Sometimes when the player is young and unpolished in front of the press his answers are actually better. And, strangely, when English is a second language…that can be doubly true.

Why? Because the answers are honest. A lot of younger, foreign players don’t have the savvy or American language skills to BS around a question. So they have to answer sincerely.

God forbid.

Which is why when Gregory Polanco responded to questions about why he decided to ink an alleged team friendly deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates this week (5 yrs/$30million guaranteed with two club options that could push the total value to $60 million over 7yrs), as opposed to a deal he rejected last year he simply stated: “Because before I didn’t know the city or anything. But now I know the city. I like to play here. I love to be here. So now I decided to sign here.”

Does it have to be any more complicated than that?

Others have said that Polanco left too much on the table

But he’s a 24 year old kid that doesn’t know the language well. This is a team with a rich Latino tradition and a good mix of young and veteran Hispanic speaking players. It’s a moderately sized city where being a Pirate is a pretty cool thing these days and it’s the only organization he knows.

So maybe in this rare case of sports public relations, the most simple answer is the most honest one: he’s comfortable here. And he wants to stay. And for a kid who grew up the son of two cops in the Dominican, $35 million probably sounds OK.

But when English is a person’s first language, and money is their second, you have to be more careful taking the answers at face value. And that’s why when you parse what some of the front office executives had to say about Polanco’s new contract, Pirate fans may not like what they hear.

With Polanco now signed through potentially 2023 at potentially $60 million, and Starling Marte tied down for at least another $29.5 guaranteed between now and 2021 you have to wonder how much the organization would be willing to pay in order to keep Andrew McCutchen in town beyond when his deal ends after 2018.

Are we talking about a $300 million outfield? In Pittsburgh? Unlikely. Especially with former first round pick Austin Meadows still in the minors. Especially after what we’ve heard from Pirate management this week.


While answering questions about any sort of connection between Polanco’s new deal and a potential lack of funds to extend McCutchen’s stay here, Neal Huntington said that yesterday “was about Gregory.” So did Bob Nutting. Frank Coonelly laid the foundation for that narrative on our show on Monday-

But we all know that isn’t true. Of course there is no salary cap in MLB. But there is one in Pittsburgh. Bob Nutting’s dollar doesn’t stretch as far as John Henry’s. So when Huntington was asked about connecting the dots between Polanco’s new contract and any sort drain that may have on Pittsburgh’s ability to keep Cutch, he busted out phrases such as “reality of decisions down the road…reality of market size…reality of stacking contracts.”

Well, that’s a “reality” none of us want to acknowledge.

He also said “building around” Polanco twice during his press conference. Which makes a person wonder…”Why would you be building around Polanco if you still would have McCutchen playing right next to…oh, right.”

Then there was this quote from Nutting Tuesday. He was asked if there is still going to be enough money to pay McCutchen: “We will always have new players coming in. It’s going to be a constant process. So the focus that we will continue to have on scouting, development, influx of talent will be critically important.”

Hellllooooo Austin Meadows.

And of course Coonelly gave TribLive Radio the “we are committed to trying to meet those challenges” line when I asked him if the Pirates still planned on keeping Andrew McCutchen a Pirate for his whole career. That’s the same phrase spun by Nutting down in Bradenton a few weeks ago.

“Committed to trying.” What does that even mean?! “Committed to trying”?!

“Hey, Tim, is TribLive going to give you a $5 million bonus next year?”
“Not yet. But I’m committed to trying!”

“Hey, Tim, I heard that before you got married you dated Megan Fox?”
“No. She wouldn’t give me the time of day. But I was committed to trying.”

So maybe I was wrong after all. Maybe regardless of your command of the language, we can spot what you really mean regardless of how creative you are in your phraseology?

If so, give me the Polanco-ignorance-is-bliss version any day.

Posted in Pittsburgh Pirates