Bill Brink's Pirates chat transcript: 07.18.14

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12:02

Comment From JP

Who are some pitchers the Pirates could trade for that they could also control in 2015?

Bill Brink:

The easiest one is David Price, who is under control for 2015, but that won't happen. The Pirates won't want to part with the prospects -- and their corresponding years of control -- to get a player who could cost $21 million in arbitration and won't re-sign in Pittsburgh.

Ian Kennedy in San Diego is an option. Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee from Philly as well, and I've heard the Phillies would pay down some of the contract to get better prospects in return.

Comment From JP

With all these lefties starting against us do you see Jay Hay bouncing from 3B to 2B to RF all weekend?

Bill Brink:

I do. I bet he plays a lot this weekend and next, when the Pirates face these same Rockies again.

Comment From james

What are your predictions for how the pirates will finish the season?

Bill Brink:

I leave the predictions to the experts and the columnists, but if their pitching gets stronger they will be right there for the NL Central title and/or the wild card. It all depends on how Liriano, Cole and the bullpen perform.

Comment From JAL

Do the Pirates have a serious interest in Houston Street or they simply checking to see if the padres will give him away for practically nothing?

Bill Brink:

Serious, in the sense that they would like to get him, but nothing imminent from what I can tell. The Frieri trade has not worked and they could use another back-end guy.

Comment From JP

Can the Pirates DFA Stewart already, and call up Sanchez?

Bill Brink:

Sanchez is raking in July but had an abysmal June. Keep in mind his throwing was an issue when he was here, and they aren't going to compromise their depth at catcher by eliminating Stewart as an option. Barring injury, he's here to stay.

12:11

Comment From Sanguillen1971

Who will be the Pirates catcher next year? Will they sign Russell Martin, start Tony Sanchez or will it be a catcher to be named later?

Bill Brink:

I think they make a concerted effort to sign Martin, but they might not be able to, in which case their catcher would be Sanchez with Stewart backing him up.

Comment From Steve

What can the Pirates do to address the black hole at first base? Is going out and re-acquiring Morneau a possibility?

Comment From Steve

What do you see the Pirates doing about first base, if anything at all?

Comment From Rob

Do you see the Pirates looking to upgrade at 1B? I know Billy Butler is struggling, but he may be an attractive option

Bill Brink:

I don't see them adding another first baseman. Ike Davis is a second-half player, and the Pirates will get a good look at Gaby Sanchez this week because the face, I believe, seven lefties in 10 games. They already traded for one first baseman and I think they allocate their prospects elsewhere.

Comment From JAL

Any concern the pen is being overused. Watson in 45 games, Melancon in 44, Wilson in 40 so far

Bill Brink:

We talked about this with Hurdle in St. Louis. His take was, while the appearances are high, he felt good about the rest the relievers had between outings and especially after high-leverage appearances.

Comment From Chris

what prospect package would be enough for street/ street and kennedy/ peavy

Bill Brink:

Street has been very good, as has Kennedy, so they won't come cheap. It will take a decent mid-level or higher prospect, plus another fringe guy, probably. Peavy hasn't been good, I don't think he's high on their list.

Comment From Sanguillen1971

Wouldnt Justin Wilson be better off being stretched out for the starting rotation since he has 5 pitches? He does have 2 minor league no hitters under his belt.

Bill Brink:

He couldn't control those five pitches as a starter and his fastball, which plays 96-98 in relief, doesn't play as well at 92-94 as a starter.

Comment From Steve

Will the Pirates re-sign Russell Martin at the end of the season? What will it cost?

Bill Brink:

No way to tell if they will, though I think they try. He could command somewhere in the three-year, $36 million neighborhood, possibly more.

Comment From RJ

Is it accurate to say that this team has taken a step back from last year? I realize it's difficult to make the playoffs two seasons in a row but do you sense Huntington and Hurdle will be on the hot seat if we miss with this core of players?

Bill Brink:

They've taken a step back as far as their record, but I don't think Huntington and Hurdle will be in danger if they don't make the playoffs this season. They are in the playoff race in the toughest division in baseball right now.

Comment From Noah

What do you think is the Pirates biggest need at the deadline? Who can you see them trading for?

Bill Brink:

I think pitching, of any kind, is their biggest need. Street makes sense, Kennedy makes sense. Hamels makes sense, but the Phillies would rather trade Lee and Lee is hurt right now.

