Bill Brink's Pirates baseball chat transcript: 5.22.14

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Bill Brink: Keep those questions coming. Here we go...

Barry: Does Clint Hurdle still send out his daily inspirational emails? If so, how do I get on it?

Bill Brink: He does. He sends them out to hundreds of people he has run across over the years, including the media. It's his way of trying to share things that helped him with others.

California Matte: Isn't it about time this WANDA Rodriguez experiment be over? Couldn't even stomach watching last night. Tell me he's gone?

Bill Brink: Hurdle was noncommittal when asked if Rodriguez would make his next start. I bet he gets at least one more, but this will force them to seriously consider Cumpton or Locke.

Hurdle acknowledged the bad luck that Rodriguez had, but also said, "We wished he had been sharper," which is as close to an indictment of a starter as he'll offer. Could be one or two more starts, but the leash is shrinking.

Guest: #FreePolanco?

Bill Brink: At this point, they'll probably just wait until the first or second week of June and preserve the Super 2 deadline. The difference Polanco can make in three weeks is negligible in the grand scheme of things, especially for a team whose biggest issue is starting pitching.

Sven Bender: I want you take on Polanco. You can't tell me it's not worth losing a little money to bring up him now. Bucco backs are against the wall already, and it's only May!

Bill Brink: There's two ways to look at it. One is, the extra money they would have to pay Polanco would be negated by extra ticket sales generated by a better team, merchandise sales, etc; they're gonna try to extend him anyway so the arbitration thing is a moot point; and they should have the best players on the roster regardless of service time concerns.

The other is, the system rewards teams financially for keeping top prospects in the minors and the Pirates are not the only team to exploit this; two months of at-bats in the minors can't hurt and will probably help his consistency down the road.

I tend to sway more toward the second point of view -- acknowledging that the system is the system -- but I do wonder if it should have been reconsidered given the circumstances, coming off the season they had last year with the right fielders they have on their roster.

Carlton: Been a fan since 79----how cool was it to meet those heroes last night!!1!

Bill Brink: I've spoken to them at various points over the past four years and it's always interesting to talk to great players involved in Series like that.

Guest: Did Pirates management, fans, and the media underestimate how much AJ Burnett meant to the pitching staff? The staff looks completely lost this season.

Bill Brink: The bigger issue was losing Burnett's production. He can be a good influence on the staff, but he's not out there giving up home runs or walking guys.

Guest: Assuming the Pirates are sellers, is there any trade value for Liriano, Martin, and Grilli. I don't see them getting much of a return.

Bill Brink: There is going to be a market for Martin and Liriano. I don't know about Grilli, at his age and with his injuries in the past two years.

KraigK: What exactly, besides his contract, would be the reasoning to give Wandy 1-2 more starts. the man has no fastball and was fortunate to leave when he did. I'd think folks with a baseball eye could see, clearly, that it's the end of the line. But, there could always be the hidden wildcard: Pirates fake injury.

Wandy: Why am I still on the roster?

Bill Brink: The Pirates' reasoning is that they have seen Rodriguez when he's right and he can be an effective innings eater. They want to give him the chance to get back to that level after missing some time due to injury. Last night's start might accelerate their decision-making process a bit.

Michael in Austin: When Grilli get's the ball next time.. will it be in a closer role or as a setup man with less on the line?

Bill Brink: I think they'll work him back in during the seventh or eighth inning for a few games and then give him the closer's role back. Hurdle said he doesn't want to take away his job due to injury

Guest: Is Volquez's leash getting as short as Wandy's? Could we see both Cumpton and Locke in the rotation by mid June.

Bill Brink: The leashes are probably about the same. Volquez is pitching well, but when he leaves fastballs over the plate, he leaves them dead in the middle of the strike zone. If that doesn't change, he could be in trouble.

Alby Kirky: What is the biggest reason for Francisco Liriano's slide? I remember reading so much about his arm slot last year. Has that changed? Or was maybe too much made out of that?

Bill Brink: Chris Stewart said after Liriano's most recent start that he wasn't staying back and was rushing his delivery. I remember it not being the arm slot as much as taking his hands higher over his head, which he said helped his fastball command. It's nothing he can't fix, no drastic issue.

