Bill Brink's Pirates chat transcript: 04.17.14

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Bill Brink: Thanks for the questions, and keep them coming. Here we go...
 
12:05
 
Comment From Guest 
Any concern with Jeanmar Gomez? He has looked very hittable of late. How long is his leash with Mazzaro at Indy?

 

12:07
 
Bill Brink: 
Mazzaro isn't a threat to Gomez because Gomez is a long guy who can also start. The base runners have been an issue, which means his sinker isn't working just yet. If he can get that pitch down he'll be fine. He has a fairly long leash, though he won't be used in leverage situations.

 

12:07
 
Comment From Strikes Joey 
No way Milwaukee is even close to this good, and they will fall back to earth. Right?

 

12:08
 
Bill Brink: 
The pitching wont be this good for the whole season. I do think Lohse will be better, what with having a full spring to prepare unlike last year, and health should help Gallardo and Garza. The offense hinges on Ryan Braun's thumb. If he manages the nerve injury, they could be really good. If he needs season-ending surgery, not so much.

 

12:08
 
Comment From James_Pittsburgh 
Bill, with the Pirates spending almost all of April playing teams within the division, do you think this plays well for them down the road? A 7-8 start isn't the greatest but it gives them a chance to really see what their strengths and weaknesses are early on when it comes to the teams they'll play most...your thoughts?

 

12:09
 
Bill Brink: 
I don't think who they play early in the season matters much, either to them or to the front office evaluating strengths and weaknesses. That's just how the schedule plays out this year. The strengths and weaknesses will show up regardless of their opponent.

 

12:09
 
Comment From Chuckles 
Afternoon Bill, Any early word on the Tabata injury?

 

12:09
 
Bill Brink: 
No. We won't know anything about Tabata until we get into the clubhouse at 3:15 today.

 

12:09
 
Comment From Brauns Lawn 
Now that the Cardinals have seemed to tame the Brewer bats, do you see that continuing this weekend when the Brewers visit the pitcher-friendly PNC Park?

 

12:11
 
Bill Brink: 
The Cardinals tamed the Brewer bats because they have a very good pitching staff. It was impressive what they did in limiting the Brewers in Miller Park, which is a hitter's park. The Brewers will be confident against a Pirates pitching staff they just did well against.

 

12:12
 
Comment From Cheese-Heads 
Will Grilli get a chance to close the game Friday night when the promotion is a free cheese t-shirt? Morton vs Lohse Friday...seems promising

 

12:12
 
Bill Brink: 
No way to tell. Depends on the game situation Friday night.

 

12:12
 
Comment From Strikes Joey 
I've seen some praise for Pedro for his improved approach at the plate this year. But the average is still in the dumps. Has he really improved or just wishful thinking?

 

12:13
 
Bill Brink: 
He has improved, not drastically so but in a meaningful way. Average is a poor indicator of hitting ability, especially after 15 games. He is on time for pitches, seeing off-speed stuff better and swinging less at down-and-away pitches. He's never going to hit .300, but the average will rise as the season progresses and he could hit .250.

 

12:14
 
Comment From JAL 
If Tabata goes on the 7 day who is most likely to be brought up to replace him?

 

12:16
 
Bill Brink: 
Jaff Decker or Andrew Lambo.

And I'll get this out of the way as well: Gregory Polanco won't come up to replace Jose Tabata if Tabata goes on the DL, no matter how well Polanco is hitting. Tabata is a bench guy, not and everyday player, and the Pirates believe Polanco is better served playing every day in triple-A instead of playing sparingly in the majors. Plus the Super 2 deadline has not yet passed.

 

12:17
 
Comment From James_Pittsburgh 
Give me a must see game at PNC park this season, what team are you most looking forward to seeing this year?

 

12:17
 
Bill Brink: 
Aug. 5-7, when the Marlins are in town. I'm hoping Jose Fernandez starts one of those games. Kid is pure filth.

 

12:17
 
Comment From Chuckles 
Bill I heard a lot of talk in a previous game (I think it was Tuesday night) that having Sanchez at first opens up a left handed bat on the bench. Are we likely to see Hurdle keep at least Ishikawa or Snider on the bench during each game? Seems to me that a left handed bat is important, but there are also 5-6 innings before needing to think about pinch hitting anyone.

