Bill Brink's Pirates chat: 8.16.17
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Bill Brink
11:59
Good morning and welcome to this week's chat. We're going to start late -- we're an hour behind here in Milwaukee and we're about to speak with head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk. Sit tight and we'll get going around 12:15.
12:21
OK. Here we go ...
Buccin Right!
12:23
Which free agent 3rd basemen will end up with the Pirates over the winter? Todd Frazier?  Mike Moustaskas?  Others?
Bill Brink
12:24
Can't imagine either of those two because of the contracts they can land. I do think they will acquire one, either via free agency or trade, because they have to operate as if they won't get Kang in the country.
Chuck
12:24
To say that the Pirate offensive is weak borders on understatement.  Much of the season and the series against the Blue Jays and last night's game against the Brewers underscores this.  You are an insightful sports writer.  As such, what would you suggest the Pirates do to beef up their offensive production?
Bill Brink
12:25
Right this very moment, there's not a ton they can do that doesn't require help from other teams, in the form of not revoking waivers/not claiming players on waivers, etc. The help needed to come in April when Marte went out to have more of an effect, or possibly before the deadline when Polanco got hurt the second time.
N. Kingham
12:25
Have I regained my status as a stud prospect?  With Coles assumed departure, I assume could get a shot fairly soon?
Bill Brink
12:25
Well Nick, if your last two starts are any indication, you're heading the right direction, though I don't think Cole is going anywhere before the end of this season.
Buccin Right!
12:26
Bill,   7 of the 10 current playoff teams are in the top 10 in slugging percentage (hope that makes sense!)  The Pirates are ranked 29th! They seem to always focus most of their attention on pitching (F/A signees, trades, draft selections, etc.) I'm so tired of .250 hitters with 8 HRs and 33 RBIs for the season. When are we going to see some "bombers" in Pittsburgh?  No coincidence that the last WS title here in the Burgh was won by a team nicknamed the "Lumber Company!"
Bill Brink
12:27
It doesn't appear that many are on their way in the system, so they'll have to come in externally. What will be interesting to me is if power is devalued at all on the free-agent market or in trades because it is easier to come by these days. After seeing Chris Carter hit 41 homers, then get non-tendered and sign for $3 million, I wonder if the current offensive environment will make it more available.
Fish Monger
12:27
Bill, Did you hear Greg Brown on the telecast last night? He seemed in disbelief that Stewart was starting over Diaz. And I think most fans agree. What is wrong with Clint Hurdle? This team is struggling to score and even if Diaz struggled a bit in the minors recently, he sure as heck is a better hitter than Chris Stewart. This is ridiculous. What do you think?
Bill Brink
12:28
I think Hurdle, by playing Stewart, is showing he values Stewart's game calling more than the offense Diaz would offer. Agree or disagree, either way I think that's what's happening.
Fish Monger
12:29
Aren't you disappointed that Bob Nutting and Neal Huntington did next to nothing and continue to do so when the weak division was right in our grasp? Why couldn't we bring in Walker? What about Granderson or Bruce? No wonder the fans are tuning out in droves
Bill Brink
12:29
Not my job to be disappointed or happy about what the Pirates do or don't do, but: Granderson or Bruce were the ones that made sense, with Polanco out for the (at the time) second time because of the same injury.
PhillyJake
12:29
Why hasn't the front office tried to acquire another outfielder?  And please don't tell me SRod is an outfielder.
Bill Brink
12:31
This has been a good question since Marte went out in April. The Pirates have said they liked their internal options better than what they could have gotten for what it would have cost, but not acquiring one (and/or not putting a true fourth outfielder on the roster out of spring) has hurt them defensivley.
Fish Monger
12:31
Polanco looks like to be a bust. Can't stay healthy and has been woefully bad at the plate for long stretches. Do you think the Pirates stick with him another 2 years or is it make or break with him next season?
Bill Brink
12:32
Well, they're not going to cut him, and they can't trade him because he has no value right now because he hasn't proven he can stay healthy. So they're going to stick with him.
Doug
12:33
What was MLB's statement concerning the Pirate's challenge last night. Obviously the play at the plate stood as called but Bell clearly was not given a lane. I'm not sure what the home plate rule is anymore. Can you please enlighten me?
Bill Brink
12:33
The way Hurdle described it this morning, Pina had the ball with enough time that he was allowed to be where he was ... which also means Bell could have trucked him if he wanted to. I'll have more on this on the Web site soon.
Fish Monger
12:34
If Hurdle doesn't come back next year which I think is likely and long overdue, are we stuck with Tom Prince? Not impressed with him either but I know he's cheap.
