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Monday Mop-Up Duty: So you want a(nother) data revolution?


SOUTH HILLS – The Pirates have a chance to have the most athletic in outfield beginning in June when Gregory Polanco is presumably called up and joins Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte. It’s a group that could be together through at least 2018. The most athletic outfield in the game? Those aren’t my words, that’s what Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told me October. While we think defensive acumen has considerable value, while defensive metrics have improved, we still really don’t know how much value individual defenders possess. We can’t quantify what a speedy outfielder’s range really means or what it really is. We don’t know how to measure his routes and first-step quickness. That’s about to change.

MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman made an an exciting announcement at the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference this weekend, noting MLB plans to have a player-tracking system installed at every park by the start of the 2015 season. Like PITCHf/x tracks every pitch in baseball, this system will track every batted ball and every player movement. It will give analysts millions of new data points to create new and better metrics when it comes to baserunning, defense and the nature of batted balls. It’s truly revolutionary…. if it works. (SportVision has run into issues with its FIELDf/x tracking system over the last couple of years and it looks like it has lost the competition.)


From the article:


The goal is to revolutionize the way people evaluate baseball, by presenting for the first time the tools that connect all actions that happen on a field to determine how they work together. This new datastream will enable the industry to understand the whole play on the field — batting, pitching, fielding and baserunning — and enable new metrics for evaluation by clubs, scouts, players and fans.


For instance, on a brilliant, game-saving diving catch by an outfielder, this new system will let us understand what created that outcome. Was it the quickness of his first step, his acceleration? Was it his initial positioning? What if the pitcher had thrown a different pitch? Everything will be connected for the first time, providing a tool for answers to questions like this and more.


We think a Marte-McCutchen-Polanco outfield will be incredibly valuable. This system will for the first time let us know just how valuable such a outfield group is — and that’s a big deal. My guess is we’ll learn Marte-McCutchen-Polanco is a bigger deal than any of us can guess.




9. Wandy Rodriguez threw two effective, pain-free innings Saturday, which is for me, the biggest story of the spring to date .

“I threw all my pitches with good location,” he said after Saturday’s outing. “Got everything going today. I feel good.”

Even 170 innings from the lefty would be a major boost for the staff.


8. It was only one at bat in one spring training game, but how about Pedro Alvarez taking a breaking ball from Toronto left-hander Mark Buehrle to deep center for a double on Friday. Alvarez’s two great weaknesses are of course left-handed pitching and offspeed/breaking stuff from any-handed pitching. New hitting coach Jeff Branson’s greatest challenge is getting more from Alvarez. If Alvarez can cut down on strikeouts just a little bit, if he can better stay on off-speed stuff, if he can be a little more competitive against left-handed pitching …maybe he can be Chris Davis 2.0. The Pirates believe there’s more in there.


7. Then again there isn’t much statistical evidence to suggest Alvarez is going to improve against lefties. I thought Mark Reynolds would have made sense as a platoon partner. Reynolds signed with the Brewers this offseaosn.


6Gaby Sanchez‘s banged up knee doesn’t make the first base situation look any better. Does it compel the club to ramp up its efforts bring in another option? Add Mike Carp‘s name to the list of candidates, according to the Boston Globe


5. I don’t know if the Darryl Strawberry comps are justified but Greogry Polanco just looks like a monster: that size, that swing, that precocious plate discipline. Crazy potential. We’ve seen him homer and rip a double off Burnett in a four-day period. So maybe trading Polanco and Jameson Taillon for Giancarlo Stanton would have been insane. Polanco looks like he’s one of the clubs top 25 players if not top 15 players. But I doubt he’ll be with the team Opening Day.


4. Can the Pirates fix Edinson Volquez? It’s a major storyline to watch this March and it might determine whether the Pirates can reach the playoffs writes Dave Golebiewski.


The Pirates are again betting on fielding-independent pitching (FIP) over ERA, which is typically a smart move. Francisco Liriano and Burnett also had FIPs that suggested their true performance was superior to what their ERA suggested.


Volquez had the greatest difference between ERA and FIP in baseball last season -1.68, which suggests he wasn’t as bad as his overall numbers suggest. Volquez has been a mess but FIP can lead you to an undervalued pitcher.


