Site Updates

Site Updates: Can Pirates Prospects Survive While Covering a Losing Pirates Team?

Site Updates: Can Pirates Prospects Survive While Covering a Losing Pirates Team?

The 2017 Pirates season ended this past Sunday, and we started our recaps this week, focusing primarily on payroll. That’s an unavoidable topic in this city, in part because every Pirates’ discussion eventually revolves around payroll.

I know that can get annoying, and we try to avoid making every single discussion about payroll for that reason. But to totally ignore the reality of the payroll situation, especially when setting up a full offseason of discussion, would be to avoid the reality of this offseason.

Next week we will be starting with our season recaps. Those articles will take us through the end of October, around the point when the MLB playoffs will end, and the offseason will begin.

We don’t stop when the season stops. Right now we’ve got a schedule lined up with at least four stories planned out on almost every day of the offseason, leading up to October 27th. We will continue to have stories every day of the offseason, often multiple per day, beyond that date.

Every year we see a trend where monthly subscribers cancel their subscriptions at the end of the regular season, then re-join around Spring Training. This year we’ve seen a more disturbing trend in reaction to the Pirates losing. We’re not only seeing the normal monthly subscribers cancelling at the end of the season, but we’re seeing annual subscribers cancelling. I hear a few times a week from people who say they’re done with this team right now, or that they’re taking a break from the Pirates.

The weird thing about this is that I’ve covered this team since 2009. The site grew a tremendous amount from 2009-2012, enough to make this a full-time job for me, with the ability to pay other writers. But the feeling among Pirates fans right now seems worse than it was during those losing years. That shows up in the attendance for the Pirates as well, with this year being lower than any year dating back to 2011.

There have been challenges every step of the way with this site. How can I make it a full-time job? How can I keep it around with ad rates declining? The answer to the first one was hard work, daily articles, and the Prospect Guide. The answer to the second one was a subscription site.

But now might be the site’s biggest challenge of all. I’ve run this site when it was free and the team was losing. I’ve never run it as a subscription site with the team losing.

No one else has done this either. This isn’t a newspaper where they start focusing on the Steelers and Penguins in late July if the Pirates are losing. This is a niche subscription site about a baseball team and their entire system. When interest in that team is at an all-time low, there is no other place to turn.

The challenge now is literally finding a way to stay in business covering a losing team as a niche site. These days I’m honestly wondering if the site will make it beyond the 2018 season if the Pirates have another losing year. We can’t take the amount of cancellations that we saw in the final two months of the 2017 season, continuing throughout 2018.

We’re still practicing the core value that has always fueled this site — hard work and updates on every part of the system. But that hasn’t been enough to counter the total disgust that people seem to have for this team now, where they won’t even spend money on anything that relates to the Pirates, even if that money doesn’t go to the Pirates. It doesn’t really matter how hard we work, as it seems our ups and downs are tied to how the team does.

I know the Pirates will eventually win again, whether it’s 2018 or beyond. And I know that people will come back to the site to get the news they can’t get anywhere else when that happens.

What I don’t know is whether the site can survive waiting for the next time the Pirates have a good season. If you like our content, and like the amount of coverage we provide, but you will only follow if the Pirates are good, then there’s a chance we might not be around for you the next time the Pirates are winners.

You can help us out in many ways. The biggest way would be staying on as a subscriber if you like our coverage. Or signing up if you haven’t already.

We also offer gift subscriptions where you can purchase a subscription for your friends and family.

There’s the Pay It Forward program, where you can buy a subscription for teachers or students. We will be adding more professions to this program soon.

And of course we have the 2018 Prospect Guide up for pre-sales right now, with a limited quantity of paperback books, and an eBook that will have two updates during the offseason.

We’re also looking into adding sponsors on the site via direct sales (rather than ad networks with intrusive ads). So if you know anyone, or if you own a business yourself, e-mail tim@piratesprospects.com.

This will be a big test to see if a niche subscription site like this can survive while covering a losing team. The site has always been fueled by your support, and that support is more important than ever right now.

Upcoming Articles

We’ve got a few columns and recaps through the weekend. Next week we will begin our minor league recaps, along with our position recaps. The minor league recaps will look at the top ten prospects with each team, along with a report on each of those players. The position recaps will look at the big league club this past year, along with a look at the future to see what prospects can help in the short-term and long-term.

We’ll be starting with Center Field/Andrew McCutchen on Monday, and the GCL Pirates on Tuesday. I will also have a column to go with each of the recaps.

The Arizona Fall League starts on Tuesday, so look for John Dreker’s preview on Monday, followed by his daily game reports. The winter leagues will begin later in the week, and John will have a winter preview, along with a daily winter league report throughout the offseason.

  • beaverjp

    That’s why this is such a pivotal offseason. But seriously it’s my favorite pirate coverage unfortunately I’ve tended on the fringes of markets. Good luck.

    • I can only imagine the pressure the Pirates are under to make something happen. The ticket sales were worse this year than any year dating back to 2011.

      Think about that. The Pirates sold more tickets in 2012 — their 20th straight year of losing, ending with an epic collapse — than they did in a 75 win season, two years removed from a 98 win season.

      If they go with another No-Man’s Land approach, we might see some historic low ticket sales with the way things are going.

      • John W

        This is what the Pirates get for putting together an awful team. And whether one thinks it’s rational or not the Nicasio stupidity is just pushing away fans.

        Make no mistake, at the end of the day fans are staying away from the ballpark primarily because it’s been a very lousy product. But I said at the time and will say again stuff like the Nicasio nonsense costs them a lot more than 600K in goodwill/future business.

        • For me, it’s not even that they were bad, it was the lack of direction. If they decided they were going to blow it up completely, trade everyone, win 50 games for the next 3 seasons and build from the ground up like the Astros did, I’m in. If they decide to trade all of their prospects and go for it, and then end up mediocre, I am find with that too. It’s the middle ground and being content with mediocre that creates my apathy

          • John W

            I could not agree more. This not too hot, not too cold straddling bullshit is one of my biggest gripes with NH. Have some conviction and pick a damn lane.

            My fear is they put off the inevitable (which would be a pretty serious rebuild) because the TV contract is coming up and they make some lily livered attempt at going for it in 2018 which will ultimately set them further back.

          • Scott K

            What you call middle ground, Pirates brass would call patience. Unfortunately in today’s world, patience is out of favor.

            I think there is anger towards management due primarily to the unceremoniously dumping of local boy, Walker, after a historic season. Bringing him back may be the recipe to begin the process of rebuilding trust with the fan base, and save Tim’s business.

            • John W

              It’s so much more than that Scott. If Niese was actually a solid #3 as they told people he would be the vast majority of that anger would have dissipated quickly.

              But that is just a drop in the bucket as far as the inane things NH has done over the last 2 years.

              • Scott K

                It may be a drop in the bucket to you and other knowledgeable fans, but it is certainly the face of the franchise downturn.

              • NorCal Buc

                Acquire Rivero and Hearn for a washed up Melancon? Dump Liriano and his exorbitant salary? Find future starters in Williams and Brault? Nicasio was let go six weeks +/-early, before he left as a FA.

                • John W

                  What’s not to like!? The man built a 70 win team according to Baseruns. Throw in a full year of Kang and Marte and maybe it’s 76 or 77 wins from a true talent perspective.

                  Obviously you’re right and I’m wrong because they rewarded such excellence with 4 more years.

                  • piraddict

                    You are just overly pessimistic John. As for attendance it was obvious the season was over after Marte’s suspension, Lang’s deserved exclusion and Cutch’s poor first two months. None of those three factors were within management control.

            • NorCal Buc

              Walker’s performance for his salary is not a logical expenditure for this team

              • Joseph D

                What about Ryan Vogelsong? What about not upgrading from Jeff Locke? Cole Figueroa on the bench? John Jaso and Morse as your 1st basemen. That’s how you push past the Cubs after coming up short with 98 wins in 2015?Embarrassing. This ownership group are clowns.

          • Joseph D

            They don’t draft well enough to take that route either!

      • EWS34

        My wish is that attendance drops below 1m mark this year. Maybe that will get BN’s attention. With the TV contract up and naming rights to PNC Park now is the time to deficit spend. Do something aggressive like trade for Stanton. Trade Cole, Polanco and anyone in the minors but Tucker, Meadows and Keller. Fans are apathetic about the Pirates.

        • Robert Shaw

          How does San Antonio Pirates sound to you

          • EWS34

            Ain’t gonna happen. Even if it does I don’t live in Pittsburgh any longer.

      • NMR

        Except for the whole part about the recently-minted four-year extensions.

        Of all the folks that deserved a bit of security, it really sucks that you and your staff aren’t among them.

      • AttyMike

        You’d think they feel pressure but then the leaders who put them in the bind they are in now got 4 year extensions. That’s a real head scratcher. I think they’ve got a serious case of groupthink preventing them from grasping the reality of the situation.

        • John W

          I seriously wonder if they all live in an alternative reality or echo chamber?

          I’m sorry for Tim’s current issues, but what he is saying about lack of interest in the Pirates does not surprise me at all.

          This has been a slow bleed since the 2015 Wildcard game with a mixture of hubris, stupidity and tone deafness. Sure bad luck plays a part of it but if this FO want to blame their current dilemma on bad luck they have even greater problems that I realize.

          One couldn’t lay out a better/worse script for alienating fans than the one they have followed since the 2015 season. The Niese and Vogelsong, Morton decisions kicked things off.

          Initially, I think a lot of people trusted the FO as Tim said he did. They may have been skeptical but they gave the FO the benefit of the doubt based on their recent track record. But that is all over now. The FO and the Pirates are firmly in “prove it” mode as they have continued to have way too many missteps all they way up to the Nicasio move.

          • leowalter

            I was in agreement with you until you said “…. the Morton decision “. IMO, the PR problems had a lot more to do with letting Walker go and last Winters PR disaster surrounding McCutchen. Morton had little to do with anything. Doing nothing to bring in league average or better OF & Inf help prior to the deadline pretty much sealed the deal.

            • John W

              Regardless how you feel about Morton my material point is this all started with the “plan” in the 2015 offseason. That was just the start. From there… things just got considerably worse along the way. And you’re absolutely correct that the decision to not even attempt to do anything at the deadline this year pushed people away.

        • thecrow124

          I’m not sure it is groupthink……I think it is one person’s ideas, and a bunch of other people sitting around saying yes, sir.

