Saturday, December 03, 2005

Neil Walker's wrist

Neil had wrist surgery, DK reports. Apparently, he tore a wrist ligament Nov. 9 swinging in the AFL, but is expected to be fully healed and ready by mid-February, in time for spring training.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Colts cheat

Well, this explains everything.

No free drinks

The news gets worse.

"If the Pittsburgh Pirates were to offer free drinks to prospective season ticket holders, we would blast them for thinking their product could not be marketed to the sober," he said.

Story here.

Nomar Garciaparra

Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review says the mystery man is Nomar.

The Pirates probably wouldn't have to commit to a long-term deal to sign Garciaparra.

His willingness to switch positions could be taken as a sign he's seeking a short-term contract with a club to prove his worth over a couple of seasons before once again testing the free-agent market.

Hmmm. This is a guy with a big name and some serious & seriously recent injuries. He's no solution; he's just another longshot. We tried a gang of longshots in 2004 and 2005, and we saw what happened when some (Bay, Ollie, Duke) come through big-time.

"Right now, we're not in the A-grade market (for free agents)," Littlefield said. "One thing we always try hard to do is find some undervalued players. It's a risky way of doing business. It's not really the way you want to do business, but you always have to supplement."

D'oh! I understand what he's saying there, but the roster is overcrowded with "undervalued" players.

I'd still be looking for a sure thing who could step in and hit cleanup for the next two or three years. You have to score more runs than the other team if you want to win in this league. Signing Garciaparra won't take a lot of money or cost us any prospects. It merely clogs a roster spot that could have been used for a lesser-known longshot.

No Manny

I'm used to Rowdy's tongue-in-cheek hyperbole, so I didn't think he seriously thought we could pursue Manny. But I don't agree with the general sentiment that we should mortgage the future for a slugger to help us approach .500 for the next two years. Rowdy might be right that players should never be expected to produce more than 2 years in advance. And yes, we have an excess of young pitching talent and should trade some of this for hitters. But given that the minors are largely devoid of position player talent, where will signing a Manny-type for the next couple years really get us?

Maybe it'd generate more money by having a mediocre rather than a league-worst team, and that money could be poured back into the payroll. I doubt that would happen under the current ownership. Maybe instead we should try to get cheaper younger guys like Ryan Church, Lastings Milledge, Wily Mo Pena, Austin Kearns, or Adam Dunn.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Manny Ramirez

How do we trade for Manny Ramirez? Manny could be Manny in Pittsburgh. He was better in Cleveland than Boston.

He is owed $57M for the next three seasons. How much can we increase payroll for this year? I'd be reluctant to trade for someone with a long-term contract, but three years is not overlong by today's standards. Free agents like Manny can easily get three or many more. So this may be the only chance - through trade, mid-contract - to get a non-homegrown hitter of Manny's caliber in Pittsburgh. And note Jason Bay will probably be out of Pittsburgh before we grow our own Manny Ramirez. He is that good.

If the Pirates increase payroll by say $15M over the next three years, that's $45M. We take on that part of the contract and slide Boston whatever prospects they want for the remainder.

If the last four years of Jason Bay's pre-arb and arb-eligible years are worth $18M, five years of Zach Duke should more than compensate for the missing $12M. Maybe we give them Duke for Manny at $14M per year. My people can talk to your people and they can work out the little details.

Manny Ramirez would lay waste the NL Central pitching staffs.

some eBay items

Nice stuff on eBay this morning.

1909 Real Photo card.

1908 Card.

1935 the "other" Pirates.

1960 Yearbook.

Of course, I'm not the seller of any of that stuff. And I can't afford that stuff either. I just like to "enjoy it in the store," as a friend's mother used to say.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Noonie signs

Two years, $3.35 million.

Guess the Phils won't be looking for Freddy Sanchez in trade.

Q & A time

Dejan is back.

The most interesting nugget I can share with you from the handful of conversations I have had in the past couple days is that the club has, at the very least, initiated contact with parties you would think would be way, way out of their standard price range, including free agents.

Bobby Abreu would look so sweet in the black and gold.

Roa, Roach, and Whiteside

Three more scurvy RHPs signed to minor league contracts. 34, 29, and 38 years old, respectively. I guess you can never have too many age-inappropriate wily veterans in the minors. Anyway, welcome aboard, guys. Now grab a mop and swab the deck. Nyarrrrgh.

