Bill Brink: Welcome to draft day! ... Keep those questions coming. Here we go ...
Matt: What are the Pirates' biggest needs heading into this draft?
Bill Brink: Need with the MLB draft is different than with the other major sports, where a left tackle or shooting guard can make a difference right away. Even the closest draft prospects are at least a year or two away from helping at the major league level. Teams rarely draft for need, instead choosing the best player on the board.
That said, the Pirates could use a third baseman in their minor league system, and more depth in the middle infield.
Eddie: What direction do you think the Pirates will take with the 1st pick? Maybe a college bat like Casey Gillespie?
Bill Brink: It's interesting picking 24th, because one move at the top of the draft can create a domino effect for every team the rest of the way. They are likely hoping that someone they really like falls to them, and Gillaspie would be one of those people. I don't see them taking Fedde or Hoffman, the two injured pitchers. Monte Harrison would make sense as well. But it's impossible to predict because it all depends on what happens above them.
Dayton Pirate: Do you think that trading for Tampa's David Price would be a good longer term solution to solidify the starting staff if they could add several years to his current contract/arbitration which I understand currently expires after the 2015 season?
Bill Brink: Trading for David Price would certainly solidify the starting staff. The issues are twofold: How do you get him, and how do you keep him? The Rays know they have a valuable commodity and so will ask for a large return for him, one the Pirates might not want to pay in terms of prospects.
Also, once Price hits free agency, I have a hard time believing the Pirates would be the highest bidders for him. I don't think he would agree to an extension because he can look at Kershaw's contract and realize he's going to get paid.
Jason: Not draft related, but important I think: If and when Polanco comes up, where does Harrison fit going forward? His production is undeniable!
Bill Brink: I have to imagine they continue to get him at-bats until his hot streak runs out. Maybe they play him over Marte in left, over Alvarez against lefties and at short every once in a while, get him three starts a week.
tim m: is mlb happy with the spending restraints they placed on the teams a couple of years ago? seems like the pirates figured out how to be competitive as a small market team but teams like the yankees didnt like it so mlb changed it
Bill Brink: That's exactly what happened. The Pirates understood the efficiency with which the draft could help them compete and capitalized, and other teams -- such as the Red Sox, who can spend -- began to notice. MLB realized it would turn into a situation where the teams with high revenues could spend with abandon and win on both sides of the coin. I think everyone but the players and advisers is happy so far.
DevilInLaw: Why are the Pirates continuing this charade with Polanco now that Super 2 date is past (basing that on previous history, we're 10-12 days past Super 2 date already)?
Bill Brink: The Super 2 date is never "past," it's a moving target. For example, the Pirates are not sure that Cole won't be Super 2 eligible in a couple years. But why the nonsense with the reports that he's coming up, and then club officials telling me and others he's not, I have no idea.
It's possible he was never coming up. Maybe he was and once it leaked, the club backtracked.
tim m: with TJ surgery beconing so every dayish with the players do you see teams changing the way they look at the type of pitchers they pick or is it the faster the better as usual
Bill Brink: The Pirates, for one, look at the arm action, athleticism and history of pitchers they draft. They have criteria that allows them to move a pitcher up or down the draft board based on his perceived risk of injury. I'm sure other teams have the same thing.
More and more pitchers who throw harder are getting hurt, and from conversations I've had, it's not necessarily the velocity. It's how they generate it. If a pitcher uses his legs for power, it' s better than using his upper body or arm.
Polka Bill: Is the obvious move when Polanco arrives to DFA Snider, or could you see them working a trade for Tabata or going way outside the box and putting Harrison at SS and sending Mercer to AAA?
Bill Brink: I could see DFA-ing Snider or putting Harrison at short. I could also see parting ways with Barmes and having Harrison serve that role. I can't imagine anyone would want to trade for Tabata.
Rum Bunter: Any chance Grant Holmes will be available when the Pirates select?
Bill Brink: It's possible, but in the mock drafts I have seen, he went anywhere from 12 to 17.
Polka Bill: Will the PTBNL in the Ike Davis trade be selected soon, and will it be a prospect we'll be sad to lose?
Doug S: Chances that the Ike Davis PTBNL is our 24th or 39th pick?
Bill Brink: The PTBNL will not be a player that has not been drafted yet. It should be announced soon, and thought I don't think it will be Reese McGuire or Austin Meadows, it could be someone the team will be sad to lose. Trae Arbet and Adam Frazier, the two shortstops taken 5th and 6th last year, would make sense.
tim m: the new collective bargaining agreement comes up in 2016 have you heard of any major changes being discussed or does baseball need a new commish to set the agenda & lead the way with the new contract
Bill Brink: The biggest things I've heard discussed are the qualifying offers and Super Two eligibility. Players and agents, and by extension the MLBPA, aren't happy that their livelihood and ability to work hinges upon a draft pick. There are also those who aren't happy that the best 25 men aren't on rosters (like Polanco) because of service time issues.
tim m: know the managers job is to manage with whomever the gm brings to the table, obviously Hurdle would like Polanco (best 25) with which to operate, do you ever see any friction etc between the bosses,playing & batting Snider 2nd last night almost seemed like a cry for help or over reading things
Bill Brink: Some writers and I have speculated about that as well -- Snider batting second might be a wakeup call -- but I don't think Hurdle is the type to sacrifice a game or a run for the sake of making a point. He realizes that despite last year's success he still needs to win, and jeopardizing that to make a point is imprudent.
