Pittsburgh Pirates Rank Right Down the Middle for Farm Systems

On Friday morning, Keith Law posted his rankings of all 30 farm systems. He had the Pittsburgh Pirates ranked right in the middle at 15th overall.

Law had four Pirates ranked in his top 100 prospects and he had Kevin Newman ranked just outside his top 100, so the Pirates seem a little low on his overall rankings. He said that he prefers higher upside players when looking at rankings, which should favor the Pirates for him.

As we have also mentioned here recently, they don’t have a lot of impact talent, but the overall depth of the system is as strong as it’s ever been since we started doing rankings here. So a farm system with a combo of top talent (according to his rankings) and depth feels like it should rank a little higher.

I actually agree with his overall ranking, I just didn’t expect him to have them 15th based on five players in his top 110 prospects and the fact that he liked their 2017 draft class and it’s potential impact. I figured that the Pirates were right around the middle prior to the two big trades and possibly moved up a few spots after the deals that added four prospects to their top 30, just not enough to be among the top ten farm systems.

As for the rank among National League teams and their Central Division foes, the Pirates rank ninth among NL teams and fourth in their division. I’ll note that these rankings were completed before the Milwaukee Brewers put a dent in their farm system to acquire Christian Yelich, so it’s possible they dropped below the Pirates. They gave up two top 100 prospects and two other prospects for Yelich.

Law had the Brewers ranked eighth before the deal, so if you go by impact talent, that may have knocked them down. Regardless, all that the Pirates would pick up is one spot, which is still middle of the NL, NL Central and all of baseball. The Cincinnati Reds ranked sixth, St Louis Cardinals are 12th and Chicago Cubs are 25th.

We usually see at least 2-3 more farm system rankings before prospect-ranking season is over, which will give us a chance to average all of them out and see where the Pirates fall.

  • I actually thought they would around 20th. Irregardless, they need to be top 10 or better all the time because of their free agency long established patterns. Glad to see the player’s union again raising concerns about the team’s use of revenue sharing money. I guess a large balance at the First National Bank of West Virginia, might not qualify as money spent to improve the talent level / competiveness of the team ! Mr. Nutting, please sell the team

  • Not to interrupt the El Paso thread, but where did the prospects the Brewers traded for Yelich rank? Couldn’t the Pirates put together a similar package, even if it included Meadows? I’d rather see them go with a proven star than hoping Meadows can stay healthy, which he hasn’t done.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 26, 2018 1:27 pm
    • I think this sort of thing is kind of pointless. Absent a salary floor, what power does anyone have to tell the Pirates how much they have to spend? The league and Union have dropped the ball on negotiating such a thing, so what’s their recourse?

      Additionally, no team should be forced to make bad baseball decisions, like holding onto good trade assets despite not having enough talent around them to compete, just to satisfy the Union. Because teams have to be allowed to make good baseball decisions.

      Both teams should make good sense free-agent signings which can help them compete when they’re competitive again, but I don’t see why the league should investigate a team for being a seller.

      • “Absent a salary floor, what power does anyone have to tell the Pirates how much they have to spend? ”

        I mean, literally Article XXIV, Section B, Paragraph 5(a) of the CBA.

        “…but I don’t see why the league should investigate a team for being a seller.”

        Nor do I see why they should accept revenue sharing while they’re selling.

        That’s all this is about.

        • Just wait until they sign Yu Darvish.

          But again, this would have been really easy to avoid with a better negotiated CBA. Require a minimum payroll to accept revenue sharing, and there’s no uncertainty here. They opened themselves up to this sort of thing by, as always, signing deals which appease the highest paid players, but screw over young players and average guys.

          You’re right; if their payroll is going to be super low, they probably shouldn’t take it, but the CBA makes it too hard to prove they’re not using it to give anyone any real recourse here. Nothing will come of this because the deal is crap. And if the Pirates do lose their revenue sharing, the Union gets no benefit, because that won’t change a thing in terms of signing guys.

          (I sincerely wouldn’t be surprised if they were connected to Cobb or Lynn at some point, though.)

          • Oh, don’t get me wrong. This is *exactly* the kind of reaction you get when one side realizes they shit themselves during the last CBA negotiation.

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          January 26, 2018 3:56 pm

          There should be a hard salary cap and floor, but we all know MLBPA will never agree to it….

          • They really ought to, though. They’d benefit from it. The cap, sure, would limit the maximum salary guys could have, but the floor would allow them to negotiate better salaries for young players and useful but unspectacular veterans. Increase the league minimum, increase the money players can get in arbitration, but limit the ceiling of contracts superstars can get, and compensation around the league will be fairer for the players and competition between teams will improve. Everyone wins.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 26, 2018 1:24 pm

    In an article I read on MLB.com or similar site, the Pirates farm system was ranked 16th – and that was before the two trades. Those trades barely moved the needle, and given who they got, that should not come as a shock to anyone. If Moran is now one of our top 3-5 prospects, that does not bode well long-term – since he will be 26 this year and has been scuffling in the minors for 4-5 years. Yes, his 2017 season was a good one, but it wasn’t overwhelming and it was in the PCL….

