If you missed my report earlier today, sources told me that Gregory Polanco will be called up on Friday. The details of the report said that Polanco will leave Indianapolis tomorrow and be activated on Friday. After my report came out, Ken Rosenthal followed with the same report. Then Dan Zangrilli of 93.7 The Fan. Then Chris Cotillo, who broke every signing and transaction this off-season it seems, had the same information.
That’s when things took a weird turn. The Pirates started denying the report, with officials texting, e-mailing, and calling everyone to say that Polanco would not be up on Friday. I received a text and e-mail from two different people in the organization saying my sources were wrong. It looks like Rosenthal got the same thing.
I can’t speak to the information everyone else had. As far as my information, and the conflicting reports, the only thing to do is wait and see what happens on Friday. The original information wasn’t a guess, or speculation, or something made up. It was detailed information from a source with knowledge of the situation. But then you’ve got the Pirates denying it, and they would know.
I was asked on the radio tonight if it was possible my source was wrong for whatever reason. Obviously that’s possible for anyone. It has never happened to me, or this site, and we’ve reported a lot of signings and promotions over the years. And I have had situations where Pirates officials have denied a report that ended up being correct. I’ve also had situations where I received good information, and worked to confirm it, then saw someone else break the story first while I was looking for more confirmation. My goal is accuracy, not rushing to be first.
I’m still believing my sources on this one, at least until Friday passes and Gregory Polanco is not in Pittsburgh. I heard back from one source that said nothing has changed. As for some other quick hits on the subject:
**If you’re wondering about Super Two, Polanco would have 115 days on Friday. Super Two has never been lower than 122. That includes the increase to 22% eligibility. So Polanco would be safe.
**Had a few people saying that it would make more sense to call up Polanco on Monday, because they’d increase ticket sales that day, and wouldn’t need an increase over the weekend. That shouldn’t be a factor in calling up Polanco at this point.
**Obviously I have an interest in Polanco coming up on Friday, since it would prove my report correct. With that disclaimer out of the way, Polanco SHOULD be up on Friday. There’s no reason to keep him down for Super Two purposes, which was the only reason to keep him down. The Pirates have a big series this weekend, at a time where they need to make a move in the standings.
Moving on to non-Polanco information, tomorrow starts the 2014 MLB draft, which is always one of the biggest events on this site. We rolled out a few previews today, with rankings and a look at where the Pirates stand this year. Here is a rundown of the pre-draft coverage.
**2014 Draft Primer: A New Challenge For the Pirates. John Dreker takes a look at all of the big links and stories leading up to the draft, along with the challenge the Pirates face by trying to find talent lower in the first round.
**Pirates Prospects 2014 MLB Draft Top 100 Tiered Rankings. This is the third year we’ve had tiered rankings. The goal is to get an idea of the talent levels expected for each pick, showing whether a pick was fair value or not on draft day. John and I gave our analysis with each talent tier, noting guys we would take.
**The 2014 Draft Pick Signing Tracker is Live. Always the most popular feature on the site. Follow this on draft day for links to all of the drafted players, and follow as the signing period progresses to keep track of who the Pirates have signed, and how much has been spent.
**Keith Law’s Final Draft Prospect Rankings Has College Players in Pirates Top Two Spots. Expect a lot of final mock drafts to come out tomorrow. The specific names don’t matter for the Pirates, unless there’s word of a pre-draft deal or a specific focus. The key information is the type of talent that is projected to be available. So far, the talent looks good for pick number 24.
**FanGraphs had a good article today about how starting pitching has been the problem for the Pirates this year.
**Meanwhile, Jonah Keri wonders if the Pirates penny pinched their way into irrelevance.
I could probably write a whole article on these two, but I’ll keep it short. I agree that pitching has been the big issue. I’ve said that before. Where I disagree is the idea that the Pirates are somehow paying for the mistake of failing to sign Burnett. A quick stat check on Burnett and Edinson Volquez:
A.J. Burnett: 4.41 ERA / 4.10 xFIP
Edinson Volquez: 4.25 ERA / 4.10 xFIP
I thought that Burnett would struggle because of the Phillies’ defense and park. He’s actually struggling because of a low strikeout rate and a high walk rate. That might be due to a sports hernia he is pitching through. Meanwhile, Volquez hasn’t been a replacement for the 2013 Burnett, but he’s been good. I’ll take his numbers in 180+ innings.
I’m not comparing the numbers above to say that Volquez is better, or the same as Burnett. I’m just pointing out that any talk about how the Pirates hurt their season by not adding Burnett is misguided. If Burnett was here, he’d be just another struggling pitcher on a team full of struggling pitchers. The one valid criticism is that they didn’t make him a qualified offer, and missed out on a draft pick. That wouldn’t have helped the Pirates this year.
The problem for the Pirates is that their pitching has been very disappointing. That goes for almost all of their pitchers. The FanGraphs link includes a list of guys who are doing worse this year compared to last year. It’s pretty much the entire staff.
One pet peeve of mine is how bad seasons by small market teams are treated differently than bad seasons by big market teams. The Phillies added Burnett and Marlon Byrd. They’re 24-33. The Red Sox won the World Series last year, then made some big off-season moves. They’re 27-31. So why is it that the Pirates, at 28-31, need some storyline or controversial reason as to why they’re losing? If the Pirates are only losing because they’re cheap, then why are the Phillies and Red Sox losing?
The simple answer here is that the Pirates are losing because their entire pitching staff took a step back from 2013. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. And that wouldn’t change with Burnett in the rotation.
Links and Notes
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.