      • John W

        Do you think the 2017 season was any less depressing than the 2012 season? I don’t.

        Neither 2012 or 2017 were good teams but at least the 2012 teams played periods of inspired baseball.

        This 2017 team managed to climb one game above 500 twice if I recall correctly. And the fact is they were considerably worse than their 75 wins according to Baseruns.

        This was a BAD and boring baseball team to watch.

        And the 2012 had a 25 year old Cutch coming off a 7 WAR season along with a highly touted farm system

        This team has…

        • rickmontgomery

          “Boring” is the right word for this season’s team. The only excitement all season was Cutch’s off the hook resurgence in July. Zzzzzzzz otherwise.

      • thecrow124

        I will believe this until proven wrong, working so hard to trade Cutch and then not trading for Quintana, when we kept hearing how close they were to doing so, absolutely demoralized the fan base. Actually Huntington looked like a complete buffoon all season. Everything he did and said was just pitiful. Trying to trade Cutch, then seeing what the Nats gave up for Adam Eaton. Not being able to trade for Quintana. Not being able to sign Serpico. Saying he had no idea Kang had 2 previous DUI’s in Korea. Ending with signing Hurdle to a 4 year extension when he has so obviously lost the team.

        Which bring me to my last point on the subject, if I never, ever have to hear Clint Hurdle give a post game pressers again, it will be too soon.

        • John W

          I think the evidence is clear NH has done plenty of stupid things to contribute to our current demise. But I don’t think Cutch and Eaton had similar value at the time Eaton was traded. I don’t think we were offered nearly as much as the Wsox were for Eaton.

          • thecrow124

            I don’t believe they did either, but the perception was that we almost traded Cutch to Washington, but at the last minute they swung a deal for Adam Eaton, whom I would guess until that point, 75% or more Pirates fans had never even heard of. Cutch, meanwhile, was coming off a bad year, but was only one year removed from being a top 10 MVP candidate. Perception being what it is, why couldn’t the Pirates have gotten the same thing for Cutch? Not my opinion, but the perception.

      • piraterican21

        They didn’t seize the opportunity when it was presented to them. I envy the way the Astros and Indians have added to their clubs. Add to that what seems like fail drafts, e.g. 2016 and prospects like meadows and Glasnow looking like bust. Count me in to the group that feels like jumping ship after loyally following for 38 years.

        • piraddict

          Neither Meadows or Glasnow are busts yet. If they are still playing the same two years from now then yes they are busts. Right now they are just slow developing.

  • Dirk H

    I hope you can make it as I really enjoy your site. Being in Illinois this is the best place for Pirate information. That being said, I too have a hard time following the Pirates after the 2015 season and nothing being done by the front office. I have mlb tv and watch about 150 games a year and it was hard this year to watch. If I’m away from the house I’ve got the atbat app. From Hurdle playing older guys with no future with the Bucs to constantly hearing about Searage being so great but can’t fix the pitching problems. Those are different topics. I hope your site is around a long time for all to enjoy. Thanks from the biggest Bucco fan in IL.

    • EWS34

      Second biggest. Lol

    • John W

      I used to watch probably well over 170 Pirates games including Spring Training. I also watch a lot of other teams on West Coast late at night on MLB TV or even divisional games which start later.

      The quality of Pirates baseball was so bad this year at certain points. It truly was a BAD product and difficult to watch.

      And for the first time in many, many years I’m not even thinking much about 2018 because it just looks so mediocre regardless which direction they choose.

      • piraddict

        I agree with you on the quality of the 2017 product. It was boring and awful in general. That is one consequence of a lack of power. When the offense rates as badly as it did the product won’t be entertaining. But 2018 likely won’t be like 2017.

        • NMR

          The 2017 Pirates are proof that more contact won’t necessarily equal a more entertaining product.

    • Travis P

      You may have gripes about Searage…but he’s probably one guy Pirates fans can leave alone. He’s never going to be perfect,and he never says he is, but he’s done a helluva job with not much MLB sustained success coming in.

  • TonyV

    Perhaps a way to diversify revenues by doing something in addition to piratesprospects? Writing for mlbtraderumors and/or one of their other sites? Covering another sport during the offseason?

    • That’s not really a good business practice. It’s essentially getting another job to pay for any losses on this job. It’s not just my salary that is paid here. It’s other writers, and it’s site expenses.

      If it came to that, I’d just get another job and be done here.

      • TonyV

        Tim, that is a choice obviously, but, with what you have invested to this point why throw it away if it is a shorter term issue? Many of us struggle for periods of our careers and do things to supplement income during the downtime. I have owned businesses and made that choice while weathering a storm. It has included taking other jobs as well as offering services other than the core service. Those businesses had rent, staff, licensing and more. Sounds like you dont believe in the long term viability. If that is the case, getting out is the right thing to do. If you believe it is short term with the recent losing seasons, find alternate revenue, cut staff and adjust.

        • I’ve had thoughts like you’re describing of ways to add outside sources of revenue when things are tight. I may or may not be doing that right now by purchasing rare beer releases in Florida, then selling them for double or triple their price. And I say “may or may not” because that may or may not be totally legal.

          I thought the original question was more geared toward finding revenue to pay for the site expenses, rather than paying for my own expenses. One issue with me taking other jobs and roles to pay for my own expenses is that it takes me away from the site, meaning we’d have more site expenses to make up for lost coverage.

      • piraddict

        The answer for you Tim, is increased market penetration, which means more effective sales and marketing to bring in revenue. Internet businesses aren’t my thing do I can’t offer specifics. Ask Chuck,your suscriber who has started a number of internet businesses. He may be willing to help. But attendance near 1,000,000 that means there are probably what, 250,000 hardcore Pirates fans out there. What fraction of those are suscribers. I don’t know, but I guess still a small fraction. A little more market penetration will cover your fixed costs.

  • tom2125

    That’s very surprising news to hear so many people canceling subscriptions. I know I didn’t watch as many games this year, but I checked this site and read articles every day. It’s a shame if that’s the case… This is by far the best coverage anyone can get for pirates news. Hopefully the pirates turn it around to keep this site around. I hardly comment, but I have been around since 2011.

    • It’s an insane amount. Almost a daily thing now. It wasn’t this way the first two years. In fact, I got an e-mail from someone cancelling while saying they like the site content right after typing that sentence about people cancelling while saying they like the site content.

      • Robert J

        How much of the cancellations is due to your taking a stand on #TakeAKnee ?

        • That’s a funny thing. The people who say they’re going to cancel in those cases are almost never subscribers. The biggest thing they feel they can say in that situation is “I’m going to cancel my membership.” But they don’t realize that I can see if they are actually a member.

          That’s not to say that there weren’t people who canceled. We had three or four people cancel over that. But we had about ten people show support the other way by purchasing gift subscriptions.

          One funny thing about the people cancelling: One person cancelled, and upon looking up his account, I realized there was a glitch that was giving him free access for life (due to a Paypal error). I would have never known about it if he didn’t tell me to cancel his account.

          But that kind of stuff isn’t going to make or break the site. And if it does, then I’m fine with it, as I don’t really want to be in a position where I can’t have a personal opinion on my personal social media accounts. The easy thing is to just unfollow that account if you don’t want to hear my personal thoughts (whether it’s #TakeaKnee, comic book movies, beer, etc).

          • sammykhalifa

            Well we definitely need more beer opinions.

            • Tim S

              Yes, sir!

          • TexasBall

            Tim, I’ve enjoyed your coverage from the beginning. In fact I ran into you at Pirates City one time pre-subscription days and made a cash donation. I recall you gave me your personal copy of the Prospect Guide that you had with you that day. It had some writing in it.
            The Pirates have managed to kill my passion for the team and that is dangerous from a business perspective for them and for collateral businesses. I’ve been a fan since 1966 and followed them religiously (even through the streak). I would get happy when they were winning and disappointed when they lost….and angry when the management didn’t really seem like they cared about winning. But the point is I cared, I watched the games, subscribed to everything I could about the Bucs (I follow them from Dallas, Texas).

            Finally something happened last year and I realized I just didn’t care anymore. I’m still a fan, but i don’t expect them to do what’s necessary to win. I don’t spend a lot of time or energy on them. That lasted for about a year and then when they had the salary dump with Nicasio, I realized I was paying a lot of money for subscriptions (TV, radio, online…) related to the Bucs that I wasn’t using and I cancelled everything. Everything but Pirates Prospects. I’ll stay with you as long as you put out this great product. I like reading about the minor league teams and I always enjoy your take on the Bucs. I hope you can hang in there.
            One last comment: I haven’t followed the TakeaKnee discussions on here if there even were any, but I don’t like to get politics with my sports coverage. Again I’ve never seen it here, but I didn’t cancel my DirectTV Football package specifically because of that. I saved a bundle.

            Good luck Tim and hang in there.

            • John W

              This. Mr. TexasBall is very representative of some of the fans I know. They are informed, diehard fans who I wouldn’t even describe as angry anymore. They are simply apathetic. And it’s largely because of the bridge year nonsense and many things which utlimately lead up to the Nicaso move(while meaning very little in actual baseball terms) was a final straw for a lot of them.

              • juniorkrz

                It’s a shame Bob Nutting, et. al. do not read this site. I think it is a good overview for how the fan base feels.

                • Scott K

                  I guarantee you Bob Nutting knows what’s going on. He just doesn’t provide knee jerk reactions to the fan base like some want.

                • dr dng

                  Can Tim answer this.
                  Is Bob Nutting a member?
                  Any other Pirates employees?
                  (with or without names)

                  • Not that I know of.

                    Yes, although I can’t give names, and don’t really know how many are subscribers.

                    • John W

                      So that’s why my resume keeps getting rejected at Federal Street :)

                      That was a joke for the literalists out there

              • I didn’t like the Nicasio move at all. The next day or two when Hudson threw the 8th inning, I liked it even less. I’m in Indiana (the state), so I’ve always been a long distance fan and I’ve grown apathetic towards this group. I love my bucs and I love the coverage here, but the way they conduct business, I see no way they’ll contend for anything.

                • John W

                  It was an incredibly stupid move on many levels. First of all, even at deadline I never agreed with Tim or those who said he had no trade value. That made no sense and the fact the Phillies were able to receive a 60 High prospect for a few weeks of Nicasio without playoff eligibility is all the proof you need he had some trade value.

