Bob Smizik: The promise of Pedro

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About an hour after the Pirates' win over the Cubs yesterday, I received this email from a friend, who is a devout Pirates fan. He wrote:

''Get Boras and Coonelly in a room and don't let them out until a deal is made to buy out at least 1 FA season. ... He is a difference maker like no one else on team.''

And there you have it: The bittersweet promise of Pedro Alvarez.

The Pirates won by the might of Alvarez's bat. With one swing, he turned a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 win -- with a large assist from the Pirates bullpen.

But even in celebrating Alvarez, who hit two home runs the night before and has five for the season, every fan -- devout of lukewarm -- knows the other side of his immense talent. His ability and his promise are such that it's highly unlikely the Pirates will be able to keep him.

We've been down this road before: Bobby Bonilla in 1991, Barry Bonds and Doug Drabek in 1992. Free agency stripped a championship-caliber team once before in Pittsburgh. The fear is that it will happen again.

My friend was speaking of Frank Coonelly, the Pirates president, and Scott Boras, the agent for Alvarez, who has a strong history of taking his clients to free agency and then elsewhere. It would be nice if those two men could be locked in a room and told they can't come out until a contract with the Pirates is forged. But that's not going to happen.

Oh, there will be negotiations. The Pirates will make their best offer and it will be a good one. No doubt the best in team history. Will it satisfy Alvarez? Maybe, but probably not.

He led the National League in home runs last year with 36, which followed his first full season in which he hit 30. There's reason to believe 40 is next and then maybe 50. Other teams, ones with a lot more money to spend than the Pirates, are going to want that power.

That's what makes the promise of Alvarez so bittersweet. It's there, but it might not be for the Pirates.

There's no telling how this will play out. The Pirates could sign Alvarez into his free agency years. Or they could trade him as early as 2015. Of they could keep him to the end of their current contractual control, which is through the 2016 season.

That's a lot to put on the plate of any Pirates fan. He's frustrating in his slumps, he's beyond exhilarating when he's on a tear.

But when all is said, there's only one way to look at the amazing potential and the awesome power of Pedro Alvarez: Enjoy it while we can.

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