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How the Polanco narrative died a gory death

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media


If you missed WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word late last night, here are Mark Madden, Alan Robinson and I discussing — what else? — Gregory Polanco ‘n at:

But for my real final word on this, I’ll use this blog for these three thoughts on the topic now that a lot of stuff has crystallized and Polanco is soon to arrive:

1. The Pirates never, ever would have — nor should have — brought up Polanco in April, money notwithstanding. That’s because a player missing 30 days or more of major-league service time does not get credit for a full year. Which also means he needs to go six years plus five months to get to free agency.

In other words, by keeping him down a month, you get an extra full year before he can declare free agency.

This is the no-brainer of all no-brainers. It’s choosing between one month at the beginning of a career and a full year in the prime. And again, I stress, it’s independent of the Super-2 discussion, which is entirely about money.

2. Being that the Pirates never, ever would have — nor should have — brought up Polanco in April, all that mattered to the current team was how they’d navigate May in right field.

Well, then. Below are all the National League’s right fielders for May:

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 3.31.36 PM

You’ll notice Josh Harrison is all the way up at sixth, and that’s not counting his home run last night in L.A. because that was June 1. Also, Jose Tabata had a decent May at .288. You’ll find that both were at least comparable with Marlon Byrd, the player that some people insanely wish the Pirates had signed to a two-year contract to keep someone’s seat warm for a couple months. Not that they can or should be compared, given that you’d never, you know, sign someone for two years to play two months.

In the broader sense, the Pirates collectively had a very good offensive May …

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 3.32.19 PM

So basically, what the Pirates needed to have happen, in order to do the smart thing and preserve a full year of pre-free agency and not spend $15 million or so on two months for a player … all of it did happen. All of it came up completely roses. Because their right fielders batted well above average in May. That’s it. Nothing else to it.

3. Now, I can hear the anti-Nutting machine cranking as I type, desperately seeking a way to keep the narrative alive. And the most obvious vehicle is, ‘Ah, who cares about that extra year before free agency? He should have been up in April, too!’

Apologies in advance for the bluntness here, but no matter how you feel about Super-2, that would have been outright idiotic. On a bunch of levels.

I don’t believe for one second that Polanco needed to stay down this long for any reason other than Super-2. To shout it out loud for the millionth time: He’s in Indy right now entirely because of the money. But I also believe there was merit to starting a player at Triple-A when he had only 286 plate appearances at Double-A to his credit. And history will support that powerfully, and it won’t have anything to do with free agency or Super-2. It will have had to do what’s best for the prospect. Check the career paths of some of the game’s greatest prospects, and you’ll find very, very, very few that reach the majors without 500 plate appearances at the top two levels of minors.

Should Polanco have been made an exception?

Here was FanGraphs before this season:

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 3.54.47 PM

Here was Baseball America before this season:

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 4.04.41 PM

You could look up as many of those as you’d like. Or you could take my simple word for it that a scout in Sarasota told me it would be ‘criminal’ for the Pirates to fill a team need by having Polanco come up right away, given how great a player he can become.

Bottom line: April was never in play for Polanco. Only May was. And May went just fine in right field.

Case closed. Narrative over.

Now bring the kid up already!

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. I don’t see Lunchie’s name in that list? Is it per AB’s?


  2. Baywatch says:

    Well, YEAH! Count me among those that aren’t idiots, DK! :-)

  3. Baywatch says:

    I hope Lunchie winds up on his feet somewhere. I mean, really, is there doubt in anyone’s mind that Lunchie will be history very soon?

  4. Jim S. says:

    June has arrived. The new ski lifts are on order for next winter. The Pirates are in 4th place. All is right in Nutting’s world.

  5. Jim S. says:

    That would be my choice. I think he’ll get more chances somewhere, though, Bay. He seems like a good guy, so I hope he actually gets it together somewhere else.

  6. NMR says:

    Great, now go pick on kids your own size! It’s beneath you to even entertain this debate any longer.

  7. Baywatch says:


  8. 21sthebest says:

    “Also, Jose Tabata had a decent May at .288. And Marlon Byrd, the player that some people insanely wish the Pirates had signed to a two-year contract to keep someone’s seat warm for a couple months, was below both Harrison and Tabata.”

    Not that I would have signed Byrd to that deal, but Byrd’s OPS is 230 points higher than Tabata’s.

  9. B says:

    Well put. To my mind the only question is whether or not Polanco will play for min until arb eligible or if he’ll get extended with his arb years bought out. If the Pirates like their chances of buying out arb years then Super 2 would have been irrelevant. The only argument in PBC FO favor — making him Super 2 eligible would not have served their bargaining position even if they had intended on extending. Polanco could just play through arb years with escalating pay and really cash in as a free agent.

  10. Karen22 says:

    OK – I agree! It’s June and I can’t wait to get a look at this kid!
    Ready or not, here he comes! (El) Coffee, anyone?! :D

  11. Baywatch says:

    He’s shown little flashes here and there. And he seems, in the main, to be a cool customer at the plate, with a few pinch hit bombs for us – and he’s got a decent eye. I don’t know if he still has options, but if I was a GM, I’d pick him up and send him to AAA until he’s ready to give it another try on the MLB level. I’m like you: I think he’s gonna be a Moss-type and really have a good career someday.

  12. Honestly, NMR, I wrote this and put it here — rather than a full column — in one final attempt to lay this all out in one place rather than have it piecemealed here and there.

