Hey 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.