Pittsburgh Pirates celebrate after winning the NL Wild Card. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Pittsburgh Pirates: How They Do It Again

SharkTank copyHey 2013 Pirates.  Come over here.  I need to speak with you….no no no.. don’t talk. Just listen.  So look.  I know that you had a story book 2013.  You exceeded every expectation and fulfilled die hard Pirate fans wildest dreams of making the postseason.  Thank you for that.  Believe me, it was really something..  Actually experiencing a live playoff game?  Wow..  So that’s what it’s like.

But before you get ahead of yourself and start thinking that you’re a lock to do it again, I’m here to tell you that you have your work cut out for you.  Consider that in the last ten years there have been five teams that have won 90 games or more and made the playoffs that have came out the very next season and failed to break even.  So ya… it’s a real possibility that one of last year’s playoff teams won’t be .500 at the end of September.  And I’ll give you a hint…it won’t be the Red Sox.

So, I’m going to tell you how to not let that happen.  First.  Get AJ Burnett back in uniform.  I know it probably won’t happen.  But you really blew it when you didn’t give him the qualifying offer.   This was your chance.  This was your chance to prove to the city of Pittsburgh that you are going to do what you say and re-invest the extra revenue you made last year back into the team….and you didn’t deliver.

The Pirates franchise profited $27 million making it the 6th most profitable team in the league, but as of right now, going into 2014, we are in the bottom 5 in Payroll.  I mean…that just…. that just makes me so ANGRY!!  (taking a deep breath…regaining composure…exhaling slowly…counting to five…) If I have to hear Mark Madden say “I’m not one to say I told you so Pirate Fans, but… I told you so!”  one more time, I think I’m going to lose it. It’s just that AJ was the unquestioned Alpha male of the Pirates last year and heart and soul of the locker room.  If you think that the team chemistry will be the same without him…well you got another thing coming.  We all do.  You could have spent that money.


Second.  Shark tank?  Please stay hungry.  Chances are we won’t have AJ.  So with no Burnett, our starters may include Charlie Morton, who is coming off a good year, but has traditionally been very inconsistent.  Gerritt Cole who is probably the only sure bet to deliver.  Francisco Liriano, the comeback player of the year who had a great season, but has posted an ERA over 5.00 in three of his previous four years before joining the Bucs.  Edinson Volquez who was arguably the worst statistical starting pitcher in the league last year… Wait a second… back up…you signed the worst statistical starting pitcher in the league last year?  Ahh nevermind.. A soon to be 35 year old Wandy Rodriguez who undoubtedly will be back on the DL by year’s end.  Jeff Locke who utterly collapsed late last year due to fatigue, and not to mention he’ll be without mentor AJ Burnett this year.  And potentially Jameson Taillon who has never thrown a pitch at the MLB level.  Wow..  shark tank…  bring your appetite.  You’ll need it.

Third.  Sign a first basemen already!  This offseason has been a real kick to the groin.  As has every offseason granted.  But so far this year, you’ve actually reduced payroll by $14 million.  You’ve committed to no one but Charlie Morton.  You let Marlon Byrd fly to Philadelphia.  You’ve signed two of the worst statistical free agents in the league in Clint Barmes and Chris Stewart.  You’ve made no trades of significance.  You’ve signed the worst statistical starting pitcher in the league (for $5 million) and you still have holes in right field and first base that you have not done one thing to address. (deep breath…counting to five…) Neal, now you know we love you…and you made the right moves last offseason and still got hammered for it, but if you think you can lose your team captain and not upgrade at any position and STILL compete in the best division in the league?  Well I’m no psychic, but it just seems like a stretch that’s all..

So, please.  Step on the gas.  It’s not too late.  Give us a Christmas miracle and get Burnett back and then turn around and upgrade at first.  We have all of the tools in place to be a solid team again this year.  And Bob, don’t worry… you’ll still make another $20 million even if you spend a little.  No need to rush to the welfare office just yet…  It’ll be ok, I promise.


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Tags: 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates

  • scott stevens

    Great read on the cheapskate Nutting and how he pockets the profits at the fans expense. Lies, spin, lies is what we are getting from ownership, sorta like what Obama is doing to the country. This team is so much weaker today than the team we finished the season with, not even close. I don’t know about you but “out of our comfort zone or we will not pay market price” are sickening disgraceful comments made by ownership that gets 20 mil from a national TV deal as well as making profits that place them near the top of all MLB teams. Cheap, frugal, call them what you want, Nuttings promise to the city was you support me and I will support you, sure lived up to his end of the deal. What really irks me are the apologists( some columnists and bloggers) that defend every move the prince of thieves make. Do you guys have some secret inside financial info we don’t see or perhaps, if the owner makes more money, than maybe he’ll send you a check. It’s more likely a group of morans running around the burgh just happy we have baseball, fireworks and free bobbleheads, not really caring if the Buc’s win or not as long as they get their freebies. Well time for some kielbasa and an Iron City, I would love someone to show me hard evidence that Nutting and his Pirates are losing money, and remember all franchises when they have sold in the past 30 years have all made their huge profits.
    Nice article Tony!!

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  • Jeff Wilkin

    This article is a joke. Failed to mention how dominate our minor league system is. 2013 draft rated one of the best and a minor league system in the top 5. I would rather build a team through what we already have then waist money on players that aren’t even sure if they want to play anymore. Nutting please save your money and use it on Pedro, Neil, Cole and all the soon to be up and coming prospects that you have stock piled. We can’t compete with the bigger markets so they have to get creative and build from with in.

  • Bucsfan2014

    I agree with the article. In order to be a championship team you have to have a good balance between cultivating minor league talent and supplementing your existing roster with Free Agents. The Pirate ownership although has done a great job developing talent but has yet to use their revenue surplus to bring in any qualified Free Agents. That is definitely to the team’s detriment.

  • DJ Johnny Johnson Jackson

    How does the song go? “the freaks come out at night”. Scott – a wise man once said, “there is no crying in baseball”. Well, there is no politics either. No faster way to lose credibility than to go all fox news on a sports blog. Jeff – this article is pretty much spot on. If you pay attention to the strategic approach the Pirates ownership takes to their business it is this: develop strong prospects and keep them until their 1st contract is up while plugging holes with vets on the cheap. This strategy has been in place for years and will not change. Pedro, Neil, and Cole will be gone after their contracts are up and replaced with cheaper prospects or cheaper vets. The only exception in recent history to their strategy is when they signed Cutch, which the pretty much had to as he is arguably the best player in the league…and they got him on the cheap. Now, can we win with this management strategy, probably. Can we win a world series with this strategy, probably not.