Big Lead Sports Bar

2/24/2011

The Pirates Will Spend Money on Talent...If You Give It To Them



Someday, an enterprising writer is going to compile a book of ridiculous quotes made by Frank Coonelly, Bob Nutting, and Neal Huntington. There's enough for at least a couple chapters in it already, and if they keep up at this pace, the book may be done by next week. Witness the latest gold min from Coonelly's interview with PiratesProspects.com:


Kevin Creagh/Pirates Prospects: "Would the Pirates be able to afford a $70M to $80M payroll, in present-day worth, if this current group of players were competitive enough to merit additional outside free agents?"

Frank Coonelly: "Today, no but we will be able to support that payroll very soon if our fans believe that we now have a group of players in Pittsburgh and on its way here in the near future that is competitive.  We need to take a meaningful step forward in terms of attendance to reach that payroll number while continuing to invest heavily in our future but I am convinced that the attendance will move quickly once we convince our fans that we are on the right track."

Classic, classic Coonelly right there. That's right Pittsburgh, after 18 years of flushing your hard-earned money down the drain in the hopes of Kris Benson, Kevin Young, and Bryan Bullington turning the team around, the responsibility is on YOU to fund a higher payroll. 

Honestly, I don't even know what smarmy comment I could add to this, because its outrageousness stands on its own. I simply cannot, for the life of me, believe that one team of executives could have so many poorly-thought-out claims in the span of a few years. Just throw it on the heap with "best management team in baseball" and the "upside of years of control" on Dana Eveland, and make sure it gets a good spot in that book.

For the full interview: Interview with Frank Coonelly – Follow-up from Piratefest [PiratesProspects.com]

30 comments:

Corey said...

Well, they might as well have interviewed Nate! And just so I understand it correctly, if we all throw our support behind a non-competitive team, then they will start TRYING to be competitive?

Hmmmm.

Nate said...

...He obviously means that if young players get the team playing at a respectable level, attendance is going to increase and so is the team's spending power.

I don't think anyone's expecting people to go to Pirates games en masse while the team sucks.

Nate said...

PS notice how in that "years of control" comments thread I said Brad Lincoln wasn't ready yet. Who was right there? His 6.66 ERA and 1.54 WHIP sure did look good.

BURGH08 said...

I call BS on that one.

Lincoln was worth taking the shot on then and now, especially since they kept throwing Morton out there to get crushed.

As for these comments, I'm not defending them, but can anyone really be 'outraged' or 'upset' by them anymore?

Nate said...

He did have better final numbers than Morton (sadly), I'll give you that. And I think sending Morton down really benefited him as well - he pitched a lot better when he came back up (granted, he couldn't have pitched much worse).

I worry about the long-term development implications of Lincoln because of that move though. Being worse than Brian Burres in the Majors on your first go-round isn't exactly a confidence booster. Then again, Lincoln is going to be 26 years old next year...he's got to learn to sink or swim in the Majors some time.

Perkey said...

Dynasty...

Dallas Mike said...

You want to know who holds the most leverage when it comes to the Pirates? It is certainly not the fans. It is Zambelli's and their 10-12 shows they put on each year. If I had a consulting engagement with Zambelli's, I would encourage them to triple the price of a fireworks show. That would be the most devastating blow to Pirates management. What will management do - not purchase the package for the season? The whole marketing calendar hinges on this decision, and I will admit that is has become an institution in Pittsburgh. You want to talk about tense negotiations and bargaining from a position of strength.....Dear Zambelli's if you're reading this, please call Value Inc. in Irving, TX.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

If you went to a Kia dealer and they told you that you had to pay Mercedes prices for a Kia because in a few years, Kia is going to be on the same level as Mercedes, would you take that deal?

The FO/Nuttings do not want to put up 1 cent of their own coin as collateral for winning. They have a taxpayer funded stadium and they make their payroll from revenue sharing alone before they even sell a single ticket. The Pirates, as has been previously stated, ar the most aplty named team in the history of sports.

Corey said...

@Dallas Mike, are you suggesting that fireworks will put more people in the seats than a compeititve team would?

Steve said...

I was going to post something here but I can't see through my blinding anger clear enough to think.

Nate said...

I'm pretty sure if Zambelli's tripled their prices they'd just lose business. I'm willing to bet there are other fireworks companies that would jump at the opportunity to have their fireworks showcased in a Major League ballpark, even if it's for a terrible team. Don't believe me? Look how competitive the gig is for even minor league teams. Being that that's the case, it would be pretty daft to not just go with a lower bidder for the fireworks shows if Zambelli's started thinking they were bigger than their highest paying customer.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

The Pirates are the greatest team and most well run organization in all of sports, not just the MLB. Every move they make imrpoves the team. . Huntington is never wrong and neither are the Pirates. The Pirates have not had 18 straight losing seasons, that is a lie made up by anti-Nutting haters. They never do anything wrong and are perfect in their spending and talent and personnell evaluation. The results are there to prove that they have been doing everything right for the last 2 decades. If you can't see the blatant progress, you are just one-sided and unfairly hate the FO and the Pirates. It is only okay to blindly side with every decision they make because they have never done anything that would lead fans to potentially mistrust or ridicule them.

Signed,
Nate

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

C'mon Burress, Nate didn't write that. He'd never defend the team without stats to back it up.

Bababooey said...

This just in.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded their 2012 First Round Draft Pick for....NATE!

TravBlog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Corey said...

You guys don't get it. Five years from now when the Pirates finish the season at .500, Nate's gonna be the one laughing and saying I told you so.

brian said...

