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Monday Morning Mop-Up: labor strife ahead? And how to stretch $10 million

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SOUTH HILLS – Some analysts believe the Alex Rodriguez decision could be precursor of labor strife to come. Some see the case as the sign of a weakened union, which has had a change in leadership, and foresee owners trying to take advantage writes FOX”s Ken Rosenthal:

 

While serious talks are likely more than two years away, sources say that the union already is preparing for management to pursue an aggressive, ambitious strategy, seeking concessions on everything from the Joint Drug Agreement to the game’s salary structure.

 

The players, to be sure, are more vulnerable than in the past — and both sides know it.

 

The union is under new, less experienced leadership. The owners could try to take advantage if the players show increased flexibility on drug testing. Management also has negotiated restrictions on domestic and international amateurs and a cap on the posting fees for Japanese players, and no doubt is eyeing the final frontier – major league salaries.

 

Rodriguez said in a statement he believes baseball will target guaranteed contracts.

 

Still, what few seem to be talking about is that owners are becoming richer than ever. Consider players’ share of baseball revenues was 62 percent in 2003. It’s fallen to below 50 percent. So perhaps it is the players that should perhaps be the party bringing more grievances to the table. While players might not want to talk salary cap to insure a split of revenues, I’d bet players and agents would like to see each team have a spending floor and other vehicles to promote spending. While the public is going to have little sympathy in battle between billionaires and millionaires there are some growing divides between the two parties.

 

This is what Scott Boras told me back in October:  “You have owners’ revenues that are skyrocketing. It’s not 50-50 anymore. It’s well below that. I think the union has to take great notice of that. That’s something we got away from in the last agreement. I think in the upcoming collective bargaining process that really has to be paid attention to.”

 

While I’m not sure if 21 consecutive years of labor peace will be threatened after the 2016 season, in two years we could witness the most contentious talks in more than two decades.

 

Putting ARod’s legal issues and what it might or might not signal for baseball going forward aside for a moment, his fall has to be one of the most stunning in the sport’s history. He was described as a an elite defensive player with Juan Gonzalez-like power before being selected first overall in the 1993 draft. He turned into Mike Trout before Mike Trout, only Mike Trout at shortstop. He became the richest player in the game’s history, a candidate to be its all-time home run king…. and now this is how he’s featured on the cover of N.Y. Post.

 

STARTING NINE THOUGHTS

 

9. Back to the Pirates …

 

The Pirates are still  apparently waiting  on A.J. Burnett, and perhaps the Orioles and Phillies are in the mix, too. That suggests the Pirates have, say, $10 million to spend in 2014. But because the market might be beginning to present some other opportunities, perhaps it’s time for the Pirates to think about using their Burnett allowance elsewhere.

 

8.  To me, the most intriguing remaining free agent is Stephen Drew. Signing Drew to, say, a  two-year $20 million deal would greatly improve platoon advantages and depth in the infield. As I wrote last week,the Pirates were willing to go to around $7 million per year on James Loney, it’s the years that were the issue. So perhaps it’s not so far fetched that Drew could be in play.

 

7.  I also wonder if they price has come down considerably on either Ubaldo Jiminez, Matt Garza or Ervin Santana. I think the market is still waiting on Tanaka and after that domino falls, the Scarlet Q (Qualifying offer) Trio of starting pitchers will sign. But if one remains on the board entering February, the Pirates could be in position to find value. Remember, Neal Huntington said he was going to let the market play out early in the offseason, and in the baseball offseason the market can take a long time to play out. There could be some February value on the board like Michael Bourn, last offseason.

 

6. Kendrys Morales also remains available … but that defense and hat redundancy created with Gaby Sanchez‘s able bat against left-handed pitching.

 

5. The other options would be more of the bargain-bin variety. The Pirates are among number of teams to check in on Johan Santana. Another interesting lefty available is Chris Capuano. And Lance Berkman, is another player the Pirates checked in on earlier this offseason. …  You can never have too many starting pitching options and consider 40 percent of the Pirates’ rotation is comprised of question marks in Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez.

