Dave’s Free Play, Monday 4/28/14

  • April 28, 2014

Where is Gregory Polanco? That’s a question lots of Pittsburgh Pirates fans are asking right now, and with good reason. The Bucs are off a terrific 2013 season, and hopes coming into the new campaign were literally the highest they’ve been in two decades. Make no mistake, the 2014 season has a long way to go, and the Pirates are not by any means dead in the water.

But through 26 games, the Bucs are 10-16, they’re not scoring many runs and they’re already 8.5 games behind the sizzling Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. While it’s true that no team even won a pennant in April, it’s definitely possible to lose a chance at one early. Right now, the Pirates are a team in need of a spark and they have just the dynamic prospect to create that effect.

Gregory Polanco is demolishing AAA ball with Indianapolis. He’s hitting .400, with speed and power. His OBP is .455, he’s slugging .632 and his OPS is a sensational 1.086. That’s following a spring training performance that more than indicated he’s ready to be facing big league pitching on an everyday basis.

I had little problem with Pittsburgh sending Polanco down to start the season, but there’s simply no reason other than service time to keep him down on the farm at this point. The way I see it, he has graduated his minor league apprenticeship and it’s time to put him in the Pirates lineup. The fact the team is struggling right now is the clincher.

The Pirates have two choices, but there’s only one right decision to be made here. If the Bucs are playing to win, Polanco should be in their starting lineup tonight. Otherwise, it’s a signal to me that this organization is still mired in that dreaded small market mentality, in which case they might as well just fly that Jolly Roger at half mast and settle for being average. We should find out soon enough just how serious this organization really is about winning.

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Not many red days for me this month in baseball, but I had to accept a 1-2 result on Sunday. I’m looking forward to tonight’s card, however, as despite the thin slate I’ll be involved in four games.

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Cooled off on the free plays this weekend, so let’s see about a return to the win column tonight on a game that I will be including on my personal card.

04/28 06:40 PM  MLB  (905) COLORADO ROCKIES  (906) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Take: (906) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS -125

No team is playing worse baseball than the Diamondbacks. The opening month of the campaign has been an utter disaster for this squad. Actually, it’s been rough going back to spring training and simply hasn’t gotten any better. The Snakes basically can’t do anything right, and with a residence in the challenging NL West, the Diamondbacks are getting themselves buried as far as any serious playoff contention is concerned.

The Diamondbacks actually had built just a bit of momentum with a couple of good wins against the Cubs and a victory on Friday night vs. the Phillies. The Saturday happened. The Snakes blew up Cliff Lee and were comfortably ahead of the Phils 5-0 when the roof caved in. They lost that contest and then followed it up by getting blanked on Sunday.

So this is most definitely not a go with team right now, but I still like the Arizona side tonight. Wade Miley is now the most consistent starter on the staff and he has simply owned the Colorado Rockies throughout his career. The visitors will counter with Franklin Morales, who is warm right now but has certainly never been the model of consistency.

The Rockies have good overall stats thus far against lefties, but solving Miley has been a big problem for them. The Diamondbacks might own a small scheduling advantage tonight, as they’re staying at home while Colorado is off a satisfying series win in LA against the Dodgers.

I have no problem with the betting line tonight. No doubt it’s easy to make a case for fading a favorite with a record as miserable as the one presently owned by Arizona. But I’m going to side with Miley as a stopper of sorts and getting the decent southpaw at playable odds against the erratic Morales is not too hard to take. I’ll go with the Diamondbacks to get a win tonight.