    Believe me, this is it on this topic. Penguins GM soon, more Steelers OTAs, then the kid might be up as soon as … oh, who knows? Homestand seems logical.

  13. siggy says:

    Terrific. Bob Nutting saves $15 million. Good for him. That seems to be the focal point for most fans of this team nowadays.

  14. Baywatch says:

    Up here, Karen! And make mine regular!

  15. Well, actually, no. In this case, the focal point was that right field wouldn’t suffer in May. And it didn’t. Hence, the $15 million … oh, wait, ski lifts ‘n at. … Never mind. Was about to attempt reason.

  16. Karen22 says:

    Regular high test, Bay?? That’s my jolt of choice…with just a little creamer. :)

  17. Jim S. says:

    I don’t know if he’ll have a Moss-type career, but I could see him still getting better and being a productive player for several years. It has happened before. But, I don’t think we need him at this point.

  18. Karen22 says:

    I hope so, too. Another nice kid you had to root for. Sorry he’s not working out.

  19. dcpinpgh says:

    ^^^2nd. Byrd is having a better year. Wouldn’t have signed him, but have to give the man his props, I would have taken his May over any of the Pirates players.

  20. cmat0829 says:

    does anyone have the Moss with the Pirates vs. Lunchie with the Pirates splits, for comparison sake?

    Because I (and most of us) feel that Snider needs to go , now, just like I felt about Moss…. (and many, many others, including Adam LaRoche)… and we know Moss finally figured it out in Oakland. It’s the catch-22, players have to make the most of their chances and you never know when it will click (or if it ever will).

  21. dcpinpgh says:

    @ Siggy, that’s not a saving in anyone pockets, that is 7 years down the line in the budget. 2021 Pirates are building their roster, they only will pay him 15 million for that year instead of 25 million. Unless revenue sharing comes along, how good will the Pirates be if they are paying 1/4 to 1/5 of the payroll to one person?

  22. theplanisworking says:

    All good points here.

    I always felt that Polanco shouldn’t be called up before now …….. 2 months of a struggling rookie, vs. a year of good/great play later. For revenue adverse clubs like the Pirates, this is a no-brainer, even if it makes some fans mad. A team like Pittsburgh just can’t afford to lose a player because they want to see him for 2 more months of his rookie season, only to not be able to afford him down the road.

    Which, of course, brings me to a point no one seems to want to address. People say the Pirates are near the bottom of revenues per team. Fine ……. but whose fault is that? Isn’t the team President responsible for the bottom line? Profit/loss? Maximizing revenues? Signing a TV deal that (no matter what he says) is NOT in the top half of TV deals? Sponsorships?

    For me the buck at the lack of revenues stops directly at the feet of Mr. Frank Coonelly. He is responsible for the $$$$. Smaller markets than the Pirates have more revenues. He needs to step up and get more $$$ for the team. Then maybe these conversations about not being able to afford players will be reduced.

  23. NMR says:

    Well done, all of it.

    Those who were willing learned something. Those who weren’t could be spotted from the very beginning.

  24. cmat0829 says:

    I’ll bite on this one… if we accept that the Pirates payroll is aligned with revenues (and it is today) then Nutting isn’t ‘saving $15M’ on this he is eventually enabling the Pirates GM to spend those resources on other roster spots….but that isn’t as catchy to put on a torch and pitchfork march, so “NUTTING’$ CHEAP” it is.

  25. cmat0829 says:

    as I prepare for the Polanco era, can anyone advise me of why is he nicknamed “El Coffee”?

  26. Jim S. says:

    Exactly. I bet the comparisons are not too far off. Moss had a tough time staying healthy for several years.

  27. Twitter handle is all I know. But which came first, the handle or the egg?

  28. Planetoid! Good to see you.

  29. cmat0829 says:

    The TV deal is bad, but let’s also remember the Pirates ticket prices are 3rd from the BOTTOM in Major League Baseball and so the gate revenues lag also. Higher ticket prices anyone? They are MUCH NEEDED. Weeknight attendance more than 17K in the SUMMER? MUST HAPPEN to increase revenues. Coonelly indeed has erred as Pirates’ Pres in not raising ticket prices faster, especially for the weekend ‘fireworks and giveaways’ crowd… can we put that on a sign, anyone? RAISE TICKET PRICES, CHEAP NUTTING!

  30. JUCOFan says:

    One thing we can all agree upon:

    “He’s in Indy right now entirely because of the money.”

  31. That’s the beauty of a blog entry. I just changed the Byrd wording.

    Really shouldn’t have bothered comparing at all, as is now noted in the main text.

  32. Also, if he’d been up all through May, he wouldn’t have made much, if any difference. You can agree to that, too?

  33. 21sthebest says:

    No fair! We can’t edit our posts!

  34. NMR says:

    The answer is they won’t pay that much to one person, period.

    Nobody mentioned it, but Super 2 would’ve all but garunteed Polanco would be traded before his last year of team control. Nobody apparently remembers the Hunter Pence trade talk.

  35. theplanisworking says:

    Hello Reverend. Hope all is well in the bluegrass.

  36. cmat0829 says:

    I agree, thanks DK for continuing to provide FACTS (they really do spoil a good conspiracy theory) on this… to me, beyond the Nutting is Cheap bore of a debate, the other side that you have touched on previously is the ‘unreal expectations’ people have of Polanco’s impact. That’s really what the May stats bear out… the real impact (bottom line) of the Pirates choosing the strategy to minimize future spend devoted to Polanco is ‘what difference did it make’… some have opined that Polanco would have meant 3,4,5 even more wins in 2014 if he were here in April or even May… and that is off the charts insanity.