3. Jaff Decker kind of looks like Nick Swisher. Can he be a poor man’s Swisher? That minor-league OBP is very interesting.


2. With Robinson Cano now blocking Nick Franklin in Seattle, the young switching-hitting SS/2B would be a perfect double platoon partner for both Jordy Mercer (vs. R) and Neil Walker (vs. L). I haven’t  heard his name connected with the Pirates but he would be a perfect match, I think.


1. I’m kind of surprised Travis Snider has not been a candidate to take reps at first base. The Pirates like his defensive ability in right field, but he’s another left-handed bat that will be looking for a new home once Polanco arrives.



Combined seasons of 200+ IP from Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole, Jeff Locke, Edinson Volquez and Francisco Liriano 

The only starter who has thrown a season of 200 innings in his career in camp is Rodriguez.

Pitching depth matters and I’ m not sure the Pirates have enough in 2014. Sure, Jameson Taillon can potentially be an impact arm in the second half but Brandon Cumpton is a back-of-the-rotation arm, Locke’s first half of 2013 is unlikely to be repeated again in his career, Stolmy Pimentel?


Rene Gayo on Polanco:

“Part of scouting is to make comparisons. But when you say Clemente, everyone gets terrified. There’s only one Clemente. Whether Polanco can become that type of player, the only ones who really know are God and Polanco. Does he have the talent to do the kind of things Clemente did? Yes. Will he? Time will tell.”



The Americans isn’t in the class of True Detective, but it’s worth a watch.

– TS



  1. JohninOshkosh says:

    First time ever the word “exciting” has been used in same sentence as “MIT Sloan Analytics Conference”. Well done, Travis.

    Two words: Keri Russell.

    Seriously good stuff. Always enjoy the Monday post here.

  2. NMR says:

    “Pitching depth matters and I’ m not sure the Pirates have enough in 2014. Sure, Jameson Taillon can potentially be an impact arm in the second half but Brandon Cumpton is a back-of-the-rotation arm, Locke’s first half of 2013 is unlikely to be repeated again in his career, Stolmy Pimentel?”

    Every year writers make comments like this and every year they make me laugh. Travis, your comment isn’t questioning the AMOUNT of depth, it is questioning the QUALITY of depth.

    Which begs the question: where are you storing all this hypothetical mid-rotation or better starting pitching depth? Only have 25 roster spots, right?

  3. Nate83 says:

    Big fan of Americans.

    I don’t know what the stats will tell me about a Marte, Cutch, Polanco outfield but my eyes will tell me that balls hit to the gaps will be caught on the run by our outfield and that is awesome. I can’t imagine how frustrating it will be for opposing players if all three of those guys are healthy. It will fill like they are playing against 4 outfielders. The amazing thing is Marte and Polanco also have plus arms.

    Wandy pitching 170 innings in my opinion would be more then a major boost. He is the only current guy on our staff that has done it consistently year in and year out when not injured. Besides Cole he is the only starting pitcher on our staff I can look at and comfortably say he won’t implode and put up an ERA above 4.5 and more then likely will stay near 3.5.

  4. NMR says:

    Yeah, I think Travis is right on with that Wandy comment. Absolutely huge difference if he’s healthy.

  5. Nate83 says:

    I will take it step further and ask how many teams in the league have pitchers the quality of Locke, Stolmy, Taillon and Cumpton waiting for a shot if someone fails. I would think maybe 25-27 teams in the league would take the Pirates situation over theirs.

    I do think the lack of a definite #5 is a little concerning, but there is no lack of good options ready to step in if Volquez fails. We barely even knew who Gomez and Cumpton were at this point last year and we had no idea what Liriano and Morton would give us. I personally think we are starting in a much better position this year then we did last year. I am much more comfortable with Taillon and Stolmy both stepping in if we have problems then anything they had last year.

  6. NMR says:

    Great round-up of talking points, Travis.

    -Nick Franklin is a better player than Jordy Mercer.

    -Andrew Lambo has all the makings of Mike Carp.

    -Polanco looks big enough to carry Cutch around in his pocket.

    -Don’t forget about Kyle McPherson as a late season addition coming back from TJ. Many believed he was a btter option than Jeff Locke before injury hit.

  7. The Gunner says:

    Just wondering if this Gaby Sanchez knee issue is cause for concern given the Bucs woeful situation at 1B?

