Morneau unlikely to re-sign, so now what? And why aren’t kids watching baseball?

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LEBO – While not shocking, Justin Morneau informed me today via email that the Pirates will not be offering him a contract extension during the exclusive negotiating window teams have with their own free agents until Monday.

 

“They have said they don’t expect to do anything before the window is closed but are still interested,” Morneau wrote. “My options are wide open. I just have to figure out what the best opportunity is for myself and my family and also the opportunity to win. I enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh and enjoyed my teammates and atmosphere there.”

 

Morneau and the Pirates haven’t ruled each other out, but my sense is the Pirates will be looking elsewhere for first base help . My sense is they are probably Plan Bs or Cs for each other.

Continue reading Morneau unlikely to re-sign, so now what? And why aren’t kids watching baseball?

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How much do we really know about defensive value? And why we might have a better understanding soon

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LEBO – Carlos Gomez was a deserving Gold Glove winner in center field. He led baseball with 38 Defensive Runs Saved in 2013 and had five home run takeaways. Whether using your eyes or advanced stats, he was sensational. I don’t think Andrew McCutchen, as good as he is in center, was robbed of his second straight Gold Glove.

 

You can argue that Starling Marte and Russell Martin were robbed of Gold Gloves.

 

Martin and Marte out-produced GG winners Yadier Molina and Carlos Gonzalez according to a number of new-age defensive metrics. But even with a SABR-chosen sabermetric panel making up 30 percent of the vote for the first time, the Molina and Gonzalez brand names were perhaps too much to overcome.

Continue reading How much do we really know about defensive value? And why we might have a better understanding soon

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Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: what the Pirates can learn from the Cardinals

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – Take solace in this Pittsburgh sports fans: your club took the Cardinals —  they are two wins from a World Series title — to an elimination game. And when combining the regular season and postseason games, the Pirates went 12-12 against the Cardinals in 2013. That’s progress.

 

But also feel free to feel anxious about this factoid: the Cardinals entered the Sept. with the fourth youngest roster in baseball, they have perhaps the most young pitching in the game, and Oscar Taveras is on the way  … it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere. They look to be contenders through the rest of the decade, which the Pirate front office is hoping marks the Pirates’ window of contention.

 

Whether you like them or not, you have to have a respect for how the Cardinals do business, most notably, how they draft players.

Continue reading Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: what the Pirates can learn from the Cardinals

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How to boost the Pirates’ revenue, what might be leveling the financial playing field, and is Mike Trout more valuable than your franchise? … Also, who should win Gold Gloves?

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – Baseball’s death has been greatly exaggerated. Don’t believe me? Go ask your neighborhood MLB franchise owner.

 

In case you missed it, earlier this week Bloomberg came out with a new report on the value of MLB franchises accompanied with a really great interactive graphic.

 

The average value of a major league franchise has increased 35 percent in nine months!!! according to Bloomberg, in large part because of the $2 billion sale of the Dodgers, but also because of skyrocketing media revenue streams. The average value of a major league franchise is now $1 billion. Ten franchises are valued at at least $1 billion. Russian oil tycoons might even be priced out of this game.

 

Continue reading How to boost the Pirates’ revenue, what might be leveling the financial playing field, and is Mike Trout more valuable than your franchise? … Also, who should win Gold Gloves?

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The evolution of the major league manager … and Tiny Tim Lincecum’s contract raises the bar

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – Since the end of the regular season we’ve seen Jim Leyland retire, Dusty Baker fired, and Clint Hurdle named NL Manager of the Year by the Sporting News.

 

We’ve seen a changing of the face of the MLB manager.

 

The position of baseball manager has been one of the last vestiges, last safe harbors, for baseball’s old school orthodoxy. Since the publication of “Moneyball” in the early 2000s — which may or may not be the best marker of baseball’s entry into  its information age — many managers have remained dependent upon instinct and gut feel to make decisions while data-driven, analytical thought has grown more influential in front offices.

 

Continue reading The evolution of the major league manager … and Tiny Tim Lincecum’s contract raises the bar

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Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: Can the Pirates shift to sustainability?

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – Perhaps the biggest misconception about the 2013 Pirates was the idea they were a young team.

 

The Pirates entered September as the 7th oldest team in baseball, and after rosters expanded were still the 12th oldest team with an average age of 28.4.

 

Sustaining success for the Pirates will be in large part about getting younger: a number of key veterans – AJ Burnett, Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano, Marlon Byrd, Charlie Morton and Jason Grilli – are not under contract after 2014. Their combined production in 2013 – 18.1 wins above replacement player – is valued at $90 million on the free agent market. The Pirates compensated them well below that value and the challenge will be replicating much of those wins above replacement player internally, because, the Pirates are not going to pay for 18.1 WAR on the open market.

 

Continue reading Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: Can the Pirates shift to sustainability?

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Update: White Sox reportedly land Cuban slugger Jose Abreu … Pirates’ 2013 draft rated No. 1, and Josh Bell ready for breakout?

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – After watching what Cuban defectors Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes did in their debut seasons I can understand if you caught yourself daydreaming about what Jose Abreu could bring to the lineup as the Pirates’ first baseman.

 

You weren’t alone. Said Neal Huntington in August: “We like him.” The Pirates scouted him for several years and believe he will hit and hit for power. He could be a .270, 30-homer hitter.

 

Abreu is the latest Cuban slugging talent and is the most intriguing and exciting name on an otherwise uninspiring list of free agent basemen.  But it’s time to cross him off the Pirates’ wish list.

Continue reading Update: White Sox reportedly land Cuban slugger Jose Abreu … Pirates’ 2013 draft rated No. 1, and Josh Bell ready for breakout?

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Time to extend Gerrit Cole? Pirates prominent in Baseball America’s league rankings and Nutting extras

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – Gerrit Cole has been in the big leagues 121 days, counting the postseason. He is five seasons from free agency.

 

His agent is Scott Boras.

 

Yet, it might be the perfect time to talk long-term deal with the rookie.

Continue reading Time to extend Gerrit Cole? Pirates prominent in Baseball America’s league rankings and Nutting extras

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Monday Morning Mop-up Duty: an early look at free agency

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – We have an entire offseason to look ahead, speculate and analyze 2014, but it starts today.

 

The offseason presents a much-welcomed challenge for the Pirates: building upon and sustaining a winner.

 

Another much-welcomed change is the Pirates should have more financial flexibility when plugging voids via free agency. GM Neal Huntington told me it’s unlikely the Pirates target A-list free agents, but they’ll continue to rely on searching for small- and mid-market free agent value.  Continue reading Monday Morning Mop-up Duty: an early look at free agency

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Don’t be sad it’s over, be glad it happened

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ST. LOUIS – When his former player and long-time Rockies first baseman Todd Helton played his final home game at Coors Field this season, the Rockies asked Pirates manager Clint Hurdle to pass along a message to be part of a tribute to honor the most iconic player in franchise history.

 

Part of Hurdle’s message to Helton and Denver inhabitants was a variation of a Dr. Seuss quote:

 

“Don’t be sad because it’s over, be glad it happened.”

 

The same could and should be said of the Pirates’ 2013 season.  It is the proper context.

 

Continue reading Don’t be sad it’s over, be glad it happened

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