Bill Brink's Pirates chat transcript: 04.15.14



Good morning and welcome to this week's Pirates chat from snowy Cincinnati. We'll start at noon, but you can submit questions now.

 

12:01
  Bill Brink: Thanks for the questions, and keep them coming. Here we go ...

 

12:01
 
Comment From Mitts Joey 
Travis Snider -- turning a corner, or just a hot start?

 

12:01
 
Comment From James_Pittsburgh 
Do you see Travis Snider continuing to hit?

 

12:03
  Bill Brink: I think he's turning a bit of a corner. He's always been able to hit, but injuries have hampered him, to his wrists in Toronto and his left big toe with the Pirates. Now that the toe, which bothered him for more than a year, is surgically repaired, I think he can take a swing like he wants to rather than adapting to manage pain.

The opposite-field home run last night was a good example. He's also gotten himself in better shape. He did have a hot start last year, so it's good to be skeptical early, but I think he has improved.

 

12:03
 
Comment From Jim in VT 
Has managemtn expressed any concern about the lack of production at SS this year?

 

12:04
  Bill Brink: They haven't, and they understand that it's early yet. They surely understand that short is an area of weakness offensively, hence their reported interest in Diamondbacks SS Didi Gregorius, but I don't think they're overly concerned about it.

 

12:04
 
Comment From Brett 
Bill do you see any way that Wandy can get better after 3 bad outings?

 

12:07
  Bill Brink: Yes. He needs to make fewer mistakes (throwing an 0-2 fastball right down the pipe at Great American Ball Park is no way to go through life) but eventually, teams will miss. Edinson Volquez threw six or seven fastballs up and over the plate in his first start, which went so well for him, but the Cubs missed them. The Brewers and Reds haven't missed Rodriguez's mistakes. He needs to keep the ball down, but teams won't crush every cookie fastball the entire season.

 

12:07
 
Comment From JAL 
Should we be concerned that the pirates are scoring almost exclusively on home runs?

 

12:08
  Bill Brink: No. They don't try to hit home runs. Hitting a home run, for all but the best hitters, is taking advantage of a mistake. The pitches were there last night, so they hit them. They're usually looking for solid contact up the middle or a situational plate appearance.

 

12:08
 
Comment From Jim in VT 
If an SP is needed for an extended period, who would the likely callup be?

 

12:08
  Bill Brink: Jeff Locke or Brandon Cumpton, with Locke probably first out of the gate.

 

12:09
 
Comment From James_Pittsburgh 
How much of a leash does Wandy Rodriguez have? How long until we see Jeff Locke?

 

12:09
  Bill Brink: He has a long, long leash because he has a long, long track record. He's a better pitcher than he has shown and the Pirates will wait for that pitcher to emerge.

 

12:10
 
Comment From James_Pittsburgh 
I know it is only something fans have talked about, but is Travis Snider the Pirates first baseman next year. (Sending him to winter ball to learn to play first this year.)

 

12:12
  Bill Brink: It is something only fans have talked about. In 755 career games across nine seasons in the minors and majors, Snider has never appeared at first base. I'll never say never with the Pirates, but this is as close to never as you can get. He's an outfielder.

 

12:12
 
Comment From Brady 
(I forgot my name). What are rules for resuming a suspended game? Can they put in pitchers who have already pitched? Can they change batting order/lineup etc.?

 

12:15
  Bill Brink: The game picks up right where it left off. Snider due up to lead off the seventh, same infield. They cannot use pitchers or players who have already entered the game when it first began. Hurdle and Price can use Morris and Hoover, if they choose, because they were in the game when it was suspended.

 

12:15
 
Comment From Alan 
Should we be concerned that hitting seems to be doing better than pitching

 

12:15
  Bill Brink: Not yet. Liriano and Rodriguez are better than they have shown thus far and both should move closer to their performance from last season as the year unfolds.

 

12:15
 
Comment From JAL 
Your notebook today said Pirates are pushing Stewart's rehab, does that mean they thinks Sanchez will be better off catching regularly in Indy

 

12:16
  Bill Brink: Yes. They want Sanchez to catch every day so he can continue to work on his defense and throwing, in addition to getting regular at-bats.

