Pittsburgh Pirates fans have been expecting Russell Martin to be gone at the end of the year. The catcher is having a career year at the plate, and over the last two years the appreciation for catcher defense has gone way up across the league, increasing his value. Complicating the matters further is the fact that the Pirates balked at giving A.J. Burnett more than $12 M last year, stating they didn’t want to exceed a certain percentage of their payroll.

The payroll percentage restriction could be out for Martin. Travis Sawchik of the Trib quotes Neal Huntington, who says that the Pirates are re-evaluating how they distribute payroll, and that they might exceed 18 percent in this case.

If that does happen, then it makes sense. The Pirates don’t have many other needs that would require a huge investment. They’ve shown the ability to find pitching talent without spending top dollar, which means they can go the value route for that position. They can’t do that anymore with Martin. They went the value route the last time, when they signed him, but that value has been discovered by everyone else.

It’s possible that Martin could get a massive deal in years, dollars, or both. That type of deal would price him out of the Pirates’ range, even if they were willing to go beyond the 18% figure. But let’s take a moment just to see what that 18% figure might be.

Currently the Pirates are spending $81.4 M this year, and 18% of that figure is $14.6 M. That’s about what the qualifying offer would be, assuming the Pirates start the 2015 season with a payroll that is similar or higher than where they will end up in 2014. That’s not out of the question, since this is exactly what they did from 2013 to 2014. I think Martin is going to cost at least $15 M per year, which is right around that 18% mark.

But what if Martin gets a Brian McCann type deal (5/$85 M, or $17 M per year)? That would certainly be exceeding the 18% mark. Would the Pirates be willing to pay that much for Martin, or commit that many years?

Personally, I don’t think the money should, or will be the biggest issue. The Pirates will have the money to spend on Martin, and they won’t need as much of that money for other expenses and additions. The years might be the bigger issue, as that is where the real risk lies. Spending $15 M on Martin doesn’t sound bad in 2015 or 2016, but it could be a horrible move beyond that as Martin gets older. However, this is a risk the Pirates have to take. They don’t have any other options to take over for their current starter, and we’ve seen just how valuable Martin is to the team.

Overall, I wouldn’t rule out the Pirates bringing Martin back. And that’s not just based on the recent comments. It also considers the fact that Martin is expected to get paid due to his now appreciated value, and the Pirates were one of the first teams to appreciate that value. I doubt the appreciation has gone away, based on what Martin has done the last two years.

Links and Notes

**Playoff Race Update: Pirates Lose, But Don’t Lose Any Ground

**Pirates Claim Pitcher Chaz Roe, Morton to Disabled List

**Cole Tucker and Mitch Keller Named to Baseball America’s GCL Top 20

**Morning Report: Comparing Last Year’s Group to This Year

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81 COMMENTS

  1. Russel Martin, Neil Walker, Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano and maybe more will likely not be with the Buccos for the 2015 season. Reason, Bob Nutting. Neal Huntington does Mr. Nuttings bidding. Mr. Nutting is not interested in fielding a competitive team or paying a players worth. Mr. Nutting is interested in his next real estate endeavor and keeping Seven Springs resort afloat. The record attendance at PNC Park assures both but pay the player? Hell, he won’t even give the maintenance staff at the ball park a raise!

  2. 79 Comments – WOW!
    Hot topic and very likely one that will keep all of us Pirate fans talking all winter. First order of business is to make the QO. My hope is Russ signs it and plays for one more year – there is an argument to made to him and his agents that he could REALLY increase his value by coming back to the Burgh and starting 130+ games and batting perhaps not .290+ but a solid .260+ with 15+ HRs. As much as Martin means to this team I do see a lot of risk in signing him to a ,multi year deal worth $50-$60M – I would feel better signing him long term after a solid 2015.

  3. Martin will sign with the Dodgers for sure for about 60 million for 3 years. How could he not go there when he would be catching the best pitcher and pitching staff in all of baseball…. I am really going to miss him, but who knows he could spend half the year on the DL with a bad hammy. As much as I like him I say move on. Hopefully he will have a lasting legacy by helping lead the team to the WS and maybe even winning it!