    • Where do you get Moran was “scuffling” for 4-5 years? He had one bad year, his AAA debut season in 2016. His wRC+ otherwise: 127 2013, A ball; 110, 2014, A+; 114, 2014, AA; 136, 2015, AA. He wasn’t a world beater, but consistently above-average performances (driven by a high BA/OBP) is hardly “scuffling.”

      You don’t have to be wowed my Moran or even like him, but don’t lie about his performance.

      He was also rated as high as #5 in the Astros’ system, depending on who you ask. He was highly regarded in the draft. Many scouts are actually sold on his power. He’s not absent pedigree.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        January 26, 2018 1:50 pm

        He was rated highly in the draft 5 years ago, but has not lived up to that since then…if he did, he would be in the majors long before now. Now, I do agree that my choice of the word “scuffling” was a bit strong…and he hasn’t been terrible in the minors. But, his power never developed (which is what he was projected to be) and he hasn’t been a strong glove man at third. He has now been traded twice since being drafted. Given his draft position and age, would you say his career trajectory is right on target and where it should be to date?

        • He made his Major League debut in 2016, which was a pretty typical pace for a college hitter. And he’s never not done the thing that got him drafted.

          The power was slow to come, sure, but he is steady defensively even if he’s unremarkable, and the power came after a swing adjustment aimed at maximizing his ability to barrel the ball by keeping it off the ground. And there’s reason to trust that such an adjustment would return power.

          The only reason he wasn’t in the Majors more last year than he was is because he got hit in the face with a ball, and he was blocked by Bregman. I think he’s been ready for a little bit now.

          • BuccosFanStuckinMD
            January 26, 2018 1:59 pm

            Okay, well he will get a chance to prove people like me wrong this season…for his sake and the Pirates, I hope I am wrong about him. Its no secret that the Pirates have no prospects in the system close to being the Pirates regular 3B, other than him…

            • Watching some clips, I love his swing. I see no reason to fear it won’t translate. It’s connected; the legs are involved quite a bit. There’s finish, high and long, but his hands are very quick to the zone. His bat’s on a sufficiently low plane to consistently lift the ball. He’s already demonstrated a good contact skill and an ability to adjust to pitches. I think he’ll hit.


              • The only red flag I see is that he’s pull-only now. I don’t think he’s appreciably change his swing plane as much as he’s changed his contact point.


              • And he still struggles mightily against lefties.

                I worry that big league pitchers will be able to neutralize the power with offspeed away.

                • He had a .771 OPS in AAA against lefties last season. That’s much lower, of course, than his .974 against righties, so he’s definitely worse against southpaws, but he took a pretty big step forward with respect to his platoon splits, and I don’t think it’s fair to say he still “struggles mightily” against them. He’s average. He hit for less power, but not none (.160 ISO), and actually struck out at a lower rate against lefties than righties.

                  • .771 in the PCL; I’ll stand by my comment.

                    • Eh, I’m not sure how much you can knock him for the PCL since his home park was neutral, and the low K% has nothing to do with the league anyway. He’s not as good against lefties, no, but if he’s the hitter he was last year, even removing the PCL boost, he’s not exploitable against them, either.

              • BuccosFanStuckinMD
                January 26, 2018 8:15 pm

                I hope you are right.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 26, 2018 1:21 pm

    Now that the Brewers have Cain and Yelich, maybe they can trade us back Broxton for Mitch Keller? NH would jump at that trade…

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    January 26, 2018 1:19 pm

    BTW, Pirates (and Marlins) are being investigated (if that is the proper word) by MLBPA for their recent trades and present payrolls – meaning, their AAA like rosters and payrolls. Obviously those last 5 words are my words and an exaggeration, but the point remains – teams like these two are only concerned with making a profit. Losing and being more profitable is preferred to winning and being less profitable….both franchises consistently make that quite obvious.

    When will Pirates fans, long suffering like me, stop supporting and defending the present ownership and management?

    • Where did you see that at? I saw Boras complain, but I have seen nothing about an investigation. Link?

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        January 26, 2018 1:25 pm

        Let me look – saw it about 2 hours ago…you’ll notice, it wasn’t mentioned here by this site…

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          January 26, 2018 1:27 pm
          • Looks similar to last time, they will be looking to see if it is put back into “baseball operations” which I am sure they will be able to point too, even if it isnt payroll, so unfortunately I dont think anything will come of it.

