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Poll Question: Who were you most impressed with during the first series? Erik Bedard (83%) Andrew McCutchen (17%) Joel Hanrahan (0%)
Bill Brink: Plenty to talk about after the opening series: The road trip, the rotation, Morton's outing last night. Fire away.
Bsizzle: Are the Pirates gonna flip flop Presley and TaBATa in the lead-off spot depending the righty lefty match up?
Bill Brink: That's part of it. Hurdle said the other day that if there was an extra at-bat to be had, presumably against lefty Cliff Lee, he wanted the right-handed Tabata to have it. I imagine you'll see more of that, thought -- like sitting Jones and Alvarez -- it will be interesting to see if it's hard and fast or a situational call.
Bill Brink: Quiet bunch today. Anything you guys want to talk about, send 'em in.
Guest: Pirates haven't faced Kershaw in 2 years. Will this be another Halladay like performance from the Bucco bats?
Bill Brink: Could be; Kershaw is that good. He had the flu in his first outing, but said he is feeling better now.
If Kershaw is on his game, it's hard for anyone, not just the Pirates, to get to him. If they can survive until they reach the Dodgers' bullpen, though, they can do some damage. Barajas also has inside knowledge of Kershaw's stuff, which is helpful.
Hunter: Who gets sent to AAA when Morton gets to the rotation? I'm guessing it's one of Hague, Harrison, or Navarro.
Bill Brink: It will be one of them, and if I had to guess I would say Harrison or Navarro. If they're going to keep sitting Jones and Alvarez against lefties, they will need McGehee at third and Hague at first. As far as Harrison or Navarro, it's a close call; Navarro has a little more power.
Jim: How would a .500 April be received? Considering the schedule, it would seem good...
Bill Brink: Realistically it would be a positive, given the teams and pitchers they face. Avoiding a big hole off the bat would be huge for the rest of the year.
tanschmidli: What are ur thoughts on who gets sent down when Charlie and AJ are both back?
Bill Brink: At that point, they could look to trade Correia. If a team needs a No. 4 or 5 starter, the $3 million left on his contract wouldn't be a bad acquisition. I don't believe they will go with a six-man rotation.
Mike: Barmes looks absolutely terrible at the plate so far. How long of a leash will he have before we see Mercer or Chase come up?
Bill Brink: A long, long leash. They signed him for $10.5 million to be the starting shortstop, and as Hurdle said in spring training, "He's got two feet down" in the position. He has a history of, if not great production, solid production, and three games won't change the Pirates' perception of him.
Brian: If the team finishes below .500 again, will Huntington be gone?
Bill Brink: Good question; depends on how, and by how much. If they fall short because Huntington's acquisitions -- Barmes, Barajas, Bedard, Burnett, McLouth -- fall short, and they fall well short, it's a possibility. But I think if they continue to improve their record he stays.
Rennie Stennet: What't the atmosphere around Dodger stadium for the opener? Will there be a large police presence since the stabbing last year?
Bill Brink: I heard on the radio driving in this morning that there have been many precautions taken, as there were last season. I'm not sure to what extent -- only the stadium workers are here right now -- but I'll keep an eye on it.
Mike: What have been your impressions of Barajas so far?
Bill Brink: Gotta love the way he handled Bedard and Karstens. Too soon to tell at the plate, though the double off the wall in center was a good sign.
James_Pittsburgh: I know that it is early, but it seems that the Nate MCClouth signing was a bad move. I think he hit under .200 last year. What do the Pirates do for a fourth outfielder moving forward?
Bill Brink: He didn't hit well, but he played the whole year with a sports hernia that he sustained in the second game of the season. He had surgery to repair it in August. At $1.75 million, if it works, great. If not, it doesn't, and we may see the Starling Marte show later this season.
BenderHeel: Does the Pirates front office put any stock in Garret Jones' batting numbers while playing 1B (not good) versus RF (pretty good)? I think we'll see McGahee getting most of the starts halfway through the year.
Bill Brink: Even if they do, there's not much they can do about it because the current outfield is pretty much set. Unless someone gets hurt, he's going to be playing first base if he's in the game.
Jolly Rodger: Any chance Garrett Jones is the odd man out (via trade) when Morton returns?
Bill Brink: They had a chance to deal him for Burnett and didn't, so I would be surprised if they do now, especially since it would leave McGehee -- inexperienced in the field -- and Hague -- a rookie -- at the position. They like his left-handed power, and hope he can cut down the strikeouts and hit more consistently.