    But these facts won’t stop them. They will dodge the facts and move on to “intangible benefits to the pitching staff…. in the energy the players will play with… in helping Hurdle make better in-game decisions… in changing the wind direction…. to even something called “clubhouse cachet” in matching the Pirates veteran players commitment with a symbol of ownership commitment” those are tough ‘facts’ to argue against.

  37. NMR says:

    It was never about that with this crowd.

    The debate started and ended with money, specifically that which may belong to Bob Nutting.

  38. As good as it gets.


  39. cmat0829 says:

    if only we could… :)

  40. Jim S. says:

    I believe Dejan “Starbucks” Kovacevic gave him that handle. Everything goes back to coffee with him. :-)

  41. I just want the best 25, personally.

    But, I’m older and have more insurance. (Actually more memories, but that line from Fried Green Tomatoes sounded better).

  42. NMR says:

    All nothing more than lip service to the only point they actually cared about: money.

  43. NMR says:

    A delete button would save me more time and embarassment.

  44. 21sthebest says:

    That’s arguably true but he could make a 1 game difference. And you can miss the playoffs by 1 game. And a team can make a lot of money in the playoffs.

  45. cmat0829 says:

    continued on “—the money that in the future will either require the Pirates to trade Polanco (or someone else) to fit within their revenue-constraints OR not be available to be used on other positions of need”

    I’ve said before if Nutting were just being cheap, he is better served calling Polanco up, selling a bunch of tickets at higher prices, and then dumping his salary a year earlier than otherwise and starting over with a cheaper team. An owner need not resort to Super2 threading a needle to be cheap and miserly. This is about Pirates BASEBALL front office determining how best to spread out the revenue-based payroll $s they have in future seasons where they figure to have the talent to possibly compete for championships, so every $ will count.

  46. NMR says:

    I don’t lump you in this crowd, partner.

    Said from the start that it was more than fair for you to say that, as is every fan’s right.

  47. Jim S. says:

    Clubhouse cache may be my personal favorite.

  48. Bizrow says:


    You can tell you are getting old when its everyone else’s hair that is on fire about the FO,

    I lay here like a slug, its my only defense

    Huntington knows what he’s doing

  49. In days of old when GM’s were bold and teams actually played every game to win,
    We used to say, “hey, let’s watch the Pirates play,”
    But, now we shrug and say “when?”

    When Super 2 is past, you see, for 15 mil is big mon-eee,
    To us regular folk, it’s only a hope as to when we’ll see Greg-o-ree.

    By Robert Bruce and Drew the Departed.

  50. cmat0829 says:

    you and me both

  51. NMR says:

    Sounds like a quick way to run the franchise into the ground. Or is Polanco so special that the same argument shouldn’t be made for every prospect? Every deadline move? Every free agent?

  52. cmat0829 says:

    Doesn’t all this hair-raising debate make you pine for the good old Littlefield days of yore…when we didn’t have (*(*( for prospects and we needn’t worry about Super 2 at all? Oh, if we can only go back to those heady times when we put the best 25 on the roster from day 1, Tike Redman and all……

  53. Thundercrack says:

    Why exactly is it beneath DK to entertain this debate any longer?

    And someone accused me of playing God on the blog.

  54. cmat0829 says:

    Playoffs ‘money’ is overrated. It is shared across the league and is negligible. So I’d like that narrative to end — should this team go ‘all in’, future be damned, to make the playoffs… forget the revenue part, it’s all about winning right? And this year is the only year that matters, right? Next year takes care of itself, right?

    That’s a slippery slope…what if it included pitching Gerrit Cole consisently on 4-days rest and letting him run up 125+ pitches a game? It might yield a win or two and that might get us into the playoffs, so no problem, right?

  55. Karen22 says:

    Roger, Roger! :)

  56. Jim S. says:

    Hey, plan!

    I agree that it is incumbent on Mr. Coonelly and his staff to get the revenue up. In my mind, that will only come about in this town through sustained winning.

    The other two teams in town have revenues that exceed their relative market size in their leagues. The Pirates don’t have the credibility those teams do with the locals because the other 2 teams have done a lot of winning and they haven’t. Baseball season tickets are a commitment of time and money. Not enough people are concerned yet about the availability of tickets at the last minute most nights to feel the need to buy season tickets.

  57. Karen22 says:

    Ohhhh – “Fried Green Tomatoes” – one of my all time favorite movies!

  58. Thundercrack says:

    I definitely think he could have made a difference. A two run homer here, a stolen base and extra run there.

    And then he could have closed games when Grilli got hurt and picked up a couple of Wandy’s start.

  59. Reading says:

    With hindsight, the debate certainly favors the Keep Polanco in AAA Crowd. I’m wondering where the Pirates SS rankings were in May. Of course, the conventional wisdom (narrative) now is that J-Hay can’t play SS. The same CV that said Harrison couldn’t play RF.

  60. Jim S. says:

    That was Randy’s only defense as well. Right, Biz? :-)

  61. NMR says:

    Because from the beginning, Dejan has brought facts and logic to the table and the opposition has refused to engage with anything but jokes and populist arguments. Even at the begging of Dejan for healthy, intelligent debate.

    Engaging THAT any further is absolutely beneath Dejan. He’s just better than that.

  62. Jim S. says:

    I thought it was from A Christmas Story, Karen.