 

4. The other option is the Pirates are done spending for the offseason.

 

3. Can’t get Tanaka? Interesting research from reader Jim Wirtz on five former Pirates playing in Japan and their 2013 numbers:

 

Nyjer Morgan (Yokohama BayStars): 424 PA, .294 BA, 11 HR
Akinori Iwamura (Yakult Swallows): 159 PA, .246 BA, 3 HR, 48 K
Lastings Milledge (Yakult Swallows): 423 PA, .251 BA, 16 HR
Brad  Eldred (Hiroshima Carp): 260 PA, .247 BA, 13 HR, 73 K
Bryan Bullington (Hiroshima Carp): 172.2 IP, 11-9, 3.23 ERA

 

2. Moving away from the Pirates for a minute ….

 

Want to eliminate the lose-at-all-cost-to-land-a-premium-draft-pick approaches by teams like the Astros, Colts of the NFL (in 2011) and about one team every year in the NBA? The NBA has  an interesting proposal

 

Grantland obtained a copy of the proposal, which would eliminate the draft lottery and replace it with a system in which each of the 30 teams would pick in a specific first-round draft slot once — and exactly once — every 30 years. Each team would simply cycle through the 30 draft slots, year by year, in a predetermined order designed so that teams pick in different areas of the draft each year. Teams would know with 100 percent certainty in which draft slots they would pick every year, up to 30 years out from the start of every 30-year cycle. The practice of protecting picks would disappear; there would never be a Harrison Barnes–Golden State situation again, and it wouldn’t require a law degree to track ownership of every traded pick leaguewide.

 

I’m favor of keeping most draft systems as they are: vehicles designed to promote parity. And in a sport without a salary cap like baseball I think salary caps are particularly important. But there seems to be more of a willingness by clubs to tank for draft position.

 

 1.  Teams are finding ways around revenue sharing in their new TV deals reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer

 

The rights fee is the only part of these TV deals subject to Major League Baseball’s revenue-sharing. The Phillies must send 34 percent of the rights fee to MLB’s revenue-sharing pool. Thus, teams making these deals find profit in other areas, like an equity stake in the network and a share of advertising revenue. Those aspects of the Phillies deal could be worth billions more. …

 

“Having a percent ownership in the entity prevents them from exposure to revenue-sharing rules,” Scott Boras said, “which hurts other teams in the league from receiving the true payment.”

 

HE SAID IT

Don’t worry, just because the iconic Pirates’ ‘P’ is the club’s new primary logo, it doesn’t mean the Jolly Roger is walking the plank:

“The perception we have dropped the Jolly Roger is not true,” team spokesman Brian Warecki said in a news release issued Thursday. “The only change our fans will notice is that we will no longer be using the ‘Pirates’ lettering above the Jolly Roger.”

 

HE SAID IT II

 

Edinson Volquez to our own Rob Biertempfel.

 

“When San Diego put me on waivers (last year), the Pirates called right away. This winter, they called again. I thought, ‘They must really want me, so let’s do it.’  .. “What I hear about the Pirates pitching coaches and the pitching staff is pretty good,” Volquez said. “So, why not take a chance to come here and maybe get better?”

 

NON-BASEBALL THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

 

I really like the James Franklin hire for Penn State. If you can be competitive at Vanderbilt in the SEC, even a down SEC East, you can coach.

 

NON-BASEBALL RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK

 

Dabo Swinney  on your favorite blogger (start at the 1:45 mark)

 

-TS

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Comments

  1. NMR says:

    -I may be wrong, Travis, but you’re the first person I saw bring up the revenue disparity issue. Read it referenced at least three times nationally since then. I think you’ve got something here. Run with it.

    -”You can never have too many starting pitching options…” gets thrown around a lot. But by definition, you do have a limited number of spots on the 25-man roster. The Pirates already are looking at Jeff Locke starting the year in AAA. Where are you keeping another free agent starting pitcher?

    -I’m all-in on Stephen Drew. If, if, his market has decreased to the point where two or three years at $10m a peice wins his services, signign him literally cannot make the team or organization any worse.

  2. NMR says:

    -I don’t agree with the premise of point #2.

    “Want to eliminate the lose-at-all-cost-to-land-a-premium-draft-pick approaches by teams like the Astros, Colts of the NFL (in 2011) and about one team every year in the NBA?”

