by Mike Z
First off, I want to say that not only was Dejan by far the best beat writer in Pittsburgh, I really feel he could be considered one of top beat writers in the country. While here and there, his opinion may have shown in some of his articles, I feel like he did a fantastic job in obtaining info, and re-checking it to give detailed, objective information while doing research on topics that were very relevant to the Pirates' situation. It was obvious that he worked so hard at his craft not only because he loved his job, but also he loved his hometown, and wanted to do his best for it.
This year, his job description changed from beat writer, to blogging all of the Pittsburgh teams via the Post-Gazette website. I was really disappointed he was leaving the Pirates beat, but decided in the end this wouldn't be a terrible move. First off, this was by his choice and he would be able to be around his family more (which he stated multiple times was a huge perk), and that he first was on the Penguins beat, so he should be well-informed and offer some interesting opinions. At the worst, he is still a fantastic writer and I loved his stuff on the PG's PBC Blog, so I thought I would enjoy this change. Man was I wrong.
The more and more I read of his, the more I just can't stand it. What set me off for this post is a tweet he sent off today in response to Tony Sanchez taking down his Twitter account, even though Kyle Stark indicated the Pirates have no restrictions on the Pirates using social media. His tweet:
"Bottom line: Every second anyone with #Pirates wasted on @TSanchez26 tweets was time they could have been finding/developing a shortstop."
Seriously how does this have ANYTHING to do with player scouting and development? Regardless of what you feel about twitter, I'm fairly positive it's not going to cause organizations to lose track of all levels of their minor league. Now is it a fair criticism that the Pirates needed to address this but didn't? Absolutely, but this is a ridiculous association to make. He's carried this on ever since they missed out on trading for J.J. Hardy. Taking a shot is fine, but mentioning it constantly since December is not necessary.
Blasting the front office about Sanchez taking his account down is also ridiculous because the Pirates did say there is no restriction. In another instance foregoing fact-checking, he had a post blasting the Pirates for trading Jose Bautista, stating '"The Bautista who hit 15 HR with .360 OBP, good eye, multiple positions in field was good enough to keep over third-string catcher." The thing with this is, and I'm assuming he's talking about 2007 (the only year he hit 15 HR), Jose Bautista's OBP was the highest it was with the Pirates, and that was only .339, and was barely considered better than a AAA player according to WAR. (Sidebar: if there's enough interest in Bautista, I'll do a post analyzing whether it was an acceptable move at the time for the Pirates to cut bait)
Not only did he fabricate stats, but he's using hindsight to judge a personnel move using Bautista's current value, when his value at the time basically was a third-string catcher. He also did the same thing belaboring the loss of Nate Adcock in the rule 5 draft. If you have time, Dejan had a fantastic Twitter fight with Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects about this, so I won't go into it. Bringing all this together, it's simply more and more examples of Dejan (and I didn't touch his thoughts on the Garrett Jones/Matt Diaz platoon, Ryan Doumit, PR issues. etc...) sounding less and less like the great writer I enjoyed and more and more like the other PG blogger I despise.
I'm hoping a lot of this starts to change, but I'm not holding my breath. Kovacevic is doing what he wants now, which is great, but unfortunately I don't think it will ever come close to his beat writing. For a guy who recently whined about "basement run blogs", he's still got a lot to learn, and I'm not too sure I'll be reading him long enough to find out if he changes the professionalism of his blog for the better.