  63. Bizrow says:

    Yes it was ;-)

  64. Thundercrack says:

    Will Cutch get $15 million in any year of his contract?

  65. Bizrow says:

    you are both right

  66. Milo Hamilton says:


  67. cmat0829 says:

    I think he must’ve meant ‘cachet’ but only MM knows (or maybe his psychiatrist does also)……

    a : a characteristic feature or quality conferring prestige
    b : prestige

  68. Jim S. says:

    Every Polanco web gem and HR is offset by a Wandy HR allowed.

  69. NMR says:

    Hahahaha, yeah, every single coach and scout who has ever seen Josh Harrison play baseball has expertly crafted the narrative that he can’t be a regular shortstop at the Major League level.

    All of them.

  70. Bizrow says:

    Or PRNW was a bench player (as I duck)

  71. Thundercrack says:

    If Polanco comes up in April, gets smacked on the wrist with a Chapman fastball, wrist is broken and he’s out for 8 weeks.

    That is 8 weeks of major league service time he gets to accrue. Closer to free agency without the production.

  72. Jim S. says:

    I must admit I never saw Fried Green Tomatoes.

  73. Seconded. And I wrote it.

  74. NMR says:

    If they pick up the option. And that has to do with this conversation how?

  75. theplanisworking says:

    Jim, those are good points.

    I was thinking more along the lines of Mr. Coonelly being unqualified to hold the title of Team President (he NEVER had profit/loss or marketing experience before being hired here). He has been a constant PR nightmare, which could have an adverse effect on potential sponsors.

    The Pirates need more revenue, not more excuses. You can’t cry poor if you don’t take the necessary steps to get out of poverty. Reverend Lucky can attest to that with his Gubment work.

  76. cmat0829 says:

    Not sure about incentives, but club option in 2018 is $14.75M. Another reason to be careful not to get Polanco more expensive than he needs to be….

  77. siggy says:

    Sorry but I’m not giving Bob Nutting or anyone credit because Josh Harrison had a career month. He was the third (and last) cheap option they had after Snider and Tabata couldn’t take control of RF.

    Just like first base. Cheap option #1 Lambo failed in Florida. Then cheap #2 Travis Ishikawa failed in April. THEN they go get Ike Davis.

    EVERYTHING this team does revolves around saving every last dime. When they trade Cutch before he starts to make the BIG money on his contract? Then maybe people will realize the con that is Bob Nutting.

  78. cmat0829 says:

    actually a big chunk of the Pirates revenue comes from revenue sharing, so perhaps being from the MLB Commissioner’s office was exactly the qualifications the Pirates were looking for when hiring FC. Not defending him by any means, but I think there is more to consider.

    That said, not having a better media contract is a big problem and FC is a PR-mess. Reasons enough to sack him, in my book. But not sure it wasn’t a good hiring at the time.

  79. Bizrow says:

    I must admit, FGT was a pretty good movie

  80. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, I didn’t mean to leave off the “t.”

  81. siggy says:

    I don’t think fans would care if they raised ticket prices if they put a legitimate product on the field.

    40% increase in ST sales from last season, and fans were rewarded with Edison Volquez, Chris Stewart, and Ike Davis.

    Sorry, that don’t cut it.

  82. cmat0829 says:

    milo, what date do you have in the Polanco Pittsburgh Pool? I have June 13 but I think you may be thinking this weekend?

  83. Cajun Thunder says:

    The good news…the Pirates had the second highest batting average in the NL in May.
    The bad news…they were 8th in the most important offensive statistic in baseball…runs scored.
    More bad news…even with Harrison’s hot spell, the Pirates RF’s still rank 12th of 15 in OPS for the season, and about that neighborhood in runs created. The only slightly good news there is that all 3 teams behind them are in the NL Central.

    More bad news…the Pirates starting pitching was DEAD LAST in the majors in ERA in May. The only NL team even within half a run…was the Rockies. For the season, only the DBacks are worse in the National League. Want more bad news…there’s not much help coming. Cumpton is already up. Sadler is up, and it looks like he’s taking Mazzaro’s long relief slot. And it appears that the Jeff Locke that pitched the second half of 2013 is still at Indy.

    Looks like our pitching guru has a lot to fix. One series in offense-challenging Chavez Ravine does not make me believe anything is fixed.

  84. Thundercrack says:

    NMR, when you wrote

    The answer is they won’t pay that much to one person, period.

    Where you talking about that they won’t pay anyone $15 million?

  85. Reading says:

    I’m sure those same experts crafted the narrative that he couldn’t play RF. Considering that I’m about the only person who has consistently said give Harrison a shot to play, I’ll take credit for the RF problem being solved for May.

  86. cmat0829 says:

    nope Chapman didn’t pitch in April, but I get your drift.

    OR, what about Polanco hits a screamer back to the mound, knocking out 4 Brewer’s starters and K-Rod at the same time… paving the collapse of the Brewers and putting the Pirates into first place? You never know…..

  87. Bizrow says:

    Thats exactly why the uber prospects are sent down early in ST. Worry of injury.

    Avoiding arbitration is one of the few things on the owners side of things.

    I understand the concept and feelings of having the best 25 in the Burgh, but its the way it is and the way most every club plays the game

  88. Milo Hamilton says:

    172 days equals 1 year of service time. April 15th was the day they could have brought him up and had him for all of this year + 6 more.

  89. Milo Hamilton says:

    I didn’t. I’ve just gone with Groat.

  90. Bizrow says:

    Didn’t the Angels keep Trout down to avoid Super 2?

