Bill Brink's Pirates chat: 7.5.17
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Bill Brink
12:04
Good afternoon and welcome to this week's Pirates chat, from the heart of downtown Philly. Sorry for the delay, I took a wrong turn walking to a coffee shop. I know you all wanted to know that. Thanks for the questions and keep them coming. Here we go ...
Chuck
12:05
After a game earlier this season, David Freese mentioned that he thought Adam Frazier would one day win a batting title.  At the time, Frazier was hitting north of .360 and Pirate broadcasters were calling him a hitting machine.  Since that time, Frazier's average has been steadily falling and he is now hitting .268 after going hitless yesterday.  What caused this decline?  Did Freese jinx Frazier?  Did pitchers learn how to pitch to Frazier?  Did the batting coach try to tweak Frazier's swing?  Is Frazier fatigued?   How do you explain the steep decline in Frazier's batting average?
Bill Brink
12:10
That high average early was driven in part by a .341 batting average on balls in play in April and a .339 May mark. It since regressed to .272. His career mark is .321, so .339 and .341 were not that out of the question, but it was bound to come down somewhat. The strikeouts are up -- 14 in June after 16 in April and May combined.
12:11
He's also seeing fewer fastballs this year than last, and I bet that picked up midway through May.
David in LA
12:11
Will the Pirates be a factor in the NL Central race with Marte coming back and Cutch putting up, for now, astronomical numbers? Three things to consider: They can't score any runs, their starting rotation is off and on, and Kang probably won't be back this season.
Bill Brink
12:13
Three excellent points. The questions that must be asked: Are the Brewers a legit contender? Maybe. Losing Chase Anderson hurt. Do the Cubs figure it out? You'd think so, but more than half the season is in the books. Can Williams and Kuhl continue to pitch solidly and Cole returns to form?
You have to assume nothing from Kang. Marte should come back and play well and McCutchen, while he won't hit .400 from here on out, is showing no signs of slowing down. They can contend, but they need more to go right than has gone right so far.
Jimin VT
12:13
Is there any reason to consider it even remotely possible that this mgmt. team/ownership would consider negotiating an extensionw ith Cutch?
Bill Brink
12:15
No. He'll be 32 when he begins his next contract, and the Pirates won't want to pay for what likely will be his decline years. Recent contracts for outfielders (five and $90 mil for Hunter Pence, six and $85.5 for Adam Jones, seven and $153 for Jacoby Ellsbury) makes it likely that McCutchen will get much more than the Pirates will be comfortable offering elsewhere -- unless he takes a hometown discount and the Pirates break their own rules and make a "face of the franchise" overpay.
Bill
12:15
At what point does NH start to get some blame for the bullpen and bench? I know Marte/Kang issues hurt their depth but outside of Marinez and trying Santana at MLB level, he has done nothing to address the weakness of the bullpen. Middle relief help shouldnt cost a ton and may even have the answer in his own minor leagues (Schugel) or even try a guy like Kuhl in the pen. Just seems like keeping status quo on the pen and bench is the wrong option to me.
Bill Brink
12:18
The lack of a true fourth outfielder on the bench jumped out at me even before Marte's suspension (remember, he and Polanco have missed games here and there for back/knee/shoulder/hamstring dings and dents) and the suspension really exacerbated the issue. Hudson and Watson not performing to expectations hurt their plan, but once that was clear, you're right, something could have been done. I see the argument for Kuhl in the bullpen (let it eat at 98 with a wipeout slider for an inning or two) but I don't think they'll want to pull the plug on a starter who is making strides in the majors at age 24. They've got options internally, and maybe going to them sooner would have helped.
PhillyJake
12:18
Did you go to Pat's or Geno's?
Bill Brink
12:18
Been to both before so not making the trip this time. Another reporter told me to check out Amada for some tapas, so I might do that for lunch tomorrow.
PhillyJake
12:19
This is where you want to go, BTW: http://www.johnsroastpork.com/
Bill Brink
12:19
Many thanks!
Cutch
12:19
Why no BP yesterday on field?
Bill Brink
12:19
Day game after a night game, most likely. They do that from time to time.
Austin
12:19
What do you see the future of the pirates as? I understand they're still in contention but the team isn't what was expected. Things happen like the Marte suspension and Kang issue, but with cutchs contract expiring and the supposed interest in Cole do you see the team kicking the fan down the road and trade those guys for younger assets or do you think they are going to look to run this back next year maybe minus a couple players?