Honestly how many owners (Art Modell?) pay out of pocket to fund payroll? That doesn't seem to be a sustainable model for success. Florida and Arizona ended up dismantling teams and heavily slashing payroll after pouring the big bucks into a team and not having the revenue or simple cash to keep the team together.

If the Pirates are to eventually be a successful because of the players here now and in the minors, the team payroll should be at this $70 million that was mentioned.

Small market teams have been able to get their payroll to that level as they pay for successful teams and good players. Teams like Milwaukee and Minnesota saw their attendance to 35,000+ a game and have been able to retain the team and add key pieces, while the Rays had awful attendance and weren't able to retain their team. Fortunately for them they have a loaded farm system. The Reds have been the exception and I would think that their attendance will go up markedly coming off a division title.

As for Pittsburgh, it is on management to put the team together which we know hasn't been done in ages. I do feel that it's better to do it by flooding the majors with talent from the draft/minors than trying to spend big in one year via FA/Trades when the market is small and the revenue opportunities are limited compared to the competition.
If the Pirates do well, hopefully PNC is packed every evening, but unfortunately Pittsburgh historically has not drawn well in good times and bad. The last time Pittsburgh was in the upper half of attendance in the NL was 1972 and have never even come close to drawing 3M+ fans in a given year.

Cool Hand Nuke said...

I've long been of the opinion that I do not want this team to succeed at any cost because it would only justify the past, current, and future decisions of the front office. My only rooting interest is that the Nuttings are eventually shamed out of ownership.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

@Nuke:

You are treading on dangerous ground my assuming the Nuttings have any shame......

Dallas Mike said...

Corey and Nate,

I was being facetious....

My thoughts are this:

A) It is the Nuttings right to run the team as a business - they have no obligation to field a winning team. (I have a major problem with the PR Spin year in and year out)
B) It is my right to never spend one cent enabling that behavior
C) The MLB "subsidy model" actually incentivises anti-risk taking behavior, so the Nuttings will be hard pressed to sell
D) 18 straight years of losing and the Pirates still draw 1.5+ million fans tells me there is no elasticity of demand among the fan base

Steve said...

Hey B-ri,

Of course no one expects the Pirates to lose money every year to win but then again, they aren't exactly crying poor either and like has been pointed out over and over, they make enough to pay for a roster of players costing over $60 million before even having to sell a ticket, a beer or a parking spot, etc... Plus, there is a sound business model out there that says sometimes (even a lot of times) you have to spend money and lose money to earn it back, so losing some cash now and then to build something people will pay for isn't exactly a bad thing.

Oh yeah, and there's the other solution that is staring them in the face...maybe they could sign some quality players more often than not. Like everyone who backs this joke of a FO likes to point out, other teams have done it on the cheap, so why can't the Pirates?

Do I really have to answer that question?

Steve said...

My point is; this Pirates ownership isn't financially invested in this team. To be financially invested you have to stand to lose money by failing. The Pirates MAKE money by failing, meaning they aren't invested and therefore don't care regardless of the BS that drips from their lips.

Nate said...

"The Nuttings..." It's one guy. It's Bob Nutting. There's no "Nuttings." He has a family, but they don't own the Pirates. He does. And he's been principle owner since 2008, not since 1992. The other businessmen in the family own newspapers.

Burress, you're right. I blindly defend the Pirates. Things I've said about them in this post:

1. Brad Lincoln was terrible, the move to bring him up was a bad one, and they may have ruined his development in the long-term.

2. Charlie Morton was somehow even more terrible and the problem should have been addressed sooner.

3. If the Pirates field a winning team fans will show up to games. If they field a winning team. If. Not when. If.

4. If Zambelli fireworks increased their prices the Pirates would get fireworks from a competitor instead. That's not defending the Pirates, that's understanding basic economic principles.

5. There's been no proof that anyone in the Nutting family other than Bob Nutting has an ownership stake in the team.

Nate said...

Steve:

Your argument, as I understand it, is that the Pirates have $60M to work with on payroll before selling anything.

Let's ignore the payment of stadium employees, the cost of stadium maintenance, front office contracts, the cost of the team's manager, scouts, and every other need that an MLB club has. Let's say they scrap firework and bobblehead nights and all that. Let's assume that they have $60M to spend EXCLUSIVELY on Major League payroll, before selling anything.

The team's payroll for 2011, so far, is about $35M. Let's remove the free agents they've signed - Lyle Overbay, Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen and Garrett Atkins from the equation. Before signing anyone, the payroll was $19.7M (being generous...I'm subtracting the full value of Scott Olsen's contract assuming he reaches all incentives, some of which include winning the Cy Young and World Series MVP. His base salary is $500K.)

$60M - $19.7M = $40.3M to work with.

You get to be GM and owner. Here's the list of free agents going into the 2011 season: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011-mlb-free-agents

With your $40.3M, put together a team that can compete from those free agents.

Corey said...

Nate, If you would just agree that this team is not interested in being competitive as long as they make their money, then you are blindly defending the pirates !

Corey said...

I meant to say. Unless you would

Cool Hand Nuke said...

The Pirates have and will continue to be an embarrassment in Pittsburgh.

They are a stain upon the very words in which this town was deemed 'City of Champions'.

makoman said...

have not and will not put a nickel in the pocket of this organization as long as these blowhards are involved in it.

Xander Lawson said...

Wouldn't anyone with the cash spend on talent? The real question there is the quality of that talent.

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