Feb 27, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco (62) smiles after he hit a solo home run during the first inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates Don't Need Gregory Polanco.......yet.


The Pittsburgh Pirates don’t need Gregory Polanco…….yet.

Pirate fans once again seem to be split on whether it makes sense to bring him up now or save an entire year of arbitration eligibility.   To me, the answer is simple.

Staying with our current right field for another month or so is much better than paying another arbitration year of Polanco in his prime.   It’s not even debatable.

For those who don’t understand, It’s best explained simply.  If a top prospect debuts on Opening Day, he’ll be a free agent in six years.  However, by waiting one month, a team can push back his free agency an entire year. Additionally, if they wait a little longer, they can avoid “super two” status, and knock off a year of arbitration eligibility.

That means that the Pirates, who are budget dominated to begin with, will save $10-15m dollars during Polanco’s career with the team.  That’s assuming he’s going to be an all-star talent when he’s 27 years old.  And for a team that doesn’t have a ton of money to play with, that cashed saved is the difference between re-signing another quality player to a long term agreement or not, or possibly picking up another player in free agency or not.

Granted, this kid is the definition of electric.  He’s slashing .393/.449/617.  He’s got a cannon for an arm.  He runs like a deer.  And he seems to be the perfect fit for what Pirate fans perceive to be the main problem for the lack luster start.

Even though he’d be an upgrade in right, bringing Polanco up now would not mean that the Pirates are automatically going to rattle off a ten game winning streak and end up in first place in the NL Central by the all-star break.

Baseball is probably the sport where one person in the field matters the least.  I shouldn’t have to explain why.  Baseball has 9 players that take turns hitting throughout the course of a game.  Do you think Greg Polanco is going to go 4 for 4 every game?  Or 3 for 4…or even 1 for 4?

I hate to break it to you, but there will be games where Polanco doesn’t even get on base.  There will be games where he strikes out 2 or 3 times as well.   There will be games that he makes errors.  I know, it’s shocking, but yes….it’s true.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Greg Polanco is the future in right field. The very near future.  But why would you bring him up 4 weeks earlier if it means you can possibly lose millions in cash that you are going to sorely need in 6 years?  Especially if you don’t HAVE to.

So the ONLY answer is to bring him up after his ‘super two’ status passes and avoid the accelerated arbitration.   We can maintain without Polanco for another month.

Looking at the production by position, right field has actually held it’s own.

Catcher -     .252BA  17 RBIs   9  Runs Scored

1B-               .232BA  16  RBIs  17 Runs Scored

2B-               .265BA  18  RBIs  15 Runs Scored

3B-               .207BA  16  RBIs  15 Runs Scored

SS-                .166BA   7   RBIs  10 Runs Scored

LF-                .262BA    6  RBIs  16 Runs Scored

CF-               .307BA  16 RBIs  16 Runs Scored

RF-                .231BA  14 RBIs  12 Runs Scored

So as you can see even though Right Field production is not leading the way, it’s certainly not bringing the entire team down so much that Polanco’s presence is needed immediately.

So the argument that bringing Polanco up now would benefit the team more than it would hurt us in the long run is just made by fans who either don’t understand (or care about) the reality or who are just panicked with the slow start.

Remember.  The Dodgers were .500 last year at the All-Star break and they ended up going to the NL Championship.  The Pirates are only 6 games under .500 with 51 games left until the break and they are completely capable of having a strong May without Polanco.

There’s no need to panic.  If there’s an area in which we should be looking to immediately upgrade if possible it’s at starting pitcher.   Aside from that, we are fully capable of winning with the current players in the field.  Even at shortstop.

So be patient and look at the big picture.  Polanco playing right field 30 games into the season as opposed to 60 games into the season, isn’t going to make or break the year.  Having Polanco eat up $10-15m in arbitration cash in 6 years hand cuffing management to being able to go out and improve the roster in other areas.

Now, THAT….would be another story.

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  • SZ4L

    By the time the super 2 passes they are going to be wayy out of the race. Might as well just leave him in the minors at that point and go for the worst record in the league to get the first pick.
    Obviously Polanco probably won’t be so good that he’ll carry them to the playoffs but he’ll make them better. They obviously don’t care about winning. Really if they are that concerned with one year of arbitration why not work on an extension to eat up some of his arbitration years?

  • Elusive

    I like how you mention the Dodgers last year, but don’t mention how the promotion of ONE player in a 9-player lineup was one of the biggest reasons for that incredible turnaround. Where were the Dodgers last year before Yasiel Puig showed up?

    The point being is that one player CAN and HAS sparked a turnaround. He can make the players around him better and the intensity and drive he brings can be contagious. Polanco coming up earlier is definitely an advantage. Also, if this year turns around due to an early call-up, repeated success could lead to that wallet opening up a bit.

