Polanco’s Extension and Yesterday’s Opener

Yesterday was fun, wasn’t it? The Pirates ripped the Cardinals 4-1 and then extended Gregory Polanco for a possible seven years.

First, some notes from Opening Day yesterday…

  • Francisco Liriano was a bit wild, but ended up with 10 strikeouts to pick up the win. He was the first pitcher since 1998 to record 10 strikeouts, five walks and no runs. Bartolo Colon was the last one to do that with the Indians in ’98. Even more amazing is that Liriano is the first pitcher with the following stat line: 6.0 IP, 0 runs, three hits, 10 strikeouts and five walks…ever. Well, at least since 1913, according to Baseball Reference’s Play Index. You see a million games and then watch something that’s never happened before. That’s pretty cool. Of all the other 10 K, 5 BB, 3 H pitching lines, the other five all went eight or nine innings, so Liriano had the shortest one in history.
  • It was also the third straight Opening Day start for Liriano with Pittsburgh, the first Pirates pitcher to accomplish this feat since Doug Drabek in the early 90’s.
  • John Jaso was the first player to lead off and playing first base on Opening Day since Darin Erstad did it from in 2005. Erstad did it three times on Opening Day total in 1998, 1997 and in ’05 mentioned above.
  • Yesterday was McCutchen’s first start in the two hole since 2010 when he started 17 games from that batting spot. I think it’s safe to say McCutchen will start a lot more than 17 games there this season if Hurdle has anything to say about it.
  • And in case you didn’t hear, the Pirates are ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central. They didn’t happen once last season when the Bucs chased after the Cards all season and came up two wins short. It’s nice to be on the other side for once even if it’s only for a couple of days.

The other news after the game was the report that the Pirates will extend Polanco to a five-year deal worth $35M. The deal also includes two club option years, which could make Polanco a Pirate through 2023. If both options are picked up by the team, the total money in the deal will be around $60M. Obviously, it’s a team friendly deal even though Polanco hasn’t shown his full potential yet. If Polanco breaks out and becomes the player we all hope he will be, this will be an incredible steal for the organization. Either way, it locks up the best outfield in baseball through at least 2018 when McCutchen is due to hit free agency.

What’s interesting with this extension is that even if McCutchen leaves for free agency (I can hear the Yinzers flipping out already) after the 2018 season, Marte would move to CF and Austin Meadows would play left. The problem is, Meadows (one of the top prospects in the game) should be ready long before 2019. Where do all four OFs play until then? Not a bad problem to have, but it could get very crowded to break into MLB’s best outfield.

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