Bill Brink's Pirates chat transcript: 7.29.14

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Bill Brink: Good morning from San Francisco and welcome to this week's chat ... Thanks for the questions and keep them coming. Here we go ...

Parrot Boy: What is the most substantive deal you can see the Pirates pulling off?

Bill Brink: Right now, I could see them adding a reliever, like Antonio Bastardo or Joaquin Benoit, or supplementing their bench so Brent Morel and Michael Martinez aren't on it. Prices are still high, as evidenced by the trades already completed.

JamesinNYC: Do you think the Pirates could extend Martin mid-season? I would rather they put money towards him than give draft picks for a big money pitcher.

Bill Brink: I don't. He and his agency know how strong a season he is having and know that he can make more if he hits the open market this winter. That doesn't mean the Pirates won't re-sign him, but they will be forced to do it at market value in November or December.

T-Long: On August 1st, what additions will this team have in your opinion (please give a few names)

Bill Brink: In my job, I keep my opinions to myself and focus more on finding out what is actually happening. Of the names we know they've scouted, Bastardo, Benoit, Andrew Miller and Ian Kennedy all make sense, but they won't be given away, and I'm not sure the Pirates, with their emphasis on years of control and keeping prospects, will pay the price.

Bill: Odds that the Pirates make a move? I have a bad feeling they may not but you cannot contend with guys like Frieri in the pen and Martinez/Morel on the bench.

Bill Brink: We still have two days to go, and a lot can change between now and then. I still think they do something, but it might not be a major addition.

Bob: Based on the market and their success the last 3 months, should the Pirates go forth as they are and supplement with guys like Oliver, Kingham, Lambo, Cumpton, etc?

Bill Brink: Kingham and Lambo have been great at triple-A, while Cumpton has pitched well there but been uneven in the majors. They probably will not want to rely on players without much of a major league track record as they push for the division or wild card spot.

Doug: With Marte's on the DL for the last week wouldn't it have Jose Tabata made more sense as a replacement then Michael Martinez? Is Jose Tabata ever going to get out of Clint Hurdle's doghouse?

Bill Brink: It would have, and I think it has to do with the fact that A) Morel was on the 40-man roster, B) Harrison can play the corners and C) they had all those lefty starters lined up.

Jim from Cape Coral Fl.: How many wins do you think will get the bucs into the playoffs

Bill Brink: If I'm doing the math right, they're on pace for 86 and are two games back. 90 might do it, but it depends on what the Cardinals and Brewers do.

Guest: Is targeting Adrian Beltre in a deal a possibility at all? I think Texas would move him with the season they're having and the Pirates certain have the prospects to land such a player. move Pedro to first at a platoon for the rest of this year for him to learn and then have him start out in spring training there. Any thoughts or is that crazy talk between my friends and I

Bill Brink: Beltre would definitely be an upgrade but it doesn't look likely. He is due $18 million next season, has limited no-trade protection and a $16 million voidable option for 2016 that doesn't look likely to be voided. The Rangers are probably not in a hurry to move him because they should contend next year after their starting lineup of injured players return.

The Pirates won't move Alvarez to first base mid-season, either.

marty34156: What do you believe the Pirates are most likely to add, SP, RP, or a righty off the bench? Bucs have holes at all 3.

Bill Brink: Starting pitching and relief help appear to be at the top of their priority list, so that seems most likely.

Doug: What moves will be made in the rotation/bullpen when Cole returns from his rehab stint?

Bill Brink: Cruel as it is, they will probably option Jeff Locke back to Indy. They won't move Liriano, Volquez or Morton and Worley won't get through waivers after the way he's pitched.

Football Penguin: How realistic is a Pedro trade in off season and a Walker move to 3rd for next season?

Bill Brink: It's simultaneously realistic and not at the same time. Stay with me on this: Alvarez will get more expensive in arbitration this offseason, and not only has he not replicated his offensive numbers but he is a massive liability at third base. Other scouts see this too and teams won't be all that keen on trading for him. An AL team could trade for him as a platoon DH option but the market won't be robust.

But, a scout told me recently he thought Walker should move to third because he is solid defensively. So it makes sense on face value but I don't think it happens.

