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Pirates strike gold with Marte but rank 27th in payroll. What’s the offseason grade now?


SOUTH HILLS – So we know how many of you felt about the offseason, but this should warm your heart: Starling Marte and Gregroy Polanco will be together in the Pirates’ outfield through at least 2020 barring a trade or unforeseen unfortunate series of events. That’s a long way away. Oh yeah, the NL MVP is locked up through 2018. The Pirates could have the best outfield in baseball for much of the rest of the decade. I don’t think that’s hyperbole.

Some very significant news this morning as the club and Starling Marte have reached a six-year, $31 million deal that includes at least one club option, according to John Heyman. This means the Pirates buy out Marte’s three arbitration years and at least two years of free agency. The deal starts in 2014. This means the Pirates have a chance to enjoy another-McCutchen like contract, which could provide tens of millions of dollars in surplus value. The Trib’s Rob Biertempfel first reported Marte and the Pirates were talking contract extension.

Now the Pirates’ offseason left something to be desired.

*The hole at first base remains and the choice of Edinson Volquez as a A.J. Burnett replacement did not exactly move the needle in Vegas. Many – ESPN (-14 wins) and Baseball Prospecuts (-16 wins) – are projecting significant regression,

*I’m not sure there were a lot of great fits for the Pirates’ needs this offseason, but regardless the Pirates will open the season with the game’s 27th ranked payroll ($78 million),  according to the AP, which marks a $12 million improvement from last season but stagnant relative growth. Many expected more.

Still, the best thing a small-market team can do beyond drafting and developing well is locking up their own core. We’ve discussed this time and time again in this space. Heck, I’ve been talking about locking up Marte since May 14th. The Pirates locked up a core piece in Marte and a possible No. 3 starter to Charlie Morton to club-friendly deals this offseason.

While we don’t have details on the Marte option year or years yet – reports vary between one or two years – if Marte has some slight regression and settles in as a 3-win player over the next six years, that’s worth $100 million in open-market dollars. So we’re already looking at significant surplus value before adding in the option year or two that is included in the deal.

Now, not every long-term deal works. (See: Tabata, Jose). The key is evaluating your own talent. If a club believes in a young player the club should bet on the player because the reward generally outweigh the risk. Marte has some  holes, but the defenses, speed, competitiveness and burgeoning power are worth betting on, imo.

If you factor in Marte and Morton as part of the offseason grade, the offseason doesn’t look so bad. The long-term outlook looks healthier with a young star now in a cost-controlled, club-friendly deal. But of course Marte and Morton do not mark upgrades for 2014, a season which might mark something an opportunity with Francisco Liriano, Russell Martin, Wandy Rodriguez and Jason Grilli all free agents at the end of the season.

Now, doing something today (2014) vs. tomorrow (2015 and beyond) did not have to mutually exclusive decisions.

The Pirates could have done both.

They could have gone to three years on James Loney. They could have given Burnett a QO. But the Pirates chose to focus on the long-term this offseason and avoid short-term spending. The club did nothing that will hurt them three-plus years down the road, and perhaps little that will help them this season (unless Volquez goes all Liriano on us), but the Pirates accomplished several things that will help them through the end of the decade.

How does that grade?

– TS



  1. BostonsCommon says:

    ‘Now, doing something today (2014) vs. tomorrow (2015 and beyond) did not have to mutually exclusive decisions…The Pirates could have done both.’

    Perfectly said.

    Just because they made it through ’13 without production from 1B and RF does not mean they will be so fortunate again.

  2. Keith says:

    If you remember 2012, you think the Pirates were pretty solid in LF with Marte arriving in June. You’ll likely remember RF in 2014 the same way. Be patient on that front.

  3. Dave says:

    The Bucs are on the move up guys!!

    Get use to it!

  4. Jim S. says:

    I have to believe they are going to try very hard to find a deal that makes sense in the next several days to acquire a LH-hitting 1b. Huntington’s remarks about Ishikawa were not exactly a ringing endorsement of him.

    I thought I read yesterday that Alderson said the Mets are taking both Duda and Ike north with the big club. But, they are both lefty hitters. That does not seem to make much sense. I would say Ike is very much on the block.

    Good deal for Marte and good deal for the team. $$ seems very reasonable for the Bucs.

    I still like the thought of Gregorius. I think the bat will play at PNC, especially vs. RHP. And, I believe the glove is above average.

  5. cmat0829 says:


    GOOD: Extending Marte and Morton. NOT trading for Ike Davis. NOT signing someone like Overbay or Reynolds, etc. NOT giving up draft pick for the aging Kendrys Morales. Signing Barmes as a cheap defense and backup option in middle infield.

