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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Nutting: Access to Talent is the Most Important Thing For the Pirates in the CBA

BRADENTON, Fl. – Today at Pirate City, Pirates Owner Bob Nutting had his annual meeting to address the team and the coaches, discussing the last three years and the thoughts on the upcoming season.

“This is one of my favorite days of the year to be able to come down and address the whole team and the coaching staff,” Nutting said. “What I had a chance to talk to them about this year was just my appreciation for all they’ve done to put this organization in such a strong position for what they’ve accomplished over the past three years. To say thank you, and to express my belief and commitment to provide the resources and the tools to continue the run these players are on.”

After the meeting, Nutting met with the media, and a lot of the questions and answers revolved around access to talent for the Pirates, and how important that is to maintain competitive balance going forward.

“I think the most important piece for the Pirates has really been access to talent, almost more than anything else,” Nutting said in regards to what he brought up at the owner’s meetings this off-season. “As we look for the reasons we’ve been able to be competitive is we have a commitment for the past many years to infuse talent into the organization every way we can. Whether it’s the international or amateur draft. To be able to bring in young, very talented players, run them through our excellent development system, to be able to produce players who can have an impact at the Major League level.”

There have actually been limitations to their ability to access talent. Prior to the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Pirates spent the most money of any team in the draft from 2008-2011. They were also spending money on the international side, with a $3 M budget each year, along with special expenses aside from that budget like Luis Heredia ($3 M in 2010) and Harold Ramirez ($1.05 M in 2011).

The last CBA changed the way the draft and international processes worked. They put severe restrictions on spending for amateur talent, with costly penalties in taxes, draft picks, and the ability to sign international talent if you spend over a certain amount. And as the Pirates have gotten better in the standings, their budget amounts in the draft and international markets have gone down. This year they have the 18th biggest draft bonus pool, and have just over $2 M to spend on the international market.

The draft pool is just under $7 M for 2016. From 2008-2011, their lowest total in any year was $8,919,000. The $2 M international total is a million dollars short of where they usually stood, and that doesn’t count the big expenses, which are almost impossible to make now if you want to stay under the cap and sign a lot of players. As for the million dollar difference, just how important is that for the Pirates? Pretty huge when you consider that Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Alen Hanson, Elias Diaz, and 2015 breakout prospect Yeudy Garcia were signed for a combined total of just $375,000. Add in upper level top 50 prospects Willy Garcia and Jose Osuna, who combined for $560,000, and you still don’t top the $1 M mark.

“That’s been a significant change for us, because the tools that we had to access talent, whether it was deeper high talent, positions slotted lower in the draft, or just simply drafting higher,” Nutting said on the CBA changes. “We hope not to draft higher again anytime soon. So certainly active discussions, given that landscape, where do we go out and look for talent? I think Jung-ho was a good example last year. That’s not a place we were looking five years ago, but I just give all the credit in the world to Neal and his team as they look for those inefficiencies and to opportunistically take advantage of them. My expectation is, that’s going to change from year to year, and we need to be smart enough, nimble enough, and flexible enough to recognize what worked six years ago may not work last year, and certainly won’t work three years from now. The constant dynamic process of change makes it hard, but that’s where I think we have a real advantage.”

Nutting didn’t discuss any specific talks that are ongoing in regards to the upcoming CBA, and danced around a question as to whether the draft and international rules could be adjusted. In regards to losing access to talent when the new CBA comes around, he reiterated how important access to talent was for the Pirates.

“There are no specifics that I’m worried about, or would even be appropriate to discuss,” Nutting said. “Access to talent is the most important piece of competitive balance for us as we move forward.”

Losing the Other Type of Talent

Losing the ability to draft and sign guys who were never in your organization is one thing. Losing guys who were in your system and played a key role in your success is another.

The Pirates have done a great job the last few years of finding advantages where other people aren’t looking or aren’t investing as heavily — whether this is the draft spending, defensive shifts, catcher pitch framing, the Korean market, or the ability to reclaim pitchers and turn them into the best versions of themselves.

“The organization has really focused on exploiting the inefficiencies of the game,” Nutting said. “Whether that’s part of talent acquisition, or whether that’s playing the game more effectively. Using data or analytics more effectively. Frankly, building a cohesive group so you have an on-field coaching staff who is embracing input from multiple directions. I think the most important thing that Neal has been able to do is create this cohesive and inclusive culture where the various parts of the organization not only respect each other, but work together toward a single goal of performance on the field.”

