Maholm is a lock to be traded if any one of the Pirates’ four young starting pitchers who ended last year at AA (Rudy Owens, Bryan Morris, Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke) continue their progress in 2011. IIRC, the first three are slated to begin at AAA, and it isn’t difficult to imagine one of them (Owens?) performing well enough to earn a mid-season callup.
and just for the record, there’s a slight chance that McCutchen will be a Super Two player next year.
“a larger part of the problem is that the team doesn’t have the revenue stream to support a payroll much larger.”
Well… sorta. Maybe if they decided to be less profitable than other teams, they could support a larger payroll. As per John Henry’s quote in 2009:
“Over a billion dollars has been paid to seven chronically uncompetitive teams, five of whom have had baseball’s highest operating profits. Who, except these teams, can think this is a good idea?” (for which Henry was fined 500k, apparently)
In other words, the Pirates have been among the 5 most profitable teams because they’re pocketing revenue rather than re-investing it. Moreover, receiving around 40m in revenue sharing, the majority of what they’ll be making is profit. I would imagine that with this mentality, if their payroll hits 10m, they’ll throw a parade and try to entice fans with fireworks rather than big signings.
The moral of the story is that the Pirates already CAN support a higher payroll, at least up to the level of the Royals. They simply would rather be raking in the dough. And with this approach, I still doubt they will be competitive for a long time.
Jeebus crisp, give it a rest. Please don’t confuse the idiots who used to steer the Pirates with current president Frank Coonelly and current GM Neal Huntington. Both MLB and the players union are on the record as okay with the Pirates’ spending, given the pre-arb service time status of about half of their roster and the fact that since Coonelly and Huntington took the reins, they are genuinely committed to a rebuilding plan.
And nevermind that the Pirates spent more than any team on the draft over the past 3 years, and have committed millions of dollars to Latin America. Why would a team purely intent on “raking in the dough” spend more than any other team on unproven amateur players, and give them over-slot bonuses?
Finally, if you want to complain that the Pirates should spend more, please identify every free agent they should have targeted over the past three offseasons. This offseason alone, the Pirates tried to give millions of dollars to Jose De Los Santos and Carl Pavano, but they declined; were Cliff Lee, Derek Jeter, and Carl Crawford ever realistic options to sign with the Pirates? Be sure to indicate how each player they should have signed would have put the Pirates over the top, and also address how their signings would have affected the Pirates debt to equity ratio (a MLB requirement that was directly responsible for the 2003 trade of Aramis Ramirez to the Cubs for jack squat).
If you had read any of my comments in the past, you would recognize that I respect that the Pirates GM and leadership has vastly improved and may ultimately put a competitive team out there. With that said, comments like this: “Today, no but we will be able to support that payroll ($70 to $80 million) very soon” from the front office are pretty disingenuous. I know that as the president, you have to say those things, but it doesn’t mean we have to buy them.
I am not advocating that the Pirates should go out and flash money for no good reason. I am simply calling them out on their crazy “appeal to poverty” and “need more fans before we can spend money.” If their party line was “We’re saving up money to be competitive in future years once our talent develops,” I’d entirely support that. I’d say “Sounds great, invest it wisely, show the numbers in a big piggy bank, and break the bank when you’ve got a shot.”
But if their party line is going to be “We need more fans before we can spend money (even though revenue sharing covers basically our WHOLE salary currently)” then yes… I’m going to call bull.
If you actually list the supposed 7 chronically uncompetitive teams that John Henry was referring to, which are the teams you come up with?
Right. You actually can’t come up with those 7 teams. Guess what? John Henry was talking out of his butt.
So, please don’t tell me that the Pirates are obviously one of the 5 most profitable teams and can obviously spend way more money on payroll than they are.
It just doesn’t make logical sense that the team that is #27 in market size, #28 in attendance and last in ticket prices can have a payroll much higher than 27th or 28th in MLB, which is where they have been almost every year.