    You’re going to have a tough time proving that Astros purposely lost at all costs in order to pick Carlos Correia and Mark Appel.

    I just don’t think it works like this in baseball. Teams have realized that spending on free agents during rebuilding years produces marginal improvements. THAT is the reason they don’t do it.

    Whereas a franchise quarterback or top scorer can literally turn around a franchise in the NFL and NBA, the game of baseball just doesn’t work like that. Generational talents like Strasburg and Harper can provide incentive, sure. But they are the exception.

    -That Volquez quote seems to indicate scouts, coaches, and executives are all on the same page with Volquez. While this doesn’t guarantee anything, I think it is good to know Huntington isn’t going rogue and just throwing any warm body at Ray Searage and Co.

  3. brendan says:

    Just after reading this post I read a recent piece on Fangraphs weighing the wisdom of Drew to the Mets. The piece highlights a couple of potential red flags/flaws to consider:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4251&position=SS

    His K rate, which has increased steadily since 2009–from around 14% to nearly 26%. His lack of success hitting LHP over his his career, that platoon split perhaps means he’s best utilized as a platoon player. His underwhelming Oliver, Zips, and Steamer projections. The latter isn’t of much concern to me, but worth pondering for a moment perhaps.

    However, it was just last offseason that were discussing similar downward trends in Russell Martin’s batting line. Obviously that worked out quite well. If Drew can continue to provide above average defense and you believe in Jordy Mercer against LHP then perhaps 2 years and $20 million makes sense, even if you are essentially platooning Drew (even then he’d be getting the majority of the at bats, as he’d be in the lineup against RHP).

    Perhaps less wear and tear and days off against LHP would benefit him over the long haul of the season, given his injury history. However it strikes me that Scott Boras–with his eye on potential future contracts–would be hesitant to send him to a team where he’d be platooned.

  4. dcpinpgh says:

    Plus, the Astros skipped over Appel the first time…

  5. NMR says:

    Furthermore, he’s consistantly hit significantly worse on the road, and his home parks have generally been very left-friendly.

    All these reasons are exactly why I didn’t believe Drew was a good target for the Bucs….when he was projected for a massive pay day.

    But now, if we are to assume that pay day is not coming, signing Drew makes much more sense (IMO). You mention platooning him with Mercer against lefties, but I wouldn’t. The Pirates have two other infielders that can’t hit lefties at positions less defensively demanding than shortstop. Play Drew at short for his glove, play Mercer at 2B/3B for his bat.

    If the team was willing to spend roughly $10m for an average platoon at first base, doesn’t make any sense for them not to be willing to spend that much on an above average shortstop.

  6. NMR says:

    Exactly.

  7. Steelkings says:

    We already have a guy that can play short for his glove. In fact he may yet be one of the best defensive shortstops in the NL. If you sign Drew it is with the thought of playing him everyday. If not, then he is not worth the chemistry risk.

  8. macchamp74 says:

    Travis,
    If Bucs are done spending, they may have 29th or 30th payroll in baseball…. Nutting, Coonelly and Huntington should get award for wins per payroll amount…..
    Great job!

  9. Jim S. says:

    The poor players. Thank goodness they have champion of the underdog, Scot Boras to stand up for them. So, they receive a smaller % of total revenue than in year’s past. That’s what happens in negotiations when the pendulum swings. Their salaries still increase by a large margin, year after year. When did it become a crime in this country to profit from taking 100% of the risks associated with running a business? ARod probably has a net worth that is greater than many owners from teams with split ownership. All the players who make greater than $20 million per season make more money per year than some teams do. Is anyone worried about that? I applaud the players for making every cent they can. But, let’s not act as though they are 1920′s auto or steel workers fighting for a decent wage and safe working conditions. The last group of people that anyone needs to feel badly for is MLB players.

  10. Ghost says:

    Agree. Barmes is already on board and for a lot less money.

  11. NMR says:

    Within the last year, teams have cut employee benefits and violated federal minimum wage laws, all while continuing to rely on unpaid interships and stadium workers who do not make enough to stay above the poverty line let alone living wages.

    So yeah, I do fault the owners.

