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Ask BD: Should Gregory Polanco start, and will Jung-Ho Kang be Rookie of the Year?

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Thanks, everyone, for your questions, and keep them coming. Here's the first round of answers.

Nagihcimwolves50: Travis Snider had a great year and I think going into this year should be ahead of Gregory Polanco until Polanco proves he can at least handle MLB pitching and RF defense (which was awful). Why does this not seem to be the case despite Snider’s year last year?

Because Polanco has star potential and Snider is just a guy who had a nice year. Polanco should be battling himself for the right field job. He shouldn't be battling Snider. The Pirates gave Snider more playing time heading down the stretch last year as Polanco struggled, which made sense -- they were in the playoff hunt, and Polanco was just a struggling rookie. But if Polanco looks like he can handle right field this spring and the Pirates don't give it to him, I don't know what they're doing. Players like Polanco are food and water to teams like the Pirates, and there's no way for Polanco to "prove" he can handle major league pitching without giving him consistent at bats.

Crusty: Once you ran a blog about a team that was run by idiots. Now you run a blog about a team that expects to make the playoffs. Beyond the obvious (I assume you like this better) what are some ways in which BD’s life, and your BD life, are different?

I could have run the Pirates better than Dave Littlefield. Most of us could've. That isn't an exaggeration. He was worse at being a GM than any one of thousands of BD'ers would have been. Maybe we wouldn't have had the salon-quality hair, and maybe we wouldn't have been as good at babbling "We like the way he goes about his business" cliches to the press, but we would have been much better at the actual baseball stuff. That was an awful time, but it made writing about the Pirates very easy. There was Right and there was Wrong, and you were either on the correct side or you weren't. Or at least that's how I saw it.

Now, when the front office does something, it's usually at least reasonable on some level. That means there's lots of room for smart people here at BD to disagree. But at the same time, there's probably more passion than there used to be, because the stakes of each move are so much higher. That's an interesting dynamic, but it can be tough to negotiate. I'm much less confident in my Hot Takes than I used to be.

(Star)ling Power: Most would agree that this has been an admirable offseason for the Pirates. Still, I don’t see the team as being significantly upgraded. I also think most would agree that we’re not going to sign guys like James Shields. But, the trade market still exists and teams can add (significant?) talent without shelling out $100 million. Do you see the Pirates ever being willing to deal top prospects for an impact player, something like the Nats did for Gio Gonzalez, or does that go against an organizational philosophy that’s not going to be broken?

They reportedly were bidders for Jon Lester and David Price last July, so I don't think their philosophy is completely inflexible. This summer might be an interesting time to trade for a starting pitcher as a rental, given the number of top-flight pitchers potentially eligible for free agency next winter. If you're talking specifically about a Gio Gonzalez-type trade where the Pirates would get several years of team control, though, those trades are harder to pull off than they once were because pre-free agency extensions have disincentivized trading those kinds of players.

Pat_meares: Is Jung-Ho Kang going to be the NL Rookie of the Year?

I won't say no. He's mostly a finished product, and the Pirates won't play the service-time games with him that teams often play with top young players. But let's walk some of the Kang hype back a bit. His story is interesting, and there will be buzz about him no matter what, because of interest in him in Korea. But the Pirates' bid for him was a bit over $5 million. That's nothing. If anyone in baseball thought he was likely to be a star, they would have bid much more. We can't rule anything out, because he was the best player in the KBO last year and it's very difficult to tell how his abilities will translate to the big leagues. There's much more uncertainty with him than there is with most players. But the most likely outcome is that he won't even be a starting player.