This success by the Pirates attracted a lot of attention this off-season. The Marlins hired away Marc DelPiano and Jim Benedict, who both played key roles in the signing of big free agents, and in Benedict’s case, reviving the careers of a lot of pitchers. There were other coaches and executives who were up for jobs, including Pirates third base and outfield coach Rick Sofield, and Indianapolis pitching coach Stan Kyles. And as the Pirates continue to have success, you can expect more organizations raiding their coaching and executive talent. They will need to find a way to replace that talent when that happens.

“We’re always going to have, in the coaching staff, in the leadership group, a certain amount of dynamic turnover,” Nutting said. “I think that’s healthy. Just as we’re going to see it on the field. Organizations change, players change, roles change. And to be able to have built an organization that has been targeted by so many other really good clubs in baseball, to try to reach out and bring some of our best people on and give them fresh opportunities. I think that’s first been out of respect for those individuals and what they’ve done, but I think it’s a great sign for the Pittsburgh Pirates. And our responsibility will be to have really talented people coming up who will continue to grow, who will continue to change, and move the organization forward.”

The process is very similar to the approach they take with players. They need to have a strong system funneling coaches and executives through the lower job levels, while also finding some key talent from the outside.

As for the players, they’ve got the same challenges. Last year they acquired Francisco Cervelli for Justin Wilson, which was a pretty low-cost move when you consider the season Cervelli had. If he can repeat that in 2016, then his price will go way up from where it was last year as he enters free agency. The Pirates could afford to pay that if they wanted to bring him back, but the reality is that they won’t be able to afford to bring back every player who sees a value increase in their organization. Nutting had faith that the front office would be able to make those replacements at the Major League level.

“There’s no question that one of the things I love about Neal and our entire baseball operations team is the number of options, the number of alternatives, the depth of the process, the work of the process that they go through,” Nutting said. “I’m very confident whether it’s that scenario, whether it’s the impact of other players coming, as they’re looking throughout the development system. We still have one of the highest ranks of minor league systems. There’s a lot of talent coming up, and they need to have a broad view across the organization, because one thing we definitely have learned is it’s not just the 25 man roster. It’s the depth and strength of the entire organization that allows us to continue to compete.”

The Wild Card Game and the NL Central

You don’t need me to tell you that the Pirates made the Wild Card game three years in a row, winning only one of those games. And you don’t need me to tell you that most projection systems this off-season have the Pirates finishing in the Wild Card game once again, at best. With the new CBA coming up, there are probably many fans in Pittsburgh who would like to see changes to the Wild Card game, and I’m sure whoever doesn’t win the division this year between the Cubs and Cardinals would feel the same way. But Nutting said there are a lot of factors which go into such a change.

“I think there are a lot of complexities in the change of the format, whether it’s impact on schedule, impact on rest time for teams who aren’t playing,” Nutting said. “I don’t think there’s an easier, single answer for how that should play out. What we need to focus on is what we can control and what we can impact. And that’s whatever set of rules we have, we’re going to do our best to maximize our opportunity for success.”

Nutting said that he believes the team can win the division, and pointed out the desire to avoid the Wild Card game again, where your entire season can come down to one game against one of the best pitchers in baseball.

“We know what that’s like,” Nutting said. “We don’t want to do that again, and we’ll pull out every stop that we can to first avoid. We want to win the division. I think we can do that. We’ve got a very good team this year. If we’re in the game, do everything we can to win.”

As for the Cubs and Cardinals, the Pirates seem to be the forgotten team behind those two, finishing third in most projections. But once again, Nutting expressed confidence in the front office, especially with their ability to surprise.

“I look at the track record of the last three years. Tremendous amount of faith in the leadership team that we have in place,” Nutting said. “I look at who Neal has been able to sign, to bring in, to supplement, to surprise consistently. I don’t have any concern that we’re facing a battle that we can’t win. I think this is a group that has proven that we can succeed in a very challenging division, and a very challenging sport. Baseball is hard. There are 30 good teams out there. Everybody wants to win. I have complete respect for the other organizations. We’ll never be arrogant. We’ll never take it for granted. But we absolutely can compete with anyone out there in the end.”

