Bill Brink's Pirates baseball chat transcript: 6.3.14

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<b>Poll Question:</b> Most surprising thing about last night's game was: <b>Answer #1:</b> 9-20 RISP but 16 left on base (6%) <b>Answer #2:</b> Pirates saw 249 pitches (47%) <b>Answer #3:</b> Mercer had four hits (47%)<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Thanks for the questions. Keep sending them in. Here we go ...<p>

<b>Seth:</b> What have you heard regarding the first pick for the Pirates on Thursday?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> As far as a specific person, very little. It's hard to predict who will fall to No. 24 because so much has to happen ahead of the pick, and even one change (say, the No. 8 pick going a different way than people thought) can set off a chain reaction down the draft board.<br/><br/>Hurdle said yesterday that he and Huntington went over the draft prep in LA and Huntington laid out the top 10 guys they were looking at who they thought they could get at 24. Huntington told me recently that the team does its due diligence on the top guys -- Rodon, Kolek, Aiken, etc. -- but doesn't wear them out because there's almost no chance of them falling that far. They do the same amount of work on a different subset of guys.<p>

<b>Bill:</b> All this talk about when to trade Alvarez....would the Bucs be smart to move Harrison to 3B when Polanco arrives and start shopping now?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Probably not, because as much as Alvarez struggled, their best lineup is one with him in it. With them now back in contention, at least for the wild card spot, I don't see them moving him unless a team comes to them and offers the farm, and the way he's played, I don't see a team doing that.<p>

<b>BEN:</b> How legit is the talk that Alvarez could be traded this year?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> I have not heard anything concrete, in terms of information from sources or industry people, that that is a reality. It is more a product of speculation, based on his agent (Boras) his arbitration status (2nd of 3 years) and the chances the Pirates can lock him up (almost none).<p>

<b>Bill:</b> With the Pirates returning home from an already impressive road trip (let's get the last 2).. I can't think of anything better than to debut Polanco in a critical series against the Brewers. What do you think the odds are he is brought up Friday?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> We were talking about this in the press box the other day. It makes too much sense. Can't put odds on it but, chances are good.<p>

<b>Noah:</b> What do they do with Harrison when Polanco comes up? Theres no way IMO that they can bench him.<p>

<b>PhillyJake:</b> Where does Josh play when Polanco comes up?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Perhaps this is the end of the Clint Barmes era in Pittsburgh and Harrison gets time at short and third.<p>

<b>Big Al in Pittsburgh:</b> Given that the Padres have a surplus of tired arms at the moment, can the Bucs actually take the next two games and go 6-1 on the left coast?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Looks like they have a chance. On one hand, the kid going tonight is making his debut, but he also can touch 100 and from what I hear has good stuff. The Padres beat guys were talking about what a dire situation the bullpen is in, as far as the 40-man roster and pitchers that didn't pitch for their triple-A affiliate last night. Today could be interesting.<p>

<b>James_Pittsburgh:</b> Do you think Mercer will be able to hold down the shortstop position past this year?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> I thought he could grab it this year, but that has been a struggle. They don't have much of a choice unless they make a trade for a shortstop, and that'll take a young arm.<p>

<b>James_Pittsburgh:</b> Do you see the Pirates trading Pedro Alvarez in the off-season?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> I really don't. I think they let him play out his contract and if they can't extend him, they give him a qualifying offer and let him walk.<p>

<b>PhillyJake:</b> Who besides an overactive fanbase is talking about trading Pedro?<p>

<b>BobbyToledo:</b> By all means, let's get rid of the guy who has 30 home run power and play the sub with a hot hand at 3B. Brilliant! #eyeroll<p>

<b>BobbyToledo:</b> Every season there is someone who plays abobve his level for a bit and the masses go wild, whether it's Adam Hyzdu, Rob Mackowiak, Jose Tabata, and this year Josh Harrison. Can we please rest the talk of ditching the co-HR champ for a 5-8 infielder with gusto?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> All related, so I'll address them together. The Alvarez trade talk is the result of factors surrounding his agent, performance and contract status rather than based on any actual report (that I've seen, at least). He has power in a time when power is hard to come by. He plays a passable if inconsistent third base. They would have to be blown away to move him, and the way he has hit right now, I don't think teams will blow them away with an offer.<br/><br/>If he gets better and his value gets higher, they will want to keep him even more. They are still in contender mode right now, and that should be the case next year if they add an arm or two and Taillon comes up in the second half.<p>