    BAD: Misjudging AJB situation. The $ was there to sign him for one year and would have been perfect fit for this team. Bypassing decent rotation depth options, like Maholm for example. Not being aggressive in Garza or Santana markets after prices came down.

    INCOMPLETE: 1B situation. I will wait until Opening Day, perhaps even until ASB, to give a grade on this one. Right now it’s an F as their Plan A (Loney) didn’t happen.

    Volquez. I know many are already writing him off as JSanchezII but that is way premature. This one could go either way.

    By all accounts, there is about $12-15M still readily available to spend THIS YEAR on this club (not sure what the Marte deal does to that)….I don’t advocate spending to make us feel better (i.e. if they announced today they signed Morales I’d be UPSET and not HAPPY), but the $ is there and Neal needs to use it at some point this season.

  6. Nate83 says:

    I still don’t think of the Tabata deal as being bad. I think it’s probably in line with what his production would be if we didn’t have 3 young outfielders that all would be starting for any team in the league. The deal isn’t as great as it seemed originally but I personally don’t think it’s a bad deal and makes him untradeable.

    The other thing that has to be considered is what shape the Pirates organization was in when they signed Tabata. They had very little coming through the minors and not many young players that had been difference makers. Very few if any other players deserved even thinking about giving them extension. Tabata made sense at the time. I highly doubt Tabata gets the extension on this current team. At the very least he wouldn’t be first priority on the pecking order.

  7. Botherhood of the Redus says:

    Mark Madden can sit on it with this news haha

  8. Ghost says:

    I would’ve been lukewarm on Maholm, or plunking down the $50 mil the Brewers did to land Garza. But otherwise, I EMPHATICALLY agree with all these points you lay out.

  9. Jim S. says:

    Did he actually say Marte would never sign an extension with the Bucs? I assumed he would sign one. When somebody who is not rich is offered a lot of money, he might not take the first offer but he is interested in accepting some offer. They just had to get to an acceptable range for him. There was every reason to believe that.

  10. Ghost says:

    And I agree with this take on the Tabata contract. At the time, the deal was below market value — Tabata apparently lost the services of his agent by negotiating the deal himself, against their counsel. Even though he has been often injured and not lived up to his promise, the deal was cheap and has hardly handcuffed the organization. These are precisely the kind of deals the Pirates should continue to seek until the players stop agreeing to them.

  11. brendan says:

    I’d agree with almost all of the above. With the exception of your Matt Garza thoughts.

    Did the price come down? It seems like that’s about market value. I’m not sure I want the Pirates to commit to someone like Garza for so many years quite frankly. I’d have probably preferred something like the two year deal the A’s signed Kazmir to.

    I wouldn’t have had issue w/ the Pirates signing Maholm to the sort incentivized deal the Dodgers gave him, to provide further pitching depth, etc.

  12. Andrew says:

    Cmat good objective, accurate summation of the off-season. I left a response to your query about the Pirates and not spending on free agent pitching on DK’s blog that I am going to repost. (Not because its overly insightful but there is not much else to discuss until the first base trade happens)

    I agree Huntington could be missing out on signing free agent pitching, I think Graza is the best example because he signed with the Brewers and did not have draft pick compensation attached. However, I see little evidence that this Pirates front office is going to pay the free agent market rate for pitching. I’ll speculate that they believe in their system of defensive shifting, groundball heavy pitching, and pitch framing, combined with a power suppressing park. The most the Pirates have committed to an individual pitcher is around $8 million/year, (I forgot what the Burnett rumor was $12 million?)

    I am not saying it is a correct strategy but that is my impression of the strategy. Also the front office has appeared more willing to pay free agent market rates when there have been a serious hole outside pitching, Barmes, and Martin, and no internal options.

  13. NorthPirateFan says:

    I’m not as thrilled about extending Marte as some are. There are still a lot of questions about his development that need to be answered before we can say definitively the Pirates outfield will be one of the best in baseball a few years down the road.

    Will he ever develop enough discipline and control of the strike zone, cut down on the Ks and draw enough walks, to be more than a bottom third of the order hitter?

    Will he ever hit RHP well enough to be more than a platoon hitter whose value is greater than just his speed?

    Will he stay healthy and entire season and not break himself into a million pieces and shorten his career with his reckless base running and defensive habit?

    If the answer to any two of those ends up being yes then this ends up looking like a good move in retrospect. If no then the Pirates may end up being twice as regretful as they currently are for having obligated themselves to Tabata who didn’t live up to their expectation and is now owed just enough money to be a barrier to a trade but not so little they can swallow the remainder of his deal without feeling some pain.