  8. Jim S. says:

    I’m really looking forward to the new player tracking metrics. I am in agreement with those who have commented that it would be nice to not hear on the nightly highlights what a great, diving catch some plodding leftfielder made when, intuitively, we know that a quicker reacting, more agile player would have made the catch easily. I believe we’ll also get a better idea of who the truly overrated SS are, defensively. And, we’ll get a glimpse of which baserunners get the best jumps. To me, arguing about all that stuff is what makes baseball fun. But, don’t expect the old guard of former players to accept the info. so readily if it doesn’t align with their ingrained stereotypes.

    Count me as another who is intrigued by Jaff’s OBP potential. But, as was pointed out to me her over the weekend, a possible red flag is his power potential for a corner OF. By the way, can Dickerson play 1b? Would it have been worth getting him reps there? I know he’s a fast guy, but he also seems to have some OBP potential and will also get squeezed out of RF soon.

    I’m thinking someone will want Franklin as a full-time starter at middle infield, which means the Bucs will need to give up more than they want to outbid the Mets or another team with a full-time need. But, if not, I like him. He just turned 23 yesterday. He strikes out a ton, but maybe that is because he should have still been in the minor leagues last year. He draws a decent amount of walks.

    I remain leery of Carp. .385 BABIP, 29% LDs, which was far above anything in his career. Very few popups all of the sudden last year. Still strikes out nearly 28% of PAs. I think he managed to hit the ball harder than usual last year, but since he still whiffed a lot I question whether he can sustain it.

  9. Travis Sawchik says:


    To be clear I am questioning the talent of the reserve pitching …. every team technically has pitching in reserve.

    Last season the Pirates had Liriano, Morton and Cole join the rotation after Opening Day. I don’t see anything close to that in reserve in 2014. 20-20 hindsight that Morton and Liriano would be good? Perhaps. But Locke/Cumpton/Gomez/Pimentel don’t have their arm talent, imo. (Well, maybe Pimentel as far as velo goes)

    The the good news is the Opening Day rotation of 2014 is superior to that of 2013.

  10. NMR says:

    I think it definitely is a cause for concern.

    The part about Gaby Sanchez not being able to hit right handed pitching that doesn’t seem to be getting reported is that Gaby Sanchez did hit right handed just fine until injury the same right knee in the second half of 2011. He underwent surgery on the knee that winter and it gave hime problems all of 2012 as well.

  11. Travis Sawchik says:

    Jim, I think Franklin would be an everyday player with the Pirates. He could start at SS against RHP and at 2B against the majority of LHP. He could form two platoons at two positions between three players (Mercer/Walker/Franklin).

  12. NMR says:

    So my question still stands, Travis.

    Where are you storing all these high quality arms in case of injury?

    This depth comment seems more ubiquitous than Pirate-related. Everybody wants more and better pitching depth. Comparatively, though, the Pirates seem positioned as well or better than their peers.

  13. Jim S. says:

    That’s a good point, Travis. What would you give up for him? Also, I don’t know enough about him to say whether he is a good defensive SS. I still think he will be a good MLB hitter.

  14. Nate83 says:

    You left Taillon of that list for this year which makes a huge difference. If you could get in a time machine and go back 12 months I think going into this year you would feel better then last year. I know that is hard to do because we already know what Cole, Morton and Liriano became but that is the beauty of it. Who knows what surprised happen this year.

    The great news is those 3 are pitching from the start of this year. Much more solid starting 5 this year especially if Wandy stays healthy. Pitching depth is so good this year that we wouldn’t know what to do with Jeff Karstans who last year was an absolute must to have as an option.

  15. NMR says:

    Travis: absolutely right on Frabklin’s potential role with the Bucs. And at that point, why not Stephen Drew, right?

  16. Nate83 says:

    I was one of those McPherson cheerleaders (if you knew me you wouldn’t want to picture that). I’m really rooting for him to bounce back from his injury. I’m not sure there will be a spot for him with the Pirates but he could always catch on with another team.

  17. The Gunner says:

    This really might force NH’s hand now. Hopefully, he doesn’t have to give up too much to find a decent replacement.

  18. BostonsCommon says:

    Because Franklin won’t hit arbitration for three more season and is controlled through 2020.

