Bill Brink's Pirates baseball chat transcript: 5.13.14

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Poll Question: The Pirates-Brewers series, their first games since the fight, will result in: Answer #1: Nothing (86%) Answer #2: A hit batter or two (14%) Answer #3: Another fight (Votes: 0)

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

Jim in VT: What is your best estimate of the Super Two date so that polanco can be freed from indy?

Bill Brink: Last season's Super 2 cutoff was two years, 122 days. If that were true this year, the cutoff would fall right at May 31, give or take a day. I think the first week of June is a reasonable estimate for Polanco.

Barry: Are the Pirates overvaluing Snider's roster spot and wasting 1.2 million dollars, considering all the outfield depth they have, can't they just get the same production from Decker or Dickerson until Polanco arrives?

Bill Brink: I don't think they are over-valuing his roster spot because he has more of a track record in the majors than Decker does and Dickerson requires a 40-man roster move. But he could be the man to go when Polanco comes up.

SDWC: What was your thought on Davis flailing at the first pitch from Rosenthal Sunday night after a four pitch walk to Barmes, a guy who hardly ever walks? I think it cost them the game, plain and simple.

Bill Brink: Turned to my fiance and went, "What is he doing," and even she understood the significance of a four-pitch walk to Clint Barmes.

James_Pittsburgh: Hey Bill, is Wandy set to make his first start in a while in the Milwaukee series?

Bill Brink: Yes, Wandy is scheduled to start Thursday's game.

SDWC: Is there a possibility Wandy would be released if he goes another month totally ineffective?

Bill Brink: Entirely possible. He hasn't looked good since spring training, his velocity is down and he is allowing a ton of home runs. The Pirates aren't ones to bail on that kind of contract lightly, so he'll get time, but they can't wait forever.

pauldurham: With Jaff Decker activated, no question Polanco has a strong case that the Pirates have blatantly restricted his movement. Think he'll file charges?

Bill Brink: His agency will almost certainly look into a grievance -- this excellent piece by the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich, dealing with George Springer, explains why ( -- and they could receive a favorable ruling despite the Pirates' seemingly strong case.

Despite what Polanco has done in the minors, and in winter ball, he had two games of triple-A experience prior to this season, so it is not entirely absurd that the Pirates would want him to spend time there.

But, when you offer him a contract designed to negate service time as a concern and you start Josh Harrison in right field in the majors, the player has a stronger case. I don't know what the recourse would be; I'll have to look into it.

James_Pittsburgh: Polanco has been hitting a modes .250 you see that being any set back in bringing him up in June? I mean lets be real here...we have Gaby Sanchez and Mercer playing rightfield at the moment...

Bill Brink: Polanco is talented enough that whatever struggles he faces in the majors, and he will struggle at some point, he'll overcome them. A brief spell of a sub-.400 average is nothing to worry about.

Grilled Cheese: What's the word on Grilli? I heard bullpen sessions and a simulated game today but is there a timetable for his return?

Bill Brink: That is the timetable. Grilli will throw a simulated game during this series and will likely make a rehab appearance or two after that, so another week or so at the earliest is when we'll see him.

Will: Lots of handwringing over starters -- what's wrong with Charlie Morton? he's improved lately, but looks nothing like he did in 2nd half of last year. Too many fly balls and he has at least one poor inning per start which undoes him.

Bill Brink: He has been better in his most recent starts, despite fielding issues contributing to a big inning in his previous time out. The ground-ball rate is down, but so is the strand rate, and that should creep closer to last year's number as well. Nothing wrong with him, just inconsistency that he has the tools to smooth out.

Will: Russell Martin just hit 15 days -- is he ready anytime soon or will he need more time? rehab?

Bill Brink: I'd imagine the Pirates would want him behind the plate in at least two or three rehab games, plus some at-bats to test the hamstring, before they feel comfortable bringing him back. Maybe another week or two.

Guest: Why does this team continue to look so cheap? We do nothing in the offseason, fail to keep any free agents such as Burnett, we also look cheap over the Palonco dealings. A shame coming off a great year with supposed extra playoff cash?

Bill Brink: The Polanco contract offer hurts the Pirates' image as spendthrifts because it shows they are concerned about spending a few million dollars three years down the road. I wonder if it speaks more to their internal view of their chances of contending this season. If they don't think they can contend, why spend the money to bring him up early?

They had the money to spend on Burnett, but matching Philly's $30 million-plus offer over two years for a 37-year-old pitcher who can be difficult to deal with, without the foresight to know he would be this good this season, is more defensible.