Other Notes

**Nutting was asked about whether he was satisfied with the attendance and the support of the fans:

“I think the support of the fans in Pittsburgh has been unbelievable for this club. Just absolutely tremendous the way they’ve rallied around this team, the way they’ve supported the team. Not only showing up at the ballpark, but wearing hats, wearing t-shirts, and caring. And recognizing the impact that we’ve had in the community. Really is something that has been so important for me and for the whole organization. See the fathers and the sons come out to the game to share something special as this team has improved and has restored that faith and pride in the organization. Fans have been humbling and tremendous.”

**On generating more revenue in the future:

“We’re going to work hard to maximize revenues where we can. At the same time, we’re going to recognize we have limitations, and we can’t ever define our success by dollars. That’s not the correct metric. We need to define our success by wins on the field, by performance, by the team. Those two aren’t directly correlated in the way that it perhaps might have been in the past, where the perception might be. Having talent inside the organization, having talent on the field is what defines success. We will absolutely do everything we can to maximize our opportunities. Revenue would be one of those, but we will never major the impact of the success solely by dollars brought in or dollars spent, because it’s not fundamentally the right place to look in Pittsburgh.”

**On whether the lack of a salary cap and players changing teams could leave fans disenfranchised:

“I would hope that no one in Pittsburgh is feeling disenfranchised right now. It’s a team that’s in a great place. Has a great track record, and there certainly have been points of success. Kansas City is an easy one right now to point to. Oakland in the past. Competitive balance will always continue to be a primary focus, if not the primary focus of the Pittsburgh Pirates as we look at baseball overall. There are lots of ways to get there. It’s a complex ecosystem of teams, of different inputs from national and local revenues. I know there aren’t simple solutions, and I know the team that’s focused on it now at the Commissioner’s Office has my faith and support.”

**And finally, on a similar note, Nutting was asked and commented about a potential Andrew McCutchen extension in the future:

“I have nothing but appreciation and respect for what Andrew has done. He’s a remarkable talent on the field. He’s been a tremendous contributor off the field. His engagement with the community, his appreciation for being a Pittsburgh Pirate. I think it’s a real testament for the organization that someone at that quality and that level, as a baseball player and a person, wants to be part of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I applaud him for that, and also we’re committed to try to find an opportunity. There’s no one who we’d like to have for a career in a Pirates uniform more than Andrew.”

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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I may be wrong about this, and correct me if I am – but with the Morton salary dump, and Neice making less than Walker, and Pedro gone – I feel like the Pirates payroll is down from last year, am I missing something?


really bob? really? ….pulling out all the stops huh? OK


Regardless of what anyone thinks of Nutting or his comments, be glad he’s at least not embarrassing enough to be talking about this inane tanking narrative being pushed by Buster Olney and his make-believe band of “league executives”, aka Scott Boras.


Nutting said all the right things, but I do think his comments show that he’s yet to completely adapt to the new reality of Major League Baseball.

“We’re going to work hard to maximize revenues where we can. At the same time, we’re going to recognize we have limitations, and we can’t ever define our success by dollars. That’s not the correct metric. We need to define our success by wins on the field, by performance, by the team. Those two aren’t directly correlated in the way that it perhaps might have been in the past, where the perception might be. Having talent inside the organization, having talent on the field is what defines success.”

This quote could not ring more hollow after previously stating: “Access to talent is the most important piece of competitive balance for us as we move forward.”. Access Nutting implicitly feels the Pirates are missing out on *because of money*.

Fact is, big money is no longer only being thrown at veteran free agents. Money is being thrown at the talented executives who’re smart enough to throw money at talented amateurs, which all serve to erode what Nutting himself says has brought the Pirates success.

I know, I know. He has to say this publicly, but I sure hope privately their logic has moved past this fact of the current state of Major League Baseball.

Zachary F

Nutting’s face is so punchable

Luke S

Im always surprised more people, who want to rant at him, dont take the easy road and mention how ugly the dude is. Nice to be rich with a face like that.

michael t

The folks at Seven Springs say he likes to wear bunny ears on the slopes, and dips into the parking cash box for lunch money.


Has any adult wearing transition lenses *not* gotten a wedgie when they were in grade school? 😉

Luke S

If anyone can answer “no” to that question, i can surely find one of my high school classmates that never really graduated to give him a long overdue one.


I irrationally couldn’t agree more.