  12. NMR says:

    Let’s stop pretending right now that Stephen Drew and Clint Barmes are even close to being the same player.

  13. brendan says:

    “You mention platooning him with Mercer against lefties, but I wouldn’t. The Pirates have two other infielders that can’t hit lefties at positions less defensively demanding than shortstop.”

    That’s an excellent point. You want to maximize value and a Mercer/Drew platoon wouldn’t do that.

    As mentioned below Clint Barmes is already in the fold, so it becomes a question of how do you allocate playing time if sign Drew between Barmes/Drew/Walker/Mercer (one may or may not choose to include Pedro in that group).

    Perhaps rather than a straight platoon a more creative mixing and matching of those pieces, ala Joe Maddon would make the most sense? I’m not sure that’s something Clint Hurdle would be as willing to embrace as Maddon, but Hurdle has surprised me before in that regard (the use of defensive shifts). That said if this were something the Pirates were considering it would be important for Hurdle and Huntington to be on the same page as to how the above players would be deployed.

  14. brendan says:

    That suggests Drew is a glove first shortstop similar to Barmes, which is not the case. Their OPS+ from the past six years:

    Barmes: 98, 82, 67, 93, 64, 58
    Drew: 110, 92, 113, 93, 81, 111

    As I mentioned below perhaps a mixing and matching of Mercer/Drew/Barmes/Walker (and maybe Pedro) is the best way to get the most out players in question as opposed to straight platoon of Mercer and Drew.

  15. NMR says:

    If Stephen Drew were signed, Clint Barmes doesn’t belong on the 25-man roster. Just no role for him that would provide more value than a proper utility infielder or outfielder.

    I completely agree with you that there should be an “unconventional” platoon role for Jordy, though. Still like him enough to give him some at-bats against righties, even after considering those he’ll get due to the inevitable 10-20 games Neil Walker is injured.

  16. Ghost says:

    Nobody’s pretending anything. Never said they’re “the same player.” But Drew is not $8,000,000 a year better. Especially not on this club that has to count its pennies. But why do you have always start off with haughtiness?

  17. NMR says:

    Honestly don’t know what “hautiness” is, but I’m often short for the sake of brevity.

    Would it make you feel better if I said: “I think we should stop pretending that Stephen Drew and Clint Barmes are even close to being the same player”?

    And how do you define what makes a player $8m better than another?

  18. Jim S. says:

    I have not read about teams violating minimum wage laws or cutting employee benefits, NMR. But, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I assume the minimum wage thing is for vendors who are paid on sales commissions?

    What does that have to do with the players negotiating for a larger share of revenues?

  19. Ghost says:

    I’m not going to take the bait on either of those questions, NMR. At risk of sounding haughty myself, there just silly. You like sparring. Sometimes I do too, but can’t today.
    Let me just say (or repeat, rather) this: To a team like the Pirates that has to make every cent count, Drew just ain’t worth $10 mil a year. He’s got the offensive shortcomings you and Brendan already brought up. Heck, the Pirates aren’t even paying Andrew McCutchen $10 mil a year.

  20. Ghost says:

    Well, I guess they are paying Cutch more than $10 mil. a year when it comes to the back end of his contract. But anyway, the 6-year extension he signed averages out at less than 10 a year, which is what I was thinking…

  21. NMR says:

    It actually has to do with assistants who are paid so poorly that their daily wage (yes, they are still paid by the day) is less than minimum once divided by the actual hours they put in.

    And this has nothing to do with the players, but with your statement on owners making a profit despite taking on “100% of the risk”. Baseball ownership today is the safest bet going, Jim. They get their stadiums paid for by the tax payer and revenues increased by cable contracts that gouge customers who don’t even watch their product. Even if they don’t make a yearly profit, their franchise value almost certainly increases.

    I don’t have a shred of sympathy for Major League Baseball owners.

  22. brendan says:

    That might be true.

    Assuming a 12 man pitching staff the at least 10 roster spots are likely already locked in (based on the teams current construction): Marte, McCutchen, Tabata, Walker, Mercer, Barmes Sanchez, Alvarez, Martin, and Stewart. That leaves you with three to work with. I’m assuming that absent any external moves Lambo (or another 1B platoon partner) and Snider are on the 25 man to start the season. So I believe that leaves on more spot.

