On Polanco, The Pirates Were Always Going to Make Half the Fans Angry

8-29-21 – By Gary Morgan

Cut the Bum! He should have been cut back in May.

Keep the Cheerleader! He’s the heart and soul, the Pirates did him dirty.

The Pirates decided yesterday to DFA Gregory Polanco.

I have no real issue with this move on the surface, I felt he had been given plenty of time this season. Now, I should also say, I had long since given up this even being a possibility.

I figured after going through the crap storm created by leaking that he was placed on waivers last week, and the push back from saying they planned to keep him on the active roster.

So, my first question really was, when someone in your office leaked that, and you saw the story exploding, why not just cut ties with the guy? I mean if you were ultimately going to get to this point 6 whole days later, why not just spare the guy being put back on the field to be booed and have the few fans in attendance chant DFA at him.

People have decided DFAing Gregory was disrespectful, I can’t get there, but to me, after creating a problem they could have done much better to stick the landing.

It’s also not like this just started to be a problem, Ben Cherington and Derek Shelton have been asked routinely all season long why Greg kept getting playing time. Early on, the answer was simple because even the most jaded fan could certainly understand hoping someone would want to trade for him. Once it was clear he’d never get interest, the questions came.

They’ve given double talk, and complimented him, and more than anything kept playing him, and I don’t mean a couple times a week, I mean like a starter.

Now, I’m not ignorant, they certainly don’t have anyone else who is screaming with their hair on fire they’re ready to prove they happen to be a better player, but enough is enough.

Ben Cherington said something very interesting a couple weeks back when asked about Greg playing, he tossed all the responsibility back on Shelton. Shelty makes out the lineup cards.

He might as well have said “Look, I don’t want him to play either, ask Shelty” so, of course the media asked Shelton. He got rather indignant, said he made the decision and refused to elaborate.

This smells very much like a GM that felt he needed to take his coach’s toy away. Not unlike a few years back when Huntington finally had to take Sean Rodriguez away from Clint Hurdle.

I guess to sum this up, I don’t have a problem with the decision, and the guy is still getting paid, in fact the Pirates still owe him roughly 5 million if you count the buyout they’ll owe him soon. I have questions about why they didn’t just pull the trigger earlier, I have questions about Shelton’s judgement because I honestly believe should he have used him more sparingly on his own Cherington might have just let sleeping dogs lie.

I question knowing someone screwed up and talked about the waiver designation, and still decided to put him right back out there to face embarrassment.

Now we turn the page. Gregory the man, earned the respect of everyone he ever played with. You can rightly say he wasn’t good enough, but he never cheated you for effort, on or off the field. To a man, everyone in that dugout would tell you they loved having him as a teammate, and while that in no way is enough to remain on a baseball team, it also isn’t without value.

Chemistry and charisma, energy and support, Gregory Polanco didn’t deserve to be a Pittsburgh Pirate based on his performance, but he’ll forever be one of the most genuine and kind players I’ve ever interacted with.

When I first met Greg back in 2016, I was under the impression he didn’t speak English. Most of his interviews were in Spanish and I just assumed. So when I ran into him at the grocery store I said Hola! I took 3 years of Spanish in high school and probably couldn’t even translate enough to watch Cheech and Chong. After I tried to bumble out a sentence he put his arm on my shoulder and said “hey bro, you try too hard, I do better”

Talked to me (not even a fake media member at that point) for half an hour. Genuinely loved being a Pirate. Genuinely hated that he didn’t represent what being the Right Fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates meant to him personally.

And after all that, it was still time. His presence had become bad for him, and the Pirates.

Part two of the story is bringing up Cole Tucker to replace him.

This is like turning up the air conditioning and lighting a fire in the fireplace. They’ve fixed one problem and brought in arguably a worse option. At least he has team control, but let’s be honest, the likelihood of Tucker retaining a 40-man spot heading into next season is about as high as Polanco getting a 15 million dollar deal in the off season somewhere.

I understand it based on that fact. Tucker with the 40-man crunch is not at all likely to stay in the picture. I believe they will put him on waivers to remove him from the 40 and if he clears they’ll stick him back in AAA. Not unlike how they handled Will Craig or Kevin Kramer. So it makes sense to use him this last month to see if he can prove they shouldn’t follow the expected course.

No matter what the Pirates chose to do with Greg, they weren’t going to make everyone happy. He was the last holdover from the playoff years, the longest tenured Pirate and whether it should or shouldn’t, he represented the end of an era. An era most realized was long since over, but an era nonetheless.

I won’t even rule out that Polanco asked for this after trying to deal with it for a week. It’s hard to criticize this management group for how things turned out with Greg, but I will say this could have been handled much cleaner. He didn’t deserve a roster spot, but he did deserve professionalism.

As I said after the first false report nearly a week ago, great guy, poor ballplayer, wish him well.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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