Hunter: How long do you think the Pirates keep the Frieri experiment going? August and September seem like a tough time to be working on a reclamation project.

Bill Brink: If they can get him through August without him causing too much damage they can bury him in the bullpen when rosters expand in September, then set about fixing him during the winter and spring. But he made $3.8 million in arbitration this year and is due a raise, and they might non-tender him if he continues to struggle.

Hot Takes: Twins fan here. one question. Currently all us Twins fans are debating whether Worley's failures with Twins was coaches fault. Do you believe this to be the case?

Bill Brink: Having not interacted with Worley or the Twins' coaching staff when he was there, I don't know. I know he was hurt, which didn't help things, and I know the Pirates' evaluators found a way to get him throwing like he did in Philly. How much, if any, blame falls on the Twins is tough to say.

Guest: Any chance we could move Pedro Alvarez yo first base?

Brian: What are you hearing about the Pirates plans for Pedro if he can't get his throwing issues under control?

Hunter: With some obvious issues this year how do you see the Pirates handling Pedro in the off-season? Do they move forward like normal into 2015 or if it continues do they look at a position change or even a trade?

Bill Brink: I think they're trying to figure all this out right now. Alvarez has never been a Gold Glover, but he in 2013 he played a solid third base. This year's throwing issues is a new thing, made especially more troubling by the consistency of the errors and the fact that he has the strongest arm in the infield. I don't think they have a plan or solution just yet, but they have to at this point consider moving him to first. Then, what do you do with Ike Davis? Neither one has a ton of trade value.

Gino: What do you think of the pirates squiring byrd and using marte as a center piece for getting price?

Gino: Whats a realistic asking price for Marlon byrd?

Michael: The pirates were linked to Marlon Byrd yesterday? Any reason why? Possibly to move marte/polanco in a major deal for price or lester?

Doug: Are the Pirates seriously thinking about dealing Starling Marte to Seattle or is that just all talk?

Bill Brink: Sort of related questions here. I don't think the reported interest in Marlon Byrd is very serious, unless they think Marte's concussion is going to take some time to recover from or plan to send down or bench Polanco.

The Pirates won't get Price. They would get him for two months, then either pay him upward of $20 million, then lose him to free agency and get only the draft pick, or get him for two months and trade him. They won't part with the necessary prospects for that.

Lester is less of a long shot but also unlikely.

The report was that the Mariners expressed interest in Marte, not that the Pirates were thinking of dealing him. Teams express interest in everyone, and 28 teams would probably like several players on the Pirates' roster.

Loran: What do you make of the Pirate's splits between home and away games? The stats speak for themselves. Seems like they can't hit away from PNC Park

Bill Brink: I haven't spoken to the players about this recently, but some players say they are just more comfortable in their home environment, with their walkout music, the crowd putting pressure on the opposing pitcher, etc. That makes an impact on them, even if it's in their head.

T-Long: Will AJ Burnett be a Pirate in the next few days?

Chris: Pirates really wouldnt bring Burnett back, would they?

Bill Brink: I don't think so. They are scouting him, doing their due diligence, but nothing will change the fact that in 2015 he will be 38, coming off hernia surgery and due lots and lots of money on a complicated contract option.

T-Long: A bench cosisting of Morel and Martinez is setting the team up to fail during the stretch run. I am banking on them getting a reliever, a SP, and two bench spots. Agree?

Bill Brink: That might be the final outcome after waiver trades in August but I don't see that coming together by Thursday.

Mark: Why isn't Tabata back on team instead of Morel. Harrison can fill in for Pete (even though I don't like how they are handling him)

Bill Brink: I'll look into this more today, but I imagine they want a 3B who can throw straight while Harrison fills in for Marte.

Doc: I know I will be pillaged for this, but why Martinez instead of d'Arnaud? Chase is better of late, and at least can run fast

Bill Brink: d'Arnaud has been playing the outfield recently for Indy and the Pirates needed an infielder to back up Mercer, Harrison and Walker after Barmes got hurt. D'Arnaud's infield defense is poor.

tedneverwins: Is Stollmy every going to get meaningful innings or just treated like a rule 5 guy, not making an opinion about right or wrong, just asking if you know more that me on this topic? thx

Bill Brink: The team sees Pimentel as a future rotation candidate, but he is out of options, so they have to carry him on the active roster in a long relief role until they can stretch him out in the offseason.