    • wonk

      “repeated success could lead to that wallet opening up a bit.,” you say. COULD, but won’t. Check my post on this item. Here’s an excerpt:

      “Well, Nutting’s attendance has been solid and improving the past three
      years, particularly 2013, and PFFT–nothing. Edison Volquez as the Big
      off-season acquisition? I hope the fans vote for this betrayal with
      their wallets and stop attending games at beautiful PNC.” If you are a Bucs fan, I feel badly for you in that the ownership here is a lying jerk who doesn’t pony up the bucks like he said he would if and when the attendance improved. You folks deserve better, as I saw last season how the Bucs fans take to having a competitive team.

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    • Elusive

      Improving doesn’t necessarily mean it’s where it needs to be for the wallet to open up. The Pirates have a long way to go to prove they’re worth investing in further. Remember when the Yankees were throwing unlimited money at the dumbest contracts ever and winning absolutely nothing, year-after-year? The Pirates can’t afford to let that happen, the money isn’t there for that result. The Yankees can take repeated hits like that, but the Bucs owner can’t.

      He’s going to invest more in the team once the profit margin surpasses the bottom line he has set. It’s likely going to take 2-3 years of attendance figures like 2013.

  • GSamson

    Terrible article that solves nothing. I am tired of people saying the Pirates are “strapped” for cash. Bob Nutting has a net worth over $1.1 billion and was ranked 10th richest owner in MLB. He is cheap, flat out. The Pirates has increased sales and revenue substantially the past few years and have put zero into free agency other than cast off Edinson Volquez. You made the playoffs last year for the first time in 21 years, and you are going to wait a month or two so someone saves you $10 million over the course of the next 6 years? Meanwhile you are pissing money away on people like Wandy Rodriguez, who looks like an oompa loompa and is on the DL more than he is pitching with his 86 mile an hour heater. Tabata and Snider clearly are not the answer now that Josh Harrison of all people are playing right field. Polanco can play great in the field, can hit, and can steal bases. If you have all 3 outfielders stealing bases it will create offense and win games, period. Would you rather make the playoffs, earn more revenue, and then just give Polanco the money he earned, or pinch penneis, lose again and again, and show the fans it is all about the money. Just man up and admit it is due to money if you are Pirates and stop telling stories.

    • wonk

      Yep. I cannot wait for the fans to react via attendance cessation I hope for. Jerky Nutting isn’t putting his money where his mouth is.

  • Paul

    I could not disagree more. If this team’s goal is to make the playoffs and there is a player in the minors that can help you right now, you have to bring him up. This, again, is all about the money with the Pirates, and as long as Bob Nutting makes a profit, it doesn’t matter how the team performs. It is upsetting that no money is put back into the team when last year’s profit margins (and increased TV deal) were so high.

  • rex lint

    f the Pirates ownership is that concernPolanco. t him losing one year of arbitration then they need to sell the team. The goal is to field the best possible team and make the playoffs. Not be content with losing just so that they can save a few dollars. Don’t give me this crap excuse that right field is holding their own because it is just one area that is not playing well. Right, short stop, 3rd and 1st are all playing like garbage. But at least Pedro is hitting home runs. It’s time this team start spending money. They are in the same size market as the Reds and they are spending $30 to $40 million more than the Pirates. People are delusional if they think the Pirates ownership will ever open their wallets. Look at the Matte deal, Andrew McCutcheonD. deal and look at the offer they made Polanco

    • wonk

      You clearly understand what’s going on here.

  • Tj Streib

    Pennants are won in Aug-Sept, not Apr-May… or even June-July. Heck, the Cubs aren’t even eliminated yet!

    Apr-May has become extended Spring Training. It’s not time to push any panic buttons – yet! It’s a time to see if guys like Rodriguez (buh-bye!), Volquez, Snider or Tabata have anything left & can still be valuable members of the team, or can produce just enough to fetch something – anything! – in trade without having to eat the MILLIONS they’re owed (see: Wandy). In the meantime, you get the reinforcements ready for summer/fall when it REALY matters. Be glad we have the Polancos, Cumptons & Lockes locked & loaded & ready to step in. The 20-year drought was a result of NOT having ANYONE to step in & barely being able to fill out the roster! Remember when the cupboard was so bare we had the likes of a Ron Villone as our opening day starter? When a decent first month or two in the majors instantly made you the ACE? (see: Jon Lieber, Zach Duke). I’m thrilled at the depth this team has – talk to me in September!

  • wonk

    Had to bail on this item during 4th ‘graph: “It’s.” Wow. Mid-sentence capitalization. Methinks this blog is as bad as the ballclub, the one ownership said it couldn’t financially commit to improving until the attendance rose. Well, Nutting’s attendance has been solid and improving the past three years, particularly 2013, and PFFT–nothing. Edison Volquez as the Big off-season acquisition? I hope the fans vote for this betrayal with their wallets and stop attending games at beautiful PNC. I live here but am not a Bucs fan. I’m only attending two games myself this season, catching my team here, instead of the 5-10 ballgames I attended each year from 2011-2013, because Nutting doesn’t deserve the attendance, skewering the fan base like he is. What a jerkwad!