            I just dont see how Boras or anyone things anything will change. For teams like the Marlins, and other actual rebuilding teams (not the Pirates), there is too much incentive to lose as much as possible for a few seasons, invest heavily in the draft, and win with a bunch of cost controlled young players, like the Astros. By giving teams in the top 5 of the draft such a budget advantage, and suppressing the earnings of players in their first several seasons, there is no reason at all for a bad team to pay FAs, which means you have 12-15 teams at most willing to play in the FA market. The system is extremely broken.

            That said, none of that is an excuse for the Pirates. They had as good of a core as any 3 years ago, and refused to build on it, and now are closing their own window, so they deserve whatever they get

            • ” For teams like the Marlins, and other actual rebuilding teams (not the Pirates), there is too much incentive to lose as much as possible for a few seasons, invest heavily in the draft, and win with a bunch of cost controlled young players, like the Astros.”

              In which case, those clubs have no reason to take revenue sharing, right?

              The draft and international market has been capped. There simply isn’t much else you can spend money on anymore.

              If clubs want to tank, that’s fine, but they can tank without being massively subsidized. Like the Astros.

              • BuccosFanStuckinMD
                January 26, 2018 1:55 pm

                Until MLB does the right thing and fixes itself with a payroll ceiling cap (which MLBPA will fight to the death to avoid) and floor – and puts the International kids in the draft where they belong – we will continue to see these kind of things occur. Except for short-term success (2-4 years at best), small market teams cannot and will not sustain success on the field.

                • Take it a step further the MLBPA and agents like Boros are ticked at not really ticked at the Bucs they are ticked because for the first time the system is not rewarding them. A salary cap/ profit sharing system would bring ALL of the teams into the bidding and would likely assure all FAs a decent opportunity. It would just eliminate the outrageous deals that we see about twice every year. Hopefully the system corrects itself. I do think if a salary cap was implemented. Nutting would sell the team and cash out his massive profit

    • That is the union that is investigating. Unions have a vested interest in forcing teams to pay more. Bring it up again when the League sanctions them. Until then, more fake news.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        January 26, 2018 1:57 pm

        Its not fake news – and I said it was the MLBPA….there won’t be any sanctions, because MLB could care less….

    • Marlins have two WS and have in the past paid there stars and did what needed to be done to win it all. I think you could argue that they are just totally retooling for a big run in the future. For us there is a lot that certainly looks suspect. Also no one in south Florida supports that team

  • Would everyone here have been happy if we traded Meadows and Newman plus two A, pitchers who haven’t quite met expectations yet for Yelich? Thats what the Brewers gave up. We may have had to add another player like Reynolds but I would have taken that trade all day long

    • Would just adding Yelich win us a World Series. I don’t think so. That being said no I would not like that approach.

      • I think adding a stud for nothing would have really help this team for the next four years that’s for sure. If you are saying would it have won a WS? No because this ownership will NEVER follow up a lucky scenario like that with the other tools needed.

    • I think you are intentionally selling this return short.

      Honestly, would you trade Brinson, Harrison, Diaz and Yamamoto straight up for Meadows, Newman and “two A pitchers who haven’t quite met expectations yet”? Of course you wouldn’t. Meadows’ outlook has taken a hit after 2 straight injury-shortened seasons and an underwhelming performance at AAA when he has been on the field. He’s not Brinson’s equivalent at this point, and won’t be until he both stays healthy and rakes at Indy.

      I don’t know if the Pirates could match this return without Keller, and that is not something I would do.

      • Excellently reasoned argument.

      • Agreed. The Pirates don’t have any other low-risk impact arms. They need Keller, and he’ll arrive at a time when they should be better equipped to compete. I would love to have gotten Yelich, but his value is sky high (obviously), and there’s no way they’d have done it without weakening themselves elsewhere.

        Which is why I wanted them to sign Cain, but the Brewers went and did that, too.

      • Harrisons value has taken a hit as well. He hardly looks the part of a starter in the bigs. That leave Brunson straight up for Yelich and a bunch of wildcards. I still actually really like Meadows a lot I hear he is reverting back to his old swing this year which was changed last year. I have a feeling we are going to see a significant improvement on his results.e results. That said I would still trade him and a bunch of other guys for Yelich

        • Eric Marshall
          January 26, 2018 3:21 pm

          great to hear Meadows may be on the upswing. I wouldn’t package Meadows with Keller and two wildcards ever. Everyone loves Yelich for what… because he is an average fielder who hits for good average… no because he is a good player who is cost controlled for a significant time. Let’s see what he does without Bour, Stanton, Ozuna and everyone else in that lineup protecting him and each other.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      January 26, 2018 1:29 pm

      That would not have been enough to get Yelich….Brinson and Harrison are both better prospects than Meadows and Newman…and it may not be close…

      • The shine is off on Harrison. A lot of scouts are already coining him a bust but he does have some antural skills. Brinson was overmatched in a small sample size last year at the major league level. I think if the Brewers really thought he was the real deal their not making that trade. Maybe we would have had to toss in Tucker and remove Newman.,I would like to think we made some sort of offer

        • Wait this is exactly *opposite* of reality regarding Monte Harrison.

