Bill Brink's Pirates baseball chat transcript: 7.1.14

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Harry: Let's go bucs! Hi bill, what do the bucs do with Snider? I think there are better options available.

Bill Brink: No need to do anything with him now until they need to make a roster move in case of an injury to an infielder. Part of the reason he stayed and Tabata went was because the Pirates knew Tabata probably wouldn't be claimed because of his contract and Tabata would accept his assignment because he wouldn't get his money otherwise. They probably thought someone would nab Snider.

Joe: It seems to me like we have enough (or maybe even too many) starters who are doing relatively well...do you think the Pirates need a high-end starter or a multi-inning reliever more right now? Or neither?

Bill Brink: Whether they "need" one or not, I expect them to pursue a starter, because Neal Huntington always operates with an eye toward stockpiling starting pitching depth. If Vance Worley went on the DL right now, they don't have much in the way of fill-ins behind him. You're looking at the Jay Jacksons, Adam Wilks and Casey Sadlers of the world (Kingham is probably a little ways off despite his great performance thus far).

Erik: Are the pirates looking at any pitchers cause liriano is not consistant enough to be a ace

Bill Brink: I can only imagine they are, given their pursuit of Wandy Rodriguez in 2012 and Bud Norris last season, combined with the injuries and issues their rotation has faced this season. There is uncertainty around Liriano and when he will return, which makes finding another starter all the more important.

Harry: I get the feeling that Grilli wasn't very popular among his teammates? Any truth to that?

Gillen4: What do you make of the comments out there that Jason Grilli was not a pleasant person off the field?

Bill Brink: I can't speak for his teammates. They have told me they like and respect Grilli, and Grilli always praised the middle relievers for making his job easier. There's a lot that goes on when the media isn't around that we don't see, though, so that could be true.

I've had wonderfully pleasant conversations with Grilli off the record, about baseball and life, and I've also been on the receiving end of his frustration at times. I don't think his on-camera persona, if you will, accurately reflected his demeanor, but I also think he was a good guy.

Jamie: Do you think the pirates will make a move at the deadline?

Bill Brink: Yes. Despite last season's deadline, which was unusual due to its inactivity, I expect the Pirates to add at the deadline this year.

Marko: will the pirates resign polanco?

Bill Brink: Eventually, but I don't see it happening any time soon. Polanco and his agents know what type of earning potential he has. The Pirates are hoping for cost certainty because they also see Polanco's potential. It could happen this winter or next year but I doubt it happens now, especially if the bulk of the money remains in the non-guaranteed option years.

Doug_Out: Hello Mr. Brink and thank you for your time today. Any reason to be concerned about the development of Cole? Where is this swing and miss stuff we've been told about? His latest outing even gives me more cause for concern.

Bill Brink: Cole is striking out 8.1 batters per nine innings this year, which is pretty good for a pitcher in his first full season. His latest outing was troubling, but I don't think it speaks to a development issue. He had a rough day in his first start back from the DL, and maybe the league is starting to figure him out a bit.

Gillen4: Boston Globe reported the Pirates will be going after a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher in trade talks, and no hitters. Do you concur?

Bill Brink: I read the piece as well and agree, both from what I've heard and from a common-sense standpoint.

Harry: When lirano comes back who goes down? What is the time table?

Bill Brink: Liriano is throwing bullpens and could be approaching a simulated game or rehab start pretty soon. I would expect he comes back after the all-star break. We'll know more about who comes out of the rotation then, based on injury and performance.

Jason: Maybe this has been previously addressed and I missed it, but why is El Toro not batting 4th? It seems like his power is being wasted and we are getting nothing from cleanup hitters.

Bill Brink: Alvarez hits .192/.276/.362 in the cleanup spot in his career and .251/.317/.469 batting sixth. Hurdle has tried to put him in the cleanup spot and it hasn't worked, and he can't keep running him out there to make outs with men on base.

Joe B: Who do you see the Pirates going after as possible trade candidates

Bill Brink: The usual suspects -- Price and Samardzija -- will surface, but I think other candidates like Jason Hammel, one of the Diamondbacks starters or Ian Kennedy could be in the mix.

Erik: Are the pirates looking for any big name pitchers cause we need a aj burnett type

Bill Brink: They're going to look at all of them, available or not. The question is, how strong are the chances they can contend for the wild card, and do they want to part with young talent to try to make that run?

Andrew: Any chance that the pirates would move Harrison to shortstop since the two we have can't hit?

Bill Brink: Not right yet. They want Mercer to hold down the position, but that option exists in the future.

Hunter: If the starting pitching keeps with the month of June, or even close to it, how aggressively do you think the Pirates will be in trying to obtain a starter via trade?

Bill Brink: I think they will still be aggressive despite the recent improvement because they will want to add depth.

Gillen4: Your best guess at our rotation on August 1st. You can slot in "new acquisition" if you think we'll get someone that will make our top 5.

