Colin Dunlap's Pirates chat transcript: 2.10.11

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Colin Dunlap: OK, have about an hour with you folks today --- what you say we get going.

Tim: Any feel of where Sanchez will begin this year, and is he still on the fast track to the majors after his failed attempt to win a head butting contest with a fastball last year?

Colin Dunlap: Bad attempt at humor with the headbutting part. Tony is a good guy, as nice a young man as I have met in this organization and the scary injury that happened to him isn't a whole lot to joke about -- kid got popped really good. To the serious portion of your question, I'd think he'd be in Altoona. When I caught up with him at minicamp, those were his thoughts/wishes. He seemed to think that his performance in the Florida State League would merit such a move.

Polka: Anyone calling on Doumit? No way can he be happy with his current role.

Colin Dunlap: There have been feelers, both ways. I remember Neal Huntington quoted (I think it was in a Hot Stove piece) about "the right fit" for Doumit. And Neal went on to say that "right fit" could be some different roles in Pittsburgh or, perhaps, in another city. Logic yields that Doumit is being shopped. I would say there is a good chance other teams want to see him in Spring Training; want to see him healthy and in-person and then might be a bit more aggressive with a play for him. I said it before, though: I really wonder how much the head-injury stuff is holding some teams back.

JAL: Not sure this question went through earlier so resending----It appears that 4 OF spots, 4 infield spots, and starting catcher are locked in. That leaves 5 position slots open. Assuming he is not traded, Doumit will take one of those spots. Any thoughts on whether Doumit is likely be the backup catcher, leaving 4 spots open or will they keep Jaramillo as backup catcher and Doumit as general backup, leaving 3 spots open for competition.

Colin Dunlap: Good question, JAL -- and I have one for you: Don't you have some morning links you should be working on? Get back to work! Just kidding. As to your question, Clint Hurdle said on that stage at PirateFest that it is a possibility the club could keep Snyder, JJ and Doumit. If that were to happen, I could see Doumit playing a few different positions. I have a feeling though, it would be out of the ordinary, and a bit of a longshot, to see all three of those guys come North with the club.

Joe: Any sense of a Clint Hurdle/Michael Young connection that may result in Young playing ss for the Bucs?

Colin Dunlap: Don't see it happening.

Money for Nutting: BTW, congrats on the new twins! Love the names.

Colin Dunlap: Thanks. I am actually doing this chat from the lobby of Magee-Womens Hospital, as the kids -- and my wife -- will be in here for a few days yet.

As for the names, the wife vetoed Punch and Judy, so we were left with what we got --- Darran for the female, Declan for the male.

CBA: How does a 1-11 Pitcher make $2MM a year?

Colin Dunlap: Because the arbitrators are people who don't only look at records --- and rightly so. Someone posted this on the blog this morning: Going through ROs outtings last year, we find this:

4 innings, 1ER, LOSS

6 innings, 3ER, LOSS

7 innings, 2ER, LOSS

6 innings, 1ER, LOSS

5 innings, 3ER, LOSS

8 innings, 3ER, LOSS

JosePagan: Is it out of the realm of possibility that Doumit could be DFA'd? As you noted, concussions are a concern especially at catcher. He does not have an extensive resume in the OF. It seems the FO is really in a corner here as far as determining trade "value." Thoughts?

Colin Dunlap: I think a team would jump before it came to him being DFA'd, I really do. I get the feeling from talking to some people that clubs just want to see him in the flesh in Grapefruit League play.

Polka: Who are your 4 bench guys as of today? 4 because of the Diaz/Jones platoon. Mine are Atkins, Rodriguez, Doumit and Fields.

Colin Dunlap: I like those four. If Doumit gets moved, replace him w/ Wimberly. I can't tell you enough how much this Wimberly intrigues me. Intrigues the heck out of me...can play everywhere and can run like heck.

Steve: Do you think anybody in the realm of professional baseball, including the Pirates front office, believes the Pirates are going to challenge for a playoff spot or end their streak of losing seasons? Also, keep hearing the Pirates are going to spend money, yet it rarely happens. When do they plan to start spending some money on players for the big league club?

Colin Dunlap: I honestly think Clint Hurdle thinks any team he manages can beat the other team 100-0 and make the World Series; that's a good thing. Also, go back and read the Lyle Overbay piece I wrote just after minicamp ... it takes two to dance. Many players don't want to play in Pittsburgh right now -- no matter the money offered.

Mike: Who was it that decided that one-game winner Ross Ohlendorf deserved a $1.6 million raise?

Colin Dunlap: The same three-man panel that thoroughly sifted through all the numbers, not just his W/L record.

Polka: Any chance Danny Moskos breaks camp with the Pirates? That 2nd lefty out of the pen sure would be nice, and I'm sure the fans would like to see what the guy we passed on Wieters for is all about.