  91. cmat0829 says:

    exactly…when did we craft this ‘narrative’ nonsense anyway? I hope decision makers aren’t checking out opinion blogs and crafting their strategies…and pretty sure Clint isn’t taking polls on making out the lineup card… there is no “narrative” that matters and that’s a fact. Pirates have a Cloud-load of analytical data and it all points to the fact that JayHey is below average defensively EVERYWHERE, and not acceptable at all, other than an emergency, to play SS. That isn’t the INTERNETS talking, it’s the data. Data, for those that are wondering, is derived from actual performance and statistics and/or video analysis and/or scouting information (human eyeballs and insight).

    and as for PRNW? I’ll say right now that NH was RIGHT about Walker circa 2008 and 2009, and good for Neil that he has continued to grow and develop… but that doesn’t mean that until players step up and deliver, someone in the FO can’t have healthy skepticism and you can’t go by the ‘hope of a blogger’ strategy when building a club. If we went by that, Brad Eldred would be playing 1B, Matt Hague 3B, Chase d’Arnaud SS, etc. etc. etc.

  92. siggy says:

    When the season is over and DK writes an article in September quoting players as saying they thought Polanco should have been up here sooner then what?

  93. NMR says:

    That one dive really blinded you, eh?

  94. NMR says:

    I never said they won’t pay someone $15m.

    “2021 Pirates are building their roster, they only will pay him 15 million for that year instead of 25 million. Unless revenue sharing comes along, how good will the Pirates be if they are paying 1/4 to 1/5 of the payroll to one person?”

    I said they won’t pay something 1/4 to 1/5 of payroll.

    I’m going out on a limb and guessing payroll will be higher than $75m, $15m of which would only come out to 20%, or 1/5.

  95. cmat0829 says:

    Irrelevant. Nutting is cheap. Pirate’s management not as committed to winning as the players. Players holding back until there is a symbol of management’s commitment… I was wondering what the heck was wrong with Marte…. it’s all Nutting’s fault. Once Polanco is up here, watch Marte start torching the low and away sliders and actually catching the ball…. and Pedro is not gonna strand any RISPs…. if only management were committed, these players can actually feel free to play to their potential. Now, they will still hold back about 10% of their ability in silent protest to their humble former leader, AJBurnett. Not sure we can ever get that extra 10% out of these players until Batman comes back.

  96. NMR says:

    Then we tell the to shut up and do their job?

    Seriously, is this real life? This is the debate?

  97. Cajun Thunder says:

    Don’t blame revenue issues on the fans.

    Weeknight attendance greater than 17K during the summer DID happen. All of last season. After Memorial Day last season, the lowest home attendance for ANY game was 19,966. The Pirates, and most cold weather baseball cities, don’t draw real well on weeknights until after Memorial Day, especially in April.

    The team had it’s second highest attendance ever last season. How many sellouts were there? The limiting factor was the amount of seats available. It wasn’t the fans choice to have a 38K (38,362 according to Wikipedia) seat stadium. The only ones smaller…Fenway, KC, the monstrosity in Miami, and Tampa.

    The front office needs to quit griping about revenue, or at least don’t lay it at the feet of the fans. The fans have held up their end.

  98. Andrew says:

    This isn’t technically correct, because Polanco was on the 40 man roster, he needed to stay in AAA for at least 20 days or those 20 days would count toward his major league service time, so the earliest he could have been called up and the Pirates still have the extra year of control was April 19th.

    Yes it is a paltry point, but I don’t have anything else to add on this topic.

  99. cmat0829 says:

    takes me back to my HS baseball days.. I got to play occasionally in right field… I was slower than slow…. I would try really hard and I’d make a lot of catches by diving or lunging at the last minute…. one time I was running back to the dugout after a ‘terrific’ catch and the coach said “You’re out of the game, Lewis is goin’ in”…and I said, but why, I just made a great catch… coach said, you should’ve been parked under the ball for about 3 seconds. You’re slow.”

    Not saying JayHey is slow just saying it isn’t always the results that you should be looking at…. how do we say ‘not sustainable’?

  100. Milo Hamilton says:

    I give up too. Thanks for the 4 days. ;)

  101. theplanisworking says:

    If you are thinking of auditioning for Improv Comedy Night, might I humbly suggest some new material?

    Or, maybe try the veal?

  102. cmat0829 says:

    According to MM, and most likely Jimbo Bowden, appealing to the ‘clubhouse’ is a big part of this. Need to have that ‘clubhouse cachet’. It’s mind-numbing BS and probably the only thing we can ever talk about on this blog or otherwise that gets me pissed off. Lack of PLAYER criticism or accountability. If any of these Pirates veterans even attempts to make excuses because of the Polanco situation, then I’d look to trade all of them. Ridiculous.

    I don’t think that’s the case, but doesn’t help when supposed credible sources in the media further that load of crap narrative.

  103. Reading says:

    Well, let’s see, he’s made several diving catches, thrown runners out at home, made running catches in the gap, jumped up against the wall to make the last out, and made all of the routine plays.

    NMR, you need to stick to your “Gee, Mrs. Cleaver, that sure is an attractive sweater you’re wearing today” comments each day when you validate DK’s column.

  104. Lad 9 says:

    Awesome Luck-ee! :)

  105. cmat0829 says:

    i’m dead serious. Mark Madden and I were just discussing this. We are 100% in agreement that lack of management commitment is really holding this team back.