          Literally the first line of his FanGraphs report:

          “This is what it looks like when things start to click on the baseball field for a premium athlete…”

  • Obviously, Yelich is entering his prime/signed long-term and Cutch is at the tail end of his, but the fact the Marlins got 2 top 100 guys plus basically the same return Cutch fetched tells me all I need to know about the Pirates’ focus, priorities, and abilities as a front office and ownership group

    • You shouldn’t be beating up the Pirates for not getting anywhere close to the same return for Cutch as the Marlins did for Yelich but they are not similar values in any way.

      You should be mad about a divisional rival picking up an elite cost controlled player. You should also be angry that said divisional rival has worked circles around NH as far as extracting value from his assets and using such to acquire elite players like Yelich.

      Wonder how Stearns got players like Lewis Brinson?

    • The PIrates could have gotten the same return on Cutch, possibly better, if they traded him when he was 28, and signed long term, like the Marlins did with Yelich. Would you have been in favor of trading him then for the better return? Or are you going to be mad in both cases, trading players in their prime for better returns AND when they hold on too long and don’t get as much of a return

  • David Stearns vs Neal Huntington… hmmmmm

  • Is there anyone left who wants to defend NH’s drafts/ acquisition of young talent. 15th after trading our 2 best players last year in terms of WAR.

  • I wonder if the overall team/organization development system has had a negative effect on the players? For example back when they were a top 5 farm system, they bring in a consensus drafted prospect that has the tools (said by many outlets not just Pittsburgh) but once they get him in the system with their coaches the player doesn’t adapt. The team hitting philosophy doesn’t fit the players strengths or the pitching philosophy doesn’t match the pitcher etc…By trying to change the player to fit the system they provide a negative effect. I’m sure there are quite a few people on here who have way more knowledge that could provide more insight. But just wondering out loud.

  • So what does a 15th place ranking really mean?

    Could it be that the Pirates just have middle of the road players in the minors? with really no or very very few exceptional talented players.

    Does it mean that the players close to being major leaguer’s are really nothing more than AAAA players, and that the real talent is far down the food chain? thereby coming to a middling level.

    I know it seems everything has to have a number next to it so there is the number, but for me I just do not see any relevance, and I just hope that the very few actually become above average players once established in majors. Assuming their are any that fall into that category.

    • It may have something to do with the fact that Bell, Tallion, Frazier, Glasnow have all lost prospect status due to recent promotions. That is a signifigant number of top 100 prospects (3) in the last year or 2. In addition, I believe Kingman was a Top 100 as well, until derailed by injuries.

      • I don’t think Frazier ever was considered top 100. AS for the other we need them to better then they have been. I am hopeful with regards to Bell and Tallion and I guess TG can’t be any worse then he was.

  • When the Pirate minor league system was ranked in the top three it was anticipated that the players would achieve some significant success once they got to the majors. Sadly none of them have stood out in the way that they would project greatness. Now they have a bunch of middle of the road talents. That is not a way to win.

  • We usually see at least 2-3 more farm system rankings before prospect-ranking season is over, which will give us a chance to average all of them out and see where the Pirates fall.

    Always enjoy that article.

  • So the supposedly vaunted Pirates farm system, regarding which its higher-rated prospects are untouchable, is no more than middle-of-the-road. The farm system upon which we are to believe this team relies for its future because and is cited by the PBC as a reason for confidence is just another mediocre system. This team won’t tamper with that system to acquire talent such as Christian Yelich such as the even smaller market Brewers did yesterday, Will not engage in any meaningful discussions with high-end free agents, and looks to dumpster dive to fill holes in the lineup. I suppose there will be many comments to the effect that Keith Law doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but really, other than Huntington or Hurdle’s unsubstantiated hopes and wishes the farm system develops higher-end MLB talent, what reason is there for optimism that this team will contend for anything other than third-place in the Central division for the next few years?

  • Not surprised at all with the ranking. It is consistent with where the Pirates have been the last few years in the majors — a middling team resulting from and reliant upon a middling farm system that won’t spend to acquire missing talent. This result of drafting/signing/developing is unlikely to bring success w/in the financial framework Nutting operates this team. 15th of 30 is the definition of unremarkable. If that’s as “strong as its ever been”, that’s a real indictment of those responsible for the farm system.

    • If your quote there is for me, it’s misplaced. I said the depth is as strong as it’s ever been, which is far from him favoring impact talent rankings, where depth wouldn’t come into play.

