dekks: do you think the pirates will be able to make the playoffs with the starting rotation of pitchers they have?
Bill Brink: I think they can earn a spot in the wild card game. It's going to be tough for them to catch the Reds the way they have pitched in the second half.
JAL: All those strikeouts, was Volquez that good, the hitters that bad, or a combination of both?
Bill Brink: Volquez was on, and when he's on he has the ability to get double digit strikeouts. You saw some funny swings, but it's nothing we haven't seen from the Pirates before.
Thom: When is Marte's expected return?
Bill Brink: He can't come back until Sept. 4, but the history of oblique strains indicates it will likely be closer to a month. That puts him around Aug. 20 or so.
JAL: McPherson and Wilson either look ready for the majors?
Bill Brink: They both looked worthy of being in the majors, at least. They each touched 94, McPherson's fastball had good movement, they both threw strikes. We will know if they're ready for the majors if they get a chance to stick around, which I think Wilson will.
Thom: Have the recent daily roster moves harmed the chemistry in the clubhouse at all?
Bill Brink: Not at all, at least not when we're allowed in there. These guys remember each other from spring and get along well.
JAL: Will the save to two 40 man spots until Sept. or bring up someone like Clement earlier?
Bill Brink: The fact that these guys have a shot at the playoffs makes this all much more confusing. It wouldn't shock me if they brought up Clement and/or Chris Leroux earlier to get them playoff-eligible.
tanschmidli: Hurdle said yest that didn't know what he would get out of McPherson or Wilson. Then he laughs and says doesn't know what he will get out of Correia for that matter. Why didn't someone ask him why he started Correia? Did someone ask and we just didn't see it? Seemed to let him off the hook.
Bill Brink: My initial question was why he started Correia, and that was his response. He later amended it to, and I'm paraphrasing, let's bring in the young guys out of the pen in a lower-leverage situation in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, seeing as how it worked with Jeff Locke.
Wilson and McPherson are both starters, which is why that didn't make much sense, but that was his reasoning.
Thom: Predicted starting rotation at the end of the season?
Bill Brink: I think it stays as is. I don't see any of the young guys getting a shot unless A) someone gets hurt or B) the Pirates decide one of their younger pitchers would be better suited than, frankly, anyone but Burnett. If that hasn't happened at this point, I don't think it will happen in September.
JAL: That would put Marte back around Sept. 20, not August 20--which was yesterday
Bill Brink: Hazards of chatting before I've finished my tea out here on the west coast. Sept. 20, not Aug. 20, for Marte. Thanks JAL.
Hunter: Would you expect McPherson or Wilson to head back to Indy to make room for Qualls or did they show enough that it would be worth keeping them both the the big club and letting Qualls go?
Bill Brink: I would imagine Wilson stays in the bullpen and McPherson goes back down for Qualls. They like McPherson and see him as a potential middle-of-the-rotation starter, but they like Wilson right now in the bullpen.
dekks: could 2 of locke, wilson or mcpherson be starts next season?
Bill Brink: I asked Huntington about whether or not Wilson could return to starting, and he said there were people in the organization who felt he was a starter and they wouldn't close the door. I could see Wilson and McPherson as starters later next season.
Bug on a Foo: Who do you think is getting called up from AAA in Sept? With two openings on the 40 man, might Clement be one of them?
Bill Brink: Right now, Clement and Chris Leroux are the clubhouse leaders. Eric Fryer will come up as a third catcher, and Hague and Presley could come up as well. You may see another reliever or two.
Mike in Downtown: Why call up Tabata over Presley?
Bug on a Foo: Is Tabby's early showing for real? Has he truly learned a lesson?
Bill Brink: I was curious about that as well. It may have to do with the fact that Tabata bats right-handed, and they have a lefty outfielder in Snider. Tabata hit slightly better than Presley in Indy and Presley has not had an extra-base hit in his past 10 games.
Bug on a Foo: Lower leverage with Locke? Didn't Locke START some games last year? I don't buy that logic, Clint!
Bill Brink: Locke started games when the Pirates were 20 games out of first place. These games all matter in the playoff race. At least, that was my interpretation of Clint's reasoning.
Hunter: Hurdle said the some of the younger guys had passed Juan Cruz and that was the simple reason as to why he was let go. There seems to be a few other vets in that category. Any expectations that someone else could be released in the near future or see their role change drastically when rosters expand?
Bill Brink: I think you could see roles change. I think it might be similar to Watson last year, when he pitched his way into important situations because he performed so well. The young kids have to pitch well before they supplant the vets, though.
