Bill Brink's Pirates chat: 6.7.17
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Bill Brink
12:03
Good afternoon from Baltimore, and welcome to this week's Pirates chat. We'll try to get through it with as few Wire references as possible. Thanks for sending the questions, and keep them coming. Here we go ...
kent
12:03
When will Hurdle move Watson back to the set up man and let Rivero close? I like Hurdle's patience with guys who have earned chips but Rivero is better. Do they not think he can handle the closer's role?
JB
12:03
How long will the Bucs stick with Watson? Staked a 5-3 lead gets a gift 1st Strike then down the middle boom tie game. Very disheartening
BuccoFanFromSpain
12:04
Hi Mr. Brink. First the frustration comment. As as a foreign fan is very tough to see and swallow losing games when it's 3 AM, specially the way it happened yesterday. Now the question. It's time to put Rivero closing the games because Watson is struggling heavily (losing value as well). Hurdle must do something ASAP. Your thoughts?
Bucs Fan
12:04
Is it finally time to move Rivero into the closing role? He has to be considered one of the top 2-3 relievers in the game and is pitching lights out.
Bill Brink
12:07
Lots of questions about Watson. Let's get into it. I think the time is coming when we could see Rivero close, possibly as early as tonight. In the past, Hurdle defended Melancon when he struggled, saying, "You've got to give these guys some rope" and pointing to the track record. Last night he mentioned the three blown saves in two weeks and the fact that the Pirates thought, since acquiring Rivero, that the day would come when he woudl close.

The fact that Rivero is as dominant as he is makes it hard to justify not making the move, especially in light of Watson's struggles. Hurdle would lose the flexibility of using Rivero against the toughest part of the order, but maybe there's some wiggle room in there.

Patience with struggling players plays big in the clubhouse, out of sight. But there comes a point where even the players understand a change might need to be made.
Buc'nnutz
12:07
Thanks for the chats, they're great. When can Marte begin working out/rehabbing to get back into game shape? Any trade deadline hitters/pitchers we should target?
Bill Brink
12:09
Glad you enjoy them! He's working out at Pirate City now. He was playing in extended spring games, but when the GCL season starts they will need to create game opportunities for him. Fifteen day before his return (July 3 off the top of my head) he can go on a "rehab" assignment with a minor league affiliate.