Comment by MarkInDallas — March 14, 2011 @ 10:17 pm
I don’t see a reason to pay $60-80M for a team that might go .500… but the Pirates attendance is not meaningfully below the Rays, Orioles, Royals, Blue Jays, Marlins, Athletics or Indians. The Royals spent unwisely, but in a few years have built up their minor league system a lot better than the Bucs. The Rays system just keeps chugging. The Indians had a shot one year at least. The Marlins have one of the best players and are competitive. Even the Orioles have hope this year! Not one of those teams has endured 19 straight losing seasons without a sniff of the playoffs. AT THE VERY LEAST they’ve seen some good/competitive baseball after the All-Star break.
Coonelly/NH aren’t responsible for most of those seasons, but what progress have they made? If you’re building a minor league system, where is the talent? Where is the supporting cast for Cutch, Pedro, Walker and Tabata (assuming the last three pan out)? What have the Latin America investments brought? Why did they sandbag Sano? Is there any pitching anywhere above high A?
Braun, Fielder, Yovani, Weeks, Hart, etc. come up around the same time and have fallen short of the Cardinals/Reds except one year. Do the Pirates have players of that caliber? Is McCutchen as good as Braun? Pedro close to Fielder? Not to mention there is no pitching even close to the MLB level worth discussing. If the Bucs won’t spend until they have a shot, they aren’t going to spend for at least 2-3 years, probably ever… meanwhile they’ll have paid off their debt (which they’ve done a substantial amount of since 2003, gonfalon) and gotten a few rich owners a lot richer.
Re: the article – wouldn’t Maholm get a 3yr/$25M contract or in that range? Teams would prefer that deal over the 1yr/$9.75M option in most cases, no? Maholm for half the year isn’t worth all that much, IMO. Can’t wait to hear NH call into a radio show to defend the crappy prospects the Bucs get in return for him.
“Where is the supporting cast for Cutch, Pedro, Walker and Tabata (assuming the last three pan out)?”
Tony Sanchez will likely be the starting catcher next year, and if Anthony Rendon is drafted this year, he will arrive by summer ’13. That would be 6 of 8 everyday players. Starling Marte, Andrew Lambo, Jordy Mercer, and Chase D’arnaud could also contribute. And I wouldn’t write off Steve Pearce and John Bowker just yet.
“What have the Latin America investments brought? Why did they sandbag Sano?”
You seriously haven’t heard of Luis Heredia? And it’s not Huntington’s fault if Sano’s agent didn’t give them a chance to counteroffer.
“Is there any pitching anywhere above high A?”
Seriously??!? You mean other than starting pitchers Rudy Owens, Bryan Morris, Justin Wilson, and Jeff Locke, plus reliever Danny Moskos, all of whom should debut in 2011 or 2012?
“If the Bucs won’t spend until they have a shot, they aren’t going to spend for at least 2-3 years, probably ever… meanwhile they’ll have paid off their debt (which they’ve done a substantial amount of since 2003, gonfalon) and gotten a few rich owners a lot richer. ”
The Pirates have paid off their debt?!?? That’d be news to Frank Coonelly, and MLB. To their credit, the Pirates are indeed better off than they were in 2003. Are you actually complaining that the Pirates are run by competent people?
Love the Pirates talk! I think we agree that the current regime has the right blueprint and we both like the fact that the team doesn’t waste resources on a potential .500 flash in the pan season… but I am not confidence that 1) mgmt will spend when the time is right, and 2) this group of players is good enough to consistently compete for the MLB Central title.
Re: Sanchez, Rendon by summer ’13… 6 everyday players —
Assumes Pedro, Walker, Tabata, Sanchez, and a yet to be drafted prospect all pan out. Only one solid piece in place thus far. The others have a lot to prove. Walker, Tabata, and Sanchez are projected as role players. Insert Pirates underrated homer-ism here (I think Sanchez will outperform his projection, for example), but it doesn’t appear that a huge WAR player is in this group of unproven players, other than Pedro… who the jury is still out on… and possibly Rendon… who we don’t know anything about yet. Also, by the end of 2013 we will be looking at Cutch’s walk year by the time Rendon and the 2010 draftees are ready.
Re: Marte, Lambo, Mercer, D’arnaud, Pearce and Bowker…
Sure… how many wins do they realistically add?