  19. Andrew says:

    I think Travis’ take is interesting, I think the lack of pitchers with a consistent track (Burnett in 2012) record is a concern but I have no idea how much of a concern or any idea how to quantify it. I think is correct that pitchers with fewer questions are in the 2014 opening day rotation, pushing the more questionable options, Locke, similar to James McDonald in 2013 to depth options.

    I certainly like the Pirates depth options better than the Reds or Brewers, possibly the Cardinals, but I’ll assume until proven otherwise they have three more pitching prospects ready to graduate.

  20. Jim S. says:

    Anyone want to make a guess as to who Franklin’s agent is? If the Bucs trade for him, and he does well, that will be a tough extension. Haha!

    I do think Seattle can fetch a good return for him.

    Also, on a separate note, did anyone notice that my friend, Zack Greinke, tweaked his calf? Looks like he might have to miss that trip to Australia. Quite a few people are raising an eyebrow or two about the timing of that injury now.

  21. Andrew says:

    I think the consensus is that Franklin cannot play shortstop at the major league level.

  22. NMR says:

    Certainly, Boston, but are you ready to pay for that?

  23. Jim S. says:

    I believe he took BP yesterday. Hopefully, nothing too serious.

    It really was an awkward slide by him. It was like he started it very early, then pulled up when he saw he was going to be out by 20 feet.

  24. NMR says:

    Keith Law, for one, thinks he can be passable.

    And let’s not forget the incumbent is Jordy Mercer. If Jordy Mercer is a big league shortstop, so is Franklin.

  25. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Being way up there in the Pacific NW, I don’t know much about him.

  26. Jim S. says:

    Pretty sure they already have the $10 million or so per year that Drew would command earmarked for … profit. :-)

  27. Jim S. says:

    This is a serious question. Does anyone know whether McGuinness has a shot with this team? Is there something glaringly bad about him that precludes him from getting a shot if Lambo does not do well in, say, the first 50 games? He’ll be 26 next month. Seems to have decent, but not great pop. Draws a lot of BB. I have heard some good and bad reports about him. I have heard his glove is good, and I have heard it is below average.

  28. BostonsCommon says:

    NMR, usually I wouldn’t be in favor of dealing prospects for fringy SS/2B, but if I think Franklin can supplant Mercer as an everyday SS, then I’m definitely willing to deal.

    You bring him into the fold and I think you can put together CHEAP, above average middle infield moving forward with Franklin, Hanson, and Mercer.

  29. NMR says:


  30. NMR says:

    I’m with you there. I include the D’backs young shortstops in this conversation as well.

  31. Jim S. says:

    Ok, but you gotta have more than that.

  32. Andrew says:

    I too question Mercer’s defensive ability, but my understanding is that Franklin is a trade target because $240 million is blocking his major league position. Franklin is a bat first player and I’ve read that the move to second would make him an average defender for the position.

    Anyway Cano wants a middle order of bat, preferably right handed.

  33. NorthPirateFan says:

    Really now? A 25 year old with 284 walks 381 strikeouts 105 doubles and 62 home runs in 1900 minor league plate appearances stinks?

    Just for comparison sake the current object of the Pirates affections Mike Carp spent 9 years in the minors collecting 3400 plate appearance and only had 367 walks and 161 doubles to go with 690 strike outs.

    Given the lack of plate discipline currently on the team the Pirates could use someone this stinky.

  34. Jim S. says:

    That’s where I was going with the original question, North. I am not making any sort of comparison of the leagues he played in vs. any others. And, I really don’t know what to believe about his glove. But, the guy does seem to have somewhat of an idea about plate discipline. I was just wondering what I am missing.

    I have never seen him take a swing or field a grounder. He seems at least a bit intriguing.

  35. Jim S. says:

    I also read “no structural damage.”

  36. Jim S. says:

    There was a great line from Bill James about 20 years ago about some player. I wish I could remember who it was. He said, “If _____________ is a big league hitter, I’m an airplane.” For a second, I thought you were going there on Jordy, NMR.

  37. Naje says:

    The Americans is fantastic… and it doesn’t come with the egos that Harrelson and McConaughey possess. Really, not saying Harrelson and MM are bad, but excessive pauses and excessive cigarette smoking and excessive beer swilling and excessive trying don’t necessarily mean good acting… or even good writing.

