Bill Brink's Pirates chat transcript: 3.19.14

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Bill Brink: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to this week's Pirates chat. ... Here we go...

Guest: how long of a leash does Volquez have with the likes of Cumpton and others in the minors

Bill Brink: Whatever length of leash $5 million buys. Granted, in today's baseball economy, a one-year, $5 million contract is miniscule for a starting pitcher, even one who had Volquez's 2013 from hell. But he's going to start the season in the rotation, and he'll get at least four or five starts to figure it out.

I think his leash will be similar to that of Jonathan Sanchez; he'll get a month to prove he can do things.

JJ: Hey Bill!! What will the value be for Tabata, Snider or Vin? What could they get in exchange?

Bill Brink: It depends on which Jose Tabata teams are looking at. They could see the cost-controlled outfielder who can play both corners and hit over .300 in August and September last season, the one who came back with renewed vigor after a trip to the minors a while back.

Or they could see the oft-injured corner outfielder without much pop about whom there were questions regarding his hustle in the past.

Snider's value is high this spring after offseason surgery and good Grapefruit League performance, but he hasn't proven it in the majors in a while. Mazzaro's value might be highest on the field, given his work in relief last year, but righty relievers are easier to come by.

I don't think any one by himself will net a large return, but they could bring a backup catcher.

Chris: Why would the desire to get Sanchez at bats in the minors change because the backup catcher went down?

Bill Brink: It wouldn't, which is why I would expect the Pirates to bring in another catcher. Sanchez can play in the majors now, but they would like him to catch five games a week rather than one or two and continue to hone his game.

Guest: Any insight on Tabata, Snider, Mazzaro trade rumors and what they are looking for in return. I would assume a left handed 1B.

Bill Brink: I think the priority right now is a backup catcher, though I'm sure they are still looking at first basemen. But Mitch Moreland and Ike Davis are banged up, Justin Smoak is the starter in Seattle and they aren't giving up a draft pick to sign Kendrys Morales, whom they see as more of a DH than a first baseman every day.

That leaves Adam Lind, who I can't imagine the Blue Jays are thrilled about parting with.

Ermine: Is there any validity to the rumors of a possible Ike Davis for Tabata trade?

Bill Brink: I haven't seen that particular trade reported anywhere, and haven't heard anything regarding it. I think that's a case of people pairing two players reported to be available.

Cobra39: Given Lambo's spring issues and Gaby's knee, what's the liklihood of spinning a reliever or two for a first baseman? Strength for need makes sense, no?

Guest: Chances of them trading for a Left Hitting 1B before opening day ?

Frank the Tank: With spring training winding down over the next week or so, when would you expect to see a move for a 1B or Catcher?

Guest: Would you expect a trade to be for an 1b if tabara gets moved

Bill Brink: These are all similar, so I'll address them together. When I look at the first-base situation across the league, I don't see any immediate fit.

Mitch Moreland: Will spell Prince Fielder at first at times, and is reportedly banged up.
Ike Davis: Banged up.
Justin Smoak: Named the starter in Seattle.
Corey Hart and Logan Morrison: Will DH/play the outfield/have one good knee between the two of them.
Kendrys Morales: Costs a draft pick, first-base defense is shaky.

That leaves Adam Lind, whom the Blue Jays could move because they have Edwin Encarnacion, but I don't think they will unless they're overwhelmed. Lind is the best of the bunch, save Morales, and is under contract for two more years. They also probably want Encarnacion to DH.

The Pirates have a lot of relievers, four of whom are out of options and one must go before opening day. As first base clarifies league-wide maybe we see something come together.

JAL: With the talk of trading Tabata, heard anyone interested in him and hat they might offer

Bill Brink: I personally have not yet heard that any teams have serious interest in him, but I've heard he was available in the past as well. The contract is a friendly one, so the lack of real interest tells me that teams are worried about his production and/or injury history.

PhillyJake: is it only Vin being shopped? Does this mean he's the odd man out? What about Stolmy or Bryan or Jeanmar ?

Bill Brink: Of those, I think Mazzaro is the one the would most like to trade because they can replace him the easiest. Morris has shown something this spring. Maybe this is the year his production matches his stuff. I don't think they'll get much for Jeanmar Gomez and they like Pimentel, so he's not going anywhere for the moment.

Cobra39: Marte over/under 23 homers this year?

Bill Brink: Under ... but his walk rate and on-base percentage increase. He could hit 16-18.

The Great G4: Hearing anything on the backup catcher front?

Bill Brink: Not yet. Miguel Olivo with the Dodgers could be an option, and the Yankees have five catchers on their 40-man roster who are blocked by Brian McCann.

JAL: If Stewart needs surgery do the pirates have anyone who could be a good backup catcher if Martin or Sanchez get inhured

Bill Brink: No. Nevin Ashley, Carlos Paulino and Omir Santos are the next men in line, which is partly why I think they go get someone.

Guest: Seems like the Pirates will need to start trading either MLB players or prospects in the next few years due to log jams. For example, where is Hansen going to play with Walker and Mercer with MLB team? Where is Austin Meadows going to play with Marte, McCutchen, and Polanco in the OF?

Bill Brink: The logjams could start to play out when the players in question are close to reaching the majors. For example, the Rangers trading Mike Olt because Adrian Beltre blocked him. Austin Meadows will start the season in low-A and Hanson still has to improve his defense. Those could become issues, but due to the uncertainty of prospects, I don't think teams generally move incumbents for the sake of prospects.