      Farm systems rankings always go by impact talent, they don’t have time to breakdown the complete farm systems for 30 clubs, nor do they have the knowledge to do it because that takes a lot of research. If some team has a great top ten and absolutely nothing after that, they will still rank ahead of an average top ten with a ton of depth.

      • That’s why I pay for your articles and typically skip over some people’s comments.

        Keep up the good work John.

        • Anyone who follows this site and has our 2018 prospect guide (and had time to look through it all) has to be impressed with the names that aren’t in our top 50 prospects, which is where you truly see the depth I’m talking about.

          I’ve been doing this long enough that you can get a feel of where a prospect could end up in the rankings and somewhere in the 2-4 years ago range, there were some players who made our list who didn’t have the top 50 prospect feel. But when we put together our list, there wasn’t anyone to knock them off the list. Our seventh tier this year includes 24 names who aren’t on the top 50 because we couldn’t see leaving any of them off for at least an honorable mention.

      • The rankings (and what they are based upon) are interesting but the ultimate arbiter of the system is the impact it has on the major league club’s performance. My point is that based upon that standard, the system is producing so-so talent translated into middling results at the major league level. Its not performing as needed to help the Pirates be successful w/in their chosen method of doing business.

        • There is nothing wrong with what you are saying here, but when you pull out a quote and apply it to something completely different, then you’re wrong. In that same paragraph I also said it’s about impact talent and I agree with his rankings. You took out a quote about depth and applied it to the entire system, ignoring the rest of what I said.

        • but the ultimate arbiter of the system is the impact it has on the major league’s performance.

          That is true….we definitely need our young guys to take a step forward and not sideways or back.

          Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

    • I think what they mean is we have a good chance of winning minor league championships!

  • Brewers are early favorites to be the team everybody loves in March and wonders what happened come August. Every year, one team thinks if they can make the biggest splash over the winter, they’ll win the race to the finish line.

    How many times have we seen this story? Padres, Blue Jays, Marlins, even the Brewers of yesteryear. All hat no cattle type teams.

    • Scott…I have NO idea what your last sentence means. 🙂

    • This is a copy from another thread that I posted.

      Those additions by my calculations will put the Brewers at around 85 Million this year. The Pirates as of right now are sitting at 81 Million. The last few years the Pirates have averaged roughly around 100 million by end of season.

      Going off Beginning of year lets compare the last six seasons. Data from Stevetheump.com only resource I found easily. Records in ()

      2017 Brewers 63M (86-76)
      2017 Pirates 100M (75-87)

      2016 Brewers 98M (73-89)
      2016 Pirates 86M (78-83)

      2015 Brewers 105M (68-94)
      2015 Pirates 88M (98-64)

      2014 Brewers 103M (82-80)
      2014 Pirates 78M (88-74)

      2013 Brewers 82M (74-88)
      2013 Pirates 80M (94-68)

      2012 Brewers 97M (83-79)
      2012 Pirates 63M (79-83)

      So in those 6 seasons the Pirates have started the season with a lower payroll the Brewers 5 of the 6 seasons. They ended with better records in 3 of the 6 seasons. The ending salary for most of those teams was roughly around 100 million. So the Pirates allowed for room to add at the deadline.

      The Brewers plan has so far not worked better then the Pirates plan. Pirates have made 3 post season appearances in those 6 seasons the Brewers 0. Maybe this year will be different but I actually prefer the Pirates approach at this point.

      • Good stuff Ron, but you’re comparing 2 mediocre teams. I’d like to be able to compare the Pirates to the Cards…a team built on trying to win every year. I totally get why you compared the Brewers especially with the recent trade/signings so not bashing your thought process at all…just want to have a higher target that is all.

        • Well Understandable. When I get a chance I will compare those 2. Might be a nice comparison. I will try and do that over lunch. Mainly just a point since some much of “The Brewers are doing more then the Pirates” comments out there.

          • RonHeb….don’t do that comparison. It will ruin your lunch.


            • I will still do it. Just remember the Cards I believe avg per year 50 Million more in Revenue. So that does make a difference.

              • 2017 Card 152M (83-79)
                2017 Pirates 100M (75-87)

                2016 Cards 120M (86-76)
                2016 Pirates 86M (78-83)

                2015 Cards 120M (100-62) Post
                2015 Pirates 88M (98-64) Post

                2014 Cards 111M (90-72) Post
                2014 Pirates 78M (88-74) Post

                2013 Cards 115M (97-65) Post
                2013 Pirates 80M (94-68) Post

                2012 Cards 110M (88-74) Post
                2012 Pirates 63M (79-83)

                Actually not a bad comparison. They only have 1 additional post season birth during that same Time Frame and that is the 6th year back not inside the last 5. If you look at the difference in payroll they really are not reaping the benefits of the additional money and with an their extra 50 Million in Revenue they are not spending more then 50 extra either.