    The Americans… not only well written and well-conceived, but brings back a lot of very interesting moments from the Cold War.

    As for arms… we’ve been here before. Jeanmar Gomez bailed us out several times last year and may well be called upon to do that type of swing-guy, piggy-back starting again… or someone else may have to do that. I’m thinking the 40 man roster will look much different on March 30 than it does right now on March 3.

  38. Nate83 says:

    We also have no idea how much longer Walker will be on this team. I for one do not assume he will be extended or healthy.

  39. Travis Sawchik says:

    Thanks, Johnin. Keri Russell has aged well, no doubt.

  40. Nate83 says:

    A cheap above average middle infield goes very nicely with a cheap well above average elite outfield. Sounds like a recipe for some pretty good baseball.

  41. Travis Sawchik says:

    NRM, Few teams have a stable of young aces waiting in the wings, that’s true. My point really is this: I think the Pirates have a lot of uncertainty in their rotation which makes depth relatively more important and I don’t love their depth options outside of Taillon. I don’t love a lot of team’s depth options. Comparatively, I’m not sure how Cumpton/Locke/Pimentel stacks up to the rest of the game.

  42. Travis Sawchik says:

    Polanco is massive. What is he going to look like at 27?

  43. Travis Sawchik says:

    Clark Herbert Westerfeld. Best alias ever

  44. Travis Sawchik says:

    Agreed. Franklin isn’t Francisco Lindor. But I think he’s at least comparable to Mercer. With fewer balls in play due to rise of Ks, and the extreme shifting, maybe the Pirates can get by with a little less D at shortstop.

  45. NMR says:

    More specifically, I’ve read he has a AAAA bat. Good enough for minor league pitching, too slow to make the jump to big league success.

  46. NMR says:

    Super wierd comp, but when I saw video of Polanco running this spring I swear he reminded me, in body, of Terrell Owens.

  47. NMR says:

    Same reason the Clint Robinsons, Lars Andersons, Jerry Sandssss of the world never quite made it.

  48. Nate83 says:

    I thought Marte was what a baseball player that is an elite athlete looked like but then I saw Polanco and it made Marte look like Juan Pierre or Chone Figgins.

    I can only guess the Pirates lucked into this a little. There is no way you can figure a player to grow into their body like that at the young ages they sign these international players. I know you can project based on body type but not like this.

  49. Jim S. says:

    See, that’s the kind of concrete back-up I was looking for. If the bat is slow, then he won’t make it. Some things can’t be seen in stat lines.

  50. Steelkings says:

    ‘”””””””But, don’t expect the old guard of former players to accept the info. so readily if it doesn’t align with their ingrained stereotypes.”””””””””


  51. NMR says:

    Thanks for the reply, Travis.

  52. Jim S. says:

    His waist is at Cutch’s shoulder level almost.

  53. NMR says:

    Is batspeed something that will be captured in the new MLBAM technology? THAT would be a game changer, IMO.

  54. Steelkings says:

    At least 15 changes by my math

  55. Jim S. says:

    I used to work for the same company as her dad, although I didn’t really know him. Met him once or twice at meetings and talked with him a little bit. I remember him telling me that they had a sort of falling out. He felt she was making some questionable decisions. That was at least 10 years ago. Hopefully, they patched things up.

  56. Steelkings says:

    Volquez looking good today. Walks the lead off guy. Goes 3-1 to the second guy. Throws one to the backstop before walking the 3rd guy. So far he has walked 3 of the first 8 guys he’s faced. Gives up two stolen bases to Brock Holt. and one to Nava. But somehow got out of the inning only giving up 1 run

  57. Jim S. says:

    Mitch Williams and Harold Reynolds have already left menacing voicemail messages for me. And the day is still young!

  58. Jim S. says:

    To be fair to Mitch (since I often get on him), I think he is very good when he breaks down pitching mechanics. I do recognize that former players know a heck of a lot more about how to play the game than I do. I just think Mitch and Harold (and others) are often atrocious at analyzing things. And, they think they are great at it, simply because they played MLB.

  59. Naje says:

    You can have all of the bat speed in the world and not make contact… so bat speed may not be as much of a factor as bat contact.