Michael in Austin: When we finally do move Polanco up.. what is the minimum # of years he will be with the Pirates?

Bill Brink: The Pirates control Polanco for six years, but by keeping him in the minors to start the season, they delayed his free agency by a year. He will be a free agent after the 2020 season.

Zack B: Is Wandy's knee actually more hurt than he is letting on? If he needs surgery, just get it done now. I mean, he was getting it drained...whioh usually means there is a more serious issue.

Bill Brink: He said last night that he was healthy.

JAL: It seems clear the PTBNL in the Davis trade is 2013 draft choice and won't be Meadows or McGuire. Have you heard rumors on who it might be? Pirates drafted SS in rounds 5 and 6 so that is a place they could give up one.

Bill Brink: I don't think it will be McGuire, but it could be Meadows. Trae Arbet and Adam Frazier, the two shortstops, would also make a lot of sense.

James_Pittsburgh: What are some roster moves that we could see in the near future if the pitching doesn't get any better (i.e. make it past two innings in a ballgame...)? Sadler? Pementel (back from the IR)? Maybe Phil Irwin for a long relief job? It's getting bad...

Bill Brink: Pimentel is going on a rehab assignment soon. Brandon Cumpton could join the rotation if Volquez or Rodriguez don't improve.

The Chief: Bill, believe Russell Martin is making around 8 mil this year. His handling of pitchers is outstanding. he is only 31, any chance the Pirates try to resign him or does he leave to seek that World Series Ring?

Bill Brink: They would love him back, but I think another team will pay him more for more years than the Pirates will offer him.

JAL: Any insight as to why so pitchers have 1st inning problems and are teams trying anything to fix that?

Bill Brink: Hurdle addressed them with the team Monday. Sometimes it results from bad preparation in the bullpen. Some pitchers throw out of the windup for their entire pre-game session and are thrown off when a runner gets on and they have to go out of the stretch.

Ras Trent: You have to love Tony Sanchez's sense of humor. It's nice that he can laugh at his defensive struggles. Now, how does he fix them?

Bill Brink: He's been going through a throwing program for a while now. I was down on the field yesterday before batting practice and the team was going through infield practice, and Sanchez threw a bullet to Alvarez at third. He can do it, it's a matter of confidence and consistency.

Bill Brink: Lightning round. Go.

The Chief: Bill, I understand the whole Polanco mania stuff, but Houston brought up Springer , who was a better prospect than Polanco and look at what he has done.

Bill Brink: Prior to getting hurt last night, Springer was having a perfectly solid season for a rookie at .240/.326/.384 with four homers. The power was low, the strikeouts were high and the steals were not there. He'll be good but is not currently a franchise-altering player.

Michael in Austin: Josh Harrison seems like he is one of the biggest competitors on the team. True/False?

JAL: Harrison--right fielder or not?

Bill Brink: He plays a passable right field and yes, he gets every ounce out of his skills.

DevilInLaw: Date Polanco debuts in Pirates uniform.

Bill Brink: June 14

James_Pittsburgh: name the all-stars the pirates will have at the break this year?

Bill Brink: Andrew McCutchen. Maybe Tony Watson.

Taco Chef: What's your favorite ballpark, other than PNC of course?

Bill Brink: AT&T Park. Beautiful ballpark.

Jason Kendall: How did Tony Sanchez make it to the MLB as a catcher when that very thing, catching, is definitely not his forte?

Bill Brink: Hasn't always been the case. The throwing thing has been an issue the past two seasons.

Jones Soda: Do the Pirates miss Garrett Jones, yes or no?

Bill Brink: I'm sure they would love his production, but if teams second-guessed themselves based on what players they didn't re-sign did elsewhere they'd never get anywhere.

Nancy: Is Clint Hurdle's job in jeopardy if this team finishes the year with fewer than 75 wins?

Bill Brink: No. Last year bought him some time.

Indiana Chrome: Should Arby's bring back the strawberry shake?

Bill Brink: For me, it's a Shamrock Shake or bust.

Bill Brink: Thanks for the questions guys! That's it for today.


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