Bug on a Foo: Bill...you answered why Tabby was called up, but not if his early showing is for real. I'm hurt....first JAL beats me to all the good questions and now you don't answer mine.
Bill Brink: Correct again. It's too soon to tell if it's for real, but he's roped a couple balls and actually ran hard on that double, which is always a good sign.
Ronen: Howdy Bill, do you think Jones is going to continue with his recent (sic most of the year) production, and do you think he will be part of the Bucco plan for next year? side note: I love your avatar picture!
Bill Brink: I made a joke with Hurdle back in May when Jones had just started his hot streak that he wouldn't hit .350 forever, and Hurdle jokingly chastised me for setting limits on guys. Since June 1: 305, 14 home runs, .911 OPS. He's certainly exceeded the fluke stage, and if they wouldn't trade him for Burnett before this season they will certainly want him around next year.
Ryphia: Does Walker have any limitations from his injury that was not even a week ago?
Bill Brink: For Walker, it's about pain management. He says the biggest issue is gripping the bat swinging left-handed, because the right pinky holds the bat during follow-through. Other than that, though, no restrictions. He said there's no danger of dislocating it again; apparently it's not like a shoulder, where once you pop it out once you're more prone to it.
Hunter: Was Taillon's recent promotion to AA a surprise at all to you after his struggles in the middle of the season?
Bill Brink: A good portion of evaluation with this organization comes from observations of the process rather than results. Taillon's directive was to sharpen his fastball, which meant opposing hitters saw a lot of pitches to hit. Once they felt he had accomplished that, it was time for Altoona, where he can practice his full arsenal.
JAL: Anyone have theories why McCutchen has stopped getting his bat on the ball? By that I mean even when he does hit the ball lately it is a weak grounder rather than a line drive. Pitchers throwing him differently? He pressing? Just a normal slump?
Bill Brink: Pitchers are pitching him differently, using the outside part of the plate more rather than challenging him inside. Some of it is natural regression to the mean after he hit .370-ish in June and over .400 in July. He ripped a ball to the opposite field Sunday and hit a ball that couldn't quite cut through the marine layer last night, so the swing is still there.
WAP: Why is Barajas getting as many starts as he is? It seems as though McKenry should be our everyday starter behind the plate.
Bill Brink: Barajas since the start of July: .134, one homer, four RBIs. .453 OPS. No bueno. Hurdle likes his game-calling, but he did say he would start to get McKenry more time. McKenry's time has increased, but not to a equal level, and certainly not to the fans' liking, which judging by e-mails and tweets I get is "Every game except when Burnett starts."
Hunter: Any chance Cole could end up in AAA by the end of the year to get a little minor league playoff experience or can we expect him to finish out his season in Altoona and make the jump in 2013?
Bill Brink: I would expect he finishes the year in Altoona and has the chance to start in Indy next year, but that would not be a lock either.
Doc: what is wrong with Morris that they were unwilling to bring him up when he had options instead of bringing in dfa players like Quallis?
Bill Brink: Lots of questions about Qualls: It seems that after acquiring Sanchez, he was what they could get for McGehee. They said they liked him during the offseason and he said he almost signed with the Pirates. The Pirates are also fans of reversible moves ahead of irreversible ones, meaning they will keep the player who can't be optioned as long as possible until they have to make a move. That is likely the case with Qualls right now.
Ryphia: Do you know if Bedard likes the extra days of rest? I know many of us think it helps, but does he have a preference that he's shared?
Bill Brink: I talked about this with him in Cincinnati. He doesn't mind them the way some starters do, especially with the mileage on his shoulder. Some starters can feel "too strong" after an extra day of rest and it changes the way they throw. Burnett likes to go on five days, just like Maholm did when he was here.
Bill Brink: Lightning round time. And go.
JAL: Pirate home run leader at end of season?
Bill Brink: McCutchen.
Choo: how long does tabata stay up?
Bill Brink: Depends on whether they want another position player for the playoff roster, but I bet he's here for a while.
JAL: SD Zoo or the beach?
Bill Brink: Beach. Got up early yesterday morning to go surfing before all the roster moves.
Ryphia: Total wins for AJ this season?
Bill Brink: 20
Hunter: Is Knickleback the worst band ever?
Bill Brink: If there's one that's worse, I haven't heard them.
JuniataKid: And the 2012 NL Cy Young Award goes to...
Bill Brink: Going out on a limb and saying Johnny Cueto.
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