Poll Question: What would you like to see the Pirates acquire?: Starting pitcher (67%) Reliever (11%) Corner outfielder (22%)
Bill Brink: Welcome to this special edition winter meetings chat, coming to you live from rainy Nashville. ... Great questions today, and here we go...
Buctober_Bound: Bill, any logic in signing Morton over Karstens?
Bill Brink: Whether it pans out or not, we don't know, but here's an argument for it, to play Devil's Advocate.
Morton will return in late June-ish with a healthy elbow, a healthy hip and a stronger body after the Tommy John rehab. Even while he had a partially torn ligament in his elbow and a bad hip, he pitched effectively with his new arm slot at 2011 (though not without speed bumps/growing pains).
Karstens missed too much of 2012 because of two different injuries. The difference between Morton's $2 million and Karstens' $3.8 or so he would have gotten in arbitration may not be much, but for the Pirates, who don't spend much, they felt it was significant.
Hunter: Do you think there is any chance Russell Martin would improve his OBP enough back towards his career average to justify batting him 2nd or do you think that would be a short-term experiment?
Bill Brink: I think that was something Hurdle threw out there, like when he told me in spring training that Barajas would have the green light on the bases. He was kidding, but making the point that he won't set a cookie cutter lineup.
JamesinNYC: What about signing Hanrahan to a 2-3 year deal? If you are not going to atleast have a solid chance of upgrading shouldn't you try to keep the talent you actually have?
Bill Brink: Hanrahan won't sign for less than market value, and market value for a closer of his caliber is probably three years and $27 million if not more. The Pirates won't commit to spending that much money on a closer. Paying $7 million or so in arbitration this year is a stretch, part of the reason they're listening on him.
Buctober_Bound: Bill, in the event that Jones is traded for a pitcher, can Gaby Sanchez be seen as an everyday first baseman?
Bill Brink: They have to hope so, huh?
Sanchez is only a year removed from hitting .266/.352/.427 with 19 home runs in 159 games. He mashes lefties (.291 career average) but handles righties adequately as well. It's not out of the realm of possibility.
James_Pittsburgh: What is the latest that you have been hearing about Joel Hanrahan?
Bill Brink: They're listening, but nothing imminent or with traction that I've heard thus far. Huntington is in no rush to do anything now that they signed Martin.
JAL: Of all the Pirates rumored trades or links to players is their one which which stands out as likely to happen?
Bill Brink: Hanrahan. I really think they move him before the season starts.
LeeFoo: Is there ANY chance of us resigning Karstens? Griilli? If so, what do you think they are? 30% 50% 75%, etc?
Buctober_Bound: Bill, why aren't the Pirates more aggressively pursuing John Lannan?
Bill Brink: I'd say chances of re-signing Karstens are zero-ish. Remains a chance with Grilli, I'd say 30 percent
Bill Brink: I think agents want to see how the pitching market plays out. What does Greinke sign for? Then what does that mean for Dempster? And so on down the line.
Bill Brink: Sorry, don't know what's going on with the order of the questions and answers.
James_Pittsburgh: Other than adding a starting pitchers, do you see the Pirates signing anyone this offseason?
Bill Brink: I bet they bring in another reliever or two and maybe a veteran bench guy.
Hunter: After speaking with Neal Huntington would you guess any attempts to trade Garrett Jones or Joel Hanrahan would be more about a true feel that it would improve the MLB product or that it is more of a move to save some money?
Bill Brink: A combination, but the front office knows how much of a third rail payroll is and that they'll get roasted if they trade away $10-12 million in salary and then pocket it. Options that make sense to me: They trade Hanrahan for a starter and then re-sign Grilli as the closer. Or they trade Jones for a starter.
PhillyJake: I'm reading nothing about Karstens, where as we're reading something about a lot of other non-tendered pitchers. Is his name coming up anywhere?
Bill Brink: Not that I've seen with any degree of traction as of yet. Teams may shy away from his injury history, and I think the pitching market will increase when Greinke signs.
Jeff: With 2nd shoulder issue in a year, I would think McPherson becomes a question mark. Increase in Huntington picking up a starter?
Bill Brink: I agree, the second shoulder issue in a year is bad news. Fatigue is unusual for a pitcher that missed the first half of the season. He was already 'competing' for a rotation spot, they hadn't penciled him in, but now you have to look elsewhere.
Stuart: Do you get the feeling that NH is fighting for his job and will make decisions as such?
Bill Brink: I do think he's fighting for his job, as is everyone in the front office. I don't think that will change his decision-making. He has said he operates the same way no matter what his job security situation.
BMTIB: Do you think that they are so scared off by the $7 million potential arbitration price tag that they will move Hanny even without getting a decent return? Or will they be smart enough to keep him until the deadline where they might get a better return, and enjoy a half season of his great performance? Nobody will offer him arbitration at the end of next year anyways- it's just too expensive.
Bill Brink: No, they won't move him unless they get what they think is a fair deal for him. It makes sense to do so now, because of the qualifying offers and CBA changes, but that doesn't mean they will do so.
LeeFoo: Is there anything more on the Hanny/Capuano trade? Or is it dead?
Bill Brink: It was one of many proposals bandied about. We probably hear a quarter of the actual proposed trades. It may not be dead, but it's not alive either, per se.
LeeFoo: Given NH's statement about 'not doing much', do you expect much?
Bill Brink: I don't expect much unless unless they deal Jones in addition to Hanrahan. Then you're talking the acquisition of at least one major league ready starter and maybe a prospect, considering Jones is under control until after the 2015 season.
