Bill Brink's Pirates chat: 5.10.17
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Bill Brink
12:01
Thanks for the questions, everyone, and keep them coming. Here we go ...
Suseck
12:01
What plan do Pirates have to improve their offense?
Bill Brink
12:02
They just went down and got the two guys who were hitting the best in the minors, so if that doesn't work, they'll need to look outside the organization. But with Marte and Kang unavailable, Freese's injury and Taillon's unfortunate situation, the question is whether they want to. Which brings us to ...
Sean from Cumberland
12:02
Hurdle has no consistent hitters and his starting pitching just got weaker, The much talked about farm system is not what they hoped it would be. Will Huntington and Nutting help him out? Can they?
Bill Brink
12:04
They can. The question is will they. Huntington speaks each year about how trades early in the season are hard to make (part of this is that teams are in draft prep mode until mid-June) and that teams must overpay to pull them off. The Pirates are not a team that likes to overpay. For them to add to this club they would need to see signs that another player or two might make the difference. They'd probably need to see some better offense and defense from the players they have to believe that.
AndrewG
12:05
This season is off to a depressing start. Between cheap ownership, poor management by Hurdle and listless play by overcompensated players, it looks like we are starting a losing season. I know it's early in the season but is there anywhere we can find a decent pitcher. Seems like our "big ace" pitchers are big zeros.
Bill Brink
12:07
Surprisingly, the pitching has been the least of their problems. Cole has looked like 2015 Cole his past three starts, Nova is still great, I was encouraged by Glasnow pitching into the seventh in his most recent start and I think better days are ahead for Kuhl. The absence of Taillon will of course weaken the rotation. There are pitchers to be had, but it goes back to the point above: What does the front office need to see from the current players to add to this team? This is not to make excuses for the front office, merely to illustrate the train of thought for a team that thinks long-term.
BurghBall
12:07
Bill, any sabrmetric data on Won-Loss record on day games in which the team is due to fly away to west /east coast road trip? The Pirates look pretty uninspired Sunday against the Brewers.
Bill Brink
12:08
There is always that joke about swinging early on getaway days. I don't have any data handy, though I'm sure someone somewhere has studied it. E-mail me at bbrink@post-gazette.com and remind me, and I'll blog about it if I can find it.
David
12:08
How is Polanco's misjudgment not an "error"? And what is wrong with our defense. Seriously. We have lost like at least five games because of horrible defense this season.
Bill Brink
12:09
Everyone is baffled at the defense this year. Some of it is due to Marte's absence, but either way the Pirates didn't have a true fourth outfielder on the roster. That is magnified now. I've been surprised at the defense at second base as well.
Logan
12:09
Do you think the Pirates stand a chance at playoffs or even the division this year? Also, any big changes coming up?
Bill Brink
12:10
Not as currently constructed, no. They'll need external help, or for like four players to go on a tear and Williams to pitch well in Taillon's absence.
Almost lost hope...
12:10
Does the move to shift Polanco back to right field show just how mismanaged this team really is?
Bill Brink
12:11
Not the way I look at it, no. They had a plan during the winter, all three outfielders played in the WBC so they didn't practice much and then Marte got popped. I think they're doing what they think is best with the pieces they have.
Kyle from Omaha
12:12
What is the pulse of this Pirates team? I've never seen a team look so lethargic. Cervelli and J-Hay are the only guys busting it out there and they look like they are having fun. Cutch looks lost and annoyed. Polanco looks like he's on a Sunday stroll. I feel bad for the pitching staff.
Bill Brink
12:12
I'm not on this current road trip, so I can't say definitively right this second, but when I've been around them it has been fine. They want to play better and are frustrated but not down.
Almost lost hope...
12:12
The Pirates are 12-3 on games played on weekend series but just 2-14 on games played during weekday series. What do you attribute to this discrepancy?
Bill Brink
12:13
As Josh Harrison would say, baseball's a funny game.
BuccoFanFromSpain
12:13
Hi Mr. Brink. Besides the obvious minor league options (Hutchinson, Brault, etc) can we expect some help from the outside?? Fister, Latos...