                  But even though the Pirates weren’t going anywhere the PR fallout was going to cost them well more than 600K.

            • I know what you’re going through with the sports fandom. I was an Orioles fan until Ripken retired. Then I just followed small market teams like the Rays, Athletics, and Pirates. Now, I care more about individual players than any team. Something changed with the way I watched sports, and it was impossible to change it back.

              As for the TakeaKnee stuff, it was a discussion on my personal Twitter account. If you’re only looking for sports talk out of me, then you’re in the right place on this site.

          • juniorkrz

            You do have good taste in beer. :)

          • BigB2323

            Tim,

            You and I have disagreed on twitter and have almost compeltely different political views, but I didn’t think for a second about cancelling my subscription. The site is great source of information and my love of the Pirates will never waiver.

    • rphbuc

      I must be a really unique fan, I was shocked to hear about cancellations corresponding to seasons end. I look forward to PP more in the offseason than during the season. Arizona Fall League, Instructional League, January mini camp, winter leagues galore and the hot stove … Tim satisfies my appetite for baseball and educates me about the future Pirates at the same time which no other outlet does. When a season doesn’t prove successful it is easy to become frustrated or apathetic, but the offseason reinvigorates the optimism of what might be. I hope for the best for Tim and PP .. for his sake and mine.

  • roccofinute

    Tim, I have such pofound admiration for the work you and your guys do that I will stay with you and the site for as long as it is available

    • David N

      Also, some random thoughts:

      1. I’ve been a baseball guy and a Pirates fan since the days of The Rickey-dinks. You think this is bad?

      2. The Pirates’ current problems will not necessarily be fixed by Bob Nutting opening his wallet. There’s Baseball’s Business Model, which, imo, is too heavily influenced by Television’s Business Model; also, after years of being run for the benefit of the owners, and to a lesser extent, the fans, baseball, imo, is now being run for the benefit of broadcasters, their advertisers, the players and their agents. The interests and desires of the fans, and Pittsburgh/Allegheny County taxpayers, come pretty near the bottom of baseball’s priority list. Also, it matters little how much Bob Nutting is willing to pay the players if they don’t perform; get injured or get outperformed by their competition.

      3. Are you a Pirates Fan or a Frontrunner? You think $ 2.99 a month is too much to pay for year-round, in-depth coverage of The Pirates? Really? Tim is not responsible for the fact that Austin Meadows keeps pulling his hamstring or for any of the Pirate organization’s real deficiencies (and I’ve been as critical as anyone recently). He’s only the Messenger.

      4. If it comes to it, Tim, you can raise prices as far as I’m concerned. (But if you do, please send me information on how I can qualify for that free access for life account. You have my contact info, you can email me separately ; ))

      5. Whatever you do, Tim, don’t give up. Those of us who have been with you from the beginning will still be with you, for the reasons roccofinute outlined above.

  • hbpaint8

    They teased us into believing after 20 years of losing, but the reality of the ownership model is back laughing at us. Anyone else concluding that the 4 year deals to Hurdle and Huntington after multiple 2 year deals is a signal of another rebuild/“ salary dump”. That said, I will always remain interested in supporting the best source of Pirates information available. I am not happy about not being able to access current site info from my phone app! Am I alone, or is a fix coming?

      • 304Yinzer

        I am typically a Tim Williams-apologist, but I feel compelled to say something here.

        Tim, as loyal readers, we all know that the app is under-construction. I, too was wondering similarly to hbpaint8 if there were any updates on the progress of the new app, since on Sept. 8 you had “hoped for the next month or two” for a release.

        I have to imagine it took you more time to go find the link to this article than it would have taken to simply type a short update reply. The subscription software, site software, and theme all had to be updated.

        This is kind of the way that DK treated his subscribers, which ultimately led to me leaving his site. He treated us like trash and acted like he was smarter than everyone else (he’s not).

        Just because someone asks a question that you already answered in another article, doesn’t require the passive-aggressive response of posting a link and nothing more. Its so impersonal and in my experience is really poor customer service.

        Don’t treat your readers like they’re a bunch of illiterate idiots; your site publishes a lot of great content, but some of us have jobs, families, and other things going on in life and we don’t have time to read every letter of every article.

        You can’t pour your heart out about cancellations, but not be able to provide a simple status update on something as important as the portal to your site.

        I personally hope this PiratesProspects never goes away, because so much of the great PBC coverage out there is gone (R.I.P. WHYGAVS). Just don’t be such a turd.

        • tom2125

          the app question gets asked daily buddy… its been well documented that its under “construction”

          • Aaron L

            First, you’re not my buddy. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, second, you’re missing the point.

            Go eat a pierogi and let Tim defend himself.

            • tom2125

              Lol typical yinzer. This is why I can’t stand most people from Pittsburgh

        • You’re reading too much into this.

          When I posted that, I was in the passenger’s seat, riding over to Orlando to see my dad. The link to that article was actually just below the comment section. So I copied it and pasted it in my response.

          My response would have been everything in that article. I’m not trying to treat anyone poorly by pointing them to that article. It’s actually the opposite. I provided that link so that specific question didn’t go unanswered for a day or two.

      • Tim S

        This makes me happy!

        • Tim S

          The article itself has made me sad. Your price point might have to be increased.

          • Scott K

            I think Milton Friedman just rolled over in his grave.

  • gozurman1

    Tim, the good news for you, most people that subscribe to this site are fans that are interested in the whole organization and not just the the Major League team. I enjoy the sport and while it is a bummer when the big league team loses, it is not the end of my world. I enjoy them as long as they field a team that at least is in most games whether they win most games or not. It is fun to track players as they work their way through the minors and see which ones succeed, which ones fail, and most fun, the ones that are under the radar and suddenly surprise. Keep up the good work and people will continue to subscribe.

    • Phil W

      Well said gozerman1! Of course I’d like the Pirates to make the playoffs every year, but I don’t pay much attention to the MLB coverage on this site because I watch almost every game. I value the prospect coverage, the insights into the process the young kids go through to move through the system, tracking guys like Keller who give us hope of what might be some day, etc…. that’s the real value for me. The only thing that might make me cancel is the endless comments about the Nicasio release, which was a complete non-event.

  • David W

    I’ve been an annual subscriber since you moved to the subscription model – thanks for a great resource. If you had to do it, I’d stay a subscriber if you raised prices, since I don’t believe they have been increased at all since the start.

    Tangential thought: have you given any thought to expanding your scope? NL Central Prospects? Sister sites for other team’s Prospects with coverage for teams that have a solid geography overlap with the Pirates throughout the system? Your model is unique as far as I know, and if you can scale to cover more teams, you might protect yourself against the ups and downs of a single team’s fan base waxing and waning in enthusiasm. Tall order I know, but its something I’ve always been curious about asking you, Tim.

    Thanks and I hope Pirates Prospects continues strong!

    • Responded to something similar above. It just wouldn’t work, due to the costs of getting the site off the ground.

  • Micbg77

    Tim, This site is the best and most comprehensive one for not only the Pirates, but any team that I follow. I might be in the minority of Pirates fans in that I do not care about any of the other Pittsburgh sports teams, but the other teams I do follow do not have anywhere near the level of coverage you provide on this site. Not only that, but talking to fans of other MLB teams, I don’t think there is any other team that has the same type of coverage you provide.

    I’m only a monthly subscriber, but I will continue to remain one for as long as you are around. For me, $2.99 is a bargain for the amount of coverage that you provide.

  • John W

    I’m sorry to hear about the rise in cancellations. My personal opinion is that on top of the Pirates being a very lousy team at the MLB level there are 2 other problems.

    1. So many of the recent top prospects have a very modest impact(if not a negative impact) or have had very off years(Josh Bell and Glasnow at MLB level, Meadows/Newman)

    2. The farm system just isn’t nearly as good as it once was. This was rated the #1 farm system in baseball in 2014 and probably is middle of the pack these days.

    More than anything I think people are coming around to the fact that given this team’s payroll constraints it’s not realistic to expect a true talent 86-88 win team given the way NH drafts and develops young talent.

    It’s sad, but it’s very difficult to make a case that this team has anything more than a mediocre outlook for the foreseeable future.

    I would also add that the 4 year extensions were a real kick in the teeth. Fans are fickle, that’s always going to be true. But these recent extensions have really resulted in apathy and a sense of hopelessness among a lot of the more dedicated fans I know.

    • AttyMike

      I really enjoy the site and plan to stick around I feel more apathy toward the Pirates this year than ever. I agree with John that the 4 year extensions were tough to bear. The owner is just so out of touch with reality or doesn’t care. Why should I?

      • John W

        I never hold anybody’s political/philosophical opinions against them. The “Well Deserved” article did have my finger on the cancellation button though.

        Just kidding, I will continue to support the site.

    • Chris M

      Well said!

    • 1. I wrote about this above, but that kind of sucks for us. We were telling people that Bell’s defense was bad, and that Glasnow wasn’t ready. We also provide all of the detailed reports on Meadows and his injuries. So we put the story out there, and it sucks if people are unsubscribing as a result of it (not because we’re reporting something negative, but because there’s something negative to report in the first place).

      2. This is true, although your constant posts about it make the issue sound more extreme than it actually is. This isn’t the #1 system anymore. It’s middle of the pack, with a lot of high upside guys in the lower levels who could get it back to being a top system again. It’s a rebuilding system. That should work well for us, but that’s not the case.

  • TNBucs

    I guess I’m the opposite of most–I rely on this site even more when the Pirates are losing because this site is mostly about the future.

    • kellea01

      Me too.

  • I can’t provide any answers in the grand scheme of things but I can say you aren’t going to lose me. I also must admit I find this surprising because I’m having the exact opposite reaction.

    I don’t get too as many baseball games as I’d like to but every year I try to go to about 15-20 games a year (that’s majors and minors). As the Pirates are falling off I’m starting to give a bulk of that attention to the minor league cities near me (especially Altoona as it is the closest). I was even planning on purchasing MiLB TV next year something I haven’t done before.

    So in a way I’m “abandoning” the MLB team but I’m hunkering down with the minor leagues which makes your site even more crucial to me. So all I can say is good luck and I’ll be here with you likely until the end.

  • TNBucs

    It’s too bad that you can’t diversify into covering not only the Pirates but also the Brewers and Reds (covering the Cardinals or Cubs would be so distasteful that I can’t even suggest that). But out of the three low revenue teams in the NL Central, at least one is bound to be good and could help stabilize your revenue stream.