Bill Brink: Cole Liriano Volquez Locke Worley

Guest: What would you have thought if the Astros accepted the Heredia/comp pick for bud noris deal

Bill Brink: It would have been an organization deep in young pitchers using one of them to get a major league caliber arm for a playoff push. A fine deal.

Hunter: Any reactions from the Pirates on the leaked Astros trade talk info? Your thoughts on it?

Bill Brink: Nothing earth-shattering. They wouldn't part with Polanco or Taillon, were willing to part with some other talented prospects, wanted pitching. Kind of what we might expect.

What's more interesting is the behind-the-curtain look at how front offices talk, and it's pretty much like we might expect -- e-mails and texts about players and offers.

Marko: will the bucs look to bring in a position player at the deadline? SS?

Bill Brink: Doubt it. They'll focus on pitching.

Matt: Has there been any talk of Harrison playing any at 1st? I think it could give him another option and the team another option of roster spot by moving on from Gabby. Just my opinion.

Clint: do you see ike davis as our first baseman the rest of the season? if not, what are our options - yeah he's shown some life, but not consistent enough for me

Bill Brink: I see Ike Davis as the first baseman for the rest of the season and I don't think moving Harrison there is a viable option.

Doug_Out: You think Petey needs to be cut some slack? He leads the team in HR and 2nd in RBI. Do you see a postive regression in the 2nd half - 15-20 HR and 40-50 RBI?

Bill Brink: He had a great June and showed plenty of signs of turning it around. He is already two-thirds of the way to his walk total from last season and has a .330 OBP, which is good for him. He went through a rough patch, but maybe some slack is in order.

Prez: bill - do you see the pirates moving anyone to play first base? I do not like ike

Gillen4: If you had to pick Ike Davis or Gaby Sanchez to be your full time first baseman, who would you pick and why?

Bill Brink: Davis had a great May and a poor June. He's a talented player and will do fine by season's end. I would pick Davis because he is left-handed, and the Pirates face a lot of righties in their division. Davis also gets on base.

Andrew Z: Would it be a good move to have Harrison start at shortstop? It would be a very good bat in the lineup since the other two shortstops have a good hitting game very rarely and it hurts the team if they are up in the situation where they need a hit.

Bill Brink: It would make sense, given Harrison's bat lately. The Pirates hope Mercer can hold down shortstop because then they have Harrison available to play all over the place, whereas Mercer can only really play the middle infield.

Chris: Why doesnt your august 1st rotation include morton? trade?

Chris: If Polanco signs an extension, do Bell/Meadows/Ramirez become expendable

Bill Brink: Doesn't matter whether he signs an extension or not, the Pirates have him under team control for six seasons after this one. If they wanted to move an outfielder, they have some good options.

Doug_Out: Do you foresee any IP limits for Kingham this season?

Bill Brink: He threw 143 innings last year. Maybe 165-170? Estimating, not based on anything I've heard.

He's at 97 right now.

Doug_Out: What do you feel is the market like for Martin? Could you see him offered $30 mil for 3 years? Would the Pirates pay that?

Bill Brink: That offer is probably on the low end given his defensive skill. I bet the Pirates would pay that, but someone else might pay more.

bucsfan: Any chance that we either trade for a better shortstop or just have Josh Harrison into that spot since we need better batting from that position

Panama: According to NH, the team does not have any glaring holes but will look to upgrade. Can that be at SS and maybe revisit the Gregorius trade or a veteran like Alexei Ramírez?

Bill Brink: It doesn't seem like the Pirates will trade for a shortstop given what they cost to acquire and the fact that they have two guys -- really three, but two that hit -- that play the position already on the roster. I think they will focus on pitching because of the rotation's injuries.

Jeff: If Frieri had decent year...would Pirates pay him and Melancon close to 4 million each...or is that too much for a couple of relief pitchers and 1 would be moved

Bill Brink: That might get a little steep, especially with Tony Watson about to reach arbitration.

Loran: Pirates are TCB against the teams they should beat as of late but according to yesterday's blog post they are struggling within the division against the Reds and Brewers. What does this say about the Pirates? Or does this say more about the Reds and Brewers being great teams this season?

Bill Brink: It says more about the Brewers and Reds. The Brewers aren't slowing down. They're a very complete team. The Reds are just now really rounding into form after dealing with injuries on both sides of the ball early.

Harry: Is Russell Martin ok? Odd to see Stewart start two in a row. What about the news of resigning Martin? Any news on that front?

Bill Brink: They gave Martin an extra day off after some rough plays on the bases. He's fine, just wear and tear, as far as we know right now. No actual news about re-signing him, but the better he plays, the harder it will be.

PeggyParrot: PNC has been packed the last several homestands - how much factor, if any, does this play on what management does concerning adding player before the deadline .. the support is there..

Bill Brink: Not much at all in terms of placating the fan base, but the added revenue might play a factor when deciding if they can take on additional salary.