Zachary F

I hope politicians were taking notes during Nutting’s presser yesterday…Bobby is a master at avoiding uncomfortable topics by answering questions that weren’t asked and finding ways to spin his cheapo approach. The back-end of our starting rotation is Niese, Locke, and Vogelsong, mic drop. We won 98 games and got worse.


I never noticed that Nutting had the little ear growing out of his cheek before!


I don’t know how baseball solves, or improves the Latin American issue. It is complex but if it remains common practice to blow past your bonus pool, and a certain number of teams do it on a rotating basis some of the best foreign talent is going to be outside of Pittsburgh’s reach.


I’m not even a fan of the idea, but is there any way to do this other than a draft?

I suppose a FA system with a hard cap would be the only alternative.

In some ways, the current system may act as the only thing *allowing* smaller markets to get in the Latin American market. Many of the big market teams blowing past their caps in a given year would be doing it more consistently if allowed, I would imagine.

There’s no disputing the fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates have *chosen* to remove themselves from the running for elite LA talent. Smaller market teams like the Brewers, Braves, and Rays have still managed to land elite prospects, after all, and just this past summer the Pirates could’ve easily swooped in and grabbed Gleyber Torres just as the Cubs did.


Dodgers AAA team should be in Havana. Or Gitmo if the Obamination has his way.

Luke S



Don’t worry. Hillary emailed Tim, and Bernie is getting everybody Top Prospect. It’s gonna be so good. YUGE!



Luke S

Irony of it all?

Bachelors Degree in Political Science degree holder right here.

Bill W

Go Artie Go!


Nice noting the “fathers and sons” Nutflake. My mom and I are diehard fans who do Mom and Daughter games too. Sheesh, 1966 is calling and they want you to quit being an idiot


Femi-nazi-ism is so tiresome! As is every form of political correctness. I am glad you and your Mom are fans. I’ll bet Nutting is far happier than me.


I think it’s time they paid somebody more than Kendall. Extension, FA contract, whatever. Yes I know spending does not equal winning, but occasionally you got to show the 25 guys in the clubhouse you’re willing to pay the going rate once and awhile.


Who’s this Mccutchen guy they paid? and Liriano? and Marte? Why pay the going rate, when you can retain your own guys that you’re comfortable with as well as bring up farm guys who can produce just so. Hopefully. We’re small market, one of those “going rate” FA contracts that turn bad, cripple us for years. I’d rather squeak into the playoffs every year and have a chance with what NH is doing.


To be honest with you Nick, not sure favorable deals like that are on the horizon for the Pirates anymore. And I hear what your saying, no they shouldn’t sign “bad deals”. But even good deals aren’t going to be under 50 or 60 mil, which was my point. You want the Pirates to maintain a winning team it’s going to be keeping talent. The minors will not be pumping out All Stars and top of the rotation pitching season after season.

Money matters, man. Truth be told, that guy up there might have had a bad fiscal year since it didn’t snow very much.


Accessing cuban players, has to be done in a more fair manner.

Bruce Humbert


Bruce Humbert

Well no surprise to anyone I guess – but I am one Pirate fan who feels disenfranchised…
36 years is a long time between winning anything that matters.

But in the end it is his money and he can spend it on what he wants, when he wants to.


But keep in mind that there are 30 teams so the Pirates should only win once every 30 years. By that metric, the Pirates aren’t too far behind. If you really want to feel disenfranchised, you could become a Cubs fan 🙂


“36 years is a long time between winning anything that matters.”

To quote the Pittsburgh Dad, “They have 162 games and they all matter!”

When I celebrated Marte’s walk-off last August, for example, I didn’t care that they hadn’t won the World Series since 1979.

Bruce Humbert

I have said for some time that we have two very different types of fans. One group wants to be competitive – have entertaining and enjoyable games to got to – take the family to. This group likes it when the Pirates are respectable and win more than the lose and are “competitive”

The other group could care less about competing they want to WIN and are not comfortable settling for having the X best record in baseball over the y last years. This group cares about flags and pennants and trophies and takes no solice in getting to play in games.

A lot of the dynamics of this site – and other fan sites is only understood that some are willing to settle for a lot less than others want and expect.


