I love writing about baseball and the Pirates in general. Most of my time doing so has been without actual baseball games, so when the games actually start it’s really hard to not over analyze everything you watch.
That’s our job, picking nuggets out of extremely small samples to paint a picture. Nothing we’ve seen in two games is enough to accurately say much of anything. It would be like watching Captain America and deciding you know how the whole Marvel Universe works.
Baseball is a story and it unfolds in a series of events that over time add up. Sometimes the events while small support knowledge gained in previous seasons.
Gregory Polanco is one of those.
He’s had a rough start in his two games in 2021 and he’s taken some ugly swings. His arm looks like an issue again. Throughout Spring, Greg hammered the ball. Not wind assisted crap, I mean hammered. He wasn’t beating the shift by threading the needle, instead he was mashing it to all fields.
Seeing him play in 2021 is simply put not about hoping he develops. Too late for that, best case scenario now is to catch fire and become a trade chip. That said, the most common question I’ve received so far this season is “Why do we need to keep seeing Polanco play?”.
The best way I can answer that isn’t educated by what we’ve seen this very early season, instead it’s a series of answers.
One, the Pirates simply don’t have much power and even if Greg looks like crap all season he’ll hit 20 homeruns.
The alternative also isn’t exactly sure fire. Anthony Alford has a ton of tools and he looks great hustling out there but he thus far has stuck out almost just as much. Fowler has already been involved in a couple real brain fart moments and is getting a rep for just pounding the ball to the right side right into the shift.
The reality of 2021 is the Pirates will play some combination of those three with a sprinkling of Phil Evans for most of this season. Just because they feel by say July they have the answers they need, it won’t mean they have better solutions waiting.
Troy Stokes Jr., and Jared Oliva might very well make an appearance this season and if they perform well perhaps they could supplant one of them.
Despite some people I honestly respect continuing to beat the Travis Swaggerty in 2021 drum, I just don’t see it, in fact I’m not sure we’ll really find an answer there either when his time does come. Oneil Cruz could be an option, but think back to his Spring where he couldn’t hit a beach ball with a boat oar until he was reassigned and the pressure was off. And even that supposes he takes to the outfield and isn’t just tucked out there.
In baseball, sometimes the struggle to solve a problem winds up creating more.
Tyler Anderson is another player who has garnered instant reactions. He put together five innings of 3 run ball and probably could have gone another inning if the defense behind him showed up. People instantly said he stinks and started calling for the next man up.
Well, the next man up would probably be Wil Crowe or Cody Ponce. Cody is on the IL and Wil pitched yesterday too, certainly didn’t do anything to stake claim did he.
Reality is, if that is what every Tyler Anderson start looks like all year he’s by far their best free agent signing this season. Eating innings and keeping the team in the game is exactly what a pitcher like him is supposed to do.
Think back to last season, how many players did we all give a pass because it was only 60 games? Now after 2 we’re ready to call it on more than one?
Gregory Polanco is probably playing his last season as a Pirate, that’s a fact that he can’t escape almost no matter what he does on the field. All he can do is possibly accelerate it by hitting. Now, is there a point where the Pirates might just say “done” and toss their hands in the air during 2021? I doubt it. It’s not because I think they believe in him per se or that he’ll just figure it out, it’s because at least up until the deadline there is hope someone might want him coupled with who is behind him.
Cruz is the most likely bat to jump up and make him irrelevant. Now, how bad would he have to be to have the Pirates cut him and pay 5-6 million plus the 3 million buyout is the real question. That answer to me is worse than he’s ever played.
Essentially, the reason he keeps getting chances has more to do with the alternatives than Greg himself. There is a reason in my proposed lineup I put Polanco in the 7 hole, it’s because his performance down there becomes a bonus if he does anything, and honestly that’s a great way to look at his season in general. Anything he does is a bonus.
You are absolutely right when you say we’ve seen enough, we certainly have. So when you look at who would take his playing time one would think it would be devastatingly easy to spot someone who is a better option. I can’t, because it simply isn’t there yet.