    • If you read down in the comments, the author discusses that the curve show in the article isn’t adjusted for survivor bias. Meaning, that it doesn’t take into account catchers that are moved out of the catching position because their knees are shot.

      Would you pay a starting first baseman the same as a starting catcher if their offensive numbers are similar? I wouldn’t.

  4. I think if nothing else, now that Neal has made it clear he’ll extend into uncomfortable budget territory, a QO is virtually assured as Plan B.

  5. May I just say this – Russell Martin has learned how to hit at PNC Park. Check out his home / road splits:

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/splits/_/id/6390/russell-martin

    Home: 60 for 175, .343 AVE, .939 OPS
    Away: 50 for 198, .253 AVE, .754 OPS

    How well would those numbers translate if Russ was picked up by the Dodgers? Russ’s career at Dodger Stadium:

    2006: .905 OPS
    2007: .759 OPS
    2008: .775 OPS
    2009: .703 OPS
    2010: .670 OPS

    For comparison A. J. Ellis had a .505 OPS at Dodger Stadium and a .635 OPS on the road. Think about that for a second. Figuring that Martin will be a .750 OPS guy next year on the road, if he’s playing for the Dodgers, his home OPS could be in the .650 range (net .700).

    The fall off in OPS is not limited on the Dodger team to Ellis. You can see similar drop offs in Gonzalez, Ramirez, Kemp, Gordon, Puig, and Van Slyke (.736 OPS at home, 1.073 OPS on the road WOWWW!!!).

    Does anyone really believe that the Dodgers who weren’t willing to pay big money for a 28 Year old Russ in 2009, are now going to pay big money for a 31 year old Russ this year?

    As for pitch framing and defense, how much of that do you need when you have two studs in Kershaw and Grenke?

    All that being said, if the Dodgers want Russ, they can easily out bid the Pirates. But, it is my impression that it would hurt the Pirates more than it would help the Dodgers.

  6. Since “WAR” does not mean much to me in Martins case because of the intangibles that accompany such a player. I would say the Pirates will make a very good offer to him, but I believe his agent is out to get the biggest buck for him that he can and even though the Pirates will throw big bucks at him, it won’t be enough, I also believe the Pirates think they won’t be able to throw enough at him either. I would love to see them sign Stewart next year as an insurance policy and start Sanchez, I believe Sanchez has the talent to be a top catcher, he just needs to play on a steady basis and not have to worry about making a bad throw and getting benched for it. I have seen Sanchez throw in ST and cut down some fast people, I don’t know why that changes when it counts.

  7. Tony Sanchez = Ryan Lavarnway. Two can’t-miss catching prospects who have missed and fallen out of favor by their respective teams. Maybe they’ll be traded for one another this offseason 😉

  8. Obviously it is much easier to sign Russell Martin, and commit dollars outside the comfort zone, than go find the next Russell Martin. Ideally a shorter term contract with high average annual value.

    Really no reason a qualifying offer shouldn’t be given, but I honestly think Martin is being overvalued. I’ve seen “normalization” of WAR per plate appearances citing him as one top five most valuable players in the NL. Additionally his value with the Pirates rest upon a career defensive year followed by a career offensive year, the Pirates should not being paying Martin based on his previous two seasons performance.

    • If the Pirates don’t sign him, there’s a good chance whoever gives Max Scherzer seven years will be the only thing keeping Martin from being the most overpaid free agent of the winter.

      Perfect storm of age, position, career year, and poor market.

      • Some team is going to give Victor Martinez a lot of money.

        Two things that work against Martin being severely overpaid, are one, much of his value is in defense, haven’t really seen teams pay for catcher defense. And if you are a big market team how much better is an elite catcher truly going to make high price ace level pitchers. I would think that an elite framer/defender would be more valuable on a staff of average pitchers, nothing to prove this.