 

12:17
  Bill Brink: If you have a question, send it on in, I'm plumb out.

 

12:17
 
Comment From Guest 
Still wondering if they are looking to trade for 1st baseman?

 

12:18
  Bill Brink: While I'm sure they are keeping an eye on first basemen around the league, I doubt there are active discussions going on. Teams rarely make trades in April and May while they see what type of roster they have, injuries (both to their team and in the division), etc.

 

12:18
 
Comment From JAL 
From you view was Fraziers double in the 4th fair or foul

 

12:20
  Bill Brink: Looked fair to me from the replays on Fox Sports Ohio in the press box, but we didn't have the down-the-line view. MLB director of umpires Randy Marsh was in the press box last night, and while chatting with him, he said the umps in NYC might have a better camera angle.

 

12:20
 
Comment From Zack B 
Do you think they will look hard at Stephen Drew after the draft?

 

12:21
  Bill Brink: I doubt Drew is available by then, but if he is and Mercer isn't hitting, then yes.

 

12:21
 
Comment From Alan 
are there any prospects beside Polanco you expect to see up this season

 

12:22
  Bill Brink: None of the top 10 with the possible exception of Nick Kingham, though I think 2015 is a more realistic arrival time for him. He doesn't have much experience in double-A yet.

 

12:22
 
Comment From Jim in VT 
How nasty will weather there be today

 

12:22
  Bill Brink: There was snow everywhere this morning but it's melting. It's supposed to snow/rain/sleet all day and be cold. So, nasty.

 

12:22
 
Comment From Guest 
I've mentioned this before and wanted to see if you have changed your opinion yet. Everyone complained about 1st base and right field, however the Pirates have a legitimate solution with players they can platoon. My contention is shortstop continues to plague this organization. Jordy Mercer is an average (at best) fielding shortstop who struggles against right handed pitching which dominates our division. Barmes is good fielding shortstop who can't hit whatsoever. Is this not a problem with really no foreseeable solution?

 

12:25
  Bill Brink: In the short term, no foreseeable solution. They can hope Mercer improves against righties with more consistent at-bats and continue to work with him on his defense, and I do think consistent major league playing time will help.

Barring that, no. Alen Hanson is the next shortstop coming through the system and he has major fielding issues of his own. Trading for one would help, but good young shortstops are so hard to find that teams don't want to part with them. When the Brewers traded for Jean Segura, they had to part with Zack Greinke.

 

12:25
 
Comment From James_Pittsburgh 
Bill, I think it is a little bit of wishful thinking that Liriano is better than he has pitched this year. His career ERA is 4.18. His ERA for 2014 is 4.00.

 

12:25
  Bill Brink: His 2014 ERA is through three starts. He's a different pitcher than he was before, both in 2006 and '10 when he was good and '11-'12 when he wasn't.

 

12:26
 
Comment From JAL 
Every time the pirates get shutdown by a pitchers the call grows to bring up Polanco. Realistically, how much difference can one position player make?

 

12:27
  Bill Brink: One position player can make a big difference if that position player is Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera. But even a small uptick in offense can make a difference. What gets lost is that Polanco might not come up and destroy major league pitching the way he is in a small sample size in Indy right now.

 

12:27
 
Comment From Guest 
Who's the odd man out when Palanco arrives. I see them moving odd man for 1st baseman. How about a Tabata/Mazzaro for one of Mitch Moreland/Mike Carp/Ike Davis

 

12:28
  Bill Brink: This one has me puzzled. I think they would like to keep Snider, but no one seems to want Jose Tabata. But losing Tabata would remove a right-handed bat from the bench. But it's not much of a bat to lose. There's no cookie-cutter solution.

 

12:28
 
Comment From Guest 
I am surprised at how patient Alvarez has been this year. Even though his numbers don't quite support this, he seems to have a much better approach at the plate this year. Thoughts

 

12:29
  Bill Brink: He looks on time for almost every pitch, and that helps him do two things: Square the ball up, and lay off if it's out of the zone. He looks much more comfortable in the box.

