When Gregory Polanco Arrives, It Might Not Be Enough
By Tom Smith
Gregory Polanco is proving that he can produce in pressure situations, but by the time he gets to the Major Leagues it might be too late to significantly impact the 2014 season. One thing is fairly certain, the pressure for Polanco to produce will be immense. While people have been predicting the future in regards to the millions of dollars surrounding his potential Super 2 status years from now, the Pittsburgh Pirates present day situation is growing bleak in the National League Central right now.
The most challenging thing as a fan is to hear that Polanco needs more seasoning, more work, more this, more that. We feel that the opportunity for Polanco to significantly impact the 2014 season is already gone, but nevertheless, he does continue to produce in Triple-A.
But right now the Pittsburgh Pirates are 17-24 after the blowout loss to the New York Yankees Saturday night. The offense consisted of a Starling Marte home run and another epidemic filled struggle with stranding runners on the bases. The pitching staff had been doing a slightly above average job since May 6, but it hasn’t resulted in much success. The club is 5-5 in the past ten are are currently playing at a .415 clip on the season. The only thing between the Bucs and the cellar are the Chicago Cubs.
The sad part is that no team is currently playing tremendously well outside of the Cardinals. Like we wrote last week, the Cards are starting to put it together and currently have a four game winning streak after a brutal stretch of road games to open the season. But it’s the Pirates road record that stands out. It’s the worst in the division and the NL Central leader, Milwaukee has played tremendously well on the road.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are fourth in the National League Central standings.
Fast forward to June 17. Let’s pretend that Polanco has proven that he is ready to provide the Pirates with a significant long term improvement over the current players on their roster. His defense has improved, the base running has come along. Blah, blah, blah. Polanco gets the call to the big leagues.
What will be waiting for him?
The Bucs have 28 games between now and June 17. The team will play 15 of those 28 games on the road including two against the New York Yankees today. The Bucs travel to play the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Florida Marlins. So let’s say the ball club continues to play roughly at the current .415 clip.
That would put the team at eleven games under .500 by the time the Cincinnati Reds roll into town on June 17.
We remember the night Pedro Alvarez got the call to the bigs. We sat and watched as he was heckled by frustrated fans. The scene was ugly at PNC Park that night.
The debut of Pedro Alvarez was ugly. The Bucs lost 7-2 and committed more errors than the team collected hits
It might be worse for Polanco.
Nobody expected that Pirates team to do anything. For the 2014 Bucs the situation is much different, a great deal was expected. The front office said as much by doing precious little this offseason. The Pirates weren’t going to spend money to spend money. The team has players in their prime or entering their prime. Unfortunately, very little has been delivered by the owner, the management, or the team.
The Bucs rotation includes Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez who are allowing home runs at a rate that is nearly impossible for the offense to match. Until the rotation is fixed, it’s hard for me to see much changing over the next month. The amount of offense required to tip the scales in their favor when Rodriguez or Volquez starts just doesn’t add up to a winning formula.
Insert Gregory Polanco into the current ‘winning’ percentage on June 17 and the pressure would be tremendous.
But then again looking at what Polanco has done when being placed in pressure situations. He was the MVP of winter ball. When all the money is in the center of the table, he delivers. And the cool part is that Polanco must know that he won’t be going to Pittsburgh until next month. It doesn’t impact his play. Just check out the numbers from Polanco that we pulled from this MiLB.com article
"With runners in scoring position, Polanco is batting .490 with 31 RBIs. And with runners in scoring position and two outs, MLB.com’sNo. 12 overall prospect has seven RBIs in 14 at-bats. He’s also batting .308 with four RBIs in the ninth inning."
If Polanco can carry that same agressive approach over to the big leagues, he will be able to help the Pirates. But let’s face it, even if Polanco walks on water in his now shortened rookie year, it won’t be enough to get the Pirates where everyone was anticipating they would be in 2014.
UPDATE: Umm, those numbers just improved after another multi-hit game….