While the Pittsburgh Pirates’ offense is stuck in the mud during the month of April, prized prospect Gregory Polanco has been tearing the cover off the ball down in Triple-A.
While everyone with a pulse expects to see Polanco in a Pirates uniform at some point this season, you have to wonder how long the Pirates can afford to wait?
Polanco homered again for the Indians last night and is currently sitting with an insane OPS of 1.139 in 20 games.
Posting a line of .420/.460/.679 with five doubles, two triples four homers, a whopping 22 RBI and four steals in just 81 at bats, you have to wonder how much Polanco has left to prove in the minors.
The smart move for the Pirates would be to wait until late June or July so they get the extra year of service before Polanco would be eligible for free agency.
But while that may be the smart move, it may also be too late for the Pirates.
They could ultimately cost themselves the division or a chance at a wild card in they wait too long.
That’s not to suggest that Polanco will be a savior, but he is clearly the best option the Pirates have right now to jumpstart the offense.
That’s an offense that has managed to score only 21 runs in the past seven games (seven came in one game), a stretch in which they went only 1-6. After a 6-3 start to the season, this Pirates team has dropped 11 of their past 14 contests and the main culprit has been the Bucs struggling offense. That’s the same offense that has scored only four runs in the past three losses to the Cincinnati Reds.
The Pirates offense ranks 19th in the majors in runs scored (90 in 23 games), 26th in batting average (.229), 25th in OBP (.301) and 21st in slugging (.370).
While Pirates fans are accustomed to slow April starts from the Pirates bats, it’s clear they need a shot in the arm.
They have combined for only a .658 OPS and quite frankly that’s not getting the job done, even in the short term.
To be fair, the struggles of the Pirates offense shouldn’t be blamed on the Tabata-Snider platoon as there are struggling bats up and down the Pirates lineup.
However it makes you wonder how long the Pirates can wait to call up Polanco?
At 9-14 the Pirates currently sit 7.5 games out of the national League Central lead. That’s a lot of ground to make up even in April. You have to wonder how big the hole will get if the bats continue to falter by the time Polanco eventually gets the call.
Ultimately I still feel that it is the smart decision to wait and consider the future of the franchise first, ahead of some early season struggles.
But with each passing loss and watching the Pirates offense falter more by the day, it gets easier to come off that stance.
Don’t worry, Polanco will get the call and will be the Pirates right fielder this season.
You just have to wonder if that call will come in time.