The group that only cares about flags and pennants are misguided. Those folks want us to trade all of our minor leaguers and overpay for free agents so that we can have the “Best” chance to win a title. In reality, Baseball becomes a tournament in the post-season like other sports, and there are no guarantees. Neal Huntington and the Pirates have avoided trading players from our “Top 10” prospects and have still produced three consecutive teams that had as much ability to win a title as anyone during that span. I have watched the Cardinals let Heyward walk away and the Dodgers let Greinke walk away. Why didn’t those teams do more this offseason? The Pirates have positioned themselves to take 10 shots at winning a title by not giving in to fans who don’t understand how the game works, especially in a small market. I would much rather have that then to blow it all up to take one or two shots at it. The Pirates have ZERO long term contracts that will handcuff them in the coming years. This will allow them to continue to put a top tier team on the field for years to come. They have done an INCREDIBLE job. Thanks Neal for sticking to the plan!!

Brian Bernard

Bruce getting into the playoffs is the only thing that gives any team a chance to win it all and they are one of a very few who have had that chance three years in a row. Competitive and winning it all at any cost isn’t guaranteed no matter the investment ask the BluJays last year.

Steve Zielinski

One does not settle for excellent results when those results include imperfections. There is no dishonor in losing. We should enjoy the good things in life, while also refusing to complain about imperfections.


If sports if just a months long exercise is crowning one winner and identifying a whole bunch of losers, you are going to be bitter, frustrated, and fatalistic, it is just simple math.

Mark Lambros

I think you are allowed to expect the Pirates, or any team, to win the championship. As long as you are willing to understand that MOST seasons will end in disappointment for you. It’s just realistic. It’s hard for any team to win the championship every season.

But it’s also ok for the rest of us to be realistic. For us to understand that it’s not always the best team that raises the trophy at the end. For us to enjoy all 162+ games, the ups and downs, and to cheer our team. And appreciate that our team has a legitimate chance to hoist the trophy at the end of the season.

I just don’t like to be told that I’m settling for mediocrity or that I don’t want what you want. Of course I want that. I’m just realistic about it. If you want to feel disenfranchised, that’s your opinion. I don’t.

Bruce Humbert

That was a great response. Thanks. I respect your point of view – I really do – but I come from a different place. I worked for a time with a company that said their were two types of competition – the Greek version that celebrated the games – the athletes the completion and the game – these folks hugged and shook hands – and had a beer or other adult beverage after the game. The other was a bit more radical – more Roman or Spartan – and felt like you should either come home a winner of come home on your shield, I am unfortunately more aligned with the second group.


It is unfortunate that you buy into the idea that there’s only one winner and 29 losers every season, since that one winner is decided by a collection of games small enough that the signal doesn’t creep above the noise. It’s well understood that the playoffs do a very poor job of crowning the best team in the league its champion (the 162-game schedule being a far better measure of true-talent performance), but if you want to rely on just those games to determine how you perceive the Pirates, I guess go ahead.

Luke S

“I respect your view, but its not as good as mine that actually wants to win like Sparta.”


Sparta eventually withered away. Athens still remains as Greece’s capital.


Well, they are taking the EU down with them 🙂

Luke S

I figured someone else would mention that little tid bit.

But who needs history.


Only those doomed to repeat it.


I just wish he’d put a little more money into the team to keep me interested; it’s really discouraging when the Cubs get Lackey and we get Volgesong. I recognize that we can’t beat other teams at the spending game, but we should at least commit enough money to have a stable rotation for a year while we wait for our new prospects.

Scott K

If you’re not interested to see how a 98 win team from last season does this season, than Sir, you are not what I would call a fan.


I’m subscribed to PP in Febuary, I’m a fan. I’m upset that we haven’t spent more money this year, does that make me the anti-fan?

Scott Kliesen

No, but putting qualifiers on the team, like spending more money, in order to earn your favor does.


I spent money on a jersey, I’ve been attending games my whole life, and I was a fan even during those hellish Littlefield years. I want my team to succeed. And I feel like right now we have a chance at a World Series and Nutting is squandering it.
I can put qualifiers on the team because I feel that if i’m going to put my time and money into a team, that team needs to meet certain conditions. I’d be fine if the team couldn’t afford it, but they can; Nutting is pocketing money that should be going to the team and that is what I take as an insult to me personally as a fan.

Also why are you being so mean to me?