                • Don’t tell Scott Boras that, he’s libel to erupt like a volcano!

                • Just quickly, in the six years you covered, The Cards outspent The Pirates by $233 million and won 32 more games. The average cost per extra win was $7.3 million. Looking at the four years 2013-16 when Cards’ and Pirates’ spending was relatively stable in the $110-$120 million and $80-$90 million range respectively, The Cards spent $132 million more than The Pirates for 15 more wins, half of which came in 2016 when both teams were struggling relative to the previous three seasons. Each of those wins cost The Cards about $8.8 million more. To take your last point, is The Cards’ spending more efficient over the longer period? What about the 2013-15 period when it looks like The Pirates spent more effectively? IDK!

                  • In those same years, the Cardinals have lost 2 NLCS, 1 NLDS and 1 WS, I would take that over whatever the Pirates accomplished during that time. The cost per win is actually less than the Pirates if you factor in playoff wins are far more valuable than any regular season win.

                  • I am not sure exactly what you are saying here. I think we actually agree but you have it worded in a different way. I was pointing out that I think the Pirates have been more effective with their smaller budget vs the Cards. It would be interesting to see what the Pirates would have done in the same time frame with the extra 50 million in Revenue the Cards had.

                    • You are exactly right. We agree completely, and I simply took your figures and presented them in a different way to highlight what the higher level of spending accomplished for The Cards, vis a vis The Pirates. If the focus is on 2013-15, the answer appears to be not much. I will take your point that The Cards do not spend all of the $50 million/year revenue adavantage they enjoy over the Pirates. That may be a separate but related issue. We spend a lot of time on this site hurling invective at Bob Nutting and the BMTIB on the subject of The Pirates’ payroll. You have done us all the service of providing hard data on the relationship of payroll to wins, at a moment in time. For that I thank you. But, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished ; )

                    • Now I follow. Yes we do agree on that.

                    • I think the focus should be on HOW the cards have this revenue advantage. They won championships and became a NL Dynasty. This creates brand recognition, promotes fan growth, season ticket sales and ticket sales in general, they play more primetime nationally televised games etc. The list of positive revenue producing outcomes is long when you put together championship teams. The city of St. Louis is relatively similar in size/population to Pittsburgh and pails in comparison to the passion for sports (in particular, which has laid dormant for years, for baseball) that Pittsburgh fans have. The Pittsburgh fan base is also one of, if not the most, ubiquitous fan bases in the country. It’s no coincidence the winning franchises in Pittsburgh literally flood the opposing teams stadiums with fans. This would happen for the Pirates with simply an extra 50 million dollars per year which would end up generating and paying for itself once the team is successful. However the current ownership would pocket the spoils and claim poor instead of reinvesting and building a dynasty (as the Cardinals have and will continue to do) the city and fans would support world wide and in great numbers. So the question again should not be about efficiency it should be about how the extra revenue is generated and its feasibility in the “small market” (bullshit, anywhere you go you see something of Pittsburgh origin everywhere you look) that is Pittsburgh.

                • @piratesprospects-a8a5d22acb383aae55937a6936e120b0:disqus @Ron
                  Ok, Ron, now compare both teams back to 1993…you are really stretching things to think that the Cards get $50m/year extra and even moreso if you think that if Nutting owned the Cardinals, he would be spending like the Cardinals do now…Nutting is cut from the same mold of that POS Jeffrey Loria – same person

                  • DUDE Its not a stretch its reported revenue numbers. Its factual information. Why would I go all the way back to 1993 especially when Nutting didn’t own the team back then? So your arguement against me like most of your arguments here makes no sense and has no factual basis but ok.