    Although 31 million isn’t a great deal of money in today’s environment if the deal is structured in such a way that the last two are paying a player who’s no better than he is today 8 figures per, they’ll have a big problem on their hands.

    The Pirates’ talking points on Marte are he’s a star in the making and I’m doubtful it’s any more certain that he is than it was that Tabata was destined to be part of the “young core” when he was signed

  14. brendan says:

    Yeah while it’s not the unbelievable bargain we may have hoped for the average yearly value is pretty commensurate with the going rate for 4th outfielders at this point. I’d view it as a pretty tradeable contract personally–depending in part on how Tabata performs this year of course–if they want to move him.

  15. Andrew says:

    I think the Tabata deal can be framed as bad because there has not been much surplus value, but expecting all extension to provide massive surplus value is unreasonable.

  16. Jim S. says:

    I am going to give them a big fat D for their off-season, Travis.

    Their #1 free agent pitching target was Josh Johnson. I know there are reports that the Bucs offered more than SD, but the fact is they did not get him. He may be injured now, but they were approaching him as if he was going to be fully healthy.

    Their #2 target, it would appear, was Loney of Tampa. They badly needed (and still need) a competent lefty-hitting 1b. They pursued Loney and did not get him. I can understand why they did not want to stretch to 3 years, and I also understand that Loney accepted a similar deal to stay put. But, the Plan B after Loney was to do a quick conversion of Lambo to 1b and that has not worked out. Now, we are stuck with Travis Ishikawa barring a trade. I have no way of knowing how hard they pursued other 1b options, but the fact remains they did not land anyone.

    They did not re-sign AJ Burnett. It may be that AJ had no intention of ever re-signing with the Bucs. Again, we don’t know. What we do know is he will not be on our team this season.

    They signed Edison Volquez. I hated the deal at the time, although I recognize he has some upside possibilities. So far, he has not looked good. I will give the Bucs a higher mark if Volquez pans out in the regular season.

    I love the Stewart deal.

  17. Brandon says:

    Good post – I agree with the points as you described – under BAD: the AJ situation remains a huge negative and was completely mismanaged. Even if he has a slight regression from the past 2 years, the QO was cost-effective for a 1 year risk and affordable based on their current payroll. As important, it would have offered them a draft pick compensation if the Filthies had still chosen to sign him – the current “trade” of AJ for Volquez looks terrible – you are correct that it is “incomplete”, but it is far more likely to end up like Sanchez than Liriano – the difference between the QO and Volquez was $9M or less than 2 WAR in current free agent $ – terrible!!!

  18. NorthPirateFan says:

    The deal with Tabata as gamble and not indefensible one given the circumstances and amounts involved, a gamble that didn’t pay off but didn’t wound the team’s finances badly enough to keep them from moving forward either.

    The deal with Marte is exactly twice as big a gamble. If he develops as they think he will it’ll look like a jackpot for them. If he doesn’t and the contract, as one might assume, is back loaded with a couple of 10 million plus salaries, it’ll be a much bigger obstacle to success to overcome than Tabat’s deal.

    Given what we’ve see to date my money is on him not developing into anything close to what they expect/hope and the team ending up having to choose between eating some of the deal or pay him a starter’s salary for part time play.

  19. Ghost says:

    This new deal with Marte works out to average $5 mil per year. If the Pirates can’t risk $5 mil per year on a player of Marte’s talent and potential… It will work out to be well below market value. Heck, when we signed Clint Barmes for 2012-13, THAT was at a market value of $5 mil per.

  20. Ghost says:

    Good point: Tabata’s contract is a tradeable one. And since we presume Polanco is the right fielder of our future, we probably won’t even be paying for Tabby’s contract that much longer.

  21. theplanisworking says:

    Greg Brown, on the Pirate broadcast, said the Pirates were 19th in payroll. Have a hard time believing that one.

    I give the offseason a D minus. Any time that a team goes from an AJ, to a Volquez, it is a significant downgrade. This continues a maddening phenomenom of the Pirates having substandard 1b for a long time now. If one counts Kevin Young as a good 1B ( I don’t), one has to go back to Willie Stargell in 1979 to see a good Pirate 1B. 35 years!

    But, with the Marte contract done and delivered, …………………

  22. Andrew says:

    North I share your concerns about Marte but I agree with Ghost.

    Marte has hit RHP at league average level, if he continued to do that and crush LHP while providing elite defensive in a spacious let field it is hard to see him not providing value beyond what he is being paid. If it is truly $31 million over six years there is a lot of surplus value, if Marte turns out to average 2 WAR a year that is worth $66-72 million on the free agent market.

    Is Marte flawed yes, but he is still valuable and think you might be overstating the risk of a catastrophic injury.