    I could see an argument for another outfielder (say Dickerson) but I’m not sure a roster with Drew as the 25th man definitely doesn’t work (not the literal 25th man of course)? Am I missing something?

  23. NMR says:

    Well first off, the Pirates are currently paying NOBODY that extra $8m. So it seems awfully odd to say they can’t afford it, since they can.

    And $10m for Drew is almost exactly what the Pirates would’ve paid for their 1B platoon of Gaby and Loney…or any free agent for that matter.

    If they can afford $10m and two roster spots for average first base production, they surely can afford that for an above average shortstop.

  24. NMR says:

    I’d prefer a player like Josh Harrison over Barmes, personally.

    Or better yet, a good utility bench player.

  25. brendan says:

    Since the commenting system doesn’t allow me reply to your post below regarding Drew’s worth to the Pirates I’m responding to this one.

    Based on the way market’s played out so far this offseason, Drew, who’s probably at worst a 2 WAR player is probably worth in excess of $10 million annually, he might not get that because of reasonable health questions, etc.

    But your point is that he’s not a good value to the Pirates at that salary and that’s a fair point. The Pirates certainly can’t make a habit of paying market rates to free agents if they want to maximize their payroll. They seem to have done so in the case of Martin last year but as it turned out the market was in fact undervaluing him.

    Might the same be the case of Drew. I’m not sure it is. But if the length of the deal is only two years I’d give it some consideration. The question would be, is that the most bang for their buck they can’t for ten million? If not how might it be better spent?

  26. brendan says:

    That’s fair. Harrison at least provides relatively more value as a pinch hitter. Speaking of roster construction a few ideas were posted over at Bucs Dugout:

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2014/1/13/5304568/a-guess-at-the-pirates-25-man-roster

  27. Ghost says:

    It’s not an “extra $8 mil,” it’s an extra $10 mil. The Pirates already owe Barmes $2 mil. And how can you compare the hypothetical Sanchez/Loney tandem of $10 mil — which would have been a *complete* platoon, to Drew @ $10 mil, which would only be 1/2 of a platoon? Unless you plan on paying Drew full time at $10 mil a year. At that point, we just revert back to my argument that Barmes is a better value at $2 mil, vs. your point (which I guess is to pay $10 mil x 2 years for Drew).

    Just because the Pirates have X amount of dollars still left, doesn’t mean they have to / should spend it. Only if the value is there. I don’t see it in Drew. Rather spend it on A.J. if he ever does come back. Or just hold on to the money and see if there’s a bargain right before ST. Neal’s become pretty good at doing that.

  28. NMR says:

    Great post, Brendan. Completely agreed.

    Ghost, I’m comparing the positions. If the team is spending $10m on a position, I’m giving it to DRew, as a full time player, at shortstop over two first base only players.

    And I completely disagree with you on your statement of “only if the value is there”. If the money is available, and a player makes you even one win better, you spend the damn money. Nutting sure as hell is making enough of it.

  29. Ghost says:

    Brendan,
    Fair points all. And I had forgotten about Drew’s health issues, to boot. Russell Martin was a special case last year in that the Pirates NEEDED him to sure up the catching position. Rod Barajas had been a liability. At shortstop, Drew would just be a a moderate improvement over Barmes. Barmes is already a fine defensive SS; both are nothing special offensively. Drew is a little better (which isn’t hard to do, vs. Barmes), but he’s been trending downward. Anyway, he is not worth the extra bucks TO THE PIRATES.

  30. NMR says:

    Thanks for the link.

    Really don’t understand people yearning for Ishakawa or especially McGuiness to pair with Gaby. Using up two roster spots on 1B-only players is extremely inefficient. If they’re gonna do that, they better make sure both guys can rake.

    I’d much rather give those at-bats to Lambo.

  31. NMR says:

    Are we still talking about Stephen Drew?