Scott Kliesen

What irks me as a lifelong fan is the notion spending money on player salaries is the litmus test for an Owner. Nutting has been the best Owner of this team because he has created a winning culture, hired great people to run the organization and has revitalised the team as an important part of the community. However because some like you think he’s profiting more than you think he should, even though you have no idea how much he really is making on his investment, he’s essentially a greedy bastard.

I got news for you, the Owners of the highest payroll teams are likely making more money than Nutting and other lower salary team Owners.

Just judge the team on W/L’s and stop caring about other people’s wallet and you’ll be a happier fan.


If they Pirates were going to pay FA dollars for a starter, I would bet that they only considered 1 year deals. Lackey got 2/$32M. Wasn’t an option.


So then what was with all the time wasted pursuing Kazmir or any other pipe dream mid-rotation starter?


I can only make my own guesses as I am not in the GM’s office, but I figured they were mostly shopping for one year deals or deals that weren’t 16M per year if signed for 2-3 years. I guess Kazmir was definitely getting multiple years and big money, so I’m not sure there. Do we know for sure that the Pirates made an offer anywhere near what he got in LA?

Regardless, I think it would be short-sighted for the Pirates to sign a pitcher for 15M+/yr for more than a year, given the status of the farm system. That is money that could possibly go towards extensions if not other acquisitions.


Although, I understand the frustrations since we haven’t really seen yet what that savings has gone or will go towards.


The John lackey signing doesn’t impress me at all

Steve Zielinski

This. Zobrist too is dead money waiting to happen.


Totally. They should have earmarked that towards the bullpen.

Luke S

I agree, but man has he been able to stay consistent with age. At some point you figure he’s gonna pop and hit the age wall, but the guy is impressively avoiding it to this point.


Guys here have been begging AJ Burnett to come out of retirement all winter and then saying that John Lackey isn’t impressive.


I know we’re all Pirate fans, but goodness…

Steve Zielinski

I just wish he’d put a little more money into the team to keep me interested; it’s really discouraging when the Cubs get Lackey and we get… [Taillon, Glasnow, Kuhl, Brault, etc.]

As far as the ML pitching staff goes, the Pirates are in better shape for the medium term when compared to the Cubs. The Cubs need to pay the FA premium for most of their better starters. The Pirates do and will not. The Pirates will upgrade their staff while fielding a younger core. The Cubs? They must return to the FA market whenever they need help.

Eventually, the Cubs will confront budget constraints just as the deep pocketed Nats did last summer. They may find it hard to upgrade when their organization has a lot of dead money and expensive by ineffective players. The recent plight of the Yankees and Red Sox are examples of teams that bought golden handcuffs.


While that’s True Steve, the Cubs don’t have to pay anything for all their young hitting talent. It evens out. At the end of the day- the Cubs HAVE the money, and by bringing up their own young players to fill half their roster, they can literally buy the most luxurious players at the rest of the positions that they desire. What it comes down to is the Cubs starting pitching and hitting are significantly better than ours, which makes our one point or strength our bullpen- that isn’t going to beat them in the division. You can’t keep looking to “the future” when you are a playoff team, you have to continue taking steps forward.

Steve Zielinski

This strategy worked out well for Shero and the Pens.


I’m not going to respond to cross sport strategy to further a debate.

Steve Zielinski



because it is irrelevant

Steve Zielinski

Then, why did you reply in the first place?


So you know you aren’t being ignored, Steve.

Steve Zielinski

I already knew that.

Bruce Humbert

It is a lot easier to put a good pitching staff on the field when you have…
1. A good pitching coach who took a replacement level pitcher and turned him into a Cy Young caliber pitcher – something the great and powerful Searage has yet to do BTW.
2. A budget that is $40M of more higher than the Pirates.

The Cubs may make mistakes – but they will be a strong – solid competitor for the next five to seven years with the talent the have and will be able to add as they need to over that time frame


And they will be in Chicago, and the Pirates will be in Pittsburgh. Why are you comparing the two? It’s a cap-less league in a country with an unevenly distributed population- the sooner everyone accepts that, the better.

Steve Zielinski

The Cubs may make mistakes – but they will be a strong – solid competitor for the next five to seven years with the talent the have and will be able to add as they need to over that time frame.

The Pirates will compete for championships for the next five to ten years. The reason: A deep and talented development system.


I understand that totally. But the reason i’m upset is that we have Ryan Volgesong in the rotation while we wait for our pitching talent to arrive, we could have afforded a much better pitcher for the back end if Nutting was willing to put in some more money into the payroll.