Bill Brink
12:34
Hopefully, if only so we can used the headline "PRINCE THAT WAS PROMISED" across the front page of the paper.
12:35
(I don't think "stuck with." I'm sure he'll be a candidate if Hurdle decides he doesn't want his option picked up or the Pirates don't exercise it. Huntington wouldn't limit the Pirates to one guy, and the Pirates also need to interview a minority candidate.)
Thomas
12:36
Why doesn't Mr. Hurdle drop Marte from the leadoff spot? It doesn't seem to be working for the team.
Bill Brink
12:37
Yeah, the .614 OPS since his return isn't getting it done and neither is the .319 OBP from the leadoff role. The speed plays, for sure, and perhaps Hurdle is hoping to get him rolling by getting him more ABs.
Fish Monger
12:37
Are we stuck with Jordy Mercer for another few seasons. You realize he is batting .203 since the all-star break? And he was at the Mendoza line for much of the first 2 months as well. This guy can't hit, I'm sorry, brief stretches of production aside.
Bill Brink
12:37
Kevin Newman is in Indianapolis now, and he could be an option for the Pirates as early as next season.
Mike
12:38
When can the pirates begin calling up players from AAA without loosing service time? Do you think with all the starters at AAA they go with a 6 man rotation in Sept or spot starters? Now that Meadows is healthy doe he become the 4th outfielder?
Bill Brink
12:40
It depends on the player. The one of note right now is Glasnow, who already has some service time and could earn a full year if he comes up by a certain date (I've got it written down somewhere, want to say Aug. 25 off the top of my head). If he earns a full year, he'll hit free agency a year earlier. The players won't "lose" any service time, they'll start to accrue it, and thus possibly hit arbitration earlier. I think you could see some spot starts, but Hurdle isn't a big fan of a six-man rotation. And Meadows just got back to Indy last night, so I don't see him being a fourth-outfield option just yet.
Fish Monger
12:40
Why don't you and Stephen ever call out the ownership for its lack of spending to make this team better? An occasional blurb doesn't count. There is no reason that they kept the savings from Marte and Kang this season. It's time for you beat writers to step up your game.
Bill Brink
12:40
You ask me the same thing nearly every week. I give pretty much the same answer -- we write about payroll, Nutting, money saved on Kang, Marte and Hughes. I don't know what to tell you, Fish.
Doug
12:41
Just a follow up to the offensive production or lack thereof post...Who is the hitting coach and his job in jeopardy or will the organization use the excuse that that (1) Kang couldn't get his visa, (2) Marte missed half the year with his suspension, and (3) Polanco wasn't healthy most of the year?
Bill Brink
12:42
Jeff Branson and Jeff Livesey are the hitting coaches. I don't think their jobs are in jeopardy because I don't think Hurdle and Huntington see it as their fault -- though sometimes you do see changes made for the sake of getting a new voice in the players' ears.
Guest
12:43
Bucs must be leaders in fewest starters used and most innings from starters?
Bill Brink
12:44
The Pirates actually rank 10th in MLB in innings from their rotation, which, I have to say, surprised me when I just looked it up. Nova racked up a ton of innings in the first half, but I thought Glasnow would have offset them some.
Fish Monger
12:45
Our farm system has faded fast. We really have next to nobody offensively ready to come up. That is pathetic to me. NH might make a great trade or 2 but his drafting in recent years has been terrible. Do you agree?
Bill Brink
12:46
The position-player aspect of it is what jumps out at me. There are some nice shortstop prospects, but no outfielders (other than Meadows) of note in the high minors, or none that put themselves in a spot to possibly be a fourth guy (Luplow really came on strong this season). The lack of catching depth is also concerning.
Doug
12:46
According to the statistics on ESPN.com the pirates have scored 496 runs which puts them 12 out of 15 in the NL. As a team they are batting .245 which is 14 out of 15 in the NL. As of this morning they are only 3 games under and 4.5 games back in the division. Isn't this a good indication that adding a few bats would have been appropriate? I wonder if adding Neil Walker and Jay Bruce woud have put them over the top? Guess we will NEVER know!
Thomas
12:46
Why didn't the Pirates bring back Walker for the stretch run? We certainly could use him and the money is there from Nutting right? I don't get it.
Bill Brink
12:47
Bruce, to me (or Granderson) are the ones that would have made sense given Polanco's injury. Walker could have played second and moved Harrison over to third, and the Mets did pick up some of his remaining salary in the Brewers trade, so both could have worked.
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