    • thecrow124

      I have actually contemplated doing something similar for the Brewers, I live near Milwaukee, but there really isn’t a market for it. Their fans only look to their minor leagues when there is an injury, trade or a struggling player at the major league level. So, unless I was covering Colorado Springs, it’s probably not something that would work.

      • That’s part of what makes this unique. There’s a market for this in Pittsburgh. I created this site only because there was a market for news, and no one else was covering it. Also because I was in position at the time to provide live reports.

    • I thought about that in the past. Creating prospect sites for all of the NL Central teams. The problem is that it took four years to turn this site into a full time job. I’d need a full time writer for each of those teams, and wouldn’t be able to pay that writer for at least a year or two.

      Plus, some teams just aren’t as interested in the farm system. I can’t imagine Cardinals fans care about breakout prospects in the rookie leagues as much as Pirates fans.

  • kirkv

    I’ve been following this site since 2009 and have subscribed since it became subscription. I’ll continue to read because it’s the best content out there by a wide, wide margin. But at the same time, you can’t take it personally when people stop following. I think a lot of the reason people followed early on was because we had a young core of studs (Cutch, Alvarez, Walker) and people really believed we were on the verge of becoming a winning team. For those of us that had been following for decades (or our whole lives) and only experienced misery, your coverage of prospects, which represented hope for a brighter future, was all we had to cling to as fans. The anticipation built, then they finally broke through and the diehard fans gobbled up all things Pirates while even more people became interested in reading up a little bit on their long forgotten baseball team. Now that they’re back to losing, the fairweathers are leaving again and the diehards have been satiated at least a little by the good seasons they had. It almost feels like a long-deserved rest to the vigilance we had to keep up in waiting for them to become good. Now that we waited out the storm AND enjoyed the nice weather, we can care a little bit less about this lull. I have faith the Pirates will win again soon (I would be surprised if they weren’t a winning team next year unless they do some offseason selling/rebuilding). It’s the nature of things that people will lose interest and won’t want to pay to read about a team that is consistently disappointing them. But if they don’t win in the short term, I really hope this site survives it, because I would have nowhere else to turn for such in depth coverage. It’s a bummer that the failures of the team put the burden on you and the PP staff to find creative solutions to keeping the site alive. Best of luck.

    • kirkv

      PS, if they DO have a total rebuild, I can imagine that being surprisingly good or at least ok for this site’s business: people will want to know about the new prospects and get coverage on the system that’s more future-oriented, as before. We don’t get that from other sources. What seems deadliest for this site and general interest in the team is this water-treading approach they’ve been displaying where the farm system slowly gets worse as the ML team fails to get any better..

  • NMR

    Wow. Genuinely surprised to hear the big club would impact a prospect site that much.

    I humbly suggest, however, that you may be missing some signal in your tweet exchange with the person commenting on lack of impact prospects. I spend entirely too much time reading about baseball – essentially I’m the tail-end demographic of your already-niche audience – but even I found myself reading the site far less this year and it has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of content. Doesn’t at all marginalize what you and your staff are doing. I just genuinely can’t muster interest in a bunch of guys who *might* be second division starters.

    I suppose there’s only so much you can do with the content you’re given.

    Maybe this platform works regardless of results in a bigger market by sheer volume of fans, but if it fails in Pittsburgh due to the big club it’ll fail anywhere due to the big club.

    • When I said he was marginalizing what we do, I meant the comment about an article focusing on one pitch.

      We do that, such as my breakdown of Tyler Glasnow’s changeup this year. And hell, that became the topic of every interview after that. I reported on Glasnow and Taillon having new changeups, and every interview after that had reporters cold asking pitchers if they had a new changeup. It got to the point where Hurdle got upset about the constant questions directed to him about whether this was a new approach (it wasn’t).

      At the same time, we report on much bigger things. We report on the lack of impact players at a given position, or the help that is coming at another spot. And we do report on the marginal prospects, since we report on everyone.

      The tough part is we can’t control how people perceive this. We’re doing our jobs writing about Wyatt Mathisen learning new positions during instructs. That’s a guy with future bench upside, and we’re reporting on something small that could allow him to reach that small upside.

      But then people try to blow that up into a bigger story than it is, and try to say that this is how the Pirates are trying to win. The reality is that it’s just a niche site providing extremely detailed reporting about a process that exists in many other organizations.

      Sometimes I feel it hurts that we’re so detailed, since we provide info that exists elsewhere. People read that info and assume we’re saying something totally different about how the Pirates are doing something unique or how this is a big story. If there were sites like this for other teams, people would see that this is just common stuff, not meant to be a big story, but meant to be due diligence on everyone in the system.

      • John W

        I’m not trying to be smart but I honestly think you are making this more complicated than it is. I think a lot of the interest in your site(not everyone but a meaningful amount) was built on people excited about the MLB club and the prospects were seen as building/supplementing something very good. And in 2013-15 it WAS very good regardless if they won a WS or not.

        Even in 2009-12 there was a sense that they were building towards something. Compare that to today where the face of the franchise is leaving, payroll is maxed out and the MLB product is objectively NOT GOOD.

        There are a lot of diehards(and I’m one of them) who want every detail they can get on every prospect. But I assume there are also a segment of other subscribers who lost interest when they come to the realization that it will be difficult(if not nearly impossible) for the Pirates to get back to where they once were in the foreseeable future.

  • TNBucs

    Oh, and I hate to say this but I’ll continue to subscribe even if you raise rates. For a price that’s cheaper than attending a single game I get interesting daily reading–you can’t beat that.

  • chethejet

    Can’t believe the cost is an issue. Really it is cheap and even as my disgust grew with the total lack of credibility of management especially at the top, It is peanuts to stay a subscriber.

  • John W

    Tim you seem surprised that people seem to be more pessimistic now than they were in 2009-12. I think part of the reason why is a lot of people are catching on to the fact this narrative about being perpetual contenders was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. I’m not saying it had malicious intent but it was built on this idea that that check is in the mail.

    The reality is the 2013-15 core was such a rare culmination of so many things going right for a small market team. Having a 7-8 WAR MVP is a lot of good fortune in and of itself. Striking gold with Liriano and Russ Martin. Basically having a 3 WAR 2b.

    They should have really appreciated how rare it is to have things like that come together and how quickly players either age/decline or simply get more expensive. But a lot of people desperately clung on to the Glasnows, Bells, Heredia, Hanson’s thinking that IF they did so 2016, 2017, 2018 could be just as good as the the 2013-15 era.

    And I think they are finally coming to understand that was all a pipe dream. Sure this team might luck into the 2nd Wildcard but that is far from the most likely outcome. Given our financial constraints and mediocre drafting/development our most likely road is NO Man’s Land. And to some, that is even more depressing than the deep depths of the Littlefield era.

    • genealley

      John, that’s the 2nd time you referred to Bell as a disappointment. I had assumed the first time was a typo. He was hyped as eventual high avg. with 15-20 HR possibly being the upside. He hit 26 or, likely top 3 ROY, he’s proven his competence at 1B, and its a certainty that the D will get better and that he’ll be consistently. 280+. In other words, the new face of the franchise. To compare with Heredia and Hanson boggles the mind.

      • John W

        Not sure why this should be shocking. Bwar says Josh Bell was worth 1.7 WAR. Fwar says .8 WAR. Even by the most generous measurement he was not an average 1b. 108 WRC+ is OK… it’s not face of the franchise sort of numbers or even close to it.

        If Josh Bell gets a lot better that is one thing. Right now he isn’t an average 1b.

      • John W

        The fact you are already hyping a guy who has a .334 OBP to go along with a 108 WRC+ as the face of this franchise tells one all they need to know about what sort of team the Pittsburgh Pirates are at this point in time.

        Josh Bell may turn out to be the face of the franchise(which to me would mean a 4-5 WAR 1b) someday

        But as of today he is nowhere near that level, not even close.

        • genealley

          You’re right that he’s a below avg. 1B based on WAR or OPS, and I plead guilty to over hyping. Considering what can happen with prospects, the hole that 1B has been for most of 25 years, and how starved for power they are, I am thrilled by his 1st year. For arbitrary comparison, Bell’s .800 OPS doesn’t look bad compared to Bonds’ first 2 years of .746 and .821. There was some talk that he would be a Mark Grace type with high average and 15-20 HRs. The power is there now, and considering his BA in the minors I’ll take the “over” on Bell and .821 in 2018.

          • John W

            But Gene there really is no comparison between Bonds and Bell. We can’t compare OPS from different eras without accounting for context. Bonds rookie year actually matched Bell’s WRC+ exactly at 108. But he was playing a premium defensive position and was worth over 3 WAR as rookie and 5 WAR his 2nd year.

            In 2017 a 799-800 OPS from a 1b isn’t that impressive.

            He is only a rookie and can get better. I’m simply saying this season was rather ordinary.

    • “I think part of the reason why is a lot of people are catching on to the fact this narrative about being perpetual contenders was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.”

      That’s extreme. I view it as difficult, but achievable, and something they didn’t achieve due to bad moves. Implying that there’s something shady going on here takes this to conspiracy theory levels. The real reason is simple: They had a chance to be annual contenders, and they couldn’t do it. Now we’ll see if they can get back there.

      • John W

        I explicitly stated there was no “malicious intent”. But the idea very much was dependent on the idea that the check was in the mail. I would argue their chance of being annual contenders is minimal with Cutch leaving(among a multitude of other problems).

        Their biggest failure has been the inability to draft/develop young talent at anything near an elite level.

  • ScottinMass

    I enjoy this site, always have, and as a yearly subscriber, I have no intention of cancelling. I enjoy baseball, and more specifically, I enjoy the Pirates, from MLB down to the GCL. As frustrated as I am with the direction this team is going, they are still my passion and will be forever. I am 51, so I have seen good and bad, but it’s not life and death to me, it’s baseball, and I will always watch and follow the Pirates.

  • joe s

    Hate to hear this. I for one, gave up on the major league team 15 or so years back but always was interested in the next Barry Bonds so I subscribed to the Sporting News and then Baseball America to follow Pirate prospects hoping that one day the team would return to glory. Now, it seems like people flee when the major league team doesn’t perform up to expectations. I am sticking around and I hope the site will as well. I cancelled the Sporting news when they stopped providing minor league stats and I also cancelled Baseball American because they changed their format by dropping minor league recaps of each team and minor league stats. I rely on this site to give me information on up and coming pirates prospects. I don’t always agree with what you say but it is wonderful to read and hope that the future will be brighter. Stay with it, things will turn around and I wish you much continued success.

