The Pirates Pay Too Much for Too Little

MoioMusings – Can Huntington be trusted with a total rebuild?

Joc Pederson: $2,600,000, 13 home runs (would lead the Pirates).

Max Muncy: $545,000, 20 home runs (not to be redundant, but . . . ).

Cody Bellinger: $585,000, 17 home runs (it’s pointless).

Enrique Hernandez: $1,600,000, 15 home runs (It’s actually getting funny).

An aside to this list is Corey Seager, currently on the disabled list and earning $605,000. He’s 24-years-old, a career .302 hitter and coming off of seasons of 22 and 26 home runs.

Four young, productive players making significant contributions for the defending National League champions, and one who, when he returns, will not miss a beat in a productive lineup, earning a combined $5,935,000, $5,330,000 without Seager’s salary.

Gregory Polanco is pulling down $4.1 million this year.

The Pirates’ top four producers, Polanco, Starling Marte, Francisco Cervelli and Colin Moran, earn a combined $22,983,333. Almost $18 million higher than what the Dodgers are paying three players nobody ever heard of and two players who have a chance to be very productive players for years to come. Excluding Seager, the four Los Angeles Dodgers listed above have hit 65 home runs.

The four Buccos – 39 home runs.

Maybe the problem is not what the Pirates are (or are not) paying their players – the common lament of the downtrodden Pirates fan. Maybe the problem is the players the Pirates choose to pay just are not very good.

The Polanco and Marte deals looked like very organizational friendly when they were signed, but neither player has really lived up to the terms. Marte may be slightly better now than when he signed, but if he’s the best player the Pirates have, the Pirates have no great players.

Polanco’s troubles are well documented and troubling.

While the Dodgers have resources the Pirates cannot dream of accessing and pay Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp a combined $57 million (because they can), the Dodgers have spent money very wisely on productive players who are not earning double-digit millions, or even millions for that matter.

Kudos to their scouting department and their general manager (not to mention coaches and managers throughout their system).

What continues to emerge as the leading story of the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates is how badly they swing and miss on young players – especially the home-grown talent – and continue to fall behind almost every other Major League Baseball organization for organizational depth.

So why is there so much buzz around a total rebuild? Can Neal Huntington really be trusted with such a task?

Those who say yes point to 2009 when Huntington famously traded away anyone resembling Major League talent (and famously said, “It’s not like I’m breaking up the ‘27 Yankees” – his best moment in an otherwise horrendous interview career) and rebuilt the organization from the ground up.

Not only did the Pirates make three straight playoff appearances, but their minor league system was the envy of many Sabremetricians trying to make inroads with organizations all over the baseball.

Those who say no cite Huntington’s less than stellar – okay, his downright awful – draft history and, of course, the lack of financial resources and commitment to spend from ownership. The Bucs caught lightning once thanks to a special core of young players and a few good veteran pitching signings, but it probably will not happen again.

So strap in for another potential long losing streak. Hopefully this one will not last 20 seasons.

Other MoioMusings:

  • While cutting my grass on Sunday I realized two things: 1. I am getting too old to push around a mower on a rather large, hilly yard, and 2. The Le’Veon Bell era with the Pittsburgh Steelers is likely over after 2018. While Bell and the Steelers expressed optimism two weeks ago regarding contract negotiations, the window on a long-term deal is closing. If Bell plays 2018 with a franchise tag, he is as good as gone. Tomlin once said he would, “Run (Bell) until the wheels fall off.” It will be interesting to see if Bell goes into any kind of self preservation mode towards the end of the season.
  • Why does Major League Baseball require at least one All-Star representative from every team? I am missing the point. What am I saying? I hate All-Star gatherings in every sport, so who really cares?
  • Easy to second guess Clint Hurdle for pulling Jameson Taillon last Saturday night after he got into a tight spot with two out in the seventh and having thrown only 77 pitches. Shouldn’t the question be this: how said is it that Hurdle made that move with a pitcher who was counted on to emerge as the team’s ace and a consistently effective starter? Taillon should worry more about pitching better to earn his manager’s trust instead of crying about being lifted because the manager really doesn’t trust him. Taillon has not earned the right to pitch his way out of jams because, quite frankly, he has too often failed.
  • The World Cup, soccer stuff, blah, blah, blah, I think Liverpool and Yugoslavia are in the finals, something about the US not being able to find 15 people who can play the game, all the good teams lost, a goal is scored every three matches, it’s in Russia and gives Alexander Ovechkin another reason to drink beer before 9 a.m., that’s what I know about soccer besides, “it’s a beautiful game.” Yeah, okay.   


For more on the Pirates chances, see another Moio Musing.

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