JAL: From what you here are the Pirates comfortable with both Locke and McPherson in the rotation or do think they feel it necessary to pick up another starter?
Bill Brink: They say they're comfortable but I don't think they are. Locke hasn't showed he can handle a rotation spot and McPherson's shoulder issues have to scare them. I think they add at least two starters at some point.
Hunter: Is pitch framing something the front office has ever discussed and is it a possible factor in their signing of Martin? It's a relatively new stat so I'm wondering if it is something the Pirates take into account when evaluating catchers?
Bill Brink: If there's a metric to measure it, the Pirates take it into account. When asked about Napoli yesterday, Huntington stressed that they favored Martin's defense over Napoli's more offensive-minded game, and framing certainly falls into that. It's relatively new and tougher to measure, but the Pirates had experience with the wrong end of the spectrum with Ryan Doumit so they know what the value can be.
JamesinNYC: Given what Napoli got; does the Martin deal look much better?
Bill Brink: That was pretty much the question phrased to Huntington. He seemed very pleased with the deal, which was a good one. The Pirates get two years of a solid catcher and Martin gets a shot to rebound from a .211 average and .311 OBP and get paid after 2014.
Jeff: Bench was woeful last year. Can they upgrade on shoe string budget?
Bill Brink: There's always a couple veterans you can bring in for a couple million that pinch-hit, play multiple defensive positions and such. I would be surprised if Hurdle doesn't find one of them somewhere.
andrew long island: biggest need, pitcher or corner outfielder
Bill Brink: Starting pitcher. They need at least two.
JamesinNYC: Total payroll at start of season, trading deadline? Maximum price they are willing to spend for either FA or their own player this year?
Bill Brink: Start of season: $70 million. Trade deadline: $67 million. No idea on FAs, but they won't bid on the elite guys so somewhere in the $30 million total range.
JAL: Is the winner of the Presley-Tabata battle the de facto leadoff hitter next season and either capable of handling that spot?
Bill Brink: I'm not convinced Presley and Tabata are A) playing and B) both on the roster. Huntington said Starling Marte and Travis Snider will have the inside track to start and Tabata and Presley had to fight for playing time.
Bill Brink: I think they'd like Marte to lead off but his plate discipline has to get much better.
Dan Finnegan: Saw Jair Jurrjens and Mike Pelfrey were available on FA market. Are Pirates in on them. Please tell me they stay away from Capuano and Lannan, even Pirates hitters have hit the heck out of them in past years.
Bill Brink: Except for that one time when Capuano struck out 11 in eight scoreless innings, one of the more surprising games I've covered. They're in on all three of them, and it wouldn't surprise me if they made a run at Pelfrey. He was average, but pitched 180 innings for I believe four consecutive seasons, and they've shown no hesitation to spend on Tommy John guys. When the Braves get rid of a pitcher, that's never a good sign, so I don't know about Jurrjens.
Justin: We've all heard the Jones and Hanrahan rumors. Any under-the-radar guys you think we could see traded instead of (or in addition to) those guys?
Bill Brink: If they could get something for Tabata they could consider moving him. He has the friendliest contract in baseball.
Justin: Do you get the idea that Robinson has major league potential? His minor league stat lines are extremely impressive.
Bill Brink: Yes, but they were also compiled in the Pacific Coast League. I slug .413 in the PCL.
I kid, but you have to keep that in mind. Let's see how he does in Indy before we decide on his major league capability, and maybe see him play at the major league level a bit.
Sid Bream: Do we have any chance of upgrading shortstop or get some power from one of the corner outfield spots
Bill Brink: Doubt they eat $5.5 million of Clint Barmes to upgrade short, I think they're rolling with him until next year. I wouldn't be surprised if they traded for a shortstop at some point but to get a good one they have to part with pitching prospects, most likely.
Power hitting corner outfielders are costly. I thought they might take a run at Jonny Gomes, but he went to Boston. I don't see it right now.
James_Pittsburgh: I see no reason to trade Garrett Jones. If Sanchez hits Jones can play right field. Plus if the Pirates are trying to field a winning team in 2013, Jones has to be part of that. I don't see the Pirates getting anything that will amount to an upgrade for Jones.
Bill Brink: One of three things needs to happen for it to work: Gaby Sanchez plays competent first base every day, they get a first baseman back or they get an average to above average starting pitcher.
Bill Brink: Think we've covered most of the issues the remaining questions are asking about, so lighting round. And go.
Bill: To me it always seems like NH is operating off of the 2009 Baseball America prospect guide? Smoak, Sanchez, Alderson, etc....just me?
Bill Brink: Pirates like reclamation projects: Prospects with raw talent that got derailed by injury, rushing through minors, poor instruction, etc. They come cheap and Pirates hope to extract that talent. Doesn't always work.
JAL: One word reaction to the Gaylord Center
Bill Brink: LARGE
Ryphia: Will Barajas be on a roster in 2013?
Bill Brink: He'll land somewhere if he doesn't retire.
Jeff: Any update on Walker's back? 100 % spring training?
Bill Brink: I'm hearing he's working out again, so signs point to a recovery by spring training.
Marty34156: Scale of 1-10 how confident are the Pirates that JMac can be the JMac of the first half last year, or at least somewhat close?
Bill Brink: 4.27
JAL: Will pirates take a Rule 5 player?
Bill Brink: Later pick this year leaves it more in doubt, otherwise would say yes.
BMTIB: Best bet to close if Hanny is traded and Grilli signs elsewhere?
Bill Brink: Yikes. Bryan Morris? Don't like Hughes because he doesn't strike guys out, sinker puts balls in play.
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