  106. Thanks, Lad. I’ve been a minister a long time. 3 points and a poem comes easy. :D

  107. Andrew says:

    You mean the intricacies of baseball collective bargaining agreement don’t excite you?

    I only learned that by reading about the promotions of Springer and Singleton with the Astros, a bad team I don’t care about, that is enough internet for the day.

  108. Jim S. says:

    I doubt such an article will occur because I seriously doubt a player would say that.

  109. cmat0829 says:

    LINEUPS TONIGHT>.. all important first game of the series….

    1. Josh Harrison (R) RF
    2. Neil Walker (S) 2B
    3. Andrew McCutchen (R) CF
    4. Ike Davis (L) 1B
    5. Russell Martin (R) C
    6. Pedro Alvarez (L) 3B
    7. Starling Marte (R) LF
    8. Jordy Mercer (R) SS
    9. Charlie Morton (R) P

    1. Everth Cabrera (S) SS
    2. Seth Smith (L) RF
    3. Carlos Quentin (R) LF
    4. Chase Headley (S) 3B
    5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
    6. Jedd Gyorko (R) 2B
    7. Will Venable (L) CF
    8. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
    9. Tim Stauffer (R) P

  110. Actually, would he have done any worse than Wandy in a couple of those starts??? Maybe that is where the Pirates pick up an extra win or two.
    Before I get lambasted…JUST KIDDING!!!

  111. Chuck H says:

    If that had been the case, Thunder, we have pitchers who throw almost as hard as Chapman and Chapman would have gone to the DL. Just saying!!!

  112. Jim S. says:

    I really like JHay, and he’s hitting the snot out of the ball most nights for the past 3 weeks. Nothing to not like about him.

    I think he puts everything he has into RF. But, I am skeptical that he is even an average defensive RF by MLB standards. I consulted the Ghost of Clemente, and he says it takes more than shagging some balls in spring training and during batting practice to become a competent RF. In fact, he was insulted by the mere notion that a guy can become a good RF by picking up the position at the MLB level.

  113. Thundercrack says:

    How much more revenue would the Pirates have to generate to be out of the ‘revenue adverse clubs’ category, and stop making roster decisions because of arbitration and super two?

    $15 million more?

  114. This is another riotous point, the increase in season-ticket sales. First off, they’re FSEs — or full-season equivalents — and as I wrote in spring training, the figure went from roughly 10,000 to roughly 14,000. And if single-game and group sales don’t follow the same pace, it means nothing. Only number that matters is the big one at the end of the year.

    Sorry to interrupt. You were parroting something else from the radio?

  115. Thundercrack says:

    ‘The front office needs to quit griping about revenue, ‘

    Has the FO griped about revenue? Or is it the fans that are griping.

  116. dennis g. says:

    Is there a human being in Western Pennsylvania who knows who Bob Nutting is and what he does for a living who believes him to be anything other than thrifty? Every owner in MLB since Tom Yawkey (look him up) has been trying to get the best value for his dollar every chance he could. There is no such thing as paying too much on purpose. Even cutting Wandy was designed to maximize Pirate coffers (who wants to go to games to watch Pirates lose?) The money given to Morton, McCutchen, Marte and Tabata was in every case intended to maximize the return on revenue, just as the money not given to Burnett, Mauer and Byrd as well as any other player we did or did not sign in free agency. GM’s and owners are practical, no-nonsense financial operatives and the only question is whether or not they are good at making the right decision as often as possible. Cheap, thrifty or profligate does not enter into the equation.

  117. Thundercrack says:

    So that is a 40% increase in FSE.

    Today, my morning email from the Pgh Business Times said the Pirates’ overall attendance increased by 24%. The biggest PERCENTAGE (not actual) increase in MLB

  118. Karen22 says:

    Also one of my favs – very nostalgic childhood Christmas memories, as it was filmed in my hometown, Cleveland.

  119. Karen22 says:

    Mind if I ask why Mercer’s playing behind Ground Chuck?? Egad.

  120. Thundercrack says:

    I don’t think for a minute that Nutting is taking money from the Pirates to buy ski lifts or another ski resort.

    I think keeping Polanco down is the right move – because of the arbitration and stupid Super 2 rules.

    But at some point Nutting has to show his fan base that he is willing to spend money.
    ‘We signed a big national TV deal….here is were the money is going and how much the payroll is increasing’
    ‘We saved $15 million a few years ago on Gregory Polanco…hey we just signed him to a long term extension’
    ‘We have a winning team, our window is open, attendance is up, revenues are up….our payroll has increased, it’s at a respectable & sustainable level….we’re not in the bottom 5 payrolls anymore’

  121. wvstarship says:

    Don’t bother with this, Siggy. At least half of the posters on this blog seem to totally obsessed with saving Nutting money, at the expense of, well, everything else! Why, I don’t know–maybe they’re in Nutting’s will and afraid they’ll get a smaller cut.
    Personally I don’t think that Polonco will make that big of a impact when he finally arrives because they have other issues to resolve (starting pitching, awful defense, etc). So the time they call him up and why and for how much get’s a big fat MEH! from me.
    But don’t be surprised that when Polonco isn’t batting .700 come September that this blog is full of posts saying “I told you so, look at all the money Nutting saved woot woot!”

  122. Dcpinpgh says:

    And I would be driving a Viper, living in a Mtv cribs house, and dating Kate Upton…. if it wasn’t for the money, or lack if it

  123. Arriba Wilver says:

    My computer has a cache.