Comment From Paul

If they were to go after Cliff Lee, would they be really dealing over some big-time prospect? Like Bell? Is Lee really a realistic option?

Bill Brink:

Lee is probably an August waiver trade option because his contract will get him through waivers unclaimed. Not just for the Pirates, but for anyone. The Phillies will pay down part of the salary to get a better prospect, and Bell could be an option in that situation.

Comment From Robert

Any indication how quickly we might see Andy Oliver from Indy? Been dynamic as the closer there. Heard him referred to as a Justin Wilson-like arm.

Bill Brink:

He still walks more than five batters per nine innings in relief, though that has declined since June 1. He's making his case.

Comment From Loran

Bill to what do you attribute the Pirates hitting woes with RISP?

Comment From Noah

Do you think they can agree on an extension with Polanco by the end of the season?

Bill Brink:

They're at .248, right in the middle of the pack in MLB. Batting with men in scoring is a reflection more of overall batting skill than it is any particular skill in that situation, despite what the Cardinals did last season. The Padres, who are in last, are a horrible offensive team. The Tigers, who are in first, have a great lineup.

Bill Brink:

Whoops, don't know how those comments got mixed up. As for Polanco. ...

Bill Brink:

... no, I don't. Polanco and his agency understand the talent he has and most likely will wait until he is closer to arbitration to maximize his value. They won't agree to terms unless the Pirates blow them away, which they won't do because that removes the benefit of cost certainty.

Comment From Loran

Any concerns about Tony Watson after his latest outings going into the second half?

Bill Brink:

No, he's still a great pitcher who had a rough outing. He'll be fine.

Comment From JAL

Of the 4 contenders in the Central, which team has the the moist significant injury problems?

Bill Brink:

Losing Molina is a huge blow to the Cardinals. The Reds have been solid without Votto's production, so I'll go with St. Louis.

Comment From Loran

What's a reasonable projection for Josh Harrison in the second half? Also what are the plans in utilizing him?

Bill Brink:

Teams will adjust to him. His .333 batting average on balls in play should drop some. No reason he shouldn't hit well, but maybe not quite this well.

Comment From Jimbo

Is Price a realistic option for the pirates? What about Andrew miller of the Red Sox ?

Bill Brink:

Miller is more realistic than Price. I can't see the Pirates parting with several prospects for a pitcher who will cost $20 million-plus next year and be gone the year after that.

Comment From Loran

Bill your coverage of the all star game was great! I enjoyed reading the blog posts and columns giving the midsummer classic a local view. Any interesting opinions or stories you omitted you could share today?

Bill Brink:

Thanks, I'm glad you liked the coverage. I've got some leftovers that will run Sunday and next Friday, so keep an eye out for those.

Comment From Steve

With that being said, do you think they will extend Russ a qualifying offer?

Bill Brink:

It makes too much sense not to. If he takes it, great, they have another year of a great catcher. If not they get a pick.

Comment From Jimbo

Why not move Bell to 1B already?

Bill Brink:

Because he just got to double-A. He still has at least a year and a half, maybe two, before he could be knocking on the door as an outfielder. What if Polanco tears an ACL or Marte gets a bad concussion or any number of other things between now and then? If he gets to Indy and the outfield hasn't gone anywhere, they will start looking at moving him; Huntington said as much a few weeks ago.

Comment From Steve

Could Nick Kinghanm make an impact as a back end starter? He's been dominant in AA and AAA this year.

Bill Brink:

I think he could. He's been great this year, and I wonder if the Pirates call him up to the bullpen in September. If not, he will be in the discussion next spring.

Comment From Loran

How short is the leash on Pedro in the second half? It seems like he lost favor with Hurdle in late June with the late game substitutions and questionable lineup omissions

Bill Brink:

The late-game substitutions were defensive replacements because he has struggled throwing the ball. The lineup omissions came, with one exception, against a lefty. Hurdle manages his people well, and tries to give them time to get going, but he can only wait so long.

Comment From Loran

There's constant talk about batting your best hitter in the 2 spot, however Travis Snider hit there last weekend. Although he had a great game at the plate I don't think he is the Pirate's best hitter. Do you agree with batting the best hitter in the 2 spot? Who do you bat there in the 2nd half?

Bill Brink:

Studies have proven that the best batter should bat in the No. 2 spot because of the combination of hitting with men on base and the number of place appearances you get. Optimizing the lineup in that way, however, only adds a win or two per season so it's not that big a deal. There's a difference between batting a good hitter there and Snider there, though.

