

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