Biertempfel: Calling up Polanco this weekend would have been grand slam for Pirates
John Kruk, the former big leaguer turned ESPN baseball analyst, believes the Pirates still have hope in the National League Central.
“The Cardinals are a good team, but they're not scoring runs like they did last year. Milwaukee is good. They came out of nowhere, really. Can they continue that?” Kruk said. “If you're the Pirates, you've got to think, ‘Even though we're not playing well, there's still a chance to win this division.' But they need to get some offense. They need to get some life in their lineup.”
Offense. Life. Excitement. Energy. Hmm, perhaps the Pirates should add someone like ... Gregory Polanco?
“I would love to see that kid come up,” Kruk gushed. “I would love to see him in the lineup Sunday night when we're there.”
Sorry, Krukker. The Pirates made a roster move before the start of the weekend series against the Cardinals, which will culminate with ESPN's “Sunday Night Baseball” telecast, but it wasn't Polanco. It wasn't the guy batting .389 with a 1.053 OPS at Triple-A Indianapolis, the missing piece of the Dream Outfield, the prospect many scouts say has been the best player in the minors this season.
Instead, the Pirates on Friday called up utility infielder Brent Morel, who batted .215 with one homer (a two-run shot April 8 against Toledo) and a .519 OPS at Indy.
This would have been a great time for Polanco to make his debut. With the bullpen rested and the rotation set through Monday, the Pirates were able to bring up an extra bat for the three-game set against the Cardinals. Right fielder Travis Snider served a two-game suspension Friday and Saturday. The Pirates will make their first appearance on “Sunday Night Baseball,” arguably MLB's biggest regular-season stage, since May 19, 2002.
This weekend, ESPN, a member of the Disney family, is trumpeting the opening of the movie “Million Dollar Arm,” which tells how two cricket players from India wound up in the Pirates' farm system. One of them, Rinku Singh, will do on-field interviews before Sunday's game.
Who would've thought Singh, who's out for the year after having Tommy John surgery, would make it to PNC Park this season before Polanco?
Pirates management insists Polanco is not yet ready to play in the big leagues. A better explanation, perhaps, is that the club doesn't want Polanco to qualify for Super 2 status and gain an extra year of salary arbitration eligibility.
“That's a tough way to have to go about putting together a team,” Kruk said. “Sometimes, sadly, in a market like Pittsburgh's, you don't get the best players on the field. You get the best, affordable players on the field. You're trying to save money down the road, and that's a tough way to go.”
It's not like allowing Polanco to reach Super 2 would financially break the franchise. We're talking about a one-time, potential savings of only a few million dollars for a team with one of the lowest payrolls in the majors.
“You hate to see a young kid get stuck in the minors for an unnecessary month of minor league baseball when he could be helping the big league team because they want to save money,” Kruk said. “As a player, you don't understand that.”
Many of the fans — the folks who patiently stand in line to be wanded at the Home Plate Gate, who shell out $9 for a cup of draft beer and who actually pay to watch the product on the field — don't get it either.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates inquire about Red Sox LHP Lester
- Pirates think Mercer’s defense deserves more credit
- Liriano, Pirates beat Giants, inch closer to lead in NL Central
- Pirates expect high prices in trade market
- Xxxday’s scouting report: Pirates at Giants
- Thinking outside box slows pace of MLB games
- Pirates notebook: Mercer welcomes chance in No. 2 spot
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle, Huntington on same page
- Pirates’ Worley tosses 4-hit shutout vs. Giants
- Pirates notebook: Bucs to target pitching on trade market
- Tuesday’s scouting report: Pirates at Giants