Bill Brink
12:21
There's a compelling argument to be made for contention next year -- if they keep Cole, which I think they do. Full year of Marte, full year of Taillon, progression from Bell, maybe Polanco gets it going, Cervelli and Diaz behind the plate, Rivero closing from Day 1. Cole, Nova, Taillon in the rotation followed by Kuhl/Williams/Brault/Glasnow/Kingham, and you figure two of those five can step forward. Even if they trade McCutchen, they have Austin Meadows on the way. If they trade Cole, though, I don't see it.
12:23
What other questions do we have today?
szweed
12:24
when if ever do they cut ties with kang...
Bill Brink
12:26
I don't think they need to just yet. He's not costing them anything on the restricted list and he's not earning service time. They could do so to make a point, the "this organization doesn't tolerate this type of thing" reasoning, but it probably behooves them to at least try to get him in the country so they can assist with whatever help he needs regarding alcohol. It would show future free agents that the organization is committed to them in good times and bad.
Bill
12:26
How long do they roll with 3 catchers for and is Diaz ultimately ticketed back to Indy?
Bill Brink
12:27
Hurdle said they would re-evaluate at the break, maybe Friday if Cervelli makes it through this series OK. And yes, that's probably the case, even though he deserves to be in the majors. Think of it this way. Say they cut ties with Stewart. Then Cervelli gets hurt again. Now Diaz takes a foul ball off his throwing hand and he's out a month. Your starting catchers are Jacob Stallings and Jackson Williams. They'll want to preserve their depth.
12:30
Two Marlins stand out -- Martin Prado and David Phelps. Prado is a great clubhouse guy who could work in at third with Freese, though the Marlins would have to pay down some of his salary. Phelps would help that bullpen. I'm not reporting this, mind you, just looking for fits.
szweed
12:31
who would you think would be a good pick up at the deadline
Bill Brink
12:31
Oops. That was the question.
Robert
12:31
What are the odds the pirates pick up a bullpen arm
Bill Brink
12:31
If they can put together a bit of a run and get closer to .500 and the Brewers, I'd say pretty good.
Barry
12:32
I am guilty of Hurdle-criticism often. Sunday, when we needed a win to avoid being swept by the Giants, your two best hair hitters, Cutch and Harrison, are not in the lineup. I understand everyone needs a break now and then, but not under those circumstances. And we hear how amazing a job Searage does with certain pitchers but not much above how he's not gotten many to succeed. The list is a long one.
Bill Brink
12:33
I usually understand the notion of resting guys to keep them as fresh as possible for the future. But here, if you lose that game, it might not matter how fresh players are in September. But, Hurdle often speaks of projecting the mentality he'd like to see in his players, so if he started McCutchen and Harrison on days he'd usually rest them, according to their protocol, players might think he was panicking. You can cut it both ways.
szweed
12:34
surprised that the supposedly tough centraldivision is ruled by the brewers and cubs and cards are behind
Bill Brink
12:36
Very. I figured the Cubs' pitching would take a step back (Hendricks was due for regression) but I didn't see this, nor did I see that lineup struggling as much as it has. I didn't have Orlando Arcia hitting .295 with a .773 OPS, or Travis Shaw raking, or Chase Anderson with a 2.89 ERA. And the Cardinals, they usually figure it out, so their performance is surprising on a number of levels.
12:37
High-level analysis on the Cardinals there, I know. But that's a well-run organization so you usually don't see this much roster turnover and this many things going wrong this early.
Nate
12:39
With all the young arms in The MLB and AAA (William, Kuhl,Brault, Hutchinson, Kingham, Glasnow) what do you think their plan is with all of them? Do some get traded or moved to pen?
Bill Brink
12:40
They're all young enough that they don't need to worry about a logjam just yet (although Brault is pitching well enough to force them to think about him). The depth is desirable. They can trade one, or put one in relief, or just have more guys when one inevitably gets hurt, because all pitchers do.
Matt
12:40
Your gut as of today, July 5: is Cutch on the move or not?
Bill Brink
12:40
His performance and the team's record say yes, but without a lack of a clear landing spot and the fact that they can still trade him in the offseason, I'll say no. It's a tentative no.
szweed
12:40
bucs stay intact, less cutch, odds they contend in 2018
Bill Brink
12:41
I'd say pretty good odds.
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