        Second Martin’s offense is more tied to on base than power. Power still seems to get overpaid.

        And don’t misunderstand me Martin is very valuable, the overrated comment is probably more a reaction to the fatigue I have surrounding resign Martin discussions, than a comment on Martin’s actual value.

        • No need to qualify your comments with me. I appreciate a POV other than…I’ll just leave it at that.

          I also still fall on the low end of the estimates being thrown around. I thought the 3/$39 suggestion Charlie from BucsDugout wrote up for MLBTR was fair, but Martin has undeniable momentum right now and that can make a difference heading into negotiations. Wouldn’t necessarily surprise me if he signs a big number coming off a flashy post season, but I do generally think he’s being valued in Pittsburgh a lot more than elsewhere.

  9. Martin plays more than just catcher by the way! Why can’t he be in our plans for first base and third base? He also played shortstop for the Canadian national team. He’s more versatile than JayHay

  10. Catchers remind me of defencemen in the nhl, it takes most of them a little longer to hone their craft. The pirates have quite a few of the mlb equivelent to d- men in the minors, so with that said we can now tie russ into this. A deal for four years would be the best for the bucs, the first two years martin would start, the third year diaz,mcguire or whomever emerges would be the backup, year four russ would be the backup. ( if he declines,as most catchers into their thirties do) I think however martin is going to want and get a five year deal, the question is are the pirates willing to give him the extra year?

  11. If Martin is smart he will stay. His career has been resurrected in Pittsburgh and he sucked in NY and his last couple of years in LA. Comfortably is the key to his success and he should stick to what is working and not chase a few more dollars.

  12. how about 3/16 ,russ keeps himself in great shape and probably will age well, also they could ease him into playing some 1st base near the end of the contract. lets say 110 games catching and 15-20 games at first to try to keep from wearing down.

    • Funny how nobody who makes the “great shape” argument bothers to point out that Russ Martin is on pace to start the fewest games of his career due to a month-long stint on the DL.

      • And Molina missed 37 games, 13 more than Martin. Weiters has 1/4 of the ABs Martin does. Fact is, there aren’t many catchers who have 500+ ABs. Martin is 18th in game appearances and 11th in ABs, yet still has the 3rd highest WAR. You take that to the bank. Martin had a hamstring issue. So did Snider last year and Tabata the year before, guys that are both much younger than Martin (or in Tabby’s case, supposedly!).

          • I fail to see how, so please educate me.

            All I get from your arguments is that you’d rather see a significantly worse catcher play 140 games regardless of results because the ability to play almost everyday is your standard of success at the catcher position.

            Last year I believe only 9 catchers qualified for the batting crown (502 PA). Six of those had sub 3.0 WAR, four of those were sub 2.0.

            • “…All I get from your arguments is that you’d rather see a significantly worse catcher play 140 games regardless of results because the ability to play almost everyday is your standard of success at the catcher position.”

              Wow.

              Considering I literally said not one of those things, I’d start by taking a deep breath and reading what I actually wrote.

              • Net net, that is precisely what you’re saying. You’re assuming Martin will inevitably play a decreasing number of games (in your comments from a prior thread you have him at 70 games and a sub 2 WAR by 2018) despite evidence that good catchers of this generation can and do remain productive through age 35-36 (e.g. Posada, Pudge).

                Then you point out that the Dodgers are winning 91 games with AJ Ellis, overlooking that they have Kershaw/Grienke/Ryu and MVP runners-up at several positions.

                So yeah, IMO, that’s exactly what you’re saying.

                • Well your opinion is projecting your own fears for the sake of argument, considering the fact that I want Russell Martin resigned. Maybe start by asking the obvious question before making wild assumptions? Who am I kidding…this is the internet.

                • By the way, you’re talking to the wrong guy if you think I ever made any claims about the number of games Russ Martin may play in 2018, which is one of the more ridiculous guesses I could imagine anyone making.

                • The reason age is brought up in the first place during FA discussions is risk. Risk of a given player’s skill declining and body failing.