Tom Brenholts

The time to get upset about Vogelsong is late May, and only if he has stunk out the joint. Right now being upset about him is pointless.

To a soul we would all love to eat our words about Vogelsong come mid season. But an even better choice would be to take a deep breath and say, “I dunno, looks kinda chancy to me, but let’s see where this takes us.” The guy only has to give us maybe 10 starts or so. If he can keep the team in half of those he’s doing his job at the bottom of the rotation.

Luke S

Beyond the craziness that always ensues in this conversation, its not clearly payroll that stopped us from upgrading over Vogelsong. Maybe they did refuse to budge over mid 90s payroll, but it seems just as likely that they simply didnt want to bring in a more polished option and demote someone mid year.

I dont agree with that logic, but it seems as likely as “we cant afford to give anyone 7 million so find whatever we can for 4”.


I will be surprised if Vogelsong doesn’t surprise, to the upside.


I hope you’re right! In Searage we trust!

Bruce Humbert

What will arrive are pitching “prospects” – time will tell if they have any talent….


And you want us to blow our wad to put payroll at 120 this season and run back down to 75 next year somehow to cover the expense. Mr Nutting runs and business, and he is good at making money. He is doing a good job at winning, plus making money and putting that back into the team, if you can believe that. So…. no, i’ll take and trust the NH approach and enjoy the benefits of what comes in the next few years.

Steve Zielinski

We already know the pitching prospects have talent. That’s the reason they’ll move into the rotation sooner rather than later.

Steve Zielinski

The Pirates could have paid David Price his asking price. But that deal would have harmed the organization just as Jason Kendall’s contract harmed it years ago.

Apart from a mega contract like the contracts signed by Price and Grinke, the Pirates may have tried to sign Kazmir, as rumors suggested. But encumbering the payroll budget for the next four years in order to put Kazmir in Vogelsong ‘s slot is not the best use of the team’s resources.

Bruce Humbert

That is absurd – i don’t think a lot of us wanted to pay David Price money – but the Pirates could have had a rotation this Spring that included Edinson Volquez and JA Happ and still been under $120M in payroll. They could have had Juan Uribe as a utility player rather than Sean Hurdle and that might have just put them a bit over $120M. The argument isn’t so much that the Pirates need to spend a lot more – it is rather that they could be a whole lot better by spending a bit more and spending it smarter.


“gives Bruce a standing ovation” – since you didn’t do it *drops the mic*

Scott K

Says the arm chair GM. Is it possible the Pirates GM knows more than you, Bruce?


“the Pirates could have had a rotation this Spring that included Edinson Volquez and JA Happ and still been under $120M in payroll.”

But the team revenue supports a $105 million payroll. So you think Nutting should just write a check for the $15 million out of the goodness of his heart? And where would it stop? Suppose they ran a $10 million deficit and still didn’t win the world series. Would you then clamor for him to kick in $30 million of his own money for 2017 so they can have a $140 million payroll?

Although the ML average team revenue goes up more or less in a straight line, the revenue for each team takes big steps when broadcast contracts are renewed and small steps due to increased ticket revenue otherwise.

Bob Nutting has no obligation to the fans to lose a dime to make the team better. He does have, and is fulfilling, the responsibility to have a front office that puts the best damned team the Pittsburgh market can support out there. And as someone pointed out, it makes no fiscal sense to spend big bucks on a 5th starter with Taillon and Glasnow ready to debut this year, or on a first baseman with Bell also knocking on the door.

I think it’s telling that the Pirates spent more money on FA’s this year than the Yankees did. And it’s also telling that the Dodgers, who have probably 5 times the Pirates’ revenue stream, didn’t just sign everybody and sort it all out later.


Not to mention, the naysayers criticize the Pirates for spending small on reclamation projects instead of large money on FA, citing examples that we could have resigned Volquez or Happ…. who were both brought in as reclamation projects.

Steve Zielinski

Ironic, isn’t it?!?!


“But the team revenue supports a $105 million payroll. So you think Nutting should just write a check for the $15 million out of the goodness of his heart? And where would it stop? Suppose they ran a $10 million deficit and still didn’t win the world series. Would you then clamor for him to kick in $30 million of his own money for 2017 so they can have a $140 million payroll?”

Can’t let you just get away with that comment and walk away.

