Bill Brink: OK people, thanks for the questions and the patience. I think we have everyone now. Here we go ...
Omar Moreno: Omar Moreno: Totally lame question, but who decides when the Bucs wear the black alternate jerseys? Is there a rotation, or is it the starting pitcher?
Bill Brink: I believe at home, the starting pitcher determines what jerseys they will wear, but I am not sure about on the road.
Jacob K: What is your take on the Grilli situation. I think Watson could definitely take over the closers role and there are other late inning guys that could pitch the 7th and 8th inning such as melancon and Wilson. The way Jason is giving up runs he's just a waste of a roster spot. He had two great years in Pittsburgh but I think it's time let him go if the Pirates are going to catch up to those wild card spots.
Bill Brink: If Grilli can't get outs in low-leverage situations, he's taking up a spot in the bullpen that could go to somebody who can. I don't think they will immediately cut ties with him, but as the trade deadline approaches, they will probably look for bullpen help.
Joe: With the surprise of the Pirates sending Tabata down to AAA, who you do you think will go once Cole comes back this weekend?
Bill Brink: They could go in five different directions on this, and speculation won't do us much good, so here are what appear to be the two most likely options. They could option a pitcher -- either Brandon Cumpton or Jeff Locke, who both have minor league options -- and put Cole right back in the rotation. Or, they could move a starter to the bullpen and option a reliever such as Jared Hughes -- or, in a drastic case, cut ties with Grilli -- and put Cole back into the rotation.
It's tough because each starter has pitched well recently so there is no obvious move.
Tom: What would it take for Pirates to acquire David Price? Would Pedro Alvarez, Josh Bell, and Nick Kingham be enough?
Bill Brink: Hypothetical trades are tough because we don't know how the Rays' front office feels about any of these guys. That's often how trades come together: One front office loves a player whose own organization likes, but sees as just a guy. The Rays will ask for young talent in return, and Josh Bell and Nick Kingham certainly represent a nice package.
Loran: Hey Bill, with yesterday's loss the Pirates are now 9-18 in series ending games (including 2 doubleheaders). This is by far the worst make in the MLB. Looking at the line-up it seems as if Clint Hurdle didn't give his team much chance to win against Price. This poor lineup choice seems to be a trend in series ending games. Is this something to look into? Is it worth conceding winnable games to rest starters or give playing time to bench players? Are these games less important to management?
Bill Brink: It stems from the fact that most series finales are day games, meaning Hurdle uses it as a chance to get Martin off his feet (though Martin DH'ed yesterday). Against Price, Barmes, even with the kind of hitter he is, stood a better chance in Hurdle's mind of doing something against Price than Alvarez facing a platoon disadvantage. It's also about the now vs. later aspect. They might take one or two more of these finales early, but wear out the starters by September.
Jacob K: I think it is time for Harrison to start everyday at 3rd base. You can't keep a .300 hitter on the bench, at that is what is going to happen when all the starters are healthy. Alvarez just is not getting it done, and striking out to much. Harrison gives you a good at bat every time up. What do you think about swapping Alvarez with Harrison in the everyday lineup?
Bill Brink: I agree with the premise of getting the hot hitter -- and at this point I think we can say it's more than "he's hot," it's, "he's better than before -- in the lineup. I'm not sure that doing that at the expense of taking a 35-homer guy out of the lineup is the way to go about it. I think Harrison will start there more often, especially against lefties, but not on an everyday basis.
Loran: What do you think the Pirates plan to do at the trade deadline? An arm (or two) would bolster the starting rotation and pen, but are there any holes in the field that you think they should address?
Bill Brink: Arms, arms and more arms. They will look for starting and relief help. They might check in on shortstops or utility infielders but I think the focus will be on pitching.
Barry: Can you go over the mlb rules with the Tabata situation again?
Bill Brink: Tabata was out of minor league options, meaning that for the Pirates to send him to the minors, they had to place him on outright waivers, which are irrevocable. That means if a team claimed Tabata, he was theirs, and the Pirates couldn't pull him back like they could with trade waivers.
Nobody claimed him, so they outrighted him off the 40-man roster to Indy. As a player with more than three years of service time, Tabata could have rejected the assignment and became a free agent, or accepted the assignment and chosen for free agency if not back on the 40-man roster at the end of the season.
He accepted, though, because he has fewer than five years of major league service time, the threshold needed to ensure he received the balance of his contract.
Bill Brink: Write that down. There will be a test next week.
Loran: I'm not quite sold on Ike Davis being the Pirates everyday 1st baseman. What is his upside? Do they plan on keeping him in some sort of a platoon or does management see him as long term guy?
Bill Brink: They see him as a long-term guy. His upside is the 32 home runs he hit a few years ago, and while he hasn't shown the power recently, he has been getting on base despite a poor month of June.
DougOut: What is your best for trade package for Price? Would the Pirates pay it?
Bill Brink: Price has struck out 10 or more batters in five consecutive starts, four of which were at least eight innings, for the first time since Johan Santana in 2004. They can ask for the moon, the stars and the galaxy and if they don't get it just trade him in the winter. I'm not sure the Pirates pull the trigger on whatever it will take, especially considering they won't re-sign him after 2015.
DougOut: Any news on Marte's status?
Bill Brink: No, because we're not at the ballpark yet and the clubhouse doesn't open until 3:15. We know he's not concussed and has a swollen right middle finger.
Guest: Personally, I don't think the Pirates will mortgage their future for one year of David price. That's just not how NH work. Agree?
Bill Brink: That indeed is not how Huntington works. If they acquired Price it would be a departure from their MO.
James: Out of Barmes or Grilli, whom is more likely to be cut, waived, traded, etc.?
Bill Brink: Grilli. Hurdle likes a third defender who can play shortstop on the roster, which means they will hold onto Barmes.
Bill Brink: Lightning round. Go.
Loran: With the reemergence of the Brewers and the stingy Cards, The NL central is TOUGH this season. Who stays in the pennant race and who falls off?
Bill Brink: Pennant race? Brewers and Cardinals. I think the Pirates and Reds can stay in the wild card race, though.
DougOut: Any idea when/where Tabata starts at AAA?
Bill Brink: Soon, tomorrow if not today, and probably left or right field.
Joe: To go along with the other question about 1B and Ike Davis...do you think Chris McGuiness has any chance of coming up long-term? We already have a few guys who can play 1B but Davis is only on a 1-year contract right now if I recall
Bill Brink: As long as Davis and Gaby Sanchez are here Chris McGuiness will not come up. Davis is under team control and eligible for arbitration, so while he is technically on a one-year deal the Pirates have him for a few more years.
Loran: Any minor leaguers that can make a difference for the team this season?
Bill Brink: Sure. Tony Sanchez will be a September call-up. Casey Sadler could help, Tabata might be a September guy, Chris Dickerson too, Jaff Decker. As far as prospects, though, Nick Kingham is the one to watch. He's been good in a few starts for Indy and could help in September if the Pirates choose to go in that direction.
Bill Brink: That's it for today, thanks for all the great questions. We'll do it again next week.
First Published June 26, 2014 12:00 AM