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Ask BD: Will the Pirates promote Tyler Glasnow?

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Thanks, everyone, for your questions, and keep them coming. Here's the first round of answers.

BenH336: Any chance Tyler Glasnow is a September call-up?

I doubt it. The Pirates had a chance to call up Gerrit Cole in the midst of a playoff run in 2012 when Cole was at a point in his career somewhat similar to where Glasnow is now, and they didn't. They bring their top prospects along slowly, and mostly that's for the best, although if they did bring Glasnow up, I personally would be pretty excited about it.

LightSkin350: Do you believe it was a mistake by Neal Huntington not to be more aggressive in acquiring a better starting pitcher than J.A. Happ?

No. Given the timeline of A.J. Burnett's injury, the Pirates only had a matter of hours to work with, and I think Dan Haren was the only other starting pitcher who got traded on deadline day. Then there's the fact that we don't know how serious Burnett's injury is yet. There are other issues, such as the fact that ambitious upgrades usually aren't nearly as impactful as they seem and come with serious prospect costs, but the big one is that the timing of Burnett's injury stinks. I don't think that's Huntington's fault.

IAPHDBuccosFan: With most professional sports now erring on the side of safety, do you see Major League Baseball taking a more heavy stand on these retaliation HBP? Obviously, it would be tricky, because determining intent is subjective, but perhaps there could be some sort of blanket team or personal fine for anything that could conceivably be viewed as intentional or retaliatory?

That makes sense to me. It might only take one high-profile injury for that to happen.

IAPHDBuccosFan: Not to rush to the end of the season, but knowing how the free agent market this offseason is shaping up, and taking educated guesses at the Pirates' tradable pieces / needs, who do you foresee the Pirates targeting this offseason?

Hm. They'll be looking for starting pitchers, for sure. Brett Anderson? Maybe Mike Leake, if his market doesn't get too ridiculous? Brandon Morrow?

First base is an issue too, obviously, but that position will be more difficult to address. Steve Pearce would make some sense, particularly in the fairly likely event that Mike Morse doesn't work out. Given the likelihood that Pedro Alvarez won't be back, a low-profile trade for someone like Yonder Alonso could be a possibility. I could also see the Pirates doing something really weird, like taking a third of the remainder of Andre Ethier's contract off the Dodgers' hands and installing him at first. (I have no idea if playing Ethier at first would be feasible, but I think the Pirates might do something like that.) In any case, hopefully Josh Bell will hit well at Triple-A and the Pirates will only have to deal with a few more months of uncertainty at first.

I think the Bucs will probably designate Alvarez and seek to trade Mark Melancon, by the way, and that they'll keep Neil Walker for another year.

Aj94: Can Josh Harrison play first base down the stretch?

I'm sure he can, and I don't think the Pirates will hesitate to use him there as a late-inning option. He is really small, though, so he probably shouldn't play first two or three days a week. Of course, Morse's addition likely means Harrison isn't going to play much first in the short term. If Morse doesn't work out -- and judging from his recent performance and from Neal Huntington's comments about his acquisition, he's going to have a short leash -- then I would think the better route would be to move Aramis Ramirez to first base as needed and have Harrison and Jung-Ho Kang man other positions.

Guapo: What position do you think is the strongest for the next five years?

Outfield – Current starters, Austin Meadows, others
Shortstop – Kang / Jordy Mercer, Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker
Catcher – Francisco Cervelli / Chris Stewart, Elias Diaz, Reese McGuire

Outfield, and I don't think it's close. When you're moving someone as good as Bell to a new position, you know you've got serious depth. Don't forget about Harold Ramirez, too, and the many interesting guys further down the list, like Willy Garcia, Barrett Barnes and Jordan Luplow.

BryanF: Are you in favor of robots calling balls and strikes?

As a fan of the team that currently employs the catcher with the best pitch-framing statistics in baseball, no. As a fan of baseball in general, though, I'm for it. The PiratesUmp Twitter account has demonstrated that umpires miss a ridiculous number of calls -- 10 or more a game isn't uncommon. I get the argument that the game should have a human element -- baseball is a slow, 19th-century pastoral game, and its fields ought not to be trampled by the boot of technology. That makes sense. But I'd sympathize with that position more if umps were missing one or two calls a game, rather than six or 10 or a dozen. After a month or two of robot umps, we'd hardly notice the home plate umpire's reduced involvement, and we wouldn't gnash our teeth two days a week about the day's ball and strike calls, the way we do now.