  • Corey S

    This is discouraging to read- I get almost all of my Pirates coverage from here and Bucsdugout. I can’t imagine any site is doing what you guys do nearly as well. I’ll always have a soft spot for Huntington and Hurdle for 2013-15, but the last two years have been enormously frustrating. Which do you think would be better for PP: the major league club acquiring a marquee player, or a hot draft prospect unexpectedly dropping to the Bucs at pick 10 in next year’s draft?

    • The Pirates adding a marquee player.

      For some reason the interest in the draft and the lower levels has really dropped. There’s no narrative or reason that can explain this. When I was reporting on Mitch Keller’s breakout last year, it got very little traction compared to writing about Tyler Glasnow’s breakout in 2012-13. And Keller doesn’t even have the risk that Glasnow had.

      • John W

        I think what you’re missing (independent of Keller having higher floor than Glasnow) that when Glasnow was coming up in 2012-13 a lot of people still bought into this idea of perpetual contention and no windows. IN 2013 they saw a very good MLB team and dreamed that this could continue for many, many years with guys like Glasnow continuing to carry the torch.

        Whereas even though Mitch Keller is a very good(elite) prospect when they look at how mediocre the MLB team is they are aware that Keller approaching his ceiling still woudn’t be nearly enough help to make this team a legitimate contender.

        NH and many others really got people to buyinto this idea of being perpetual contender and that “windows” didn’t exist. Now as the roster grows older and more expensive people are realizing they were sold some swampland. Windows are real and one should never overstate how much of a headstart you have with a peak MVP such as Cutch earlier in his career

        I think you are making this more complicated than it needs to be. The most likely course for the Pirates for the foreseeable future is a team that approaches 500 and that simply isn’t very exciting for most fans.

  • Brian K

    Tim
    Love the site & the work you do. As a Pirate fan this is one of the best if not the best places to absorb Pirate information.

    I’m in the software subscription industry. Understanding renewal rates are key to our business model. The big difference between my industry and yours is that we provide mtx & support for software/services critical to business that has subscribed. It’s hard for customers to terminate unless they have a better alternative.

    Your site on the other hand provide information which may or may not be important to your consumer which can vary based on many variables. How each consumer evaluates whether or not it’s importance/value is up to them.

    What I can suggest is search out the KPI’s for on-line subscription models related to content driven sites. My company sells ONLY annual subscriptions, and our renewal retention/attrition is approximately 85% which is on-par good in our industry. I would guess in you industry the KPI for renewals is much lower on an annual basis due to nature of your industry and the unpredictability of your consumer.

    My suggestion to you and your business model would be to scrap the monthly option and only go with only annual subscriptions. Buck up! Your site is fantastic and the content you provide is 2nd to none. Stand behind it. My guess is most of the monthly subscribers would sign up annually and it would be harder for them to terminate based on a bad season etc. Don’t allow the option for “how” the pirates are doing to mix with the “value” you provide. Two completely different things!

    Love everything you produce….keep it up!!

    • thecrow124

      I always thought the 3 year subscription would be the death of the site, as it is a 1 time payment for 3 years. Didn’t realize the monthly plan would be such a problem.

      • The three year helped at first. I’ve thought about getting rid of that as well and making everything an annual plan, but from a business standpoint, it makes sense to guarantee the money.

        Someone signs up in April 2015, and they don’t renew until April 2018. They don’t have to make a decision in 2016 and 2017.

        Someone signs up annually in April 2015, and they have to decide again in 2016 and then in 2017 whether to renew. The team performance could provide a big impact in those decisions.

        The monthly subscriber has 36 individual decisions to make when it comes to renewals during this time period. A bad month or a bad transaction could lead to the end of their subscription.

    • I’ve thought about getting rid of the monthly option. It would avoid people cancelling due to a short-term decision. We’re getting close to a decision on that.

  • Nderdog

    It’s disappointing how many so-called fans are so quick to abandon the team. I really hope enough of us stick around to keep it worthwhile for you to keep the site going. It’s great information and I enjoy following the up and coming stars and the lower level teams.

  • justinblain1996

    Seriously the best coverage for Pirates related news. I’ll always be a Pirates fan through the struggles so I’ll be sticking around with my coverage plan

  • thecrow124

    I am not trying to tell you how to do your job, but have you ever thought of writing articles about things besides prospects? I read a lot of beer articles, and watch a lot of beer reviews on YouTube. I am just interested in it. I’m also not sure of the legal aspects, would you need to have an over 21 area for things like that? Anyway, just an idea.

    As for your site, it is very possible that the Pirates being bad and going full rebuild could be the best possible scenario for you.

    Personally, the one thing that bothers me about the articles on the site is the expectations I have for the prospects once they reach the upper levels/majors. I have read on here for 3 years about how great Glasnow could be, and how Meadows was the replacement for Cutch, and now it is the love affair the readers have with Tucker. I fully understand that all of this is my perspective, and I am fine with that. I am not cancelling my subscription, period, but if I were to, the Pirates being bad is just a silly reason IMO to do it. This is a site devoted to the players that are supposed to be the next wave of Pirates players, not the current, lethargic group.

    • Prospects are all about potential and their outcomes obviously fall along a scale of likely outcomes. Fans and writers are naturally going to focus on the 70th and above percentile outcomes. I mean would you really want most of the articles on this site to be about why so and so may never make it past A ball?

      • John W

        That’s very true- and exactly why they should have spent more of this prospect currency in 2013-15 to supplement what they had.

    • I don’t know if you mean on this site or elsewhere.

      I have thought about doing a side project discussing the Tampa craft beer scene, but I really don’t have time for that.

      As for the expectations on the individual players, I don’t know how to control that. Somehow the expectations get out of hand, even when we report otherwise.

      We’ve been reporting for two years that Glasnow isn’t ready, and there are serious issues with his control. It was crazy that there were people who subscribe to us for information who were telling us we were wrong on this.

      Jose Osuna is another one. We’ve said his upside is a bench player, and didn’t rate him as a top 30 prospect because we didn’t see a ton of future value due to his defense. We had one guy actually quit the site over this, and because we said Josh Bell would be better.

      I don’t try to control the expectations, but sometimes they totally ignore what we are writing.

  • juniorkrz

    Tim, I’m in for the long haul. I enjoy the in-depth coverage and conversations that you cannot get elsewhere. Best of luck.

  • Thomas H

    I’m sorry for your troubles, Tim. I really enjoy the content of your site and hope it does succeed. From a technical standpoint, I think your app/software could be substantially improved, however, at the time you went from a free site to a paid site, I thought your rates were too low given the quality of content and the practical difficulty of covering all the minor-league teams.

    As to the Pirates, however, it doesn’t surprise me a bit that season-ticket holder’s are leaving in droves. I have been a long time season ticket holder. When they were bad the ticket office was very easy to deal with and I thought they offered many fan-friendly deals and benefits to season-ticket holder’s. All of that went away when they started winning. Moreover, they raised ticket prices while at the same time they have sorely neglected the product on the field.

    The reality is is that for the past two off-season’s management made no moves to improve the quality of the product on the field. This past off-season they signed a relief pitcher who played bad the year before and re-signed a starting pitcher was becoming a free agent. They wanted to rely upon cheap and inexperienced players developing into better players. It bit them in the ass.

    Their payroll has never been higher than 25th out of 30 in baseball. Teams from similar markets spend more than them and seem more committed to winning. As a season ticket holder I have felt like I was getting ripped off dealing with them for two years. And I’m sure I’m not alone. If they don’t want to spend money on the team, why should anyone else?

    • John W

      You were clearly getting ripped off the last 2 years. Having to watch Niese, Vogelsong etc

      • Catch22

        Perhaps if Nutting would raise payroll you wouldn’t have to suffer with chumps like that.

  • Catch22

    I think people have went to BD and WTM does a fantastic job covering the farm. I know you guys have content that nobody else has, but BD is pretty close and it’s free.

    • John W

      I’d be willing to be traffic at other Pirates sites is down considerably as well regardless if it’s a subscription. Neal and Bob are the reasons interest in the Pirates is down so much.

      • Catch22

        More Bob than anything….Go poll 100 yinzers and I would bet a decent sum of money that 80 of the 100 would say Nutting is the problem…

        Spend Nutting – Win Nutting.

      • Wilbur Miller

        “I’d be willing to be traffic at other Pirates sites is down considerably as well regardless if it’s a subscription.”

        It is. We have commenters at BD who commented a lot in threads who are seldom present any more. Gamethread comment totals were way down late in the season. It’s not just the team losing, but the many fans who are convinced the FO is adrift without any coherent ideas, that makes people reluctant to read or post about the team. It’s just too hard to be optimistic. I have no trouble understanding it, because I pretty quickly got to where I hated writing recaps. I only kept doing it because I had a responsibility to do it.

    • The “free content elsewhere” is a problem. At the same time, if we went away, the amount of news and content that is originally unearthed here wouldn’t be around on the free sites.

      I don’t think our real impact would be seen until we went away. I think Wilbur does the best of all the free options, because he actually sees these players, and he shares our info for players he doesn’t see (I don’t understand why other free sites make stuff up, rather than just linking to our reports on players like Wilbur does). But if we went away, there would be a massive loss in information, and that would impact every free site as well.

  • Michael Sankovich

    just finished reading thru all the comments. Not really much to add that hasn’t already been written, but yeah, unfortunately the fortunes of this “collateral business” dependent on the actions of the ownership/management of the team. And they’ve failed badly these past few years. Because of that, I didn’t bother watching many games 2nd half of season, and weeks went by where I visited the site only 2 or 3 times a week. It happens.

    As mentioned by more than a few previous commenters, the 4 year extensions were like the final kick in the head from management to fans. I’ll stay a subscriber, but don’t have a lot of optimism about the club going forward.