  32. Ghost says:

    NMR,
    You don’t spend it just to spend it. We’re not on weekend leave. Only when the value is there. Seems to me I’ve seen you go after other posters for being critical of Nutting / The Pirates for not spending. More than once you’ve said something along the lines of: “It’s so easy to spend money when it’s not yours that you’re spending…”

    With Sanchez/Loney: again, they would have combined for a COMPLETE platoon with very good complimentary offensive splits and solid defense. Yes, SS is a more important position, but offensively Drew does not at all compare to a Sanchez/Loney platoon.

  33. Ghost says:

    “Are we still talking about Stephen Drew?”

    Yes, you lassoed me in, after all. I definitely give you that.

    And on that note, I better run.
    G’afternoon, NMR and Brendan

  34. NMR says:

    @Ghost

    First, I’ve never said that statement. But yes, I do take exception with those who feel that the Pirates should spend X just because another similar team does. That is not at all what I’m suggesting here.

    The Pirate have the money for Drew, that is a fact. Drew makes them a better ball club. That is also a fact. Unless they can find somewhere better to spend that money, I don’t see any logical way a fan could conclude that the team shouldn’t spend the money it has in order to make them better.

  35. Travis Sawchik says:

    I’m not sure about payroll rankings — and we’ll also see have to see how the seven arbitration cases play out (figures are exchanged tomorrow) but the Pirates have only spent $7 million on free agents to date. Do give them credit for signing Charlie Morton to a very reasonable contract.

  36. Derek says:

    Thanks for making the Pirates a winner Travis! Haha. But seriously though, you do a great job reporting during the regular and offseason and giving us something to talk about in months like January when, in baseball, there is little to nothing to talk about.

    Must make you feel pretty good too just being mentioned by a coach like that. It seems to show you have a good reputation.

  37. Andrew says:

    I want to second the notion that I had not seen anyone discuss how players share of the revenue has declined in baseball, before you did. (Coincidence players share peaked around the time that the luxury tax was instituted and revenue sharing reworked?) Also really enjoyed the piece, it might have been the same one, that discussed that there are less wins available in free agency now. Still waiting for someone to do a year by year comparison.

  38. Ghost says:

    Don’t claim to remember the precise words, but, yes, you definitely HAVE said such before. You know it’s so.

    Look, Drew’s WAR was ranked 13th among MLB shortstops last year. He’s a better than average SS defensively, but he’s not an elite SS. We already have a better than average SS.
    Drew is also a bottom third of the lineup hitter.
    He has injury baggage.
    He was tendered a qualifying offer and would cost us a draft choice. Drew would NOT make us significantly better.
    Committing at least $20,000,000 over the two years he would require and losing that draft pick is not. worth. it. Your sudden compulsion to blow the rest of our dollars right now, just because we have some still left, is inconsistent with what you usually argue and is not making any sense. It would be a shame if, say, AJ’s finally got his wife’s nod to play one more year, but we already spent our wad making Drew our highest paid player (after the subsidized Wandy).

  39. NMR says:

    Thanks for telling me what I really think, Ghost. Whew, and IIII am supposedly the “haughty” one?

    Regardless, I very much agree that the money would be better spet on AJ. I also happen to believe AJ isn’t coming back. If you can come up with a better way to spend this money, go for it. As I’ve already said. I cannot, thus Drew makes sense for me.

  40. NMR says:

    I’m interested in the “why” as well. Without seeing the aggregate difference, my first guess is that the large markets are actually the cause of disparity since they’re the ones seeing massive increases in revenue.

  41. LeeFoo says:

    Travis…on your points about Drew/Morales, doesn’t the loss of a draft pick concern you?

    You don’t mention it?

  42. LeeFoo says:

    NMR….agree.

  43. LeeFoo says:

    I like what Hurdle said about Lambo in his convo.

    “We believe Lambo needs to be looked at,”

  44. LeeFoo says:

    From the “I did not know this” department:

    “Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman is the first legally deaf offensive player to ever play in the NFL.

    After not being drafted in 2012 despite a stellar career at UCLA, Coleman made the Seahawks this season. In his first game with the team, he had 3 catches for 30 yards, and he also caught a touchdown pass against the Saints in the Monday Night Football game on December 2nd.”