<b>Zack B:</b> If we are in contention for a wild card spot at the trade deadline do you think we look at a SP?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> I do. I have been impressed (until Saturday) by how Cumpton has pitched but I have to think they look for a starter that can offer a bit more.<p>

<b>Nick:</b> When Polanco arrives, is there any chance that Travis Snider is DFA'd?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> There is a good chance that happens.<p>

<b>Jake:</b> any chance the #39 pick can be traded to cubs for samardja?<p>

<b>Nick:</b> Is there any scenario that the Pirates would trade for Jeff Samardja. Speculation I've read says that Cubs are looking for a draft pick and some pool money.<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> I read that report as well, but I have to think the Cubs would want Kingham and Glasnow in addition to the No. 39 pick and its pool money. They need young pitching to augment their prospect core of hitters.<p>

<b>James_Pittsburgh:</b> Does Vance Worley have a shot of pitching for the Pirates this year? I see him as the 5th starter in 2015. Nice work by Huntington to get him for nothing.<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> He has a shot in relief, probably, because injuries might make that happen, but I agree, he won't compete for the rotation until 2015.<p>

<b>Noah:</b> Will the pirates do anything at the trade deadline.?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Yes. Huntington is an active trader, and large or small, he'll make moves.<p>

<b>James_Pittsburgh:</b> Bill, why a young arm for a shortstop? Maybe they can trade Pedro Alvarez for a Triple A shortstop in the offseason. Maybe Harrison can play third or they can since a free agent third baseman.<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Because shortstops who can play play in the majors are among the most valuable commodities, so teams ask for one of the other most valuable commodities -- young pitching -- in return. <br/><br/>The important thing that is being missed with all this desire to trade Alvarez is that, barring the way Alvarez and Harrison have played in the past month, Alvarez is the far superior player and the Pirates will not trade a bona fide power guy, a franchise cornerstone, because a utility player had a good month.<p>

<b>James_Pittsburgh:</b> Would you trade Kingham for Jeff Samardja?<p>

<b>Nick:</b> So if it is Kingham, draft pick, money for Samardja...do you make that deal? I feel like Samardja is exactly the type of pitcher the Pirates like. Big, hard throwing right hander.<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> This is how these rumors get started. I throw out Kingham as an example -- a good young pitcher -- and it becomes, all it takes to get the Shark is Kingham, a pick and the bonus pool. I don't know what it will take to get Samardzija, only Theo Epstein does. If the Pirates look at their team in June and July and feel they have a strong team that could contend with another strong starter, they might the price.<p>

<b>Seth:</b> Rumors of Polanco coming up this weekend for the homestand. Is that true?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Not true, necessarily, but also not ruled out. It makes a lot of sense.<p>

<b>BobbyToledo:</b> Snider has played well off the bench. Wouldn't Tabata be the better DFA candidate? Or do they like that he's right-handed? He's terrible in the field and often has a terrible attitude? Doesn't Snider more prepared mentally for a bench role?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Snider's left-handedness and arbitration status might be working against him. Tabata is still under contract at a very team-friendly rate, so while he might be the better candidate, the Pirates could opt to part ways with Snider. Or it could be Barmes.<p>

<b>Guest:</b> Does any of the current trade talk remind you of the Seinfeld episode where George had trade ideas to get Bonds and Griffey without giving up that much?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Jim Leyritz and Bernie Williams for Barry Bonds, huh? Whaddaya think?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> What other questions do we have today?<p>

<b>James_Pittsburgh:</b> What is your analysis on the Pirates finishing over .500?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> I'd say they have a good chance. They'd have to play slightly over .500 from here on out, which they can certainly do, and some reinforcements at the deadline will help.<p>

<b>Barry:</b> Has anybody picked up Wandy or Mazzaro? Haven't heard anything.<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Not as of yet, no.<p>

<b>Jake:</b> Would Walker ever step in at 3rd, esp if he continues with the power? giving harrison a shot at 2nd<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Walker is having the most productive season of his career, since his first full season at least, as a second baseman. I don't think they're going to mess with that by putting him at a position he hasn't played in years.<p>

<b>NaplesDave:</b> Hi BB, Nice chat, Why all the interest in Samardzija, a career 30-40 4.00 ERA guy? The Cubs will want a king's ransom for a 200 inning guy. Better to rotate pitchers from Indy & hope to catch lightning in a bottle. Thoughts?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> The interest in Samardzjia is the same as the interest in Ike Davis -- because he's available, and we all know it. There are only a few players each season who are unequivocally on the block, which makes them all the more tantalizing. He is also a horse with strikeout stuff who could benefit from a move out of Wrigley.<p>