Bill Brink
12:14
Thanks for joining us from Spain! Williams will get some run in the rotation. If that doesn't work out, I think we'll have a better idea at that time, depending on how Brault and Hutchison are doing, where the Pirates are in the standings and what other teams who are out of it might make available.
Cole
12:15
Do you think Cutch is gone at the deadline? He predicted a monster year and he's been bad so far. Hopefully he turns it around
Bill Brink
12:15
If the season continues in this fashion for the Pirates, it would stand to reason that they would consider moving him at the deadline, same as they considered moving him over the winter.
David
12:15
Is there any chance it will be changed to an error? I really hate how our pitchers are responsible of the runs when it's actually a routine play that our RF/2B mishandled.
Bill Brink
12:16
Referencing Polanco's play last night. Players and teams sometimes will ask for a review of a questionable official scoring decision, so there is a chance.
David
12:17
And what about Cutch? I know he's been hitting balls just directly at the shifts, etc. but is he really better than last season?
Bill Brink
12:18
The numbers don't show it yet, but he's doing better than last season. He's cut his strikeout rate by 5 percent, his batting average on balls in play is only .231 (career .328, MLB average .290-.300), less soft contact, fewer swings outside the strike zone, more contact overall, fewer swinging strikes, etc.
Shoes
12:19
It looks to me like the majority of Pirates prospects who get called up simply aren't major league ready. I don't see this on other teams--might it be time to turn the focus on how the Pirates are developing their talent? It doesn't seem to be very effective...
Bill Brink
12:20
I don't know about that. Bostick and Moroff have had two games, I'd give them a little more time. Osuna has looked ready at the plate, Ngoepe in the field.
Emory
12:20
Why doesn't the press in Pgh call out Bob Nutting for being cheap?? According to neutral sources Bucs were 2nd most profitable team in baseball in 2016 and are worth in excess of $1.2 Billion. So enough money to increase payroll doesn't seem to be the issue. Most knowledgeable fans believe Nuttings goal apparent goal if stagnating or reducing payroll is the root of Bucs problems. Why is this issue not continuously reported in and exposed by the press??
Bill Brink
12:21
We do. I know fans don't think so, and want it written about every day, but we write about the payroll. We wrote about the Forbes estimates, we wrote about the $5 million or so not being spent on Marte and Kang (Kang' final number is still up in the air).
Nate
12:22
What would it take for the Pirates to make a change at coach or even general manager?
Bill Brink
12:23
I think more would have to go wrong that was within their control. Marte, Kang, Taillon and Freese were situations not within the manager, coaching staff or front office's control. They did shed light on some things that were (lack of position player depth, especially true outfielders, for one).
PhillyJake
12:23
Does the team look lethargic? Or is that just a perception exacerbated by all of the losing?
Bill Brink
12:23
I think it's more perception than reality. I would say more sloppy (getting picked off on the bases, making errors) than lethargic.
Mark L
12:23
I know that it is a cliche to say that when a team isn't hitting, they should fire the hitting coach. But given the accolades given to the Bucs' pitching coaches, I am wondering about who is coaching the hitters and what they are doing with them. Does Hurdle get involved? Or is it all on Branson?
Bill Brink
12:24
Jeff Branson and Jeff Livesey coach the hitters, and Hurdle, as a former hitting coach, can sometimes help as well. Remember, this is the same duo that had the Pirates as one of the best offensive teams in the league at the beginning of last year.
Kevin
12:24
Do you think Cervelli has played anywhere near his 2015 season in 2016 and up to this point this year? I'm not talking so much about his hitting, but his catching and handling of the staff. Doesn't seem as good defensively to me as he once was
Bill Brink
12:25
The foot pain has limited him somewhat this season, it's true. He remains an excellent framer.
Mark L
12:26
I can't remember the latest on the Pirates' tv contract. With other teams signing billion $ contracts, don't the Pirates need to get a big one just to keep up? When are they due for a new one?
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