  124. Dcpinpgh says:

    Math on the pirates revenue vs expentatures

  125. Cajun Thunder says:

    Exactly what is it that the fans are supposed to do? You can’t put 10 pounds of sugar (or some other substance) in a 5 pound bag.

    In 2010, the Pirates had a 105 loss team. In 2011, attendance increased 20%
    In 2011, the Pirates had a 90 loss team. In 2012, attendance went up another 8%, showing a 29% increase for 2012 over 2010.
    In 2012, the Pirates had an 83 loss team. In 2013, attendance went up another 8% over 2012, and a 40 percent increase comparing 2013 to 2010.

    As of the end of the last home stand, the Pirates are averaging 25,544 per home date. After the same amount of dates last season, the average was 20,638. This is an increase of 24% over last season.

    Last season, the Pirates fans attended at 73.5% of listed capacity. How many teams did better? 14, or about half. The Reds and Brewers were in the same neighborhood at 73.9% and 74.5% respectively.

    But it’s the fans fault revenues aren’t higher?? They have held up their end of the bargain. I don’t recall the Pirates ownership/front office voting against the new CBA with it’s revenue sharing.

    If the Pirates ownership/front office wants to gripe about the lack of revenue, they had better look in the mirror.

  126. Arriba Wilver says:

    “NMR, you need to stick to your ‘Gee, Mrs. Cleaver, that sure is an attractive sweater you’re wearing today’ comments each day when you validate DK’s column.”

    Not picking sides, but THAT is a GREAT Eddie Haskell reference.

    :-). :-). :-)

  127. Jim S. says:

    It would make more sense to me if Stauffer were at least a LHP, Karen.

  128. Cajun Thunder says:

    It’s not about the money, except when it’s about the money.

    I recall the front office (the president, in particular) stating that the Pirates local TV contract was very competitive with similar size markets. The Pirates share of revenue sharing money, national contracts, etc., certainly isn’t smaller than most clubs. Their share of the luxury tax money might not be large, but it’s more than most teams get.

    Gee…we don’t get parking fees. Guess what, the fans don’t have any control over that. I don’t recall PNC Park having free parking. The fans are paying for parking. Are other teams making $20-30M on parking fees? Ownership made those decisions. If the increased attendance last year netted the Pirates a paltry $3M, maybe there’s something wrong with the Pirates business model. Other teams don’t have a problem finding the money to spend on payroll. By most descriptions, there are few, if any, franchises operating at a loss.

  129. Arriba Wilver says:

    If he had been brought up sooner, he might have been hit by a Pittsburgh bus, then the rest of this conversation would be moot.

    This is fun. (Not really)

  130. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Most of the “Anti-Nutting Machine” that I know (including myself) could care less when Polanco comes up to the majors.
    There are issues regarding Bob Nutting and Bunch that are deeply rooted in their past, present and future effort, as well as how they have dealt with fans since G. Ogden walked in the door.

    This whole “Nutting Problem” is a much, much deeper issue that Gregory Polanco.
    I’ll repeat….I don’t give a crap when Polanco arrives.
    I do give a crap as to (one example) why Neal Huntington sat on his duff all winter.
    What could possibly be the justification of letting three key components from a playoff team go, and replacing them with next to nothing?
    I think we all know the answer to that, though some would rather not look it in the eye.

    The Nutting Regime……The list is long and the years are many.

  131. Brandon says:

    What if the regime had offered a better (accepted) contract which would buy out arbitration and multiple FA years? If they weren’t so cheap, an 8-9 year $75M contract might have accomplished everything (the right numbers can be debated). Of course, this presumes the gamble of offering a ridiculous contract to a young man who may be a good or hopefully outstanding player, but it does take away the Super 2 and years of control issue and puts it back on the unwillingness to spend $ which may or may not be in the coffers.

  132. Thundercrack says:

    Begging is beneath Dejan. And I don’t think he’s done that.

    He’s better than that because of posts like this one

  133. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    Guess what?
    I don’t care what Bob Nutting is doing with his money.
    I just know that the effort to win has never really been where it should since the name “Nutting” entered the picture.
    ….And I also know that he has gained mistrust through lies, lies and more lies from various members of his Regime.
    People in general don’t dislike a guy for nothing.
    A person has to earn it.

  134. Thundercrack says:

    ‘I don’t care what Bob Nutting is doing with his money.’

    You really had me fooled then. I apologize

  135. siggy says:

    And what’s a better way to get people who don’t have ST’s in the ball park? Commitment from the ownership.

    You’ve been on the sports beat what? 25 years here? You honestly don’t believe that Bob Nutting has shown the same desire to win as the Pens and Steelers, yes?

    The excuse for not spending used to be the PNC park construction overruns. Those have been off the books a long time now if I’m not mistaken.

    Bob Nutting turned down a slots license for a ski resort, to keep this ballclub.

    So how much money does he really make, off of it?

  136. Justin says:

    It’s not about saving Nutting money.

    It’s about the fact that payroll ceiling will be the same in 2020 whether Polanco is making 4 million or 9 million!

    Every dollar you spend on one thing is a dollar you can’t spend on another thing. Keep 3 good prospects down after the super 2 cutoff, and that’s a whole productive free agent that you can buy IN ADDITION to those players. add up a few of these super 2 cases, and you can fill a hole that you do have with a better player than you normally could. Money decisions and baseball decisions are related.

    it helps maximize wins later on.

