It’s mailbag time, y’all!
It is that time of the week again here at Rum Bunter – mailbag time!
As always, thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s mailbag. Let’s begin!
These two are similar, so they’ll be tackled together.
The long-term impact of Jung Ho Kang’s return could be multiple things. If he comes back and is the hitter he was in 2015 and 2016, and has been on his rehab stint thus far, then the Bucs are adding a big impact bat to the lineup. That would also then cut into the playing time of Colin Moran and/or Jordy Mercer. Hopefully, it would be more Mercer than Moran though.
At Bradenton Kang has been playing his two traditional positions – third base and shortstop. Therefore, his return should have no impact on Kevin Kramer because Kramer plays second base.
What could impact Kramer though is if the Pirates decide to become sellers as they slide further and further out of contention and decide to trade Josh Harrison. As moving Harrison could create a spot for Kramer. So could the Pirates realizing a player (Sean Rodriguez) with a 31.1% strikeout rate, .314 slugging percentage, and wRC+ of 67 has no business being on a Major League roster and should be designated for assignment.
If the Pirates would turn to trading Gregory Polanco, it would be intriguing to see what a potential return may look like.
Polanco still has five years $50.5 million left on his contract. Normally, this would give a player that is just 26-years-old a ton of trade value. The problem is Polanco owns a lifetime .248/.315/.403/.718 slash line with a .309 wOBA, 94 wRC+, and a -12.4 defensive WAR. To say Polanco has been an average player during his time in the Major Leagues would be generous.
Making matters worse is that 2017 and 2018 have been the two worst seasons of his career. Trading a player with five years and $50 million let on their contract that has not even been a league average player in their career and is trending down would not be easy to do. Likely, it would be the type of trade where if you can get out from under his contract you would be happy.
All of that said, I do not believe Polanco is going anywhere. The Pirates have invested a lot in him and Neal Huntington knows his contract will make him difficult to move.
The fact the Pirates are 5-14 since Austin Meadows promotion to the Major Leagues has nothing to do with Meadows.
In 18 games (65 plate appearances) all Meadows has done is hit. He owns a .367/.400/.700/1.100 slash line to go with a .454 wOBA and a wRC+ of 193. He has already hit five home runs and stolen three bases and he has played a strong defensive center and right field.
There is also no reason to believe it has had some negative impact on team chemistry. The only way it would is if players that are friends with Polanco are upset over Meadows’ performance cutting into his playing time, and, if that is the case, then there are even bigger issues at hand here.
The team slumping since the promotion of Meadows has been due to inconsistent starting pitching, a bad bullpen, and other hitters struggling. None of it has been due to Meadows.
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