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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Pirates and internal valuation

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> No one really should be scratching their heads over the Pirates buying out the 2012 club options of Paul Maholm, Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder and Ronny Cedeno. There is now a ton of precedent to show this is how this management team does business: The internal valuation placed on a player rules the day.

There’s nothing surprising or complex about it.

The way it’s been explained to me many times, the Pirates’ baseball people assign a value to all players of interest, their own and on the outside. That’s based on a wide array of indicators, and all are unique to that player’s circumstance, including whether he’s arbitration-eligible, a free agent or whatever. That number essentially is stamped on that player’s forehead, and it’s stamped in mostly indelible ink. I’ve heard peripherally of exceptions, but I can’t cite one firmly.

So, if Maholm is deemed to be worth, say, $7 million, and his club option calls for $9.75 million, then it’s been nice knowing ya, Paul.

This probably results in more good decisions than bad. For example, it’s how Neal Huntington has been able to cobble together a good bullpen on few dollars year after year. But it also costs the Pirates players they genuinely want and who can genuinely help them, often because of a minute amount of cash. Fearing Jose Bautista’s arbitration days was a glaring one. Letting Matt Capps walk rather than trading him was another. Even the failure to sign the amateur Miguel Angel Sano fits the bill.

In the latter’s case, if you want the player as badly as the Pirates apparently did, well, hey, overpay just this one time rather than trying to smoke out whether or not the agent was bluffing.

>> Anyone surprised specifically by Cedeno being cut loose clearly was not a reader of this blog as far back as September.

Here again, Cedeno would have been due $3 million for one year next season. Even if he isn’t your starter, he can play both shortstop and second base, and he’s more than competent enough overall to be a reliable backup at a fairly decent market rate. But it’s a rate that apparently didn’t match the stamped number.

>> What’s strangest about this mindset is that the Pirates still are going to end up spending about the same as the $52.3 million spent in 2011. It’s just that they’ll do it their way, based on all those individual valuations, right up until it’s crunch time and someone hands Lyle Overbay $5 million.

>> If the Steelers’ secondary was athletic and deep enough to engage almost exclusively in man coverage against Tom Brady and the Patriots, why would Dick LeBeau switch back?

Some quarterbacks get confused by zones, but not the veterans. They read zones, love their predictability and run timing routes off them. If Player X is at Spot Y against the Z defense, it’s a completion. But man-to-man boils it all down to … well, man-to-man.

>> I’ll be spending my day with the Penguins before they head out to the West Coast (again).

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