Colin Dunlap: There is a chance, but it would seem the Beimel signing might have really reduced those chances. I spoke to Danny at minicamp -- believe me, he wants to help this organization, and do it at the big league level. Also, he fully understands, and love the fact, that he's a late-inning guy. Loves the reliever role.

JAL: Place your bet on the 5th starter--Olsen, Lincoln, Morton, or the field.

Colin Dunlap: Olsen ... and in a surprise move, Morton to bullpen.

Nick: A lot of people do not like Lyle Overbay playing first base. While he's not the player he was a couple years, I still see him as a professional that can provide great defense. Why are people so down on the signing?

Colin Dunlap: Go look up his fielding percentage. Tremendous defensively for about a decade. And he's a professional hitter. While this isn't like signing a perennial all-star over there, people should give this guy a chance before they are so down on him. Plus, I'm telling you, he is the kind of vet they need to guide the younger clubhouse.

Nick: Do you have a sense as to how good our minor league pitching prospects really are (Owens, Morris, Von Rosenberg, Cain). And is it a realistic possibility to see them in the majors this year?

Colin Dunlap: Morris and Owens could be there are some point, sure. But I think it would take them leapfrogging some people who are favorites or -- and this would be devastating to the Pirates -- some injuries to starters.

JosePagan: Morton to the pen? Short-term confidence-building move or his destiny?

Colin Dunlap: Who knows, just a guess on my part -- purely speculation. Perhaps something to boost his confidence. It could work, it really could.

Guest: oops 2 questions-- 1. How does a MLB organization justify going through the entire Arbitration process with a guy who has the Best ERA among your starters and is ostensibly your number one pitcher over only 600,000. IN MLB money that is like monoploy money. Why upset the player and show your hand for nothing? Second question-- HOW do I stop getting bubblegum ads in the middle of my typing?

Colin Dunlap: 1. The club took their chances. Each side is granted that right. That is why there is arbitration. It happens. It is a calculated risk.

2. Does the bubblegum have that chalky, white powder on it like the gum they used to put in packs of baseball cards?

JosePagan: Hmmm. But if Morton's head is not in the game as a starter, when he has multiple days to prepare, how will he react to a sudden phone call?

Colin Dunlap: Sometimes great 3 point shooters (on the fly, with no thinking) are terrible free throw shooters (when they have a long time to stand there and think about it).

Mike: Big congrats on the twins. Prays for health and happiness to you and your family. OK, John Russell often appeared to lack passion. Or at least in public. What should we expect from Clint Hurdle's on the field and in the dugout?

Colin Dunlap: The opposite.

Polka: Any updates on Craig Hanson, Kevin Hart, Donnie Veal, Tyler Yates?

Colin Dunlap: I saw Hart and Yates throw a bullpen at minicamp. Both looked OK, as expected. I spoke to Hart afterward and he seemed to think he was going to progress through spring and be on track to do some things this year. It would seem Yates is on the same track. To be perfectly honest, because I just grabbed this beat, and my schedule has been nuts, I have yet to talk to Hanson and/or Veal.

Bill: Our GM stated that he would rank our under 25 (year old) players with just about any other major league team's under 25 players.

Do you think that is an accurate statement? And, should this give us hope?

Colin Dunlap: Seems pretty accurate. You look at most World Series winners, and I would venture a guess, though, that not all 25 guys on those rosters are 25 or younger. You need that group of vets mixed in. Neal knows that, he understands as much -- he is fully aware of the mix it takes. I think he was just making a point about the younger talent clump; and I think many in baseball would agree that grouping is very good.

Nick: I read that Tabata put on a lot of muscle in the offseason. Can you verify this and do you think this will help his power numbers?

Colin Dunlap: Can absolutely, positively, without the shadow of a doubt verify this. I was in Bradenton about a month ago. He was doing some conditioning drills and the young man stood out --- by far. His upper body is different, scuptled differently now. By the way, Evan Meek looks very in-shape too.

But, yes, Tabata is the one who jumped out.

Manny: Not only did Tabata put on some muscle, but Pedro put on some pounds.

Have you seen him Lately? Our GM said that he is slightly over the weight they wanted, but not by much.

Others have stated that he gained a lot of weight.

Colin Dunlap: Have not spoken to Pedro, and we have all seen the comments from the front office. I did, however speak to two players who have seen Pedro recently. Both said the same thing, and I am paraphrasing here: "There is no story here. He looks fine." So, that's all I got on it. Seems to me, if it is next month at this time and Pedro Alvarez is out of shape, there's a story, but from what I've gathered, there's not much to it.

Polka: Do you do fantasy baseball? Strategy for this year?