  23. BostonsCommon says:

    Agree… Even right this second, Tabata would be a strong 4th OF for a number of teams with sufficient payroll. If he could actually prove to be healthy for an extended period, he might even challenge to start on a couple of these clubs.

    White Sox
    LA Angles
    San Francisco

  24. Andrew says:

    19th in payroll? You could cast me as a supporter of the regime but that is absurd and actually worrisome, who are they paying? I might remove my support if this Ishikawa charade last for more than 20 PAs, which is 20 too many.

  25. theplanisworking says:

    Brown is prone to hyperbole.
    Facts are not his strongest suit.

    This was brought to my attention earlier.
    So, I truly do not understand where that statement came from.

  26. If the Pirates front loaded this deal (or more accurately backloaded it less than deals of this nature normally are) then I will say the offseason was at least somewhat salvaged. Although Huntington didn’t help them in 2014, at least maybe he used his available budget/resources to give them more payroll flexibility for down the road. However, if this deal is heavily backloaded which is often the case, then my opinion of this offseason will not have changed.

  27. Nate83 says:

    Numbers came out yesterday and the Pirates rank 27th and as Milo pointed out that includes the 5.5 million they get from the Astros for Wandy which would actually move them back to 28th. Brown must be tired of spring training and drinking before the games.

  28. theplanisworking says:


  29. Nate83 says:

    Logically I understand what you are saying. A contract that is more like 3,4,5,5,6,8 makes sense in terms of future spending flexibility but a small market team is never going to take on cost earlier then they need to. Marte could be traded later in the contract. Why would the Pirates want to pay more money upfront? Yes it would give them more flexibility in 2020 but Marte might be traded before then and the Yankees or whoever he gets traded to won’t care if he cost 8 million or 12 million that year.

    I think the contract will be something like 1, 1, 4,6,8,11 with a 14 million option. I just don’t see them spending money until they have to on the back end.

  30. Andrew says:

    If I was the play-by-play guy for a team that lost four Super Bowls, then came to the Pirates in 1994, I would want to forget a lot and play loose with the facts.

  31. NorthPirateFan says:

    Looking at it as a cost average is a legitimate way to do it I suppose. The reality is though that isn’t going to determine whether it was a good deal or not in the end.

    The contract mostly likely has the first few years with Marte earning more than he would have but not a great deal with the annual cost increasing over the life of the deal. If in the 5th and/or 6th year of the deal Marte is not better a hitter than he is today, a distinct possibility given his profile and inability to control the strike zone, and the Pirates are shelling out 10, 11 or 12 million for a below average hitting left fielder with a huge platoon problem the average cost per year isn’t going to mean squat.

    The wisdom or foolishness of this deal is going to hinge two things and nothing else; whether Marte can stay healthy enough and address his weaknesses as a hitter enough to develop into the type of “young star” of a player TS and the front obviously think he has the potential to be or not.

    I’m doubtful he can but won’t dismiss the possibility completely.

  32. NMR says:

    So the D grade comes down to going from AJ to Volquez?

  33. NMR says:

    Not arguing, by the way. ((hugs))

  34. Nate83 says:

    Based on the entire contract only being 31 million the last year will not be more the 13 million and any year after that is more then likely a team option with a reasonable buyout. In 2020 13 million will not get you a very good player. I think the risk is more in injury then performance. There are thing Marte does that Tabata can’t that add value to the team just by him walking on the field.

  35. Nate83 says:

    And failures to sign their targets of Loney and Johnson. For what it’s worth I give Nutting an F and the front office a C. Leaving money on the table is never a good thing and failing to fill a hole on the roster that they acknowledged themselves is also not good. They did lock up 2 core pieces long term and they added some good depth pieces in Decker, Schlareth and Stewart.

  36. NMR says:

    Eh, not sure I can go that far, personally.

    Netiher Johnson or Loney are safe targets, and only Johnson has any upside. Sometimes ya gotta know when to let it go.

  37. NMR says:

    Is that really a fair valuation, though?

  38. uncledread says:

    I would like to see the Bucs sign Juan Francisco who was just released by the Brewers. 18 HRs and 48 RBI in 348 ABs last year translates to pretty good production for a platoon 1B. Yes, he hit .227, but a switch-hitting 26 year old with good power is well worth a gamble. I think he’s a better reclamation project than Vance Worley and immediately makes a better platoon partner than Ishikawa.

  39. NMR says:

    Jaun Francisco lost his job to Lyle Overbay. Let that sink in.

  40. jjm says:

    Given what we’ve seen to date, your money is on him not developing? What team did you watch last year? It certainly wasn’t the Bucs and Starling Marte. His defense alone was enough for his first full year.