  • Wolfharp

    As I have read here, the Pirates’ television contract is up for bids/renewal soon, so it would not surprise me if the ownership gambles a bit and goes a bit further next year to make a playoff run and improve TV ratings. When the team improves, your subscriptions and revenues will as well.
    When Huntington took over the team was mostly a hodgepodge of players acquired from other teams systems. Also, the minor league system was considered a mess. Aside from Cervelli, Freese, Jaso, Sean Rodriguez, Rivero, Brault, Harrison and Nova the major contributors on the team are home-grown talent and Harrison and Brault had significant time in the Pirates minor league system. The Pirates can easily put a starting 9 of players on the field who are legitimate big-leaguers who they developed in their system. If the minors are a bit thin at the top now it is because of all the players who have graduated to the biggies.
    Most of the championship teams around here have been built around good players having career years along with a few star players. Cutch, Bell, Marte, Taillon, Cole, Rivero and possibly Polanco have the capabilities or at least possibilities of being star players. Harrison, Mercer, Cervelli, Kuhl, Brault, Williams and Sean-rod are solid contributers. If Glasnow or Kingman come through and some of the rookies like Frazier, Diaz, Moroff or Osuna keep developing, the Pirates may have enough to make things interesting. One or two pieces here or there can make them a contender

  • kellea01

    Damn. This is not good news. If you close up, what will I read when I walk my cat? Not enough articles on the other sites. And if some of you think the Pirates are boring, you should try walking a cat.

  • rich

    I think the perception is also that the farm is not producing as well as it should. I think if some of the prospects break through it coul also help

    • John W

      It’s more than perception Rich. It’s clearly reality.

    • Even if that were completely true, it still sucks for us because it means our sales are dependent on how well the prospects perform, even if we report that some players aren’t going to perform as well as people hope.

      Look at the biggest example in the last two years. We have said constantly that Tyler Glasnow isn’t ready. We actually got criticized for that, because people who only looked at the stats felt he was ready. And now people are down on the system because of things like this, even though we reported it. So if that’s the case that people are unsubscribing from a news site due to prospect performance, then they’re unsubscribing from the place that was first telling them to expect some of these performances, and telling them why the poor performances were taking place.

      • NMR

        I mean, yeah, that’s pretty much it. And it’s not really that hard to understand.

        This is a “news” site, yes, but it’s an *entertainment* news site. The only reason people are going to follow is for their entertainment, and marginal/disappointing prospects aren’t very entertaining to the massive majority of even baseball fans.

        Don’t take it personally. Without a compelling story – such as a losing franchise coming under new management with practices not seen in Pittsburgh – or actual good prospects to report on, the content just isn’t gonna be there for some people to care about.

  • yuchang

    I think part of it is that every pirates fan knows that McCutchen is gone either this offseason or the next. No matter how much management tries to paint a good picture. It seems like the window is closing. We have the WS defending Cubs who have the money and the smarts to stay at the top for a long time. So at best the Pirates are fighting for is a wild card. And as you can see, even if you have a great season like the Brewers that isnt guaranteed. The other teams in our division are getting better. We don’t have any easy division games. Even the Reds gives us fits. Any competitive advantage with sabermetrics or defensive positioning is gone. I remember an article asking about what happens when a team has a massive payroll AND smart front offices, that is now coming true and our division is the perfect example of that . Finally the Pirates frankly got lucky getting Russell Martin and Liriano and AJ Burnett. But unfortunately they got unlucky as their prospects havent panned out except for Josh Bell. This combined with the suspension of Marte and the visa issues of Kang has brought the Pirates low and they don’t have the deep pockets to get out of that hole. That being said…ive subscribed for 2 years and I don’t plan on unsubscribing.

  • Lee Foo Young

    I went from Gung Ho about the Buc farmhands to Ho Hum.

    I changed from yearly to going month to month, because I was thinking about dropping P2. Additionally, the articles didn’t excite me like before. I wasn’t even sure that I was going to get the eBook.

    But, $2.50/mth isn’t much for me, so I may have to rethink my position. I’d hate to see Tim and John’s hard work go down the tube.

    • Travis P

      I went Jung Ho with it last winter personally

  • deacs

    I would say the site will be fine as long as you deliver content no one else does. But if that’s not the case I feel for you. I’m in as long as this goes. Keep fighting.

  • Nathan F

    You’ll always have my support Tim! You guys do an amazing job. I’m a Pirates (and I just plain love baseball!) Fan. That means whether we win or lose I’m here. You have the best content I’ve ever seen. I hope people realize what you have going on here! I can’t think about a day without reading a PP article! I hope things turn around!

  • Frank Koch

    I enjoy this site immensely. I too get very frustrated with the Pirates, but I always have that glimmer of hope that next year will be better. In my opinion following this site the past few years has made the offseason go by much quicker than it used to. Getting to read about baseball during the cold winter months for me is enjoyable. Good luck to you and all the staff at Pirate Prospects.

  • Travis P

    I shouldn’t have read this article, just didn’t sit well with me…
    I don’t think you need to use this false sense of transparency with your subscribers when all you really were doing by the end is just trying to upsell people already giving you money for your services rendered. To me, these pleas need to be to the people not currently reading your articles. I’ve seen my family business for over 28 yrs being run and you’re going to have highs and lows, but that’s business and capitalism. You find more avenues to infuse money into the engine, not just turn it off. Best of luck though.

    • David N

      A simple thank you to Tim and his staff for all their hard work would have sufficed.

      • Travis P

        I “thank them” with my subscription that I pay. I was unaware we could not disagree with a commentator or a piece that is written. If this was a free site, I’d have said nothing about someone wanting to find ways to get more money from their readers. But I applaud you using your right to disagree with me, whether it’s an attempt to dissuade someone from giving an opinion or not.

    • I’m not trying to upsell. The biggest thing I’m saying is that if you like the site, then continue to remain a subscriber. Because I’m hearing from so many people that they like the site, but they’re still unsubscribing. If that trend continues in the next year, then there won’t be a site to subscribe to when the Pirates become a good team again.

  • cabbo80

    I’ve been a businessman my whole life. Dont ever ask for a customer opinion on strategy when you are an entrepreneur from non-entrepreneurs. It’s like sitting by a drunk at a bar who knows everything. The only answers you will ever get are how they would do it if they had the stones to step out of their W-2 9-5 blanket of which they will never do. Only way I’m paying you more than minimum is if I’m buying stock to purchase part of your company (very doable) or my investment is guaranteed to keep what I want, the continuation of this site (that you cannot do). So, do what every businessman does, provide a great product, offer value for the money and try to be better than your competition and unique. That’s why I buy and that’s the only way to survive. You need to review every aspect of your business from a income/expenses/realistic projections point of view. If they don’t make sense go back to free offering your opinions and get a day job. This is solid tried tested advice. Bartender, get me and my buddy Tim another one.

    • Lee Foo Young

      While I agree with you somewhat, had I not known this info, I might’ve canceled my sub.

      I’m not gonna lose any sleep over $2.50/month.

      Now Netflix and Spotify on the other hand….lol. Whaddaya mean you’re raising it a buck!!!!! :(

    • Scott K

      Nice analogy!

      I would play devil’s advocate though. Being in the Membership business for large portion of my adult life, I can tell you seeking out advice in a targeted fashion from the customers you trust to give you we’ll reasoned feedback has proven to be beneficial.

  • Bill W

    I have owned and sold two businesses and now as I am about to embark on my second retirement effort I can only give you one piece of advice. If you truly love what you are doing you must fight and continue to fight for your business. Do not tell your customers about the problems with the content of your product. Your customers have their own problems. Do not write articles about our favorite players not being around next year or how we a $100 million dollar payroll is the best we can do. Write about positive trends, about if the payroll is increased how we will be a better team. Add levity to some of your stories. The recent trip to the PR was very heartwarming but I read about it in the Trib. Bring in guest writers. You have built something do not let a poor performance by the organization let you lose sight of your business. Focus on positive events.

    • The goal of the site is to provide objective coverage, whether that is positive or negative. If I ignore that Andrew McCutchen will most likely be gone after 2018, or write that the Pirates have a realistic chance to sign him, then I’m not achieving that goal. If I ignore that the Pirates top out around $100 M, and write that they will be spending more, then I’m ignoring reality.

      If it’s a negative story, but it’s objectively the truth, then I’m going to write about it, even if that turns people off to the team. Our job here is to report, and not to make people feel better about the organization.

  • Jason K

    i am debating on my renewal for next season. i check the site daily, but recently my iPhone app stopped working and that was my main access point. If access to the content via my phone is not an option then it pushes me towards not renewing.

  • Macchamp74

    When 2 headlines on Tim’s analysis say “tight budget” and “subtract before add”, that’s all you need to know why people lose interest

    • Lee Foo Young

      Mac…if you can afford 8 ski trips a year and continually buying me lunch when you come visit, you can afford the $2.50 to keep this site afloat.

      :) :) :)

  • Lennyk1029

    Tim, I’ve been reading since the site was bucco fans. Your content is top notch and no matter the shit storm that is the MLB product I still enjoy prospect coverage along with the MLB coverage. I personally would be ok with a 1 dollar increase in my monthly subscription, hell id be ok paying 5 dollars a month, I do believe your content is good enough to justify. I do know at least 1 person who is upset the app doesn’t work so I imagine that is a big issue for some, I personally use the mobile site so I have no issue. What ever happens I wish you luck. If I ever become rich I will bankroll your site. Best of luck, and I hope it all works out. I believe you have kids to support if I remember correctly and I know how stressful that can be when you have other lives depending on you. I love this site, and hope it will continue.

  • Bill G

    Tim — I’m going to address the question you raised — “How can PP survive”. 1) Try to publish the 2018 PP Guide at Christmas. I know it adds pressure to your staff, but you will beat MLB and Law and other sources who come out after the first of the year. You can always change along the way because of trades, cuts, etc., especially with the e-guide you have now. I think it’s more important to get it out early to push pre-sales and subscriptions. 2) Offer an incentive to current subscribers who refer new subscribers (perhaps game tickets or coupons for Dick’s, etc.) 3) Have live chats once or twice a week like MLBTR does — these are very popular and will lead to new subscriptions.
    Most of these don’t cost anything extra (coupons or tickets will) but all are steps that could lead to greater sales. I’m sure you’ve considered some of these ideas, but I really hope you’re able to survive.

    • dr dng

      I like the live chats idea once a week.

    • 1. We changed the Prospect Guide this year to an eBook version. There will be one release before Christmas, and another after Christmas. Going eBook made it possible to do this. I can finish the book on December 20th, for example, and it can be released that afternoon. With the print copy, I had to finish around December 10th, and then it was two weeks of stress and panic trying to get it shipped in time for Christmas.

