I'm extremely psyched that the Pirates signed their top two draft picks, along with a few other above-slot players, but that doesn't mean the organization still can't find a way to annoy me in their comments after the fact.
Neal Huntington appeared on The Fan Morning Show on Tuesday [audio], and was quick to come to the defense of owner Bob Nutting, who "takes a beating in this town for being cheap".
A quick look at the 2010 MLB payrolls shows that the Pirates rank 30th/dead last at $34.9 million, roughly $37 million less than the next-closest team in their division, the Cincinnati Reds ($72.3 million).
In fact, the other five teams in their division are spending an average of $97.1 million in payroll this year, going upwards from Cincy to Milwaukee ($81.1), Houston ($92.3), St. Louis ($93.4) and Chicago ($146.8). So spare me if Bob Nutting's feelings were hurt for being called cheap, even though his team has the lowest payroll in baseball and is spending at a rate of 35% of the divisional average. What are we supposed to call him? George Steinbrenner?
Don't get me wrong, Huntington deserves some kudos for getting these deals done, but really, he's just doing his job. You're supposed to take the best player in the draft. You're supposed to then sign that player. It's like the old Chris Rock bit where he mocks people who brag about taking care of their kids. I believe his comeback to those types was something along the lines of, "You're supposed to, you ignorant [deleted Chris Rock terminology]. "
Since the Pirates were too incompetent to master the task of drafting players in the time leading up to the Huntington Era, we've been brainwashed to think that they're somehow going above and beyond by doing the right thing now. They're not. They're just doing what they should have been doing for nearly two decades.
As Joe Starkey pointed out today, the Pirates toot their horn about leading MLB in draft dollars handed out the past three years, but they are not accounting at all for international players, which make up 40% of all MLB rosters.
While the Bucs' three-year total stands at $31 million in money spent on the draft, Cincinnati nearly topped that with an investment in one foreign player, with the $30 million+ given to Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman. And did I mention that Cincy is spending approximately $38 million more on their Major League roster than the Pirates this year, in a similar market size? With that being the case, the Pirates better sign their draft picks, and be glad they still have any fans who even care at this point.
Don't get me wrong...I'm very happy that the Pirates selected Taillon and Allie and signed both of them, along with some other above-slot players. But I could do without the post-draft boasting by Huntington, who, like many Pirate executive, needs to be a little more careful in his selection of words.
Signing these players was nice, but making this organization relevant again, even with them in the fold, is still a very long way off. Maybe then I will be sympathetic to the Pirates' front-office taking an undeserved verbal beating from fans and the media, but for now, I think such criticism has been justifiable.
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