“Owens, Morris, etc…”
Owens is the highest rated pitcher of those mentioned and he’s 3 star prospect by BP, which gave a perfect world projection as a 4th starter. Again, perfect world projection.
“You seriously haven’t heard of Luis Heredia? And it’s not Huntington’s fault if Sano’s agent didn’t give them a chance to counteroffer.”
Heredia is 16. Let’s not label that egg a chicken just yet.
Sano was reportedly insulted by the Pirates low offer after years of cultivating a personal relationship. For the amount of effort they spent scouting him, that $0.5-1.0mm could have been shed from the MLB roster to make room. Pretty inexcusable.
Similar outcome, albeit a very different situation, with Matt Capps last year. For $500k more the Bucs could have locked him up (for the same amount the Bucs eventuall gave Dotel). The Nats got a good catching prospect for Capps at a time when the Bucs sorely needed a catcher. I don’t want to Bucs to overpay for players by any means, but these are a few small $ examples where budgets aren’t really to blame.
“The Pirates have paid off their debt?!?? That’d be news to Frank Coonelly, and MLB.”
The Pirates debt ratios were less than 3x EBITDA and 0.75x revenue at 10/31/08, but were much worse by 7/31/09 so you’re probably right on this one.
“Love the Pirates talk! I think we agree that the current regime has the right blueprint and we both like the fact that the team doesn’t waste resources on a potential .500 flash in the pan season… but I am not confidence that 1) mgmt will spend when the time is right, and 2) this group of players is good enough to consistently compete for the MLB Central title. ”
Agreed, but (1) I’m going to give the current mgmt the benefit of the doubt, and (2) the system will have to be *consistently* reloaded (thru the draft, Latin America, etc.) to consistently compete for the NL Central title.
In addition, I will agree that many of the Pirates minor leaguers might not pan out, and also that the three who became regulars in 2010 (Alvarez, Walker, Tabata) still aren’t necessarily a sure thing for 2011. But compare the state of the Pirates’ minor league system in 2011 vs. four years ago. In January 2007, Baseball America ranked the Pirates’ top prospects as follows:
1. Andrew McCutchen, of
2. Neil Walker, c
3. Brad Lincoln, rhp
4. Yoslan Herrera, rhp
5. Josh Sharpless, rhp
6. Steven Pearce, 1b
7. Brian Bixler, ss
8. Brad Corley, of
9. Todd Redmond, rhp
10. Mike Felix, lhp
the Pirates’ minor-league system wasn’t completely barren, but in hindsight you’d expect a lot more given how poorly the Pirates had played (and where they had drafted). McCutchen and Walker were expected to make an impact and have so far, and the jury is still out on Lincoln and Pearce (although both will likely begin 2011 at AAA). on the other hand, Herrera, Sharpless, Corley, and Felix are out of baseball already, and Bixler is competing for a utility spot with the Nationals this spring.
Neal Huntington’s first draft was in June 2008, but he also replenished the farm system thru trades and by not ignoring Latin America. here’s BA’s 2011 list:
1. Jameson Taillon, rhp
2. Tony Sanchez, c
3. Stetson Allie, rhp
4. Starling Marte, of
5. Luis Heredia, rhp
6. Bryan Morris, rhp
7. Rudy Owens, lhp
8. Jeff Locke, lhp
9. Zack Von Rosenberg, rhp
10. Chase d’Arnaud, ss/2b
Even after promoting three everyday starters from the minors in 2010, the Pirates still have three potential No. 1 starting pitchers, three more starting pitchers who at least have been successful at AA, and at least one projected everyday starter (Sanchez) in the pipeline. None of those players are proven, but isn’t it nice to see actual prospects all the way from 1-10?
and finally, I find it hard to believe that Sano felt insulted enough to instruct his agent not to allow the Pirates a counteroffer.
Comparing current prospects to former failed prospects is a little unfair, but yes the current crop + Rendon/Cole is >>> the crap the Bucs had before NH. Always scary when 3 top prospects are young pitchers though.
I wonder if the Bucs take Cole now that he is tearing it up. Would think a safer plus bat with plus defense is the better choice, but pairing Cole with Taillon, Allie, and Heredia is pretty tempting…