      2. I’ve also thought about having a referral program, although we don’t really have the software to keep track of this to make it happen.

      3. We’ve done this in the past. I’d like to do it going forward. Lack of time is the biggest thing holding me back from this. I’d like to get back to it.

  • John W

    I could be wrong but I still sense Tim and some others don’t have a pulse on why the fanbase has revolted. Not saying you have to be in PIttsburgh to understand this , but I do think it gives one a sense of appreciation.

    I could be reading too much into it but I sense some surprise from Tim as if fans are overreacting or are even slightly unappreciative as to what this Front Office has accomplished. I often see Tim referencing how writers outside PIttsburgh think highly of this management team suggesting that is the more objective view.

    This misses the point that it’s not Joe Yinzer who wants NH to trade for Mike Trout that Neal and the FO has alienated that it needs to worry about. It’s many discerning and dedicated fans who have invested a lot of time and money in this team. It’s fans who are clearly cognizant of the realities and challenges with a small market team. It’s fans who HAD been NH’s biggest supporters. A lot of these people are fed up- and I would argue rightfully so. And the financial impact of their disgust will be felt in PNC attendance as well as TV ratings as long as NH’s straddling and patting himself on the back for allowing this team to “compete” continues.

    • juniorkrz

      The collapse of that 98-win team also falls on Nutting, IMO. I am only a fan and not an entrepreneur or business man, but I do not understand why this team’s ownership cannot raise payroll commensurate with teams in similar markets. In most instances, it seems like it is always $10-20M short when compared to teams in similar markets.

      • John W

        I understand where you’re coming from. Part of that is the stupid TV contract the FO signed. And their missteps over the last 2 seasons could not have been timed worse with a new TV contract coming up.

      • David N

        Because being at or near the bottom in major league payroll is part of ownership’s business model.

    • My feeling on the pulse:

      Fans are upset because they perceive an owner who won’t spend and won’t compete. They are fueled by a local media that goes over the top to be negative about the team, including finding ways to take cheap shots beyond the reasonable things to objectively be negative about. And then the other two pro sports teams are successful, so people turn their attention to those teams.

      My surprise is that people are actually more negative and less interested in the team now — two years removed from a 98 win season — than they were in 2012, when there was no sign of hope, and no recent history of success.

      It’s similar to what Travis Sawchik wrote in FanGraphs when he talked about how surprised he was that people jumped off the bandwagon so fast.

      • John W

        I’m not sure why you keep referencing the 98 wins in 2015 as if they are predictive or suggestive of something that is likely to happen again.

        A crude analogy would be a company that had great earning growth a few years ago but then suddenly had a steep decline in earnings. That stock is going to “priced” based on future expectations. Now if there is a legitmate reason to believe earnings will accelerate going forward you still eventually see stock appreciation.

        But future expectations are controlling, not past results(don’t want to get into the nuances of a growth vs value stock) but my point is future expectations of the Pirates should be built around projections such as ZIPS.

        And I would be willing to bet they come in somewhere between 79-81 wins in 2018 regardless what moves NH makes. And basically for the foreseeable future of the PIttsburgh Pirates is a middling team which needs to exceed it projections by 6-8 wins to luck into a 2nd WC. Possible, but quite far away from a 50th percentile outcome.

        And there is nothing to suggest that projection is changing anytime soon(hint: see farm system and cheap young talent on the way)

        Now if you can make an argument why it’s more than a tail end possibility to have a year like 2015 (or even 2013) again soon I think you would see much more excitement.

      • NMR

        “It’s similar to what Travis Sawchik wrote in FanGraphs…”

        Speaking of tone-deaf…

        • NMR

          More I think about it, this reference was incredibly telling.

          Sawchick made his career off Huntington, and in many ways so have you. It should be no surprise that there’s a disconnect between you two and the fanbase.

  • Scott K

    Tim, I appreciate your efforts on this site and plan to be a loyal subscriber as long as you’ll put up with me and my all too often abrasive comments to some of your other loyal subscribers.

    Looks like you and your team are spitballing ideas to help the business. Hopefully the gift subscription and teacher/student ideas will work.

    I would suggest during the off-season you conduct a regular pro/con article to illicit fan involvement. For example, extend Cutch vs trade Cutch, or keep Glasnow as a SP vs move him to bullpen. You and one of your team, take up opposite sides of argument with idea to generate fan involvement.

    Based on page views and commentator involvement, even make it a regularly scheduled weekly article with it being opened up to those outside the pay wall from time to time.

    Speaking for myself, the articles I enjoy the most are the one’s that generate the most fan interaction.

    Whatever you do to ensure your future success, best wishes for success to be achieved.

  • Mike G

    The playoffs are on and I don’t watch a bit of it. Why? Because the Bucs are out of it, and they’re my team. I’m 55, and have been a Pirate fan since I could walk. I was in State College when Blass and company won game 7 in ’71 and remember everyone coming out of the dorms and celebrating, and cars honking horns. ’79 was still one of the best World Series I’ve ever seen, and Sid Bream broke my heart and the hearts of everyone in the L-N-L lounge in Monaca. But we came back the next year and every year since. Pissing and moaning about the Bucs unites everyone in the tri-state area and has done so since the Pirates started playing ball. Tim’s site is the best of its kind, bar none. I’ll keep paying until he closes up the shop.

  • Chuck C

    Tim, It never cross my mind to quit my subscription because the Pirates are not winning. You give far more information than any other service on a sports franchise.
    I emailed you about my account renewal and going to the E-book. My three year subscription is up and I would like to know how to change it to E-Book.

  • taylor26554

    Tim I have been a fan since 1971 and have stayed loyal to the Pirates through good times and bad. It’s a shame that there is such a huge disparity in team salaries throughout baseball. That a team that has one of the lowest team salaries has to decide which of our players who in most cases makes $10 or less a year that we need to get rid of.
    That said I truly appreciate the work that you do on this site. It used to be after the Pirates season has ended, unless there was a trade. You would not hear any Pirates news at all. Thank you for changing that. And you will find me as a loyal customer as long as your site exists.

  • jason d

    As a semi- knowledgeable Pirates’ fan I understand the importance of a strong minor league systems in the small market system. I believe this is the best place to find info on the future. I am excited about The future because I was able to follow all the prospects’ progressions on this site. I am a proud subscriber that plugs this site regularly and look forward to subscribing for years to come. I can’t wait to buy the prospect guide, an invaluable resource, I prefer the soft back, but love the ebooks update capabilities. I wish continued success to the best bucco coverage around.

  • Chris M

    Tim,

    I have really enjoyed the site for many years. I can say I am the last of my pirate fan friends that still watched the games and supported them. Unfortunately that ended this year. I watched only a handful of games and only went to one game and was a prior season ticket holder. It is just the accumulation of so many things that caused me to get fed up over so long. Plus NHs comments that fans do not show up is the reason for payroll. It just became to many slaps in the face and a shame on me issue. With that being said I am still here because I do enjoy the prospect coverage and seeing a guy progress from draft to bigs. My one gripe with the site is your fairly consistent pro pirate feel to so many of the awful moves the pirates have done almost to an apologetic point. I assume based on this article that you assumed if you were harsh towards some of those things that you would lose readers, but I’m thinking that it may have pushed some already frustrated readers a way. Either way I love the prospect coverage but hope that maybe when the bucs do something stupid again and we know they will, that you call them out more. I know a handful of former subscribers say they left because some of the articles became so pro pirate no matter what that they felt it was like you were on their payroll.

    • John W

      It’s interesting. I’m curious if Tim and others who often share his viewpoint have changed their views in light of the last 2 years. In the article linked below going into 2015 you see Tim saying that NH and the Pirates track record had changed him from being “cautiously optimistic” to the “expectation that moves will work for them”. While I disagreed, this was a much more understandable perspective coming off the heels of the 2015 season.

      But in light of many of the stupid moves(many of which are the point of contention in the article) I’m curious if Tim and others still have an expectation of success with NH moves. I certainly do not. I am in it prove it mode and I think the burden of proof is clearly on NH and the Front Office to right this ship and right it soon.

      http://www.piratesprospects.com/2015/12/first-pitch-the-trust-the-pirates-have-earned-for-this-off-season.html

      • I stand by everything in that article. I said if they ended up making a bad move, I’d go back and criticize them. They didn’t add anyone better than Vogelsong, and I went back and criticized them.

        Also, at that point in time, the Pirates made so many moves that worked out, even when people complained about them at the time. People complained about Russell Martin, the Hanrahan trade, Edinson Volquez, Francisco Cervelli, and so on.

        My argument was that the Pirates deserved the benefit of the doubt. Let them fail and then criticize, rather than the usual approach of criticizing and then seeing what happens.

        Obviously that has changed in the last two years, with those moves being the start of that change.

        What sucks is that you don’t get credit for being critical of moves if you weren’t critical on day one. And you don’t get credit for moves working out if you’re called an apologist for defending them when they’re unpopular.

        I write that J.A. Happ or Ivan Nova are good sleeper pickups, and I’m an apologist. They work out, and I’m still an apologist. I write that Huntington deserves the benefit of the doubt in the 15-16 offseason. It doesn’t work out and I criticize him, but my original opinion of “wait and see” is the only thing that matters, and makes me an apologist.

        And it’s not like I approve of every move. I didn’t originally like the Russell Martin addition, and I was wrong there. I also don’t like the current direction they’re in at every trade deadline. Yet somehow, those don’t create a blip on the radar.

        For example, you’re bringing up an article from 2015 where I’m simply saying “wait and see what happens before evaluating”, and then ignoring every instance where I was critical in my evaluations, and every other example where I’ve been critical since. Yet you also continuously bring up how I thought the bullpen could be good this year, and ignore everything I’ve said about how the bullpen hasn’t been good.

        That’s an impossible situation for me to overcome.

        • John W

          A lot of people who had been openminded about previous moves (Happ, Volquez/Liriano) were relatively critical of the Niese/Vogelsong additions because they didn’t fit the pattern of previous moves which had worked out.

          Perhaps I’m wrong, but I read that article at the time to basically say “the PIrates have earned a lot of trust so I’m going to pretty much assume Niese/Vogie work out until proven otherwise”.

          Which is a fine opinion to have I suppose- but others were saying “look, from a process perspective these moves look dubious on their face for multiple reasons”

          Not everyone who disliked those moves were people who hated anything NH does. Many felt at the time those moves looked so bad from a process perspective that NH’s “track record” should not trump moves that seemed to have a minimal chance of working out.