Hunter: If you were guessing, who is handling the 8th inning role out of the bullpen at the start of May?
Bill Brink: Still Jason Grilli. He's got good stuff and he was very consistent with it late last season.
James_Pittsburgh: Bill, I don't see the Pirates trading Correia until they have no chance at .500 or first place. That would leave them with no depth should a starter be injured. Maybe Correia goes to the bullpen until someone is injured?
Bill Brink: He's done it before, so that's a strong possibility. The Pirates can move some guys in that bullpen around -- Jared Hughes, for example, could go to Indy -- though injuries will dictate what they do there.
Tom: Where besides free agency are the Pirates supposed to spend the money they can't spend in the draft anymore?
Bill Brink: They will find loopholes. They may spend tons of money on the top two picks and not as much with the next eight, or spend a bunch in rounds 11 and on. They will, however, have more money to spend in free agency, so the question is valid. This year, they shouldn't have as many holes to fill as last year, and Frank Coonelly has said that the team will spend more in free agency when it has one glaring need. This could be the case in the offseason.
APB: Remembering what a lights-out reliever Meek was in 2010, I don't quite understand why Hurdle doesn't have more confidence in him (now that Meek is healthy). Do you get it?
Bill Brink: Meek is healthy, but working his way back to his 2010 level will take a couple weeks of the season to complete. Once he shows he's back, Hurdle's confidence in him will grow. Hurdle also has great confidence in Grilli.
Jake: Do you think it's possible the draft restrictions might be lifted in 5 years once it's clear it hurts small market clubs?
Bill Brink: No way to tell now, but if after a few drafts under the rules it clearly hampers the process, it could be tweaked. Anything is possible. The goal was to level the playing field and force teams to pick based on talent and not signability, but everyone -- teams, agents, etc. -- will find loopholes.
Dave: Brinker any starting pitcher down on the farm that could be in the rotation as the season rolls on?
Bill Brink: You would need injuries or trades to clear a spot, but should that happen, Kyle McPherson is someone you could see later in the year, and possibly in September. Good command of three pitches.
James_Pittsburgh: I think McGhee should get 500 at bats if he continues to hit. Do we see Hurdle continuing to platoon for the sake of platooning or can McGhee actually get a chance to play basically every day?
Bill Brink: McGehee could hit his way into playing every day, or Jones or Alvarez could hit -- or not hit -- their way out of playing and give him more time. Hurdle won't platoon for platooning's sake, he'll play the hot hitter.
Mike: Any concern with Neil's lack of power through spring training and rough first series?
Bill Brink: No, the power is there. He's got potential for 15 homers. And it was only three games, against two of the best pitchers in the NL and a third that's very good.
Guest: What's the plan for Gerrit Cole?
Bill Brink: He started the season in Bradenton, and he'll be there for a while. He could be promoted to Altoona at some point this season, certainly after the weather warms up. Depends on his progression -- he's very good and advanced for his age, but there are refinements he can make.
Buuba: Bill While in LA you need to go down to the Crenshaw District and find a great restaurant. Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.
Bill Brink: Good call, thanks. Spent a summer out here some years back and loved that place. Used to go to the one on Sunset, then walk down to the Amoeba.
Jolly Rodger: Cole obviously has a great fastball but why does he get hit hard so often? Even in his good start last night he had 3 doubles in 4 innings and he had an elevated ERA his senior year; is it command of that fastball?
Bill Brink: Talking to people about it down in the Arizona Fall League, it can get flat. If it's 99 mph but flat, people will hit it. When he throws it how he's capable of, it's tough to square up, so it's just a matter of getting that consistency.
JR: Will Pedro Alvarez have either a HR or strikeout type of season?
Bill Brink: Maybe at first. I think there's talent there that will come out later in the season if he stays healthy. Once he relaxes and just swings, like he did on the homer the other day, the hits will come.
Bill Brink: Quick lineup before I go: Tabata 9 Presley 7 McCutchen 8 McGehee 5 Hague 3 Walker 4 Barajas 2 Barmes 6 Correia 1
Bill Brink: There you are with Tabata first against Kershaw.
Bill Brink: And Walker sixth. He's working hard on trying to hit better right-handed
or on Twitter @BrinkPG. Michael Sanserino will do this with you next week.
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