Pirate Notes: Looking at Polanco, Pedro & Liriano

By John Toperzer

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It makes perfect sense that the Pirates to want to keep Gregory Polanco in the minors until the Super 2 arbitration date passes sometime in mid-June. Delaying his debut could save the Bucs $15 million or so down the road – Pirates fans certainly hope it comes to that someday.

In the meantime, Pittsburgh spent $5 million for Edinson Volquez and $2 million for Clint Barmes as unrestricted free agents. Half of the other 30 MLB teams spent at least $40 million as of late January (Click here).
What if the Bucs simply considered Polanco as an unrestricted free agent. His $15 million saving may or may not come true. That’s six years down the road. Even if it does, the value of money will be six years less than the present value it is today. Combining the theoretical $15 million on Polanco with the $7 million spent over the winter on unrestricted free agents still amounts to less than what more than two-thirds of all MLB teams spent last offseason.

Polanco is still at least six weeks away from making his big-league debut. Would his presence help the Pirates win enough games to justify a promotion right now?

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If now isn’t the time to talk contract extension with Pedro Alvarez, when is? He couldn’t be in a bigger slump, Scott Boras’s negotiating power won’t be lower than it is right now.

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Second hand information says Gerrit Cole and Carlos Gomez had to be separated in the outfield at PNC Park on the Thursday before their confrontation and ensuing fines and/or suspensions.

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Last year there was no path to Bryan Morris closing out games for the Pirates. This year, Jason Grilli has question marks and is in the last year of his two-year contract. Mark Melancon is the obvious choice, but if something happens to him or the ineffectiveness which haunted him late in 2013 re-emerges, then it’s easy to see Morris or Tony Watson get the save chances.

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Russell Martin plays too hard for his own health.

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Tyler Glasnow threw five shutout innings for High-A Bradenton on Friday. So long as his back holds up, he could become the most talked-about pitching prospect within the organization. Nick Kingham has had a so-so start at Double-A Altoona. It was interesting to see Kingham taking in a game at PNC Park and being interviewed by ROOT Sports’ Robbie Incmikoski.

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Altoona’s Alen Hanson could be a Bucs’ sleeper call-up if he finds consistency at shortstop with the glove. The offense is certainly there, something that can’t be said for current shortstops, Jordy Mercer and Clint Barmes.

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Starling Marte got drilled by a 97-mph Carlos Martinez fastball to the shin Friday night. I’d love to see him post a picture of it on Twitter.

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Russell Martin’s latest ailments illustrate why it’s so hard to pay a catcher big bucks for more than a couple years. The taxing wear and tear nature of the catching position forces catchers to miss playing time nearly every year, even with guys like Martin, who is as tough a backstop as I’ve ever seen.

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Francisco Liriano holds a record of 5-17 with a 5.77 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in the month of April, by far the worst numbers of his big-league career.

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Pedro Alvarez’s career batting average of balls in play (BABIP) sits at .291. Heading into Sunday, the slugger held a .153 BABIP in 103 plate appearances thus far in 2014. Pirates fans have to hope Alvarez gets rewarded for his willingness to hit to the opposite field before he reverts back to his yank-everything-to-the-right-side ways. It’s been refreshing to see him not roll over the top of the ball, inducing weak grounders to second base, but he’s got to be super frustrated with his lack of results.

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If the Bucs don’t give Justin Wilson another shot at starting now, they probably never will. The former starting pitcher turns 27 in August. His velocity is reportedly several mph higher as a reliever, but it might be worth stretching him out, given the team’s injury situation. GM Neal Huntington believes in keeping starters as starters until they prove they can’t hack it.

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Treasure Life!
JT
@PiratesTalk

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