  60. Naje says:

    I do like what the technology can produce for the defensive metrics. They have it in soccer matches all over the world… how much a player runs, caloric output, acceleration, the whole works. It will only help those who understand it and then find a use for it.

    One of the good things about those types of metrics is that in lieu of simply watching video, it will be able to feed data directly to the coaches and players to improve what is lacking.

  61. carisi_99 says:

    Travis, not sure if you knew this, but one of your articles got a shout out from a Grantland NFL article about advanced metrics

    It’s all the way at the end.

  62. Jim S. says:

    I’ll take “A New York Yankee” for $1,000, Alex.

  63. Leo Walter says:

    Sorry to disagree, but 1 plus season of The Americans isn’t even close to 7 episodes of acting in True Detectives. If all you have paid attention to is the drinking and smoking, I feel sorry for you.

  64. Leo Walter says:

    Jim,don’t apologize ! Mitch Williams,the MLB Network living bobblehead,has to be the worst analyst going today.

  65. Jim S. says:

    I’m trying to throw him a bone for something, Leo. He seems like a pleasant enough guy.

    Of course, he’s probably pulling down $300k+ as a paid MLB “analyst.” Ugh!

  66. Leo Walter says:

    To be kind Jim,I will point out that McGuiness has much the same problem Decker has. No power in the PCL ? That means no power anywhere really. I might add,that is why I think you have to give Lambo a really good extended shot. He really showed last season alone more power potential than several of the guys in camp now.

  67. Travis Sawchik says:

    Thanks for the heads up, Carisi!

  68. Andrew says:

    The six figures is what gets me, I do not criticize color analyst because discussion on live television during a game is difficult. However if you are doing something in-studio or pre or post game, turn on the internet everyone once in awhile and do some damn research. Telling some apocryphal story from your playing days is not analysis, that goes for all sports.

  69. Travis Sawchik says:

    NMR, I think bat speed, at least exit velocity, is already being tracked by SportsVision’s HITf/x

  70. Andrew says:

    @NMR I want exit velocity or at least something that denotes ground balls that are hard hit.

  71. Travis,

    I watched Gregory Polanco last year at Minor League camp, and I watched him this year closely for 12 days at Major League camp. He has improved immensely and I love the trajectory of his career. His confidence is a real asset.

    That being said, he has 68 total games at AA, where he hit only .263. He has a grand total of 9 ABs (only 2 hits) at AAA. He did NOT hit the curves well from the pitching machine at Pirate City this Spring, certainly the worst of any in his batting practice group each day. He was the only outfielder who consistently overthrew the cutoff man while making throws to the bases from the outfield. He misjudged a fly ball yesterday in the game.

    I have consistently made this same statement to you: DON’T FORCE POLANCO TO THE MAJORS! Make him earn his way, or even force his way up to the Pirates. He has yet to be a dominant success above A ball. Let him develop properly. Look at what happened to Jackie Bradley last season for the Sox.

    Polanco will soon be sent to Minor League camp, so as to protect from injury that could land him on the Major League 60-day DL, which would start his “clock” (like Gerrit Cole last year and Starling Marte 2 years ago). All these expectations you continue to propagate about June are not helpful to a guy who has played only 70 games——and those unevenly——above A ball.

    I prefer to have a great Polanco when he gets here . . . . not another Jose Tabata, or even Jose Guillen, who was rushed to the Pirates from the Minor Leagues and really became good later after he left the Pirates.

  72. Danny Murtaugh says:

    Gotta disagree, Travis. Liriano and Morton (and Karstens) weren’t depth in 2013, they were injured starters, at least 2 of them. Jonathan Sanchez and Jeff Locke were depth pitchers pressed into the starting rotation because of injuries to starters. Locke appears to be back to being depth and I’d take every starter in Indianopolis this year over Sanchez in a heartbeat. OK, Cole was depth in 2013 and the Prates may not match his quality in depth in 2014, but how many teams can? In fact, Taillion may well be the same or close to the same quality depth.

  73. macchamp74 says:

    Travis….minor correction….Wandy pitched 1 inning, not 2.

  74. NMR says:

    Pizzolatto has created the most deranged story I’ve ever seen on television. The first seven episodes have been brilliant.

  75. Jim S. says:


    I haven’t seen McGuinness, so I won’t make any guesses. But, lack of power would be a concern if true.