 

12:29
 
Comment From Guest 
Is Root Sports starting coverage for 5:30 resume time?

 

12:29
  Bill Brink: Yes.

 

12:29
 
Comment From Guest 
Marte is striking out at an alarming rate. In your estimation is plate discipline something your can teach?

 

12:29
  Bill Brink: You can teach plate discipline to a degree. Marte will never be Joey Votto, but the coaching staff can show him film of at-bats and pitches where he shouldn't have swung and help him refine his eye at the plate. The more experience he gets, the better his eye will become.

 

12:31
 
Comment From James_Pittsburgh 
Why all the love for Stephen Drew? He hit .223 .309 .348 .657 in 2012 and is 31. Hard to know whether true will hit like he did in 2013 or revert back to his performance in 2011 and 2012.

 

12:32
  Bill Brink: All the love for Stephen Drew because he's a free agent at a position where the Pirates are weak offensively. That doesn't make him a good fit, but it gets attention.

 

12:32
 
Comment From Alan 
Do you think the weather (humidity) had an affect on HR's yesterday or was it just bad pitching?

 

12:33
  Bill Brink: Humidity definitely had an effect. Balls fly here regardless, but humid air helps some pop-ups, like Walker's and Marte's get out. Walker's second one, that is.

 

12:33
 
Comment From Guest 
How's Lambo looking at Indy thus far?

 

12:34
  Bill Brink: He's done well, more walks than strikeouts and a good slash line. Only nine games in, but a positive sign.

 

12:34
 
Comment From Fla Buc 
Polanco could provide protection behind Alvarez & in front of Walker?

 

12:35
  Bill Brink: I think he'll bounce around in the order a bit before settling into the No. 2 spot. They might not want to start him there to take the pressure off, but his combination of power, average and speed would play well there.

I'm aware of the sabermetric argument that McCutchen should bat second and don't disagree but in a realistic sense of what Hurdle will do, I think Polanco would end up there.

 

12:36
 
Comment From JAL 
Won't the offense look a lot better when Cutch starts hitting? .239 BA well below what is expected.

 

12:36
  Bill Brink: That will certainly help drive things, yes.

 

12:36
 
Comment From Guest 
I absolutely love this pitching staff from top to bottom. I may disagree with the order of the bullpen but is there a better staff in baseball.

 

12:37
  Bill Brink: The Cardinals, Tigers and Nats all have great staffs, and the Brewers are pitching incredibly well right now.

 

12:38
 
Comment From Cannon Ball Comin 
Bill give me a dark horse in the NL to watch out for this year...Is this the year of the Diamondbacks that could give teams a run for one of those wildcard spots?

 

12:38
  Bill Brink: I'll say the Giants. They're not far removed from winning a World Series and though their pitching has taken a step back they're still really good.

 

12:38
  Bill Brink: Lightning round time. Go.

 

12:42
 
Comment From Raise it! 
Miller Park or Great American Ballpark for best hitters ballpark?

 

12:43
  Bill Brink: Based on the numbers last year, it was Great American for homers, Miller Park for runs.

 

12:43
 
Comment From Ground Chuck 
Who gets to the allstar break with the lowest ERA out of the current starters?

 

12:43
  Bill Brink: Liriano.

 

12:43
 
Comment From Steal-City 
Billy Hammilton or Edgar Bonifacio for the fastest man in baseball?

 

12:43
  Bill Brink: Hamilton.

 

12:43
 
Comment From JAL 
Snowball fight or build snowman?

 

12:43
  Bill Brink: Fight. For sure.

 

12:43
 
Comment From Mitts Joey 
Assessment of Volquez thus far? Did they find another bargain?

 

12:44
  Bill Brink: The control has been good and that's the biggest thing. If that stays true, yes, they did.

 

12:44
  That's it for today, thanks for the great questions. The transcript of this chat will be posted later today if you missed any of it

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