              • Could this extra revenue be due to actually trying to win titles (and being successful) by spending money on free agents and international talent as well as drafting well? When you establish a winning tradition you tend to get more butts in the seats, sell more merchandise etc. all adding up to more revenue. Why this concept hasn’t pervaded the Pirates ownership is beyond me. Oh wait, no it’s not, they would rather get their revenue from other winning teams by establishing a tradition of weak to mediocre teams. Instead of having pride in the franchise and city, ownership would rather collect the mlb equivalent of social security subsidies. What’s ironic about this approach is that the ownership group is most certainly comprised of individuals who complain on a weekly to daily basis about having money taken out of their “hard working” pockets to prop up others who choose not to work hard. Everyone who keeps using the term “no mans land” needs to realize the Organization knows exactly what they are doing. They have calculated exactly what they need to produce at every level of operations so they can turn a profit by way of profit sharing. They don’t want to put together a winning team thus generating more revenue in the process reducing their chunk of the shared MLB dollars maybe even to the point where they wouldn’t receive a subsidy at all. That’s no good for the ownership who couldn’t care less about the teams success on the field. We as fans need to understand the meticulous and quite frankly impressive amount of work that goes into striking this balance of keeping just a decent enough team on the field that doesn’t completely disengage the fan base but yet doesn’t keep them optimally engaged. Imagine if they put this amount of effort into putting a winner on the field? That would take pride and investment though and that is a problem with the current ownership group. Pittsburgh is a proud sports town (and at heart a true baseball town) and if we had an owner or owners that had the same pride, total revenue would skyrocket once a winning pedigree was established. I’m not talking about making the “post season” by way of a rule change that, if not in place, the Pirates would not have made the playoffs except for one of the three seasons ownership points to and says “look we care, now trade everyone for no one. Make sure to lie to the public too and say that it’s not about money and we expect to “compete” so we don’t get in trouble with our fans that we kinda still need, but most importantly so we don’t piss off the league and teams that are paying our sorry asses.” Until we get someone behind the wheel who cares about the teams actual success the fans are going to be consistently kept in this limbo state while ownership lines their pockets. I strongly encourage everyone to not attend a Pirates game or buy any Pirates related merchandise…and watch the wheels fall off forcing the sharade to become so obvious to the MLB that they come down hard on this ownership group hopefully forcing them to sell to someone who cares.

                • First off Learn how to use paragraphs. I stopped reading halfway through as obviously you can’t form a thought properly.

                  Second nice stretch but 3 consecutive years in a row in the postseason I don’t care if it is because of a rule change. It is still post season and they hosted those games too.

                  Third the St. Louis Metro area believe it or not is bigger than Pittsburgh (not by much). But they are ranked 20th while Pittsburgh is 22nd.

                  Fourth they do get 8 Million alone with a better TV Contract over the Pirates. The Cardinals have ownership in their TV network as well. Now someone would have to confirm that for me but I would believe that would mean if they have a better season and better ratings they would actually see an increase in Revenue as well. Now that deal has changed and is new for 2018 meaning they will have 25 million more in TV Revenue for this year and that will increase each year until 2022 I believe. The Pirates deal does not end until 2019.

                  Now all that being said their may be some truth albeit small to the point they have a more established fan base after the Pirates had 20 years of losing records. The problem is what difference does how they arrived their make. That does not change the fact they have 50 Million more in revenue. And really if you think Nutting is going to deliberately sabotage something so he can get the revenue sharing as to avoid making the revenue on his own. That does not even make sense.

                  Now I may not have read your whole article but I saw the end. Not buying Pirates gear and not buying Tickets will not improve the situation in Pittsburgh. MLB will not make him sell if his revenue drops further they will simply approve the move of the team to a Market that wants to support it. Those kind of games make no sense and will not work. MLB does not care about the Pittsburgh market nor the city they care about $$$. Other markets will support the team.

                  • Ron, you are still missing the main point, Nut Job would not spend more! He would eat the profits pure and simple…he shows it time and time again every time his trained monkey utters the words ‘financial flexibility’

      • Yeah I saw it on Bucs Dugout. Good stuff, Ron.

      • What happened prior to those 6 years?

        • You are living in the past Bob move forward.

          • Then lets speak of only last year and this year

            • I am looking back 5 years you are trying to look back 10. Why stop there lets look back 57 years to when the Pirates beat the Yankees in the world series.

              • The Brewers were right there the previous 4 years and when there window closed they traded off assets and started a rebuild also they kept there super star Braun. Looks like theres is going to be successful. Additionally a number of people on this board two years ago made fun of them (and the Reds for that matter) and laughed at where they were in comparison to where we were (especially when our Minors were rated higher then theirs with a better ML team). Yet here we are two years later with a worse minor league team and a significantly worse major league team. That should NEVER happen.

                • Eric Marshall
                  January 26, 2018 3:10 pm

                  Can you let the games be played or season start before crowning them champions or even better than the pirates? People like you love to site their farm being better… but cite rankings prior to this trade which will certainly lower their farm rankings but completely disregard Fangraphs latest big league expectations showing even after our terrible trades and milwaukee’s darling, fantastic, shoot for the moon, already won the next three world series is expected to finish worse than the pirates. the meltdown here is out of control and almost unreadable.

                • A stud like Braun?? He is still considered Toxic and no one would take him when they tried to trade him especially at his 20 million price tag. I would rather have Marte.

    • Fangraphs still has them in 4th place in the division even after yesterday’s moves. Their rotation is still a question mark but with speculation that they could make a move for starting pitching I could see their projections improving.