Loran: What are your thoughts about the MLB's Instant Replay System thus far? It seems like overall it makes the game better but it still has its flaws

Bill Brink: I think it's done a great job, especially considering it is in the first year and they took care of the transfer rule change. It will never be perfect, but it has gotten more calls right than before.

Loran: Has the blocking the plate rule been addressed? Lots of grey area within that rule. What do you think MLB needs to do about this?

Bill Brink: This is a different story. They recently changed it so it doesn't apply on force plays, like the one Martin was involved with against the Reds, but there is still gray area. This will take some offseason review to fine-tune.

SidBream: your thoughts on pedro so far this season - has he met your expectations, are you concerned, or do you see him about where you thought he would be

Bill Brink: .241/.330/.416, 36 walks and 77 strikeouts, 13 homers is about where I thought he would be. I thought 15-16 homers by now, but he's close.

Andrew: Do you think that Polanco will be moved out of the leadoff spot and put Marte back into it? Polanco just doesn't seem like a leadoff hitter? And if this were to happen what would be a good fit for him in the batting order?

Bill Brink: I don't see Hurdle messing with the top three until forced to. The designation of "leadoff hitter" has changed, and Polanco is a fine leadoff hitter.

Guest: Morton wasn't in your 8/1 rotation. Any reason?

Bill Brink: Whoops. Forgot him.

Cole Liriano Volquez Morton Worley. Locke not deserving of demotion but has options.

JoshH: bill, if you were the skipper - would you find a permanent spot for JHAY ? or would you take clints approach and just find him spots day to day

Bill Brink: I might toy with the notion of playing him at short, but that upends Mercer's development. It's a real tough spot for them to be in.

Guest: How far is Kingham from getting a call up?

Bill Brink: He could be a September call-up if they feel he has progressed enough to help the big league club.

ChicoLind: do you think we will be able to keep walker and russel?

JoshH: what do you think its gonna take to be able to keep walker the hometown kids here in pittsburgh for years to come.

Bill Brink: Walker is still under team control but they will try to lock him up at some point after the season. It depends on how he finishes, but probably four or five years and $40 million-plus. Martin might take four years and $40 million. I don't know that they can extend Walker and re-sign Martin.

Andrew: Do you think tallion will be in a Pirates uniform at some point next season?

Bill Brink: I think he could be a September 2015 call-up. He has only made six starts above double-A.

ChicoLind: Bill - just want to say I appreciate the chats - us fans just want answers to sometimes impossible questions, i know you don't have them all the time - but its nice to have someone, with some access, to ask questions to

Bill Brink: Thanks! I enjoy them too, fun to interact with you guys.

James_Pittsburgh: We're sitting at 2 games over .500 and we're 4th in the division...safe to say the NL Central is the deepest division?

Bill Brink: I think so, yes. Four good teams this season.

Bob: AJ Burnett can you see the pirates chasing after him?

Bill Brink: They might try, but the question is, does Burnett have the Pirates on his list of teams to which he can block a trade.

Guest: If the Pirates are unable to re-sign Martin, do you think they will try to add a starter via free agency or will they be content turning the reigns over to Sanchez and a back-up?

Bill Brink: Indications were they were content with making Sanchez the starter and having Stewart back up, but they might decide Martin is worth the money.

RookiePiratesFan: Mr. Brink - who will be free agents after this season - and who do you predict will still be on the team next season

Bill Brink: Liriano, Volquez, Martin and Barmes will be free agents. I could see one of the pitchers and Martin returning, possibly.

Jeff: Do you think Mercer has shown better defense this year?

Bill Brink: I do. Since mid-April he has looked very confident, made accurate throws and made some tough plays.

Guest: Let's say they have to make a choice, extend Walker or re-sign Martin. What would you do? I would lean more towards extending Martin.

Bill Brink: They still have Walker under team control, so it would make sense to re-sign Martin if they can and deal with Walker later. But, they also have Sanchez and may rather allocate their money to Walker, thinking Sanchez is capable.

michael in austin: If you had to credit the Pirates recent success in one word.. what would it be?

Bill Brink: Rotation.

As in, the improvement of the starting rotation.

Justin F: Wouldn't it make sense to try Pedro batting 2nd in the lineup? If you put him before McCutchen pitchers would be forced to give him some good pitches to hit as opposed to being buried in the lineup where he gets nothing to hit.

Bill Brink: Lineup protection is overrated, and you don't want someone who strikes out as much as Alvarez does batting second. The No. 2 spot is the most important spot in the order because of the combination of more plate appearances overall and coming to bat with times on base. The team's best hitter should bat there.

Andrew: In your opinion Which Pirates minor leaguer has the most potential to be a superstar in the majors when he gets to this level?

Bill Brink: Taillon's the easy one. I'll say Josh Bell. Showing real steps forward this season.

MrKnowItAll: what are you most disappointed in so far this season - for me, its been liriano .. i didn't have faith in wandy from day 1

Bill Brink: I too would say Liriano, though we had to figure that last year was somewhat of an aberration.

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


First Published July 1, 2014 12:00 AM

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