Mike In Downtown: What lineup flexibility do you get keeping Snider and releasing Barmes? An extra LH bat to pinch hit late in games? Barmes may not hit much but he is the best defender of the three (Harrison, Mercer).
Bill Brink: You don't get lineup flexibility, but Barmes' contract is up after this year whereas the Pirates might want to try to hold onto Snider, whom they still control.
tim m: are you a draft person or is it a neccessary evil that goes along with your job?
Bill Brink: I've grown to like it. I'm not huge into it, especially the later rounds, but I like the gamesmanship that goes with trying to find guys who will sign at slot, debating which kid who throws 100 is better, the bonus pool manipulation and all that. It's interesting.
MrB: If Marte continues to demonstrate his lack of mental discipline both at the plate and on the basepaths, is it remotely possible that he could be sent down to AAA?
Bill Brink: It's possible, but he would really have to struggle and/or show lack of effort to get sent down.
Polka Bill: Any teams stand out yet as ideal trade partners if the Pirates continue winning and are making a run at a playoff spot? Philles/Lee/Rollins?
Bill Brink: Probably not Lee (contract) or Rollins (no-trade clause via 5-and-10 rule), but the Rays, Cubs and Diamondbacks would all make sense.
Guest: Brendan McKay kid from Blackhawk H.S is he going to get drafted?
Bill Brink: Yes, I believe so. Probably not tonight, but I think in the top 10 rounds.
Bruce: When will we find out who the player to be named later in the Ike Davis deal is? Any ideas? Hope it was not one of last year's two number ones.
Bill Brink: Should be any day now. Probably not Meadows or McGuire, but shortstops Trae Arbet and Adam Frazier would make sense.
Ray Miller: What do you think Charlie Morton's biggest problem is? His inconsistency and wildness is frustrating to watch. A lot of money tied up in a 30 yr old who still hasn't figured it out IMO.
Bill Brink: It's just that, inconsistency. He'll give up three runs right out of the blocks and then pitch six scoreless innings, or no-hit guys through four and then give up two runs and hit two guys. He needs consistent command of his sinker before he can do anything else, and that comes from confidence in the sinker and repetitive mechanics.
Guest: Clint Barmes on his way out if Polanco is brought up?
Bill Brink: It's possible. Snider makes the most sense, still.
MattInMD: The rumor I've heard from Mets fans I know is that Jacoby Jones will be the PTBNL in the Davis trade. Have you heard anything like that? Any thoughts?
Bill Brink: I've heard the PTBNL will be from the 2013 draft class and he will be a valuable piece, so Jones, who was a third-round pick, would fit both criteria.
Polka Bill: Were you surprised the Pirates got a decent return for Bryan Morris? Was he the last piece of the Jason Bay trade?
Bill Brink: I was surprised. There is value to be had at No. 39, and more importantly, they added almost $1.5 million to their pool. They don't have to use that on whomever they pick at No. 39 (though they lose it if they don't sign the guy); they can spread it around.
Guest: Please explain why the Pirates drafted Mark Appel again? What a wasted pick
Bill Brink: The Pirates drafted Mark Appel for two reasons: because he was the best player on the board, and because they illustrated the problems with the bonus pools and what happens when you go toe to toe with Boras.
As it turns out, both sides won. Appel went back to school, pitched great and made more money with less leverage. The Pirates used the pick on Austin Meadows, who, once he gets healthy, should get back on his way to being a good outfielder.
PaulDurham: Discounting super 2 status, which is highly unlikely, what possible,excuse can be made for not promoting Polanco?
Bill Brink: Super 2 status is very likely if he comes up any time soon, and that is the only reason he's down. The Pirates offered him a contract extension in spring training that would have negated this issue, indicating they were ready for him to start the season on the active roster.
Polka Bill: Your most disappointing Pirates so far, in terms of production/expectation?
Bill Brink: Liriano. He was huge for them last year and has not been the same. Snider is a candidate, but there were higher expectations for Liriano.
Bill Brink: OK. Lightning round. Go.
Polka Bill: What grade would you give Hurdle so far this season? I've seen less #Hurdled on Twitter this season.
Bill Brink: B. Gotta ding him for the record, but can't fault him for the pitching, and he's made very defensible moves with his bullpen. Can't be bunting so much, but that's about it.
Doug Froebel: Polanco bats where in the order?
Bill Brink: Gotta guess leadoff.
MattInMD: Would you trade Alvarez this year if the team is out of the playoff race at the deadline?
Bill Brink: Maybe listen a little more intently to offers than in the past. Gotta be a good one to move him.
PhillyJake: Can we trade Alvarez for Price ?
Bill Brink: No, because the Rays have Longoria at third and Loney at first.
Bill Brink: Thanks for the great questions, guys. Enjoy the draft tonight, and stop by the blog for updates on the Pirates' four selections.