    • I like what the Brewers did last night, even though I think they gave up too much in the trade, because they got two hitters who can help for a long time. I think the Pirates should sign someone worthwhile for a multi-year deal. I don’t think that person could help them finish higher than fourth this year, but it’s not a bad idea to have someone in place who will be there in 2019-2020 as a key contributor. With the market for free agents being down right now, it’s the perfect time to get a player like that. Would add a little goodwill towards the fans this year as well, and we know they have the money for it.

      • I definitely agree about Pirates signing a “name” free agent like Alex Cobb for example.

        As for Brewers moves, I like the acquisition of Yelich. I think he will love hitting in that band box. The Cain signing was pure lunacy to me. Signing a 32-year old in April OF who derives much of his value from speed and defense to a 5-year deal is a disaster in the making.

        Compound this with the fact their rotation is miles away from even league average makes this signing even more perplexing.

        • I agree with the Cain deal being potentially bad down the line, but I think he should still have three good years left in him. Basically, they didn’t just get two players who will only help in 2018. If they are serious about making a run, then their main goal should be to add pitching now.

      • In the short term yes, but that Cain contract could look bad in 3 years. He is superior to Cutch defensively but Cutch is better offensively, that contract is exhibit A of why Cutch could not be resigned. Cain and Cutch are almost exact contemporaries. Why pay for past performance? Baseball is strange that way yet teams continually do it.

        • Lorenzo Cain is getting paid to be less than a 2 WAR player per year. He’s *nothing* like Cutch.

          • From the looks of this year’s FA market, not sure many MLB teams are paying $9mm/WAR anymore.

          • I believe Cain was somewhere around 5 last year. He has some things going for him that Cutch doesn’t. Defense and usable speed. Cutch is below avg. defensively and rarely runs. All of his value is in his bat. In ‘16 he was not very valuable at all. Last year he was much more representative. Would not surprise me at all if Cain ages more gracefully. If so, then the Brewers will have made a wise investment even long term.

    • I usually agree with some of that assessment but the brewers didn’t give up anything of value and just added two studs. One of which is in his prime and cost next to nothing. Super impressed with what they are doing in a “small market”. They do need pitching but then again they have made moves there as well. Meanwhile back at the farm our big move of the day was “crickets”. IF the Brewers fail to get to the playoffs its likely because teams like the Cardinals and the Cubs continue to load up as well. What is clear though we are closer to a 100 loss team then we are closer to a 500 club.

    • This is hilarious. If the brewers adding 2 4 war players is all hat no cattle how would you describe the Pirates approach?

      • Two 4 win players, yes, but they’re not replacing two 0 win players. I get the Yelich deal. Makes a ton of sense. However, the Cain signing seems like a make up trade to reacquire a good player, who has crested the hill of his career.

        Are you telling me you’re a fan of a small market team paying premium prices for a players declining years? If so, you should go root for Brewers and see if you can get a good deal on Braun and Cain jerseys. Guaranteed they won’t be dealt away before their contracts expire.

        • Cain is getting paid to be less than a 2 WAR player per year.

        • I know who needs an extra 2-3 WAR upgrade over an existing player??Small market teams should be happy with an abundance of 1-2 WAR starters like NH is.

          Honestly Scott, you are smarter than this. This has jumped the shark.

          • The saddest part is that I have little doubt Huntington’s line of thinking appreciably deviates from Scott’s.

          • Jumped the Shark? That’s funny.

            Brewers who had a glut of OF, trade for one and sign a long-term premium pric deal for another, while not addressing their substandard rotation is jumping the shark!

            Baseball isn’t played in a test tube despite your comments suggesting it is.

            • LMAO- Yelich is likely to provide enough value this year to cover what Brewers owe him from 2018-21.

              The Brewers are on the hook for about 43-44M over next 4 years for Yelich. A 4 WAR player who could hit 6 WAR in Miller Park.

              But they are so shortsighted. So much better to have Gregory Polanco for the next 4 years at only 30-31M.

              • As I said above, I like the Yelich deal for them. I agree if he stays healthy, he will be a productive bat for them. The Cain signing makes zero sense in short term or long term.

                They obviously need to trade a couple of Santana, Braun, Broxton, or Thames to get their roster evened out. Now that every other team knows this, I can’t imagine they’ll get fair value back. They lost all leverage in my opinion by signing Cain first.

                And as we all know, if they’re serious about competing, they would’ve been better off investing in pitching. Their roster is incredibly imbalanced after these moves.

          • Eric Marshall
            January 26, 2018 3:17 pm

            Would the extra 2 to 3 war get us to the playoffs or just marginally better in a division with the Cubs and Cardinals? Why gut the system to accomplish that. Makes no sense and i for one an very happy you don’t run our system.

        • Who says Cain is declining? He doesn’t steal as much as he use to but he is just a really good player who seems to have peaked late in his career suggesting he still has many good years left. I doubt they get a 4 WAR player his final two years but heck we don’t even have a 4 WAR player on the team in there prime.