                  Pointing out that younger and/or healthy catchers also get hurt only underscores the fact that the position is inherently risky, on top of applying the age factor.

                  Also note that two examples in a sample much, much larger only counts as “good evidence” to someone who WANTS to believe it is.

  13. I think the big difference here is that there are no good options on the FA or Trade market if Martin is not retain. The “best” FA catcher would be Soto and maybe the only available trade would be Hundley of the Orioles. Are they real options? Here lies the real dilemma.

    • Unfortunately, those are the Pirates’ options, not the Dodgers’. They also have the option of signing Russell — which, for all intents and purposes, means we don’t.

  14. Sanchez should have been the backup this year as Martin’s understudy. If Martin leaves Sanchez will probably be the starter with Stewart as the backup/teacher. IF they can sign Russ, they can always trade him after the first couple years when his value will probably decrease and hopefully we have Diaz or McGuire ready to take over. Diaz could spend 2015 at AAA and 2016 working as Martin’s backup.

    • I don’t get the love for Sanchez. He STINKS. Can’t even get the ball back to the pitcher. I agree that Russ wont be back. too many teams with too much money. Take that money and use it to put together your rotation. Fix 1st base for a couple years. Approach Walker on a deal. Do something you have a chance of getting done, Martin is gone, I don’t like it either but that’s the way it’s going to play out. Make your best offer and see what happens. don’t fixate on it to the exclusion of other areas that need attention.

  15. If the NH says they are considering going to 18% or beyond, then I would have to believe that they will definitely QO Martin. What would they have to lose by hitting him with the QO? I found it telling that NH publicly stating they would consider going over 18%. By publicly stating they would consider going to 18%, before he hits FA they are negotiating against themselves. The Pirates will be lucky if they can get him for 4 years @ 15M/year with an option for a 5th.

  16. No matter what the Pirates offer, someone like the Cubs or Dodgers will offer more and he’ll take it. He is gone. So we better all enjoy these next few games, because they’ll be his last as a Pirate. Sigh.

    • The cubs are overall a good fit because they are a rich team with a low payroll.

      However, i’m assuming they’ll throw a lot of eggs in the pitching basket this offseason and hopefully don’t care much about Martin. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up with two of Lester, Scherzer, and Shields.

      Welington Castillo does still have some ceiling to reach as well.

      and the Dodgers… i guess the only thing that the Pirates have working for them here is that they let him go once before. We can only hope that being let go left a bad taste in Martin’s mouth.

  17. I just feel the Dodgers will be too desperate to sign him that they will always offer more than we are willing to. I’m loking forward to see what Tony Sanchez can do given regular playing time in the majors, assisted by a more experienced MLB veteran, be that Stewart or a new signing.
    The Pirates have a good squad now with more talented players coming through the ranks every season, so while losing Martin certainly won’t be nice it is not going to be the end of this franchise. He’s a very good player, but we have other players acting as faces of the franchise…

    • Agreed. I’ve heard all the numbers, but the one that trumps everything else for me is .180 — which is what AJ Ellis, the Dodgers’ catcher, came into Wednesday night’s game hitting. Obviously they’re going to look at upgrading that position this offseason, and why should they do so via trade when there’s a .290-hitting, Gold Glove-caliber replacement waiting for them in free agency? And all it takes to sign him is money, something they have an inexhaustible supply of.

      The Pirates should absolutely extend a qualifying even if they have no intention of ever paying that much because the Dodgers will outbid any amount they — or any other team — offer by at least $10 million.

      Sorry guys, but Russ is gone. Deal with it.

      • I agree with the logic here. But I think Russ is a candidate for regression to the mean with regards to his offensive performance this season. The season before free agency naturally sharpens a player’s concentration and performance, as the year after a big contract can lead a player to relax. I’ll be happy if the Pirates are able to sign Russ, but not devastated if he leaves. The Pirates should extend the QO as 15M / 2015 would be a great addition until Diaz is ready to step up in 2016. Sanchez could back up in 2015 and 2016 at 1B as well as catcher.