Colin Dunlap: I don't play fantasy anything. My advice on your strategy? Save the money you'd spend on that endeavor, buy a ticket on Southwest Airlines, get a room at Paris or Bellagio for a few days and lay cash on the real thing -- or just play some roulette or Pai-Gow. You'd have a lot more fun.

Drew: Colin - Have you had much of a chance yet to spend quality time with Huntington, Stark and others of the brain trust? If so, what was your impression from initial in depth exposure?

Colin Dunlap: I have a working relationship with those two men you mentioned and Frank Coonelly and Clint Hurdle. I've had to ask all of them questions so far on things --- all have provided honest, in-depth answers. That is something very much appreciated by a baseball beat reporter, and not something that is taken for granted.

MountaineerBucco: Who is most likely to have a breakout season this year in regards to positional players on the 40 man roster?

Colin Dunlap: Don't know if it would be considered "breakout," but I really think Jose Tabata might have the best season, comparatively, of anyone in a Pirates uniform.

Wayne: Who is the default # 1 starter? Mahom?

Colin Dunlap: He or McDonald. Correia will make a push.

Nick: Everyone in America is penciling Anthony Rendon in at 3rd base in 3 years when we haven't even drafter him yet. Can we count on the Pirates drafting and signing Rendon, no questions asked?

Colin Dunlap: Doing it "no questions asked" would be silly...even you'd admit to that. If he is the best guy -- as many indications point to right now -- they will take him. But, you have to let this organization do its diligence in checking him out. Remember, there is that new bat being introduced to the college game this year, I am certain they want to see that in his hands.

znc1: Who needs to impress the most in Spring Training this year to either: A. secure a roster spot and his future or B. maintain a starting position somewhere?

Colin Dunlap: Steve Pearce.

Nick: Have you talked to Clint Hurdle recently? In his intial press conferences it was hard for him to formulate any opinion about this year. Now that he has time to work with the team does he show any type of buzz or confidence?

Colin Dunlap: Yes. Go back and read the stuff from PirateFest when you get a couple minutes. It is all archived on the Post-Gazette site. Hurdle had the crowd hanging on every word. Now, even Clint would admit -- and has -- that words are one thing and actions are another, but he has secured a captive audience by the things he has said before this season has started. That is all he can really do at this point.

WeSTILL STINK: Wow...great....a couple young guys put on weight. WHO CARES....THEY CANT HIT and if they can WE WOULD JUST TRADE THEM

Colin Dunlap: Isn't that BETTER than a COUPLE young guys losing WEIGHT AND not being able to do ANYTHING? Just pointing OUT THAT a few guys got in the WEIGHT ROOM during the off-season.

Colin Dunlap: Got time for a few more, folks -- been a great session.

Colin Dunlap: Oh, and by the way, just so you know, these chats move on to PG-Plus when we get them going on a regular basis. Yet another reason to part ways with just a couple of bucks a month for that subscription.

James: Darn sitting her reading your answers I really want to be hopeful, but it comes back to a system that doesn't allow for success other then perhaps lightening in a bottle variety for small market teams. Maybe if you have the "best management team in baseball" you could sustain it for a while like the Twins. But that is a big maybe. That said give me a reason that the Pirates could at least get to .500 baseball? I can put my 79 Pirates hat on my son and be happy again.

Colin Dunlap: 1. Hurdle.

2. Scott Olsen is a tremendous wild card.

Drew: And now for something Important: What does Cutch have to do to start a Cutch Wig Craze in PNC Park?

Colin Dunlap: Hmmmmmm. Interesting. Never thought of that. That one, most definitely, would work. Start a trend, Drew --- don't be afraid.

Nick: Obviously you know a lot about the Pirates. How do you defend the team when fans who aren't really baseball fans just unconditionally criticize everything and never give any type of kudos.

Colin Dunlap: Not my job to defend them or not defend them --- the function of what I do is to simply be the vehicle of truth.

As for the "unconditionally criticizing" part, there is a quotient of 'everyone loves a winner' and, quite simply, they haven't won. That is a big part of it.

Colin Dunlap: OK, one more.

sms: Will we be looking for any upgrades at SS still

Colin Dunlap: Neal Huntington has said, if you pull out the 5 months of the season that Ronny Cedeno played well, and use them, they were very pleased. But there were stumbles, big ones -- and Neal admitted that. He also said they looked around, were "close" on some guys and, when everything was taken into consideration, like Cedeno right now. That is where it looks like it will be right now.

Colin Dunlap: OK folks, very well.

Thanks a million for the chat.

By the way, we will be covering the Pirates reporting to Bradenton starting Sunday, although I will be reporting a bit later in the week due to the early arrival of these twins.

We will have a reporter there, though for all of spring training.

Again, thanks for the chat and, remember, grab a PG-Plus subscription.


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