  41. jjm says:

    are you seriously comparing Marte and Tabata at any point in their respective minor/major league careers.

  42. Ghost says:

    “Sometimes ya gotta know when to let it go.”

  43. Ghost says:

    My above comment probably comes across as wry. But I was just agreeing with the Kenny Rogers-ish wisdom there.

  44. Andrew says:

    Not sure which part you are referring to?

  45. Jim S. says:

    True. I think Barmes was, like 2/11M.

  46. Jim S. says:

    Not just AJ. They didn’t get Johnson, when, in my opinion, he was the intended replacement for AJ. I get that Johnson chose someone else. But, then I thought they settled for Volquez and had no Plan B.

    They went after Loney as well, with no Plan B that we know of. Now, that doesn’t look so good.

    I think it all fell into place last year, and Neal didn’t have good enough contingencies this winter in case he had to stray from the plan.

  47. Jim S. says:

    I’m not basing it on Voquez replacing AJ.

    In fact, I don’t think Volquez was intended to replace AJ. I felt like Volquez was more likely Wandy injury insurance. I didn’t like the Volquez signing because I felt there were other guys available, but I recognize he does have a good arm. If he pitches above my expectations, I’ll adjust my thinking and improve that grade.

    I actually thought Johnson was intended as the de facto AJ replacement. When that didn’t work out, and AJ was not re-signed, there really was no Plan B. I don’t blame NH for Johnson spurning our offer. But, I do think it is fair to ask why they did not look to anyone else after making a sizable offer to Johnson that was not accepted. I don’t know how hard they pursued AJ, or whether AJ even considered the Bucs. But, the fact is that a solid pitcher left and was not replaced.

    As for Loney, again I saw no Plan B when it didn’t work out. They quickly shifted to Lambo, who had never played the position before. Now, they have apparently landed on Ishikawa. Again, this is as we sit today. There’s still time to get a LH 1b. If they improve over Ishikawa, then I will adjust my grade.

  48. Jim S. says:

    Thanks for the Bro Hug.

  49. Jim S. says:

    “Tough pill to swallow” comes to mind.

  50. Jim S. says:

    I actually heard this on MLB Radio today. My good friend (and frequent target), Jim Bowden actually said that if he were the Yankees GM, at some point this season he would go and get Chase Headley from the Padres because … and I really love this part … “they owe it to Derek Jeter to get him in the playoffs again.” You can’t make this stuff up.

  51. brendan says:

    The main difference is the amount of value Marte brings on the basepaths and in the field, well in excess of Tabata in his best seasons. As was mentioned above the primary risk is injury. But unlike Tabata we’re not talking about hamstrings and things that tend to be chronic but rather injuries as result of getting HBP. Perhaps they can’t dissuade him from continuing to do so. I’m not sure. We’ll see.

  52. Tony V says:

    Why does everyone miss the issue with payroll vs. revenue? The team is 19th in annual revenue as of last season. They are in the process of extending their young, controllable players increasing the payroll by that method. If they spend the cash to acquire marginal talent such as Loney for prolonged periods of time (3 years) it takes away from the long term ability to make deals such as Marte, Cutch. Over the next several season you will see the same thing done with the likes of Walker, Mercer, Sanchez, Talliion, Kingman, Glasnow, Polanco and potentially Alvarez. Loney was not going to make a difference here. Look for this team to deal from their strength (pitching) to get a 1B that is blocked in some other organization that has a need for pitching. MLB ready arms for that include Locke, Mazzaro, Morris, Gomez, Crumpton. When that person is on board and proven, they will be rewarded with an early extension.

  53. brendan says:

    I’d say this.

    1) I don’t think they handled the Burnett situation well. Who knows what other factors (which we’re unaware of) were at play. But based on what we can know. This seems pretty fair to say. No debate there.

    2) It seems clear the Pirates went into the offseason with the intention of signing Johnson or someone like him as well Loney or someone comparable. If that was the plan they didn’t execute it successfully.

    3) Backup plans for Johnson and Loney: Rather than those two we have at the moment Ishikawa and Volquez. Not ideal, sure.

    But I guess there’s also this. Would you rather have those two, at the moment, and potentially make a move during the season (or in the days leading up to the season) to upgrade. Or would you have preferred to overpay for the available free agents or overpay in a trade for the guys who been mentioned as potential first basemen.

    Certainly there’s a middle ground. I’m not suggesting those are the only options. Travis mentioned Scott Kazmir a number of times. He signed after Johnson and I wouldn’t had a problem with the Pirates signing him to a two year deal.