I think what you really meant to say was something to the effect of, “If Bob Nutting and the minority owners want to make $XX million from the Pirates this year, then team revenue only supports a $105 million payroll.”

There’s a whole lot of territory beyond $105 million before Bob and the other owners would need to dig into their personal finances.

I respect any owners’ right to make a profit. But to suggest that anything over $105 million equates to ownership taking a loss is simply baseless.

Tom Brenholts

At a certain point it makes sense to invest money in something other than a baseball team. I suspect that that number is the difference between the $105M and $120M,

Nutting has done a damn good job of providing the Pittsburgh fan base with one of the best, most exciting teams in baseball. I really don’t see how fans can complain, especially when they played 8 of the last 15 home games of 2015 against the Cubs and Cardinals and didn’t sell out any of them. With the lousy TV contract, those seats are important, adding in other sales revenue from the park visit; a little plus a little plus a little is a lot.


Extremely well said.


He didn’t say that anything over $105M equates to a loss, he said that is what the revenue allows for, presumably with a minimum acceptable profit margin. I’m not vouching for that claim either as I am too lazy to look up revenue numbers, but the point stands that Bob Nutting is allowed to make a margin that he feels is worth his time and effort.

Steve Zielinski

The salary budget allows the Pirates to spend more than $105M. We know this because the Pirates have spent more than that the last two seasons. Opening payroll ≠ total payroll for any given season. The Pirates leave funds to acquire mid season help if that help is needed.

Steve Zielinski

It is known that Nutting wanted to put additional money into the team but couldn’t because his partners preferred the status quo. Nutting putting his money into the team would diminish the size of the shares of the minority owners unless, of course, these owners also put money into the team.

Claims that Nutting is cheap or only wants to grab profits are misinformed.

Steve Zielinski

That is absurd….

What is absurd?


– “Eventually, the Cubs will confront budget constraints just as the deep pocketed Nats did last summer. They may find it hard to upgrade any position when their organization has a lot of dead money and expensive but ineffective players. The recent plight of the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Angels are examples of teams that bought golden handcuffs.” – posted on behalf of Bruce- THAT is what is Absurd. Half of the Cubs are homegrown rookies!!!

Steve Zielinski

Except for those Cubs who aren’t homegrown rookies and who make big money.


I am pretty sure you can read, so i’m not going to respond with anything else here.

Eric S

Bob Nutting pays himself a salary per year with a Bonus structure based upon overall profit which is also probably capped. It’s not like he is pocketing X amount of money by withholding on certain players. The Pirates management team has always valued or in some circles “over-valued” their prospects and not willing to give up top guys to sign short-term rentals. Well, you would think the same management team who “over-values” their own prospects would want a clear path for them to jump on to the team when they are ready to go. For example, our top 3 in the rotation right now is Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano and Jon Niese. You have some competition for the 4th and 5th spot, although you probably assume that Jeff Locke has the best shot at the #4 spot right now with Vogelsong as the assumed #5 . While that is not attractive, it allows those spots to be taken over pretty easily by Glasnow and Taillon. At 1st base, they feel they have upgraded almost by subtraction letting Pedro Alvarez go. While he delivered monster HR’s, how many of those were in big spots with the game on the line? His overall batting average was pretty horrible and his RBI total was pretty horrible. While Morse, Rogers, Goebbert, Jaso or anyone else competing for the 1st base job is outstanding, they are all better at OBP than Pedro would ever be. Plus, you have Josh Bell who has a clear path.


We got Happ for nothing. We will find another guy the same way

Randy W

Steve, excellent point! That’s a good perspective and I couldn’t agree more. Daniel, I see where you’re coming from also. I absolutely believe they could have found a better option for the back of the rotation for not much more money, but who’s to say they didn’t try and nothing worked out with their offers? I honestly thought when they salary-dumped Morton that they were going to throw some significant cash at a FA pitcher; and, again, maybe they did. There’s a razor’s edge they’ll be walking on to start the season: on one hand, you don’t want to have tons of money tied up on a back of the rotation starter when you have several excellent options scheduled to arrive soon at a fraction of the price; on the other hand, their starting depth to cover an injury is dicey right now. So we’ll be hoping for no injuries early on and trust that the organization can compete until those arms start arriving, which isn’t unrealistic considering that the offense should be at least as productive as last year and the bullpen even better.

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