<b>Eric Scot:</b> How many questions per day do you field on when Polanco will come up?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> A dozen or so, but it feels like thousands.<p>

<b>Jake:</b> Is Kyle McPherson still a prospect?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> No. While coming back from Tommy John surgery, McPherson suffered a broken bone in his elbow and is out for the year.<p>

<b>James_Pittsburgh:</b> Is there anyone in the minors who will help the 2014 Pirates other than Polanco?<p>

<b>Nick:</b> Can you explain the thinking behind the Morris trade? Did they become frustrated with his control and performance lately?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Lambo might have helped, but he just had thumb surgery. Locke might contribute at some point.<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Whoops, flip-flopped those two. As for Morris trade...<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> The Marlins came to the Pirates asking about Morris. Hughes has been good enough this season that Morris was somewhat expendable. His velo increase and pure stuff never matched his performance. <br/><br/>More importantly, this gives the Pirates an additional high draft pick and more money to spend in the first 10 rounds. They can use that money however they choose, so they can go over slot with a later-round guy or sign a high schooler away from a college commitment.<p>

<b>Eric Scot:</b> Who is the first Pirates starter to get pulled if he fails to be successful in the next 2-3 games? Volquez, Morton or Liriano? I doubt any will be DFA'd but I'm sure a DL stint can happen.<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> It actually looks like all of them are moving in the right direction, Morton's fifth inning last night notwithstanding. I'd say Cumpton is the next one who could go.<p>

<b>Jake:</b> Do you think the Brewers are as advertised?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> I do, if Braun and Ramirez stay healthy. They can pitch, which surprised me a lot. Peralta and Lohse have been great.<p>

<b>The Chief:</b> Any news on the player to be PTBNLfor Ike Davis?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> No, but we should know after the draft, when they are free to announce it.<p>

<b>Noah:</b> How do you think Polanco is feeling now that the rumors of him coming up soon are circulating.Could the rumors effect his playing?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> I know for a fact that he's frustrated with all the attention, but based on his numbers, they don't seem to be affecting him.<p>

<b>James_Pittsburgh:</b> Do you think the Pirates will try to extend Walker in the off-season?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> I do. I have thought for a long time that they weren't all that keen on extending him, but his performance this season might be changing that.<p>

<b>PhillyJake:</b> Any truth the the rumors that Polanco is the PTBNL in the Ike Davis trade?<p>

<b>PhillyJake:</b> Sorry, I couldn't resist.<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Well played, sir.<p>

<b>UKBuc:</b> why not give Harrison some spots in LF when Polanco comes up?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> A good question given Marte's play. Aside from Marte's potential as a hitter, the Pirates want another "center fielder" in left field at PNC Park because of how big it is. Maybe he gets a start or two on the road.<p>

<b>JBuwah:</b> I have notice many time in the past weeks, various catchers looking intently at the hitter as he is giving signs. Is this to ensure the hitter isn't peeking?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Somewhat. They also look at the hitter to notice subtle changes in the box. If, say, Watson comes in under the hands and the hitter takes a baby step back, Martin can call something over the outside corner because they know he can't reach it. If he moves back in the box to have more time to catch up to Cole's fastball, they'll disrupt his timing with something off-speed.<p>

<b>Zack B:</b> Do we make a run at a guy like JJ Hardy in the offseason?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> I don't know that they will or not, but it would make sense to check in on him if Mercer doesn't lock things down by then.<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> K guys, lightning round. I'm still working on a Q and A for the blog, so if you've got questions I didn't get to, send them to <a href="mailto:bbrink@post-gazette.com" target="_blank" >bbrink@post-gazette.com</a> and I'll add them.<br/><br/>Go.<p>

<b>PhillyJake:</b> Some of the scouting reports on Polanco talk about a long swing. Have you seen enough of it to judge it ?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> It looks longer than it is because his arms are so long.<p>

<b>James_Pittsburgh:</b> Are the Pirates buyers or sellers at the trade dealine?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Buyers.<p>

<b>Noah:</b> Which player are you looking for to break out soon?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Marte can't keep playing this poorly. I'll say him.<p>

<b>Guest:</b> Winter ale or summer ale?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Winter. Always.<p>

<b>Taco Salad:</b> Favorite Wire character?<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> Either Bodie or Lester. Can't decide.<p>

<b>Bill Brink:</b> That's it for today, thanks for the great questions. If I didn't get to yours and you want it in the Q and A, send it to <a href="mailto:bbrink@post-gazette.com" target="_blank" >bbrink@post-gazette.com</a> with your name and hometown.


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