  45. LeeFoo says:

    Whaddaya know…the Bucs ‘drop’ their Jolly Roger and the Cubs get a mascot

    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/01/cubs-adopt-adorable-new-bear-mascot-clark-the-cub/

  46. JR says:

    Speaking of Japanese baseball, you missed one of the best performances by a former Pirate this year:

    Case McGehee won a championship with the Rukten Eagles, while batting .292 with 28 HR and 93 RBI.

  47. Jim S. says:

    This one goes way back, Foo. But, the Washington Redskins had a very good RB in the mid-70′s, and he was from Pittsburgh and Schenley HS. I was just beginning to start following sports as a young kid then. I thought he was deaf, but maybe he was just hearing impaired.

    It is quite a feat, though, to be able to play at that level w/o being able to hear properly.

  48. NMR says:

    Really enjoying the Top 20 Prospect work Tim is doing over at PP, Foo. Lot of fresh faces. How do BA’s extended rankings match up?

  49. 21sthebest says:

    Larry Brown. Hearing impaired in one ear.

  50. Jim S. says:

    I like Drew, but the decision of signing him for 75% of the ABs, with Jordy getting the 25% vs. LHP would have needed to be made before they re-signed Barmesy, I think. I just don’t see them adding a 3rd SS option at this point for what he would need to be paid. Plus, they would be giving up a valued draft pick, and we know they don’t like doing that. Still, if money were not such a large consideration, Jordy and Drew might be the perfect SS platoon.

    I also like Jordy’s bat vs. LHP to spell Walker at 2b and Pedro at 3b. I would insert him for one of those guys pretty much every time we face a LH starter.

  51. LeeFoo says:

    NMR…I haven’t gotten BA’s yet, but since Perotto does them, I take them with a grain of salt. I usually wait for Mayo’s, Sickel’s and Law’s.

  52. LeeFoo says:

    21s………good memory. I was thinking Herb Mul-key, but didn’t think it WAS him.

  53. Jim S. says:

    Thanks, 21.

  54. NMR says:

    You can always trade Barmes, Jim. Upgrading a position of needs seems like something winning teams do all the time. Just look at St. Louis this winter.

  55. NMR says:

    Ha, glad I’m not the only one.

  56. NMR says:

    Not bashing John, fwiw. Just think there are better prospect guys out there.

  57. Jim S. says:

    It concerns me, Foo. But, at what point of offensive production from him does he become an ok decision to part with the draft pick and commit the money? I’m assuming slightly above average defense from Drew, btw.

    If they offered in the neighborhood of 2/$20M or 3/$28M, for instance, when does that become sensible?

    For me, if Drew was going to be the starter for 135 games, and I was pretty sure I was going to get .260/.330/.410 (or thereabouts) for the next 2-3 years, the loss of a draft pick might not bother me so much. He could platoon with Barmes this year, and Jordy could spell Walker/Pedro vs. LHP. Or, they could go with a strict Drew/Jordy platoon, and have Barmes as just a defensive replacement. But, that still leaves the issue that NMR posed, which is that we need to get someone to spell our 2b/3b vs. LHP – at least some of the time.

    But, I think Barmes would not have been re-signed under that scenario. And, since this is not Philly, I assume our GM would have ruled out Drew before re-signing Barmes.

  58. Jim S. says:

    Drew hits closer to even at home vs. road than we people think. For his career:

    Home – .272/.344/.459
    Road – .255/.314/.411

    I was under the impression that he was a much better career hitter at home. He definitely did hit better at home in ’13, but in all 3 years of ’10/’11/’12 he actually hit better on the road.

    He probably would not hit as well in PNC as he has at his other home parks, but I don’t know that his stats would be lopsided.

  59. Jim S. says:

    First sentence should say “than we might think.”

  60. NMR says:

    Might be worth considering sample size in ’11 and ’12, Jim. Not much there.

    You make a fair point, but a +30 point difference in wOBA is enough to make me worry considering that we would need him to be an average hitter to justify the salary.

  61. NMR says:

    And just when I compliment him he goes and ranks Lambo as the Pirates 14th best prospect. Ugh.

  62. Jim S. says:

    Well, I always say that road stats over time are usually a better indicator of actual ability. He has played in pretty good offensive ball parks at home.