  137. Daquido_Bazzini says:

    There’s nothing to apologize for whether you mean it seriously or facetiously.
    The issue isn’t what he’s doing with his money, the issue is what he most certainly isn’t doing with it.

  138. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Nutting or the Nuttings?

    With all due credit to the Nutting-is-the-devil crowd, we’ve at least made societal progress in recognizing that there’s only one in this picture.

  139. Jucofan says:

    ++ here!!

    Hindsight is 20:20. Foresight at the time unequivocally is that Polanco remained in Indy in May simply because if money. Whether it is right to pay a price down the road for a couple if major league service months now can surely be debated. BUT THE REASON HE WAS IN INDY IN MAY CANNOT BE

  140. Jucofan says:

    Hindsight is 20:20. Foresight at the time unequivocally indicates that Polanco remained in Indy in May for money reasons. Whether it is right to pay a price down the road for a couple of major league service months now can surely be debated. BUT THE REASON HE WAS IN INDY IN MAY CANNOT BE

  141. Justin says:

    the pirates offered AJ Burnett 12 million, meaning that Nutting approved of a payroll of AT LEAST ~90 million.

    It’s not Nutting’s fault that they are 27th ranked in payroll. Blame Burnett, Huntington, James Loney, and Josh Johnson. he approved for them to be ~20th.

  142. chris says:

    We got Ike for first and Volquez is apparently the 2nd coming of Liriano so 2 things needed in the winter are crossed off the list. Shortstop was a need and Gregorious was on the table (may still be at the deadline), but the biggest telling if the pirates are really trying to win now will be if signing Russell Martin for 3 years at 40 mil is their priority. I said it last month and will continue to this this way until he is gone or signed. He is the backbone of this team and if the front office just gives Tony Sanchez the starting job because he was a first round pick and also a cheaper option, then we will know that the pirates are not willing to spend to win.

  143. Cobra39 says:

    Springer and Taveras were brought up ahead of the Super 2 deadline, isn’t that right?

    Whatever the case, I have no idea why DK feels the need to write a harangue about an issue that almost nobody on this blog was in favor of — bringing up Polanco early before the Super 2 deadline. It’s just a lot of bloviating about a non-issue.

    And it still doesn’t change the fact that DK’s good buddy Nutting is cheap.

  144. Bill_StateCollege says:

    Neil recently gave the word, Sanchez is the starting catcher next year. Can’t recall the source.

  145. dennis g. says:

    I just don’t get why commenters on this site equate Nutting’s refusal to overpay for talent as being cheap. I applaud each and every refusal to grant a long term contract to an already overpaid and underperforming major leaguer. I am more than surprised by the way the Russell Martin deal turned out and if he wants to stay here I would gladly double his salary, but I would not give him a long term guaranteed contract. Why can’t players sign incentivized contracts which involve them taking some of the risk?
    If you want to complain about Nutting’s desire to appropriate every loose dollar in the stadium how about requiring Primanti’s to actually put some meat on their famous sandwiches? He could even put in some more tables and chairs so people can eat in comfort during and before the game. The extortionate charges for ballpark food are the bane of my existence. Get him to do something about that.

  146. Steve Foglia says:

    This was very well written.

    My only wish is that the money factor can be taken away from baseball decisions going forward and I know that as long as Nutting is the owner, that probably isn’t happening.

    I get the reasoning for keeping him at Indy in April – some seasoning for him and preserving that extra year of free agency.

    I want the best players playing and when $$$$ keeps a guy in AAA in May, then that it is sad. I want my team not having to worry about Super 2 in 6 years – Im sick and tired of it. Its not like Mr Nutting needs to conserve cash..Per CNBC in 2012, hes was worth 1.1B then and was calculated to be the 10th richest owner in MLB.

    While I am not advocating deficit spending, Mr Nutting could afford to invest additional capital In this team if he so chose and that never happens.


    just wondering how many plate appearances tabata/harrison actually had in rf. they have a combined 147 which is 20 some more than anyone else. interesting how an extra 20 plate appearances may make some numbers look better and allow you to say rf was better than it actually was.

  148. FlBucco says:


  149. FlBucco says:

    Thank you Milo – I was trying to find this info – you beat me to it.

    I have enjoyed reading the back and forth on this – I don’t think anyone is changing anyone else’s opinion – including DK.

    BUT – I am not persuaded that things have worked out OK because a desperate team got lucky when one of the teams most energetic players rose to the challenge of plugging the hole in RF. That was LUCK – not good decision making or good planning or good management.

    I decided to stop supporting the FO and Nutting financially when they called up Brent Morel in early May – thought that was an insult to the fans at the time and still do.

    Once they made it clear they do not put a priority on competing and winning – that things like years of control and dumpster diving for stiffs like Morel and Ishikawa are their ideas of big moves I decided to stay home – selling of my season tickets on stub hub and will not be renewing.

    Games look great on Root – miss being there – but Nutting will not be getting his cut of the 30-40 I spent every game on concessions and stuff.

  150. Dejan,

    Point #1 is grossly inaccurate. It’s not 30 days, it’s anything less than 172 days on Major League roster. Major League season is 183 days.

    Tough building your whole argument on an inaccurate “fact.”

  151. And I agree Polanco should have spent time in AAA to prove himself and “marinate”. But don’t base your argument on faulty research. It belittles your opinion.

  152. Woomer says:

    I think you’re setting up a straw man with your blog entry on Polanco, DK.

  153. Woomer says:

    Hahaha…you’re here too. You and Richard are always fighting on Smizik’s blog. I didn’t realize you were here too.

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