Comment From Raymond from N Shore

With Polanco's awful performace against left-handed pitchers, do you see a right fied platoon with J-Hay? Analogous to the Davis-Sanchez 1st Base platoon.

Bill Brink:

Probably not that strict, because Polanco has hit lefties before in the minors, but I think against the tougher lefties Harrison will play there.

Comment From Stevearino

How long until Cole comes back? Seems like it should be soon?

Comment From Jasper

Worley has done a heck of a job while Cole is out, when do you think he'll be back?

Bill Brink:

We don't know. The Pirates don't want him to rush back, despite the injury being minor. Compensating for a tight lat muscle can cause problems elsewhere so they want him 100 percent before he returns.

Comment From Bob

Josh Bell. Future first basemen or trade bait?

Bill Brink:

It would take a good haul for the Pirates to move him, but they would if necessary. Closer to trade bait than a future first baseman right now.

Comment From James_Pittsburgh

Did Wainwright leave a fat one for Jeter to hit in your opinion...I know he's better than to give up 3 runs in one inning, no matter the talent of the opponent like the AL all-stars...

Bill Brink:

I'll let the facts speak for themselves. He threw a fastball out over the middle of the plate, then said he was going to give Jeter some pipe shots.

Comment From Loran

What is the situation with the middle relievers? Some baffling decisions were made in the last two weeks placing Jeanmar and Frerri in certain roles. It seems as if Hurdle is very inconsistent with his bullpen

Bill Brink:

The Frieri decisions were stranger to me than Gomez, given the way Frieri has pitched. Throwing him out there in the ninth and later against Adams with the bases loaded were strange choices.

Comment From JAL

Are my eyes deceiving me or has Mercer turned into a pretty solid SS as the season has progressed?

Bill Brink:

Your eyes are not deceiving you. Since about mid-April, Mercer has been very strong at short. Decent range, good throws, turns double plays well.

Comment From Steve

Could the Pirates try to pull an NBA move to do a sign and trade of Price? is that even possible?

Bill Brink:

They could trade for Price, then trade him away this winter, but they won't. They won't part with the necessary prospects to get him, then move him after two months.

Comment From Guest

Prior to the ASG break, Hurdle had Sanchez start against righties a number of times instead of Davis. Do you know why? Davis hasn't been great, but Sanchez is poor against righties...

Bill Brink:

Hurdle pays attention to split stats but that isn't all he looks at. Factoring in a pitcher's repertoire, arm slot and velocity, he sometimes concludes that losing the platoon advantage is a better option.

Comment From Raymond from N Shore

It seems Hurdle still has a great deal of trust in Liriano, at least for now, evidenced by putting him first in the rotation. My question is, how long do you believe Liriano's leash to be? He has been very inconsistent, and a 1-7 record with a 4.72 ERA are stats that don't imply good things. Upon Cole's return, coupled with Liriano's shaky (at best) performances, where do you see Frankie fitting in?

Bill Brink:

He will get two starts at least, unless he really shows he's lost it. I can't see them cutting ties with him unless he goes full Wandy.

Comment From Raymond from N Shore

Do you see Vin Mazzaro being recalled to the Pirates bullpen in the somewhat near future? Stolmy's performance has been on and off, and I'd say Mazzaro is better than both Stolmy and Gomez. Do we recall Mazzro to supplement the bullpen?

Bill Brink:

He's another option, with Andy Oliver, who could see some time soon.

Bill Brink:

Lightning round. Go.

Comment From Mike

Starlin Castro a possibility?

Bill Brink:

My apologies, I accidentally deleted another question about Castro as well. No. They're going to see what they have in Mercer, Castro is expensive and the Cubs will charge a division rival premium.

Comment From JAL

Best interview at the AS game?

Bill Brink:

Brandon Moss. He was fun to talk to, charismatic, revealing and honest. More from him to come soon.

Comment From Jeff Jimmerson

Is Cutch in position to repeat as MVP?

Bill Brink:

He's right there. Tulowitzki is probably still ahead of him, but Tulo's home/road splits put McCutchen a little closer. Lucroy, Kershaw are right there too.

Comment From JAL

Any chance Pirates can get anyone to take Tabata?

Bill Brink:

No, if they could, they would have moved him already, or someone would have claimed him off waivers.

Bill Brink:

That's it for today, thanks for all the great questions and enjoy the weekend


First Published July 18, 2014 12:00 AM

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