Jeff Jimmerson: Lots of movement in the batting order recently, do you see this as a long-term order or was this just Hurdle' attack against the long list of lefties (say that five times fast...) that has now come to an end after Bumgarner?

Bill Brink: I think you'll see them get back to their usual batting order now that they are facing more righties.

Double H: Has Pedro spoke to reporters about his throwing problems? I have never heard him comment on it.

Bill Brink: I spoke to him about it a week or two ago, after an errant throw with two outs led to an unearned run, and wrote a story about it. He said he remains confident, wants the ball hit to him and is working on all aspects of his throwing, but that the Pirates have told him to sometimes just take a day off and not think about it, which helps.

Kind of what you'd expect. He was professional about it.

Double H: Who in the minor league system is "untouchable" in your eyes during the trade deadline?

Bill Brink: Nobody at this point. Polanco was the last "untouchable" guy. I think they would part with anyone for the right price.

Loran: Bill, I take back all the negative things I said about Travis Snyder. What do you make of him in the 2 hole and do you see him getting more playing time due to his recent success at the plate?

Bill Brink: He's been great in July in limited time, though I don't think he's long for the No. 2 spot once Marte comes back. I think he will see more time until then, especially now that the slew of lefties is over.

JAL: How high does Harrison rate in biggest surprise you have seen covering the Pirates?

Bill Brink: Pretty high. I didn't think the on-base percentage would be high enough, and it has. I wasn't sure he'd adjust once pitchers started pitching him more carefully, and he did. I wasn't sure how he'd handle playing four positions, and he handled it great.

Loran: We're talking quite a bit about Pirate Trades today, but what about other teams in the NL Central? Who are you afraid that other division teams might acquire in the next coming days?

Bill Brink: I'd watch the Cardinals, who need a starter and have the prospects to go after Price or Lester. The Brewers are reportedly in on Lester as well. I don't know if the Reds can be buyers with the way they're playing and their injuries.

PhillyJake: Hearing anything about Lambo? I'd rather him on the bench than the aforementioned two. (I'd rather have him pitch than Frieri!)

Bill Brink: Nothing specific, but the Pirates coaches and front office don't often discuss publicly how they'd rather one of their minor leaguers be up -- they just promote them. Usually they talk when we ask about it, but certainly they are aware of his performance and he has been playing some first base recently.

Chris: Lots of trade speculation. I'm intrigued by Lester. How impactful would trading for him be on the image of the Pirates are cheap not to mention on the field. Do we win the Central with Lester?

Bill Brink: He'd be great in PNC and is having a good season, but acquiring him would go against the Pirates' mantra of betting on years of control. If they trade three prospects for Lester, they give up, say, 14 combined years of control for two months, and they can't offer him a qualifying offer because he wasn't on the roster all season.

Bill Brink: Lightning round. Go.

Mike: At what point do the Pirates leadership accept the fact they made a mistake with Frieri and cut him?

Bill Brink: They might non-tender him this offseason if he doesn't improve.

Jeff Jimmerson: Will Ian Kennedy be a Pirates by next week?

Bill Brink: No. Can't see the Pirates trading for a guy who missed a start yesterday because of an oblique strain.

Mike: Understood about the non tender in offseason but he is occupying a valuable roster spot.

Bill Brink: In reference to Frieri. Good point: If, like Grilli, they reach the point where he can't get outs in garbage time, they could cut ties, but I think they try to make it through August until rosters expand.

JAL: Worley solidify rotation spot last night?

Bill Brink: Didn't hurt. He's been great in all but one start (and that one relief appearance).

Football Penguin: What Pirate has most HR's at season end?

Bill Brink: McCutchen.

JAL: Kingham likely to come up in September?

Bill Brink: An excellent question, one I intend to explore in greater detail after the trade deadline. Would be a good candidate but the Pirates might want to keep him on a start schedule.

Bill Brink: That's it for today, thanks for all the great questions. No chat Thursday because of the trade deadline, but we'll chat Friday and dive into the leftovers of Thursday's moves.

First Published July 29, 2014 12:00 AM

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