        • Russ could regress a helluva lot before he was as bad as Ellis or any of the other free agent possibilities. In any case, they can afford the risk.

          Again, it’s just literally a no-brainer. The Dodgers desperately need a catcher and Russ is by far the best one on the market at this particular moment. The Pirates could offer $20 million and the Dodgers would counter with $25 without batting an eye. It might be different if they had a MLB-ready catcher in the minors or something, but the top-rated receiver in their system is Kyle Farmer, who’s still only their 18th-best prospect and currently playing A-ball.

          They gotta sign Russ no matter what it takes, Simple as that.

          • Those poor Dodgers have only been able to win 91 games with AJ Ellis, who by the way was a 2-win player last year and a 3-win player the year before.

            Not only do they not HAVE to sign Martin, big players in the FA market don’t look year to year. You can bet every team with money knows exactly when young stars will hit free agency, and Matt Weiters just so happens to be on the list next winter.

            • We’re talking about the Dodgers here. Next year is next year. If they sign Russ and he sucks, they sign Weiters anyway. Why should the fact that they’ve already committed $100 million to Russ enter into their thinking?

              Who cares what AJ Ellis used to be? Even in his prime he wasn’t what Russ is now, but what difference does it make? If you’re the Pirates, you worry about wasting money on a new catcher when your old one might possibly rebound. If you’re the Dodgers, you just write the check and you’re covered either way.

            • AJ Ellis is 33, and he’s had only one good season, and he’s been, at best, replacement level this year. I can’t imagine the Dodgers being pateint and waiting for the possibilty of Wieters coming their way, especially if they don’t win it all this year. If the Dodgers don’t win the whole thing, you can bet that pticher-like triple-slash line of Ellis’ will receive a whole lot of scrutiny.

              • Dee Gordon was 26 and was literally worth more sitting on the bench than playing baseball over his brief Major League career and yet the Dodgers went into the season with him and a marginal Cuban player with zero experience in the States over signing Robinson Cano.

                The Dodgers absolutely may want Russ Martin. But acting like they have no limits is just false.

                • Gordon may not have seemed to you or me like he was ready for a full-time job, but the Dodger coaches obviously knew he had skills — and that confidence was borne out when he made the All-Star team.

                  That’s a far cry from where they currently stand at the catcher position, though. As I point out elsewhere in this thread, their only internal catching prospect is still in A ball and not scheduled to arrive in the Majors until 2017.

                  They clearly need to upgrade at that position and Russell makes perfect sense for them even if they want to make a play for Weiters — should be still be available — a year from now.

                    • I didn’t say they had all the confidence in the world in Gordon. I just said they knew he had talent, and apparently they were right. As for Arruebarrena, I guess they were wrong. Or maybe they were just hedging their bets. And maybe they were in on the bidding for Cano and we just didn’t know about it.

                      The point is, they could have outbid the Mariners for Cano if they’d wanted to, but they felt they had other options — whether internally or by signing a Latin free agent.

                      None of those options exist at catcher this year. If they want to upgrade at that position — and they almost certainly will — there is only one viable option. Russ.

                      The only alternative would be to trade away assets to get someone like Molina, but why would they do that when all it takes to get Russ is money, which means nothing to the Dodgers?

                • That’s true–but, if they have limits, are they going to want to spend $4-5 million in arbitration for a guy who put up the season he did? If Dee Gordon is seven years younger and three million dollars cheaper than Ellis–is not an exact comparison, not to mention the difference between Cano’s asking price and what Russ will get. It ain’t apples to apples.

                  • So on one hand the Dodgers have all the money in the world and can do whatever the want, but on the other hand AJ Ellis makes $3m than Dee Gordon so that comparison isn’t valid.

                    Just tell me what you want to hear and I’ll say it, man.