    But again Kazmir was out of baseball not that long ago. Johnson has been chronically injured (as he is currently) which is why he was available so cheaply. Jimenez has been wildly inconsistent. There was a case to be made for Matt Garza, but he’s been often injured as well.

    The first basemen (Smoak, Moreland, Davis, etc) all of have warts of one sort or another.

    I’m not saying the Pirates were right to not do more to improve these two areas. Just that I’m not absolutely certain they should have given the options and the cost of doing so during the offseason. We’ll see what happens. Smoak may still be available for instance. It’s such an incredibly long season with some many variables that are yet unknown I tend to–at least in this case–take a “we’ll see” approach.

    I’m unequivocally displeased with how they handled the Burnett situation–not at least getting a draft pick. But am more or less fine with the off-season otherwise. I can see cases for acquiring some of the aforementioned players but essentially don’t feel like the cases are so strong as to feel certain they should have done so.

  54. brendan says:

    He might be basing it on this:

    per espn. which certainly seems wrong?

  55. brendan says:

    That would suggest there’s something to reclaim. Francisco has hit for a low average throughout his ML career. He’s a career .243 hitter. He strikes out a ton and rarely walks. 33% K rate and 7% walk rate for his career and he had similar numbers in the minors. Not to mention playing average to well below average defense.

    Maybe he can DH in AAA or something. But that’s about it, I’d say.

  56. uncledread says:

    True. That is a headscratcher. I’d still take a chance on him, He wouldn’t be the first player to come into his own at 26 and he would come cheap. Decent risk at a position of need.

  57. Warren says:

    Perfectly said.

  58. Leo Walter says:

    Jim,if you think Volquez hasn’t looked good,check out AJ’s numbers this Spring.I saw him pitch last week in Bradenton,and he was terrible. Looked like the New York Yankees’ AJ Burnett.

  59. Leo Walter says:

    Are you serious ? Francisco was let go by a team that needs a first baseman badly, and his defense at third base is even worse.

  60. Leo Walter says:

    Jim,it was Jim Bowden ! I don’t know which one is the worst. He or Jim Duquette.

  61. Leo Walter says:

    Haven’t seen any one dispute you yet Brendan !

  62. This isn’t really meant as a cynical statement, but Starling Marte’s boosts his trade value exponentially, given the cost certainty. Considering that OFer Austin Meadows could be a nice player, the Bucs could move Marte for another commodity in a couple years.

  63. Thundercrack says:

    I think Duquette is way better than Bowden. At least he seems to still remember the actual reality of being in the GM seat. Bowden seems to like to say things to shock people – and prove how smart he is. Bowden forgets what it is like to have a budget and answer to an owner.

    The remark about getting Jeter to the playoffs was ridiculous. Jeter will probably be on the DL again at the all-star break.

    Didn’t Bowden also say the Pirates should sign Drew and Morales after June 1?

  64. Thundercrack says:

    Very interesting. I think someone owes Greg Brown an apology. You know the announcer who is prone to hyperbole and facts are not his strongest suit.

  65. John Lease says:

    10.5 Million, 5 the first year, 5.5 the second.

  66. John Lease says:

    Bronson Arroyo is making $16 million! That’s a lot of scratch.

  67. Amarillo Fats says:

    ESPN predicts an 85-77 record and the 2nd Wild Card berth.

    The record seems about right, but I don’t think 85 wins will be enough for the playoffs.

  68. Johnstown Russ says:

    The signing of Marte was the smart move. This will only be his 2nd full season in the majors and the upside is tremendous. If he stays healthy as some of you mentioned, he could put up some nice stats. I don’t think he will be a 30 homer a year guy, but 185 hits, 50 stolen bases, 10 triples and awesome defense could be In the cards this year. I like the deal.
    Although the pickings at first base was slim, the Pirates should have went after Loney harder. There Is nobody in the minors that I know of that is remotely close. 3 years wouldn’t have strapped this team. Neal has to upgrade. Ike Davis is no Stargell, but he’s a huge improvement over Travis I.

  69. NMR says:

    The surplus value portion.

    $66-72m in FREE AGENT value, but only one year of Marte’s contract should be judged on that, the last one.

    He’ll be a league minimum player for two years and artificially reduced through arbitration for three years. IMO, judging surplus value of his $31m should be relative to that, NOT hypothetical free agent values.

  70. NorthPirateFan says:

    I’ll agree that in 2020 13 million won’t likely get you a very good player, I just don’t happen to agree that Marte IS or it’s a certainty that he WILL be a very good player in 2020.

    He might ended up being a very good player, I’m not saying he definitely won’t, just that right now I see a player who’s value, on offense and defense, is entirely wrapped up in his speed. Which an injury, especially likely in his case due to the way he plays, and/or age can zap pretty quickly.