  63. Andrew says:

    NMR, are you asking why the players share of revenue has gone down? If so this article discusses some of issues, mainly payroll not keeping pace with revenue.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/is-boras-right-that-payrolls-are-lagging-behind-revenue/

    I’ll speculate that the decline is twofold 1) The luxury tax and revenue sharing have checked some of the free agent spending by the largest teams, who ultimately set the price of the win in the free agent market. 2) Less free agent wins available so fewer players earning the free agent market rate (which I borrowed from Travis.)

    This is why I would like to see someone look more in-depth, because if we can better explain the drop in +30 yo talent, PED testing, increase in players signing extensions, larger talent pool, then we have a better understanding of which of one of above factors is correct.

  64. Jim S. says:

    I do believe that is a collaborative effort by their whole staff. But, it seemed a bit high for me as well.

  65. Jim S. says:

    Good for Casey. I believe I read that Nyjer Morgan also hit .292, and blasted 11 HR.

    I don’t think either of them will do nearly that well in MLB, though.

  66. NMR says:

    Your first point could play a part, but I don’t know if there are enough teams out there willing to go over $200m to make a huge difference – luxury tax or not.

    I’m assuming we’re talking about a difference between payroll and revenue in the nine figure range, but I don’t know this for a fact.

    As for your second point, if free agent wins are more scarce, shouldn’t prices be going up? The fact that they aren’t seems to tell me that there is a lack of competition for those players. Revenues are increasing across the board, but they’re highly disproportionate. The teams that already had money are just getting more, which actually decreases competition for those players.

    All just speculation, of course.

  67. NMR says:

    I just think #14 is a stretch for a 25 yo one-tool outfielder in a stacked system. I’d be surprised if other organizations valued Andrew Lambo more than Barrett Barnes, for instance.

    Doesn’t change my opinion of Lambo in the majors, fwiw, since I really only think that one tool can be a reasonable expectation.

  68. NMR says:

    I’m gonna remember that one, Jim. Great point.

  69. Travis Sawchik says:

    Also consider a large share of his career road games were played at pitcher-friendly NL road parks (LAD, SF, SD)

  70. Travis Sawchik says:

    Derek,

    Thanks for the kind note. Thanks for reading. Hilarious to be mentioned by Dabo in a press conference a year later. Glad I left an impression!

  71. Travis Sawchik says:

    Thanks, Andrew

    I think this is the article you were referring to:

    http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/4962321-74/free-players-agency#axzz2qCmQHSV7

    I think these are biggest contributing factors to the decline of players’ share of revenue:

    *108 star-level young talents have signed team-friendly deals since 2008 that bought out hundreds of arbitration years and 306 combined years free agency years. They are generally below-market, team-friendly deals (See: McCutchen, Andrew)

    *The over 30 demographic – and hence players that have generally entered free agency – have seen their total number of seasons played and above-average seasons played decline significantly. Quite simply, there are fewer free agent years to buy and fewer quality ones

    *The explosion of local TV rights deals has pumped so much money into the game so quickly that there might be some lag time before it trickles down to player ranks

  72. Jim S. says:

    I think Barnes would be higher if he could stay healthy. That has been his big issue. From everything I’ve read, he is possible starting CF in MLB material if he can get and stay healthy, and then just develop normally. Hopefully, that happens. He will be a nice trade chip.

  73. Jim S. says:

    I wish the Cubs had that mascot about 5-7 years ago, when my kids were really young. Wrigley is not a kid-friendly place.

  74. Jim S. says:

    Bingo on the last one, Travis! I believe the increasing tv revenues and other ancillary revenue streams (internet) have boosted the owners’ take.

  75. Ghost says:

    Sorry for the haughtiness.
    “If you can come up with a better way to spend this money, go for it. As I’ve already said. I cannot, thus Drew makes sense for me.”
    Alright. That’s fair enough.
    I’ve come over to trusting Neal Huntington’s stewardship. If we do end up signing Drew, then that probably does mean nobody better was available. TS does report that Clint Hurdle indicates the team’s attention is now leaning towards seeing what’s out there via a trade. I’m sure Huntington is figuring every last angle before he pulls the trigger.

 
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