                    • I’m missing the part where I said the Dodgers had all the money in the world. Feel free to show me where I said that.
                      You conveniently cherry picked what I did say–there’s the difference between Gordon’ age and Ellis’ age and, especially given their respective postions, the difference is very significant. There’s also the difference between what Cano was seeking and what Martin will be seeking–that’s a big difference in term and dollars.
                      You may try hearing what I say before you worry about saying what I want to hear.

              • They also need to sign a shortstop and at least one – maybe two – starting pitchers this winter. I promise you that Pirate fans are far more certain that the Los Angeles Dodgers will sign Russ Martin than the Los Angeles Dodgers are.

  18. I’m just not optimistic. Some of this may be posturing on NH’s part just so the fans know that he tried valiantly to sign him.

    • That’s exactly what it is. The FO is already starting to brace themselves for the backlash that is going to ensue when he signs elsewhere and are already in damage control mode. Not that I necessarriy blame them. I believe they’ll make a strong offer for him, but the Cubs or Dodgers will top it is all.

  19. Can’t say you will make a QO until the season is over. That is assuming that they have started negotiations. If they have problems with years at a certain number front load the contract so the big year is next year then as he grows older the impact will be less on future payrolls. I am not that certain we can scrimp on pitching. It’s seems that we fix the guy and it takes a couple of months then we get three months of value then he goes.

  20. If Martin leaves, does Geovany Soto become the next catching target? Obviously, the injury and the pot arrest this year may scare the Pirates away from him. But, if you sign someone like Soto and spend a ton on FA pitching, it may soften the sting of losing Martin.

  21. The QO is the key to the whole situation. How many teams from 11-30 will give up a first round pick for a 31 year old catcher? The biggest problem is the Cubs who will have their first round pick protected. Losing Martin to the Cubs and not getting a first round pick would be the worst case scenario for the Pirates.

    The payroll does not have to stay at $82M. Ticket and sponsorship revenue should increase next year along with increased national TV dollars, $90M should be no problem.

    • If Martin declines the QO, the Pirates get a first round pick regardless of which team signs him – even if that team has one of the first 10 picks (i.e., the Cubs). The pick comes at the end of the first round.

    • A team like the Dodgers, who desperately need a catcher and have the $$$, will have no problem giving up a first round pick since it will be near the end of the round.

  22. Qualifying offer or not, a team like the Dodgers will always offer a million or two more than what the Pirates’ maximum offer will be, I’ve already made my peace with losing Martin. He wasn’t a signing everybody was happy about and now nobody wants him to leave. With the money saved on Martin we can sign an everyday experienced MLB catcher with Sanchez sharing the catching duties.
    Sanchez was supposed to develop into a very decent MLB catcher when we drafted him and he simply needs to play more games to see if he will make it.
    Sanchez knows how to work with pitchers, he’s had plenty of practice already in the minors, he already knows how to catch guys like Cole.
    The Pirates have enough in their locker to balance out losing Martin.
    Who knows ? They might even find the next Martin somewhere. We’ve become pretty good at turning struggling pitchers’ careers around, we might do it again with another catcher…

    • The Pirates can afford Martin. The years will be the determining factor. In that case, the team should front load the deal so if he implodes in say the third or fourth year of the deal the contract is not the big albatross it could be otherwise. I would try to limit the deal to three years, though.

    • “With the money saved on Martin we can sign an everyday experienced MLB catcher with Sanchez sharing the catching duties.”

      Sign who? If Martin leaves, every other GM will recognize the Pirates are desperate, so the trade market will be very costly in terms of prospects (or Polanco). As far as FAs go, it’s a sad list. Once you get past Martin, Chris Stewart has a higher 2014 WAR than everyone else on that crappy list.

      If Cubs get Martin, I think it’s doubtful they’ll deal Castillo within the division. Best case scenario is probably dealing with Tigers as Avila is a FA after 2015, so they might want to let him go, if they don’t re-sign all their pitching studs.