  76. Jim S. says:

    I think you are right about Polanco, Groat. He may be “ready” in the sense that he could contribute probably more than Tabby/Snider right out of spring training. I don’t doubt he is good enough to help the team right now.

    But, if he really is a big-time talent, let him get a couple hundred AAA at bats. Let him fight for his chance on the big club for a couple more months. Keep it just out of his reach for a little longer. Let him smooth out the rough edges in the areas you mentioned. There will be a lot of season left, and hopefully a pennant race for him to join this summer.

    I think the Bucs will be holding off on him for sure. For one thing, we know it makes fiscal sense for them. And, secondly, I think they know he needs the refinement you mentioned.

    He’ll get his shot soon enough.

  77. Nate83 says:

    Another thing nobody talks about is what if Tabata is batting .290 and also hitting a lot of doubles with the occasional home run. I wouldn’t be shocked if this happened myself. During the second half of last season when he was healthy he looked like a different player to me. He just seemed to be motivated. If he is doing that through the month of June and the team is playing well how do you justify bringing Polanco up at that point unless he is just tearing up AAA pitching.

  78. 21sthebest says:

    Personally, what Tabata or anyone else does at the Major League level is irrelevant to me when it comes to Polanco’s development. When the organization decides that he’s ready, I think he needs to be promoted.

  79. Jim S. says:

    Really, 21? Tabata’s performance is irrelevant? If Tabata is doing what Nate described and playing the best baseball of his career, it will be hard to supplant him whether they feel Polanco is ready or not. Don’t you think it would be risky suddenly pulling a starter who is playing very well for a rookie with a bunch of talent that has not proven anything in the majors? What if we are battling for 1st place?

  80. Nate83 says:

    I don’t disagree. I was just pointing out as Groat did as well that if Polanco isn’t ready he should not be rushed. If Tabata is putting up good numbers it helps with that decision. If they are confident at any point that Polanco can bat .250 and not make mental mistakes then he should be up no matter what Tabata is doing because the speed and defense would make up the difference of the lower average batting average.

  81. Steelkings says:

    I think all that matters is that Polanco plays. That’s why he will go to Indy. So he can play everyday. But I think that if (God forbid) McCutchen or Marte acquires a 30 DL type injury, You will see Polanco fast tracked to Pittsburgh.

  82. NMR says:

    I’m with you, 21. Even if Tabby is producing at those high levels, history has shown they won’t be maintained.

    Polanco does enough better than Tabby in the field and on the bases that I’ll take my chances on his bat catching up.

    Honestly has more to do with Polanco than Tabby, IMO.

  83. 21sthebest says:

    I said to replace Tabata only when they feel Polanco is ready. You can’t keep that kind of talent down, IMO.

    I feel like I’ve seen enough of Tabata to know what the best baseball of his career might mean as far as him at the plate. Defensively, ick.

  84. 21sthebest says:

    “If they are confident at any point that Polanco can bat .250…”

    I’d be looking more at this OBP and OPS.

  85. 21sthebest says:

    By the way Nate, Polanco is going to make mental mistakes in the Majors. Cutch is still making too many, IMO, and Marte makes them too. Pedro, not so much if you ask me unless you consider his plate discipline issues mental mistakes. But I can’t think of any Pedro mental mistakes on the bases or in the field.

  86. Jim S. says:

    If Tabata is hitting over .290, with a good on base %, and a good slugging %, and playing well enough in the field, and the team is battling for 1st place in June, it will be awfully tought to take him out of the lineup unless Polanco is absolutely mashing the ball at AAA. The goal is to win.

  87. Nate83 says:

    I was just throwing numbers out for the sake of argument. I agree they should be more interested in his OBP and OPS as indicators that he is ready.

  88. 21sthebest says:

    “The goal is to win.”


  89. Jim S. says:

    No need to be snarky, 21. You were the one said that it was all about Polanco. It isn’t that simple. I’m just pointing out that isn’t the case if the team is winning and playing in a pennant race. What matters is continuing to win in that case. Pulling a guy playing well can mess with that.

  90. 21sthebest says:

    “No need to be snarky, 21.”

    “The goal is to win.”

  91. NMR says:

    Haha, my thoughts exactly, 21. And I know misplaced snarkiness.

  92. Jim S. says:


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