Hunter: Does the recent hot play of McGehee and Jones slow down and efforts to get an additional bat via trade?
Bill Brink: I don't believe so. The Pirates can't count on their success continuing at this level, and will likely continue to look for a more established bat.
Macs: BB, Please tell me there is someone in the organization that is alarmed at Barajas throwing out like %5 of the runners he attempts to throw out, and if so is there a plan or a contingency plan in place.?
Bill Brink: Hurdle, for one. There isn't a contingency plan in place, because he's a better hitter than McKenry and calls games well. The closest alternative is Sanchez, but he just reached triple-A and is a ways off.
Hunter: How much longer can they leave Jordy Mercer on the bench? Don't they have to get him back to AAA soon just to make sure he is getting AB's?
Macs: Do you see any chance, the FO gives up on Barmes and gives Mercer a legit chance at being the everyday Short stop?
Bill Brink: They can't leave Mercer on the bench much longer because he isn't getting the playing time he needs to keep him sharp. This week, I think, you will see him either get into the games more often or go back to Indianapolis to keep playing.
Hurdle said when Mercer came up that Barmes was the starting shortstop, and I think that continues at least through the end of the month. The Pirates have a significant financial investment in him and don't want to cut ties on that type of investment. I don't think Mercer will get a shot to replace him; if they thought that might happen he'd be playing more.
Hunter: Do the Pirates get more than one representative in the All Star game?
Bill Brink: Yes. Who that is, in addition to McCutchen, is not certain. Grilli and McDonald have made compelling cases, and Hanrahan could earn a shot as well.
Guest: Who is next in line for an extension? It was Walker, but FO seemed to cool off from that.
Bill Brink: There isn't an obvious candidate. If the Pirates believe McDonald can sustain this performance or something close to it, they could attempt to extend him, but there is no rush on that at all. He'll be cheap for the next few years.
careyad: I have seen some commentators question the move of Lincoln from the pen to the rotation. But with the value of a starter being so much higher than a reliever, don't you have to give him a shot and see what happens? Worst case he is back in the pen, best case you have a starter that you can use or trade.
Bill Brink: That's why they are giving Lincoln these starts: they want to be sure that Lincoln isn't a viable starter before turning him back into a reliever. Starters are more valuable, but it's tough to get a good read from one or two starts, so they're using the opportunity while Karstens is out to get a good look.
Bill Brink: Pirates tonight: Tabata 7 Harrison 9 McCutchen 8 McGehee 3 Walker 4 Alvarez 5 Barajas 2 Barmes 6 Correia 1
Bill Brink: Tabata back in the leadoff spot after some improvement recently.
Hunter: If they decided to go with one of the arms in Indy who gets the first call?
Bill Brink: Huntington said Locke's experience last year would help him, but it wouldn't be the deciding factor. Based on performance, Owens.
Guest: Would Kevin Youkilis be a good fit with the Bucs?
Bill Brink: Sure, as would many corner infielders with power. But Youkilis is hitting .215, hasn't played more than 136 games since 2008 and has declined in the past two years.
PhillyJake: How much of Lincoln's problems are mental ?
Bill Brink: Tough to tell. Hurdle mentioned that opening his front side too soon in his delivery may have allowed hitters a better look at his pitches. I don't think mentality had as much to do with it in his past start, when he just left fastballs over the plate.
JAL: In trades are the pirates more likely to try for a player with several years of control or a short term fix like they went after with Ludwick and Lee a last season?
Bill Brink: They will try for a player with years of control. The issue there is, they cost a lot more in terms of players in return. They may pick up a Ludwick type at the deadline, but the bigger deals will involve players under control.
TK: Will we get to see Clement any time or are his knees slowing him down again?
Bill Brink: His knees have slowed him down, but he has returned to play. if something happens to Jones, Hague or McGehee, I think that's when you see him. I thought they may bring him up for road interleague games but that didn't happen either.
Chris in AZ: Where is the long-term answer at SS? Hanson? Free agents look thin for next couple of years.
Bill Brink: Hanson looks good, but is still in low-A ball, so he has a lot of development ahead of him. Right now there's no clear candidate.
JAL: Can Lincoln be an effective starter with only a fastball and curve? I heard he is working on change but haven't seen it yet.
Bill Brink: It's very tough to do with only two pitches, especially because his breaking ball is solid but not devastating. The change has been there at times but is not always a viable pitch for him.
Bill Brink: Lightning round time, fire some quick ones at me before the clubhouse opens.
JAL: Odds they trade for a starting pitcher
Bill Brink: 38 percent
PhillyJake: Pedro's line tonight?
Bill Brink: 1 for 4 with 2 Ks and a double off the Clemente Wall
TK: Appel or Bueller?
Bill Brink: Appel
JAL: What could you do to get a pie in the face from AJ
Bill Brink: Hit a walk-off bomb in a Pit-Chi media softball game?
Chris in AZ: 20 straight games before break. Prediction for W-L?
Bill Brink: 12-8
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