    Take away few of those triples and reduce his range in the field and what do you have? A left fielder who walks infrequently, posts terrible on base numbers, strikes out to much, has little home run power that will be exacerbated by playing in PNC Park, steals a lot of bases but has shown poor base running skills and gets caught not only to frequently but at the most inopportune times and doesn’t hit RHP very well.

    Right now I see a player who has far more liabilities than assets in his game who if he can address some of those problem might become a very good player and earn the numbers in last years of this contract … but I don’t see it being as certain to happen as the Pirates do.

    And that’s what this contract is all about; they’re paying him more than they would normally have to in the early years of the contract and betting he does address his short comings and develops into a very good player that they won’t have to pay market value for in the later years of it.

    Only time will tell.

  71. NMR says:

    Haha, I was dangerously close to going with the exact lyric.

  72. NMR says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Jim, and I generally agree.

    But regarding 1B and Plan B, I really can’t fault them – right now – considering all the Plan B’s out there were and are currently pretty terrible. We’ve agreed on this many times throughout the winter. If Davis fixes his swing, or Smoak finally breaks out, or Carp turns out not to be a BABIP fluke, then I’ll fault the Pirates for their 1B approach this winter.

    But as of today, any move other than Loney would be making a move for the sake of making a move, IMO.

    Was it a disappointing offseason to me? Sure. But I can’t fault them for not landing a 1B when only one marginally legit one existed.

  73. NorthPirateFan says:

    I don’t disagree that the the primary risk here is injury but that presents a catch 22 for Marte and the Pirates.

    The best, perhaps only, way for Marte to reduce the risk of injury is to change his style of play: cut down on those head first slides trying to stretch doubles into triples, stop laying out in the field trying to make long shot plays and extend his range, quit dipping his elbow into the strike zone to increase his HPB totals … all the things he’s already injured himself doing and are the foundation of his value as a player.

    If Marte throttles back to avoid injury his value diminishes as a result unless he can address the flaws in his approach to hitting.

  74. NorthPirateFan says:

    I’d say they get a D minus because the Pirates went into the off season with a specific set of goals and problems that need to be addressed in order for them to remain competitive in 2014 and they failed to get any of them done.

    Whatever ones feelings on the Marte contract signing him to a long term deal might have been a long term objective of the front office but it could have happened at any point in the season. For 2014 they had Marte so signing now doesn’t change the 2014 outlook in at all …

    That’s what the off season was supposed to address.

  75. NMR says:

    Good point. I’d probably rather have him as AAA depth than this McGuinness guy.

  76. NMR says:

    The Ike Davis of three years ago? Sure.

    The Ike Davis of the last year and a half? No.

  77. The Gunner says:

    Mentioning Ike Davis in the same sentence with Willie Stargell is downright sacreligious.

  78. NMR says:

    19th in revenue, 27th in payroll, and WE are the ones missing the issue?

    Got it.

  79. NMR says:

    Ha! That ESPN list is laughably incorrect.

    $88m would be news to the Brewers owner, considering he himself has said his payroll is over $100m.

  80. Andrew says:

    Yes the ESPN numbers look a year old, Barmes at $5.5 million and it credits the Pirates for the entire Wandy contract. Also Liriano at $1 million.

  81. Andrew says:

    The free agent comparison answers the question what would the team have to pay if they wished to replace his production with freely available talent, the numbers are back of the envelope, I think Marte is better than a two win player, but yes it overstates the value of a player with years of control left.

    For a more realistic comparison we would need the actual contract numbers and a projection of what he would make in arbitration, which would be a projection of his performance projection. It is very possible that Marte would not make much in arbitration because a lot his value comes from defense and not RBIs, look at what Michael Bourn made through arbitration.

    All information we do not have, I was mainly trying to talk North back from the ledge.

  82. Jim S. says:

    Oh yeah, he also said that about Morales and Drew. He wants the Bucs to sign them both now, but he said he would give them a pass until after the June draft. Nice of him.

  83. Nate83 says:

    You listed 8 guys that would eventually be extended. Although locking up some of their core pieces will be priority there just isn’t enough to go around to keep all those players through their prime playing years. Any extension made to anybody besides Walker or Alvarez at this point effects payroll very little over the next 3 years. A free agent easily could have been brought in for 2 or 3 years without preventing the ability to sign core players to extensions.

    It’s not as if they have 1 Billion dollars to spend over 10 years and if they spend it now they can’t spend it later. There is no saving 20 million this year so it can be spent in 2018. If revenue is 19th payroll should always stay around that range. If the team is doing well and there is an opportunity maybe you raise it a little and vise versa. I do not believe for one second the because they ranked 27th for a 5 year period that they suddenly will rank 14th to make up for it later.