  23. I think we’ve quickly given up on Tony Sanchez as the successor to RM. Let’s offer Russ the QO, maybe a longer contract. What we had been saying all along is that TS needs every day playing time to work out his throwing mechanics. What he could really use is some quality time watching Russ do work. His bat can translate, it seems as though all but his throwing can translate to the bigs. Before Russ, all we had to watch was catchers not be able to perform, in any aspect. At the very least, TS can be a decent filler to Reese or Diaz, if Russ signs a deal elsewhere

    • I love Sanchez, but remember when he was drafted, scouts supposedly said he was defensively ready “right now” for the big leagues? What happened?

    • It seems it does not matter what we think of Sanchez, his lack of playing for the big team all year speaks volumes about what the Pirates think. His bat was ok last year, but if they had any faith at all in his defense he would be the backup now and they would have let Stewart go. He played all year in AAA and actually declined, unlike Lambo who kept getting better. Given his age, Sanchez should have been bashing AAA pitching, and he was not, which is another huge red flag. When Martin was hurt in April, they went 10-18 with Stewart and Sanchez, another red flag.

      I think they have to make a QO to Martin, and if they get blown out of the water by the Dodgers making a crazy offer to Martin and lose him anyway, they will probably just start Sanchez at first or maybe resign Stewart with an eye on making a deal during next season in May with the hope that Sanchez turns it around or at least gives them something so they won’t seem too desperate

  24. A QO should be given. An offer of 3 years, $48 million is probably at the edge of Neal’s comfort zone. Probably won’t be enough to retain Martin, but I wouldn’t want to commit more than 3 years unless they offer a team option for 1 or 2 seasons.

    • I think that offer makes all the sense in the world, but I doubt it will be enough; some GM is going to get on the express bus to Crazytown for Martin.

  25. All I have to say is enjoy watching him ply his trade donning the black P on his uniform for these last however many games, because it’s highly unlikely it will ever happen again.

    I hope I’m wrong (but I’m not).

  26. I would love to hear NH says “Of course we will make a qualifying offer for him!” It would be a good start.

    • It’s common to think that Martin is worth $15M per year, and for the next year or two I don’t disagree. But what will it take to sign NH to a long term contract? If you look at who is more responsible for the Pirates’ current success, Martin or NH, I think a strong argument can be made in NH’s favor. How many millions a year would it take to lock up NH, say for 10 years, and how much would Pirate’s fans be willing to spend of Bob Nutting and Partner’s money to accomplish that? I have got to think that given the turn around that the Pirates have accomplished under NH’s watch that they will be many MLB franchises knocking at his door. Who will be harder to replace, Martin, or NH?

      • Thank you for sharing your unbiased view, Mrs. Huntington! But, too bad your hubby wasn’t even better at his craft… He would have signed Russ earlier in the season, at a substantial discount to what he will now wind up getting, thus appeasing both Pirates fans and with still enough $ left over to give Neil a raise so you can build that dream house you’ve always wanted. But, if we must now choose just one or the other, I’ll take one of the best catchers in the game over that guy of yours who should have signed him to the long term contract in the first place. My best to Neil and the kids…

        • So everything else NH has done gets neutralized because he didn’t sign Martin earlier this year? Got it. Maybe NH’s crystal ball didn’t foretell of Martins offensive prowess over these last couple of months. The Pirates are always looking to hire Monday-morning quarterbacks like you. Of course the pay isn’t good, but the view is great.

        • Sounds like you hold NH in contempt. Too bad for you. He has done a very creditable job in resurrecting the Pirates, and most people, even the local sports writers, are willing to recognize that. Earlier in the season Russ was hurt, and in mid season he was quoted as saying he wasn’t interested in signing an extension, preferring to listen to what the FA market has to say, which is his right. It takes two to tango.

          Should NH be signed elsewhere at the end of his contract, and his replacement turns out to be the next Dave Littlefield, all Pirate’s fans will great losing what they had.

          The closest I have ever been to Neil Huntington is the 12 feet between my easy chair and my flat screen TV. But I recognize talent when I see it. To bad you are blind to it.

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