Regarding trades, it depends on whether they see themselves as buyers, sellers or both. They could move McCutchen and Watson but still add a bat, hoping Rivero and Meadows can adequately replace them; they could decide to try again and deal Cole along with the other two and maybe Nicasio; or they could add, hoping the weak division gives them a better shot. Too soon for individual targets right now.
John
12:09
How's Keller?
Bill Brink
12:10
We'll know more this afternoon, when we speak with the athletic trainer. He still hasn't pitched in a game since leaving his start May 16 after one inning.
Russ
12:10
Hi Bill, love the chats. How is our farm system ranking these days? Our prospects seem very unspectacular and our talent at the Major League level seems inadequate for a legitimate run at the playoffs. This feels like the (recent) old days, not enough in Pittsburgh with no help on the way. Thanks!
Bill Brink
12:12
I'd say there are bright spots. ESPN's Keith Law ranked them fourth, pre-season, and Baseball America had them seventh. Regardless of what Meadows has done thus far, he's a top 10 prospect in baseball. Kevin Newman is beginning to assemble another strong campaign. Keller was good before the injury, and Ke'Bryan Hayes, while not hitting for power, is getting on base well.
John
12:13
When we had a 10 run lead, Watson pitched a clean inning. But yesterday, he blew it away. Does he feel pressure that affects his performance? Or is it just simply poor pitch execution? I'm not convinced at all that he'll pitch better as a setup man. He'll need to pitch in lower leverage situations in my opinion.
Bill Brink
12:14
Hurdle and Watson both pointed to bad execution, but the question is, did the pressure of the ninth cause that bad execution? Knowing Watson, it strikes me as unlikely that he's fazed by closing, but it's hard to argue with the results since the move. He's also pitched in a lot of games the past six seasons so it is possible that workload is taking its toll, though he takes care of himself as well as anyboyd.
Bill
12:14
I know prospects in the minor leagues all say they can only control what they do and not when they get called up to the majors but these guys are aware of what is going on with the big league team. Would you agree that it could be frustrating for guys like Steve Brault and Edgar Santana to see the rotation and bullpen struggle up here while they continue to perform well at Indy without getting a callup?
Bill Brink
12:14
I would agree that it could be frustrating, but because I haven't spoken to either one since spring training, I certainly don't want to speak for them.
12:17
I've seen four different reports/mock drafts link them to prep righty Shane Baz, out of Concordia Lutheran High in Texas. It's tough at No. 12 because so much can happen in front of them. We saw that last year, when Jason Groome, originally considered a possible top three pick, fell to the Red Sox at ... wait for it ... 12th.
Man, I'm bad at this. The question was ...
John
12:17
Any names you hear for the upcoming draft? Bat? Pitcher? Prep? College? Underslot? Overslot?
Russ
12:18
Hi Bill, how is Glasnow dealing with the gigantic challenges he's facing right now? He was SO dominant in the minors that this seems like this is the first time he's had to face adversity/learn how to pitch. Got to be tough to lose when you never really have.
Bill Brink
12:19
He understands as well as anyone that these results aren't gonna cut it, but like most baseball players he is searching to build on the positives. You make a good point; Huntington has spoken frequently about how the organization wants the players to fail in the minors to learn how to adjust and counterattack, rather than cruise to the Show and then get shelled.
Bucs Fan
12:19
Why was Rivero not given an opportunity to come out in the ninth inning? It took him 15 pitches to get 4 outs. Why not let him go 10 more pitches and see how many outs he could get?
Bill Brink
12:20
That's a good question, especially after the off day Monday. Rivero leads the majors in appearances with 30, and although Hurdle said in New York that his workload is in a good place, they might not want to push it.
Bucs Fan
12:21
We are 58 games into the season and with the tough loss last night the Pirates are 26 and 32. Reflecting back on the season thus far how many games do you think the Pirates let slip away?
Bill Brink
12:21
They've blown eight saves, so that's a good place to start.
Chuck
12:21
Although there has been some improvement lately, the Pirates still rank near the bottom in most offensive categories. Some of the blame has to be on the hitting coach. Why hasn't the hitting coach been replaced? Is it because Hurdle is loyal to a fault with his players and coaches?
Bill Brink
12:23
It is not because Hurdle is loyal to a fault. This is the same set of hitting coaches (Jeff Branson and Jeff Livesey) that had the offense off to a great start last year in the first two months. If the hitting coaches were the problem, Hurdle and the front office would likely take action, so the fact that he hasn't indicates that either they don't see the hitting coaches as a problem, a two-month sample isn't enough to fire someone, or both.
Bucs Fan
12:23
Do you have any update on Cervelli? How concerned are the Pirates with his history of concussions?
Bill Brink
12:24
No update. He was in the trainer's room when we were in the clubhouse last night and the clubhouse opens today at 3:30. We'll know more when we speak to him and the athletic trainer. Without putting words in Todd Tomczyk's mouths, yes, a history of concussions is always more of a concern when a player has some sort of head trauma.
Tachobill
12:24
Is Gerrit Cole a Pirate at the end of the season?
Bill Brink
12:25
Think so. If the Pirates think they can contend in 2018, with Marte back, possibly Kang, maybe Austin Meadows, Nova's still here ... then yes. Plus, his past three starts have to give other teams some pause.
Bucs Fan
12:25
if Nova needs to miss some time how will that affect the rotation?
Ean
12:25
Is Nova headed to the DL? When is the next update?
Bill Brink
12:26
Unsure on Nova at this point. Last night he didn't seem too concerned about his knee ... but it has bothered him for more than two weeks, he had to leave the game and the 10-day DL makes skipping a single start easier. We'll get the update today when we speak with the athletic trainer.
John
12:26
Anyone asked Hurdle about keeping Rivero in the fireman role and making Nicasio the closer? Might make sense to try to keep Rivero as the "Andrew Miller" of the bullpen...
Bill Brink
12:27
I know I have questions for Hurdle on the closer's role today and I'm sure others will as well. I would imagine we'll have a clearer picture at around 4:30 this afternoon.
Shannon Gregory
12:27
When Marte returns, what role do you see Frazier taking? Does he return to the bench or does J Hay go to third and Adam take 2nd?
Bill Brink
12:28
By that point I think it will depend on who's hitting and who's healthy. He would strengthen the bench, for sure, but hard to take Harrison out the way he's hitting.
Noah Diehm
12:28
Who do you think has the best chance of being traded?
Bill Brink
12:28
I would have said Watson, but now I'm not as sure, although some team will be in need of a lefty reliever.
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