  84. Jim S. says:

    I’m with you on AJ, Walter. I think he is a terrible fit for the Phillies. Worse ballpark from a pitcher’s standpoint, much worse range from his defense, just starting to take defensive shifting baby steps, no more Searage, generally negative outlook, etc. I do not look for AJ to have a very good season with that team. I think, though, he would have had a decent season with the Bucs. He is getting up in age, so it would not have surprised me if he slipped a bit with us. But, I see no reason why he would have fallen off a cliff.

  85. Nate83 says:

    Yes, I mentioned this a while back when we talked about Polanco signing an extension. Contracts that give a team cost certainty, especially ones with team options buying out free agent years through a players prime absolutely adds to their trade value in my opinion. If Polanco, Meadows, Barnes, Bell end up being good players and Marte can be traded and replaced with equal production for less money what team wouldn’t give up a lot to have Marte through his 28-30 years if he ends up being a consistent top 15 WAR player in the NL.

  86. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, I think we do mostly agree. I also don’t think my opinion is that far off from what Brendan expressed below. There do not, and did not ever, appear to be any great 1b available that I am aware of. But, I think those guys you listed are generally better than what we have now even accepting their warts. The acquisition cost may have been what kept Huntington from getting one of them to this point. So, maybe from that standpoint, I would have done the same thing. And, I also acknowledget that he may still get Carp or someone else in the next week or even early into the season.

    Volquez may prove to be a competent 5th starter. His underlying #’s last year showed some upside for this year.

    Maybe a D is harsh. There is still time for him to get the ever popular “extra credit” by making some upgrades as we start the season.

  87. NMR says:

    And no updated arbitration salaries, from what I can tell (look at Trumbo).

  88. NMR says:

    Ha, I admittedly was looking at your comment abstractly and not considering North’s.

    Just not sure I see much point in comparing pre-arb Player X to free agent Player Y. The Pirates don’t need to be replacing his production with freely available talent. They already have him.

  89. NMR says:

    Eh, I really don’t know how one could give them a grade any higher than a C, so we’re really not talking about much of a difference.

  90. I’m not convinced Marte will become a consistent top 15 WAR player, given his skillset and the way he plays and propensity for injury. I could see his skills diminish due to injury and burn out over time. He does well based on his legs and if he loses that, he loses a lot of his game. It was encouraging to see him go deep a couple times in the last week. His lack of homer/extra-base hit totals were concerning after his hand/oven mitt injury.

  91. cmat0829 says:

    AJ pitching again is no surprise. and good for him. Pitching for the woeful Phillies, in that ballpark, with that defense, is an awful decision for him. Seems to me he would want to (1) pitch where he has best chance for personal success and (2) pitch where he has a chance to pitch in the postseason.

    I guess with the Phils he can pitch the first half close to home and agree to be traded to a contender in late July, regardless of where it is, as he’d only have a few months away from home. Maybe that was the plan…. to be in a position to pick his spot for the postseason run……

  92. cmat0829 says:

    OK, I’ll wade into the Greg Brown topic….

    1) Greg does a good job in the role of play-by-play on local broadcasts… being somewhat of a homer is the norm for that role. I like that he gets excited when the Bucs play well…..

    2) He obviously was reading from espn on the payroll stats…. he did say he was surprised to see the Bucs at 20.
    3) I guess my big problem is why cover the payroll at all on a broadcast?? It’s really not relevant except to wade into a debate about the FO/ownership commitment and I just think Brown and any broadcaster should stay away from that entirely. Nothing to be served there. It doesn’t shock me that a broadcaster employed by the team would be defensive of his bosses, but again, the best road is just to avoid the topic altogether.

  93. Johnstown Russ says:

    @clearly Gunner, you didn’t get my sarcasm? He’s no Kevin young either!

  94. Nate83 says:

    Jim I was only talking about top 15 in the NL. I think he finished 10th last year. He gets a 2-3 WAR head start on a lot of guys because of his defense and running. I agree his legs are a big part of his game and if that starts to decline it hurts his value dramatically. He is still very young and I would hope regression of speed won’t happen anytime soon. Cutch throws his body all around and has seemed to avoid injuries for the most part so I do think it’s possible.

  95. brendan says:

    As far as I know the two major injuries his career, the finger last season and the hamate earlier in his career were a result of being hit by pitches, not plays on the base paths or in the field (unless I’m forgetting something). It seems to me good reduce his HBP with out compromising what makes him value in those other two areas? One hopes wearing the oven mitt full time when on base will also reduce his injury risk.

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