That changes when the prospect in question is really, really good, which Meadows could be. But not for a few years.

The Masked robshelb: 25th man. Is Martinez being seriously considered ??

Bill Brink: Yes. He's one of the non-roster guys who it looks like could have a shot at the active roster due to his position flexibility. The Pirates could option Josh Harrison to the minors and try Martinez.

ZACK B.: What are the Mets looking for in an Ike Davis trade?

Bill Brink: I don't know, and the reports surrounding that situation are so ever-present, it makes it hard to extract absolutes.

DNY: Why does it seem like the Pirates are going out of their way not to give Cumpton a fair shake at the rotation?

Bill Brink: Because Cumpton has options and will serve as depth in the (likely) event that a Pirates starter is injured and they need a spot start. The Pirates operate with "reversible" moves. If Volquez starts in the rotation and gets hurt or is bad, they can DL/cut him and call up Cumpton. If they start Cumpton in the rotation, they lose depth.

Zach: With the injuries to Medlen and Beachy in Atlanta, along with Corbin in Arizona, things are already looking good in regards to teams who would compete with the Pirates for a Wild Card spot. Do you see these are major developments or will the Santana signing plus the possibility of Archie Bradley sticking in Arizona help those teams plug the holes?

Bill Brink: Both teams also have strong offenses, so I think that will help overcome the pitching injuries. The Braves are in trouble unless one of their internal options pans out, but the D-Backs can compete.

Cobra39: Concerns slowly being alleviated with Wandy?

Bill Brink: Yes, slowly. He continues to look good, and, more importantly, feel good. If he can give the Pirates 180 innings of a 3.50 ERA this year, that would be huge.

APB: Bill -- any chance that the Bucs might consider a trade for the Fort, who looks like he's the odd man out in Colorado?

Walrus43: Chances of Fort McKenry coming back as backup catcher?

Ermine: Is there any chance that they are talking to the Rockies about McKenry, or has that ship sailed?

Bill Brink: I find it unlikely, but not impossible. They probably want someone who provides better defense and can better control the opposing running game.

Guest: Any update on Stewart's injury? Doesn't sound good, but has anything come out regarding surgery or how much time he will miss?

Bill Brink: No update yet. Stewart visited Dr. Andrews yesterday. The fact that the injury didn't appear to come on one play, like a collision or slide, is a good sign; this could be one of those arthroscopic jobs to clean out bone chips or torn cartilage, rather than a reconstruction. But that's all speculation.

The Masked robshelb: If Tabata gets moved, then Chris Dickerson as 4th OF'er until Polanco comes up ?? At a minimum, do you see Dickerson in Indianapolis ?? If so, as a NRI to ST, he has to take someone's spot on the 40 man roster. Any guess(es) as to whom he might replace ??

Bill Brink: They like him, and I could see that happening, but they could also go with Lambo. If he starts in Indy, he can do so without being on the 40-man roster.

Jeff: Do you think Bucs regret not having AJ and Morneau now?

Bill Brink: I don't think they regret anything. They would have liked Burnett's production, but remember, he wasn't the easiest teammate to have or coach. They were never that interested in Morneau.

APB: There have been so many times when the story in spring training is that a player is in the best shape of his life -- that he's lost 20 surplus pounds, that he's put on 15 pounds of solid muscle, etc. We're reading things like that about certain Pirates now. Can you think of an instance where that's actually resulted in substantially better performance once the season actually started?

Bill Brink: Off the top of my head, no, though I'm sure they exist. Baseball players are optimistic by nature, so these types of stories come out every spring.

APB: Will Syracuse get past the second round?

Bill Brink: Yes, but not past Kansas in the Sweet 16, when they should have Embiid back.

pauldurham: Does Daniel Schlerth have a two way contract? Or is it major league roster or cut?

Bill Brink: He is a non-roster invitee, so he has to be added to the 40-man roster to make the majors. He can also be sent to the minors to start the season and does not have to be on the 40-man roster to do that.

JAL: From your limited views in ST, how close is Taillon to being ready for the majors

Bill Brink: Close. The changeup needs polishing, as does his control of the running game and to a lesser extend his curveball. But nothing he can't work through in a few months in Indy.

Bill Brink: Gotta get on the road to Fort Myers. Lightning round. Go.

Ermine: Are they looking for a backup for Martin, or a guy to catch at AAA? In other words is having Tony in Pittsburgh, their worst case scenario, from managements view point.

Bill Brink: If they follow the precedent from the Stewart trade, they're looking for a backup to Martin so Sanchez can play every day in Indy.

Tuk: Is Andrew Oliver a DFA candidate?

Bill Brink: Yes. Out of options now.

PhillyJake: Is Lambo still going to be in the Majors on June 1?

Bill Brink: That's assuming he starts the season in the majors, which is no guarantee the way he's hit this spring.

Ermine: If Lambo doesn't come north, who plays first?

Bill Brink: Sanchez, every day.

PhillyJake: I think NH and CH are committed to Lambo to start the season, barring a trade. Agreed?

Bill Brink: I thought so, but his spring numbers give me pause. Spring training stats don't count, but when they are drastically good or bad you have to pay a little attention.

JAL: Number 2 or number 5 hitter biggest void in the lineup

Bill Brink: I think they're both fine when Walker is hitting left-handed. Against lefties, it's a different story.

Bill Brink: That's it for today, thanks for the great questions. Check the blog this afternoon for lineups and updates before tonight's game in Fort Myers against the Red Sox.

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