Chunkles: Bill, have you seen the Million Dollar Arm movie? Lots of talk about it this weekend with John Hamm in the area...any chance this kid makes it out of Class-A ball? I wonder what that makes Aroldis Chapman's arm worth...

Bill Brink: Haven't seen it yet, going to go next time I get a chance. I want to see who plays me. I've heard either Hunter Parrish or Andrew Garfield.

He was poised to move up a level two years ago but hurt his elbow. He had Tommy John surgery last fall, just had bone chips removed, is scheduled to miss the whole season and should be ready for spring training 2015.

Bill Brink: What other questions do we have today?

Ct: Where does Polanco bat in the order when he comes up.

Bill Brink: He'd be a great No. 2 hitter, and judging by the way Hurdle handled Marte -- putting him right in the leadoff spot -- Polanco may start right there.

Alan: Speed wise where is Polanco compared to Marte and McCutcheon

Bill Brink: He's probably a tick slower, but barely. He's got big long legs and big long strides that get him there faster than you think he should.

pauldurham: Do the Pirates own all of their minor league players? What does it mean when they "purchase the contract of"

Bill Brink: "Purchase the contract" is a term that differentiates calling up a player who isn't on the 40-man roster from calling up one who is. Years ago, the minor league teams had agreements with the major league teams and teams had to pay a small fee to call up a player. Recent PDCs, or player development contracts, have changed that.

So while the Pirates would "recall" Jeff Locke, they would "purchase the contract" of Chris Dickerson.

James_Pittsburgh: Read an article today in the PG that said the pirates made a franchise record high in revenue ($200 million I think?). With the talent in the minor leagues that the Pirates have, do you think they're poised to expand on that record high?

Bill Brink: Only if that talent translates to wins, because that's what drives revenue. Wins mean attendance, merchandise sales, playoff revenue, etc.

Ray: Are any of the players the Pirates drafted and paid "over slot" on pace to make it to the majors? D

Bill Brink: The one who stands out is Josh Bell, who is hitting well for high-A Bradenton:

Chunkles: What do you typically see as the biggest hurdle for guys of Polanco's stature when they first get into the big leagues?

Bill Brink: Guys like him who have long arms and legs sometimes have trouble repeating their swings. The moving parts are bigger and therefore tougher to control. Better off-speed stuff from major league pitchers can keep hitters off balance and exacerbate that concern.

Chunkles: McCutchen had some 250+ at bats in AAA before being called up to the majors...I would think that helps the Pirates case in keeping Polanco down considering Polanco has a little over 100 AAA at bats.

Bill Brink: It would. No team will ever say they're keeping a player in the minors due to service time -- I believe that's even prohibited by the CBA -- but the Pirates are not lying when they say the track record of players with significant triple-A experience has been smoother upon their promotion.

Reader: BB, any news on contracts for Pedro & Walker? What alternatives exist if they move on?

Bill Brink: I really don't think the Pirates will extend either one. They have Walker under control through his peak years and Alvarez won't sign unless the Pirates overpay him.

The options are trade them, or take them through their arbitration years and recoup a draft pick with a qualifying offer.

Guest: Cumpton always seems to give us solid starts. Why doesn't he get an extended look . Its nmot like our starting rotation is solid.

Bill Brink: Agree. We might be heading in that direction if Rodriguez doesn't perform.

Bill Brink: Lightning round. Go.

James_Pittsburgh: Best thing about the city of Milwaukee (I know its not their baseball team)

Bill Brink: Great beer. So many good breweries in the area.

Bill Brink: If my editors are reading, that should have said, "Great Starbucks from which to write great stories."

Chunkles: Over or under, Braun will hit 3 home runs in this series?

Bill Brink: Might do it all against Wandy the way he's been giving up homers.

pauldurham: Will both teams be warned before the game?

Bill Brink: Don't think before the game, but upon the first on-field transgression.

Alan: Next prospect in Majors after Polanco

Bill Brink: Going out on a limb and saying Nick Kingham.

pauldurham: Do you think Cole will send a message tonight?

Bill Brink: No. He didn't want the last fight to escalate the way it did and I don't think he will go out of his way to cause trouble. He felt bad that Snider got hurt after he yelled at Gomez.

Mike: Who wins the sausage race tonight?

Bill Brink: I always root for the Italian.

Bill Brink: That's it today, thanks for the great questions!

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