Another piece of us

Huge game on Sunday. Despite last night, Stillers right now are 3.5 point favorites. Not too surprising, though, given our earlier 27-13 win in Cincy. My favorite quotes from that game:

"It was like they wanted a piece of us, and we came out to show them, hey, that's not necessarily a good thing to wish for." - Troy Polamalu

"You have to understand that we're the champions until proven otherwise.'' - Joey Porter

Onside kick

Cowher's sticking to the onside kick call. "The design of it was not to be feast or famine, which it was," Cowher said. "We didn't execute it. Unfortunately, they got the ball and went in and scored."

The success of an on-side kick depends upon the unpredictable vagaries of how a football will bounce (in this case on the turf). How can you execute something you really can't control? I didn't like this call (or the QB draw on 4th-and-4) but agree with Coach that the O-Line crumbled. Although I don't favor this explanation, I'll admit it's possible we just lost to a better team.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

the Jason Bay signing

My experience following baseball lately has taught me that it is folly to bank long-term player contracts as evidence a team will still have the same great player three or four years from now. Short-term player decisions involve today, tomorrow, next week, the rest of a current season. Long-term player decisions should focus on no more than the next calendar two years. Pitchers are notoriously inconsistent, mainly because of the near-inevitability of injury. Most hitters are not much different.

The draft is an obvious exception. Strong, healthy franchises will do a lot of long-term planning in areas such as the draft, minor-league affiliation, marketing, etc. When dealing with major-league players, however, I don't see the logic with expecting much from anyone in the time frame that begins two calendar years from today or tomorrow.

I imagine that teams understand this, to some degree, and that they regard long-term contracts, as I do, as a way of deferring payment for the next two seasons. In other words, I see a five-year, $45 million dollar contract not as $45M for five years but as $22.5M for two years, to be paid out over five years. Anything the team gets beyond year two is gravy.

A team could wisely invest in a select class of players, and perhaps they could expect that one of every three long-term signings will maintain that high level for the duration of the contract. But who knows how to choose one recently-high-achieving player over another recently-high-achieving player?

I bring this up because a lot of the reporting on the Jason Bay signing confuses me. He played for the minimum. For two years, he excelled; he was a top player. The Pirates reward that by buying out his arbitration years at a rate that is close (if not under) what he would receive through the arbitration process should he continue to perform at this level. I don't think the odds are great that Jason Bay will continue to duplicate 2004 and 2005 year after year after year. That's really rare.

So I think the Bucs made him a rich man, and I think the signing was generous. Well, if not generous, certainly not skinflint. They probably would have saved money had they continued to renew him one year at a time.

But then they have to take their best player to arbitration year after year, which no one enjoys. There are other good reasons to give him a lot of money. The payroll has to go somewhere. The likelihood of salary inflation means that it could be a good investment to defer payment into years three and beyond. Also, if we regard Bay's deal as $18M for two (and not four) years, we have the Bucs paying him $9M per year for two years -- about what he would command, I think, were he a free agent. Better to spend the money on Bay than to spend it on a two-year deal for an older free agent. Plus, Bay brings the chance - looks good now, but who knows - of duplicating 2005 not only in '06 and '07, but also in '08 and '09.

It was a good move, for sure, but not for the reasons I most often read. The Bucs were in no danger of losing Bay. He was going to be their player for the next four years, contract or no contract. He's not a part of some long-term plan that's likely to work; he's more like Bobby Abreu for the next two years, with gravy years and deferred salary to boot.

All hail Jason Bay. I'm glad he's a Pirate. If we had two more hitters like him, we'd be a force in the NL Central.

Steelers lose

That sucked. We'll see them again in the playoffs. Maybe.

Cincinnati next week.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Steelers at Colts

Make predictions. Here's mine: Steelers win, 27-10. They get up for MNF games and regular-season games like no other team in the NFL.

Tike employed

We report that Rotoworld reports that WFAN reports that the Mets signed Tike Redman.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

No Mike Lowell

This is interesting. John Perrotto reports the Pirates had interest in Josh Beckett, but would not take Mike Lowell in the deal.

Call me encouraged.