          • My big question still remains:

            Why is it okay to criticize a move and then admit you were wrong when it works out, but not okay to think it could be a good move and criticize it if it ends up a bad move?

            • John W

              It’s certainly OK as far as I’m concerned. I wasn’t even saying your approach was necessarily wrong. I had a sincere curiosity as to whether you are still at the same point of trust as you were going into 2016? You said you had moved from cautiously optimistic in 2011 to more of a trust. Curious if you had moved back more towards cautiously optimistic as opposed to a higher level of trust.

              • I feel my articles have answered that, especially all of the ones saying they have no real direction right now.

    • “Plus NHs comments that fans do not show up is the reason for payroll.”

      The portrayal of these comments by the Pittsburgh media actually annoy me. Huntington never said anything like this. The Pirates have always laid out the following order:

      They need to win, and then fans will show up, and then they can spend more as a result.

      But every time they say this, the Pittsburgh media twists it to:

      The fans need to show up before we will spend.

      There’s enough to be upset about with the Pirates and their performance this year. No reason to create extra drama.

      “My one gripe with the site is your fairly consistent pro pirate feel to so many of the awful moves the pirates have done almost to an apologetic point. I assume based on this article that you assumed if you were harsh towards some of those things that you would lose readers, but I’m thinking that it may have pushed some already frustrated readers a way.”

      This is actually really frustrating. I don’t feel that I need to avoid being harsh toward the Pirates. Actually, in this town, that sells more. It’s a better business practice to be negative, and to find ways to be negative, as shown with the example above.

      I give my honest opinion. When I’m positive, I get called an apologist. When I’m negative, no one notices.

      I feel like this is almost a lost cause. I’ve said repeatedly that the 2015-16 offseason was a horrible one for the Pirates, and they needed a better starter than Vogelsong. I said that they’re stuck in no-man’s land this year at the deadline, and that they need to find a real direction.

      Yet I constantly get accused of defending their moves in 2015-16, or defending their inactivity during the deadline this year.

      It’s like there are two versions of me. There’s the character version that is made up, where you can apply any comment that I didn’t say and criticize me for it. Then there’s the real version that just gives honest opinions.

      I was positive about the Pirates prior to 2016 because there were reasons to be positive. I’ve been negative about them since, because there are reasons to be negative. I also don’t go over the top on smaller issues like Nicasio, because I focus on the bigger issues like the lack of direction with the team.

      I think the only way to avoid this perception is for me to step down as a writer, because I don’t think there’s anything I can say at this point to change the perception that I’m an apologist, or that I avoid saying anything negative. I’ve thought about that for the greater good of this site, and so that this reputation doesn’t bring down our other writers.

  • Joseph D

    You do a great job but honestly, the problem isn’t the losing…it is the fact that the Pirates CHOOSE to lose. Ryan Vogelsong in the rotation after 98 wins is CHOOSING to lose. Jon Neise is CHOOSING to lose. Nutting cares about nothing but money and doesn’t have a competitive bone in his body. I wish you the best and I will continue to support this site because I respect your work but this ownership group are clowns.

    • Vogelsong and Niese are examples to me of bad moves and a bad offseason. Those are moves by Huntington, and he has no incentive to choose to lose.

      Also, if Nutting cares about money, then he’d choose to win. We’ve seen the difference the last few years. You win, and you get over 2 million fans in attendance. You lose and you get under that amount.

      • Joseph D

        Looking to the future then, they should have no problem signing a third baseman to fill that need, paying Harrison what he is due and finding at least one back end veteran reliever.
        I completely agree that spending like a drunken sailor does not equal wins and that is why I appreciate your nuanced approach to reporting Tim, but at some point NOT spending does equal losing.
        (Totally hypothetical but) If the Pirates have an opportunity to upgrade through trade at second base this offseason, they should have no problem paying J Hay 15 mil to be one of the best bench guys in the league if they want to win. That is what a winning club would do. Unfortunately, I’m reading that S Rod and Frazier may start the year splitting time at second. Those are two bench players (S Rod probably shouldn’t even be on the roster) and they’re going to be splitting time because J Hay got too expensive. Instead of upgrading, they are content to save money.
        I understand that I created a straw man there but whoever plays second base next year will be a real indicator, as will the bullpen and third.

  • OTDLOT18

    Tim, I really do value your insights and reporting, however, you are not listening to the hard core fans. We (collectively) are tired of the “small market narrative”. It amazes me how Nutting’s narrative pervades every reporter in the Pittsburgh market. Find the smoking gun, use investigative journalism, crack his inner circle – it can be done. The reason why interest in this team is only going to continue to crumble is because of one person: Robert Nutting and the problem with Robert Nutting is that he focuses far too much on the ‘little picture’. There is no “hope” anymore with the peeps i talk to….they don’t even want to be bothered with speaking about the pirates. Watching the playoffs this year has been truly an eye opening experience of just how far we really are from a championship caliber team. Every team playing right now has several more home-grown impact players than the pirates do – so what now? If the pirates cannot even win that competition, why watch them at all?

    • I try not to listen to any fans and only report the facts.

      The fact is that Pittsburgh is a small market. MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement defines them in this manner, and gives them compensation in the form of extra draft picks and the biggest international budgets each year.

      I give credit to the idea that Nutting could spend a bit more. But even with that, you have a massive gap between what Nutting might be able to spend, and what big market teams are actually spending. Even if you fix the problem with Nutting, you’ve still got the much bigger problem of MLB having a huge gap between what big markets can spend and what small markets can spend.

      • John W

        The real material point in a great post by OTDLOT is this as far I’m concerned:

        “Watching the playoffs this year has been truly an eye opening experience of just how far we really are from a championship caliber team. Every team playing right now has several more home-grown impact players than the pirates do – so what now? If the pirates cannot even win that competition, why watch them at all?”

        A small market team must excel as far as drafting and developing young talent and fewer and fewer people are buying this narrative that the Pirates are above average, let alone elite in this area.

        Too many large market teams not only have more money to spend, they are better at identifying and acquiring incredibly cheap young talent.

  • Bill C

    I thought this was a WC team but didn’t expect zeroes from:
    1 – Kang
    2 – Marte
    3 – Glasnow
    4 – Watson, Hudson & painful bullpen
    5 – Polanco
    It wasn’t a failed front office strategy this year IMO. But they need to better understand fan politics and how moves like Nicasio will be greeted with disgust by an antsy & demoralized fan base

  • Long time subscriber here. I’m going nowhere. Great work, Tim and staff.

  • Sorry for the delayed responses guys. My dad had surgery this weekend (he’s doing fine), so I was over visiting him almost immediately after posting this article. Going through the responses now.

    • John W

      I’m sorry to hear about your father but glad that it sounds things went as well as could have been expected.

  • Brian Z

    I’m just an optimistic person, so I like knowing what’s coming in the pipeline as it gives me some hope for the future. This is the only place where I can get that information. I can make my own assessments on the MLB club as I watch that team play 4-5 games/week (and it’s pretty poor right now). I’ll be here reading about hope

  • docdon385

    Tim, I’ve enjoyed and appreciated your reporting for a long time and have been a yearly subscriber since you changed to a paid sight. I just ordered the Prospect Guide for the first time and hope you’re able to keep doing what you clearly love to do and in my opinion do very well. Watching the Pirates this year has been down right painful at times and reading your articles helps to maintain some optimism about the future. Sometimes I think the Pirates should be paying you for keeping fans interested and engaged with the team throughout the year, but being an employee of the team could limit your objectivity I suppose. Good luck and I hope to be able to continue following Pirates Prospects for a long time.

  • I don’t envy your position.

    Wife and I are not renewing our 20-game plan for 2018. We passed on 6-7 games this year, selling our tix for less than full price on StubHub. Couple games we got nothing.

    We may still go to a few games, good tickets will be available for sure. It’s just not a fun team to watch, now with no star power, and more importantly, no intent from the FO to add any.

    Over the past decade, we made a point of going to the first games of many top prospects: Cutch, Marte, Cole, Pedro, Taillon. There’s not anyone in the system I’d go out of my way to pay to watch if they were promoted. Maybe Keller gets there, but I can’t think of anyone else.

    When people get excited over the prospect of bringing up Newman, you know it’s pretty bleak.

    • John W

      I know so many people such as yourself. Pirates are in big trouble as far as I’m concerned. I’d also add, they only have themselves to blame.

  • John W

    Although NH and the FO got extensions I really have to wonder if there is an attendance # that would push Nutting to move on from NH. One thing I think this FO miscalculated was how “appreciative” the fanbase would be for a team that “competes”. I think if you see a year better than 2017 but a team that wins 78-81 games you might see attendance dwindle below 1.8M. And if it gets close to 1.7M have to wonder if Nutting changes his tune.

  • candyfan

    I just ordered the 2018 GUIDE and have NO intention of canceling my annual subscription. This site is worth saving. Tim, you’re just going to have to find marketing solutions to keeping the doors open. They’re out there.

    As for the Pirates, Nutting and crew, yes, some bad luck this year (Polanco injuries, Kang and Marte no show, starting five inconsistent when they were supposed to be a strong point?) but some of the GAFFES are inexcusable, i.e. Nicasio, playing vets in favor of kids when the team was losing, etc. Let’s hope this farm system has some surprises for the major league team, otherwise the players down there look very very average overall. And the supposed good ones (Meadows, Glasnow, etc.) aren’t coming through!

    I attended some 20 Pirate minor league games this year at the top five levels and loved using my PROSPECTS GUIDE at every game!

  • candyfan

    On the other hand, let’s look at some positives for NH and crew this year (and they are few and far between) – 1. Rivero was a steal 2.development of Josh Bell 3. development of Brault 4. resigning of Nova 5. finally allowing Adam Frazier to show how he can play (they tried to stereotype him as they did initially with Neil Walker as a fill in player).

    The delights of 2015 seem a long loooooooong way off now. This front office and ownership needs to get off their duff and do some bold things, including spending some money. The St. Louis Cardinals remain the model, I believe. Similar market size, similar loyal fan base (which the Cardinals developed by putting winning teams on the field). Unless Nutting is willing to play more like the Cardinals, the Pirates are doomed to a penny pinching “Oh woe is our small market fate” future.

Site Updates

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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