 

12:19
 
Bill Brink: 
Hurdle has started Snider and Ishikawa at the same time often this season. The six or seven combined plate appearances they will get before pinch-hitting becomes an issue are more important than the possible one plate appearance late.

 

12:19
 
Comment From Strikes Joey 
This may have already been covered, but was Taillon's need for Tommy John surgury urgent, or was it more of a pre-emptive move that we've seen some guys do recently? And if it was the latter, what do you think of it?

 

12:22
 
Bill Brink: 
Taillon's ulnar collateral ligament was technically intact, but it was "compromised," the team said. What I gather from talking to Neal Huntington about this was that though it might be intact now, it wouldn't be for long if he continued to pitch, plus he would not be as effective. Better to do surgery now and start from scratch.

The idea of pre-emptive Tommy John surgery is one of the things often misunderstood about the procedure. I've spoken to surgeons who told me that parents had requested TJ for their kids because they hear it makes players throw harder and "gets it out of the way."

What makes players throw harder is A) the healthy elbow ligament, rather than a frayed one, and B) the year-long rehab process whereby players strengthen imbalances in the rest of their body and improve their mechanics.

 

12:22
 
Comment From JAL 
Your notebook column pointed out Marte's strikeouts are 2nd in MLB. That seems bad for a lead off batter. Any thought of moving him down in lineup and if so who would lead off?

 

12:22
 
Bill Brink: 
Hurdle said the other day that no one else really fits the leadoff profile, so it sounds like he'll stay there for now.

 

12:22
 
Comment From Strikes Joey 
Just saw that Jeff Locke got rocked for 5 earned in 5 innings in his one start for Indy. He was considered (along with Cumpton) the next guy up, but you can't do that unless he's actually performing half-decent.

 

12:23
 
Bill Brink: 
If they get into a situation where they need a next guy up, they won't have much of a choice. It will depend on how Locke and Cumpton line up and if they can pitch the day a spot start is needed. Otherwise you might see Gomez or Pimentel make a start.

 

12:24
 
Comment From Drew in the Burgh 
is Volquez your team MVP after the first couple weeks of the season so far?

 

12:25
 
Bill Brink: 
In the context of expectations coming into the season, probably. He's had good control, which he hasn't had the past few years, and that has let his off-speed stuff play up.

 

12:25
 
Comment From Elementary Watson 
Bill how long do we have those lefty relievers in Watson and Wilson locked up for? I love watching them pitch because you don't see their power style coming from lefties often, and we've got two of them!

 

12:26
 
Bill Brink: 
Watson is under team control until 2017, Wilson until 2018.

 

12:26
 
Comment From JAL 
Jim Callis wrote that Glasnow hit 100 MPH seven times on Monday during his Extended Spring Training start. He 1 more start in ST then off the Bradenton. If healthy how fast to think he move through the system?

 

12:28
 
Bill Brink: 
He could move quickly, though I don't see him arriving any earlier than 2015 as a September call-up. 2016 is more realistic.

 

12:29
 
Bill Brink: 
Lightning round. Go.

 

12:30
 
Comment From JAL 
Is it too early to be concerned that Melancon is not getting strike outs at the rate he did last season (8.9 per 9 innings last season and 5.1 this season

 

12:31
 
Bill Brink: 
Yes, it's a little early. He has only pitched seven innings.

 

12:31
 
Comment From JAL 
Should Pirates return to Zoltan or continue with Yes

 

12:32
 
Bill Brink: 
I look at this the way I look at my fantasy football team names. If I win the title, I'll keep the name. If not, it's time to try a new one. They didn't win a Series with Zoltan, so Yes now a thing.

 

12:32
 
Comment From JAL 
Pirate player with best walk-up song

 

12:33
 
Bill Brink: 
Alvarez. During even-numbered at-bats, he uses "Brooklyn Go Hard" by Jay-Z.

Used to love Walker using The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" but he changed it. Cole is a close second to Alvarez with "Guerilla Radio" by Rage Against the Machine.

 

12:34
 
Bill Brink: 
That's all for today, thanks for the great questions! Come back next Tuesday

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