OK, we took a look at this year's payroll in the last post. Next year's shouldn't be much of a burden, either.
Nate McLouth, Paul Maholm, Ian Snell, Ryan Doumit, and Ramon Vazquez are all signed, and will earn a base pay of $18.8M among them. Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez have option years worth $16.4M between them. It'll probably be buy-out time for the middle of the infield, if they're not already packaged and dealt by the deadline.
Tyler Yates, Matt Capps, Zach Duke, Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelanny will all be arbitration-eligible. Still, the payroll should be manageable next season. Ah, but 2011.
McLouth, Maholm, Snell (option year), and Doumit will bring down $24.1M. With Pedro's anticipated arrival, the bill goes up just a bit, to $24.65M.
But bringing in a pack of pups like the Pirates did this year has the downside of them all hitting arbitration at the same time.
Capps and Duke will be in their third year, Burnett and Gorzelanny their second (and maybe Karstens, depending on how long he's on the 2009 MLB roster), and Craig Hansen (if he earns a spot on the roster this season), Phil Dumatrait, and Andy LaRoche all head into their first year.
Brandon Moss will almost certainly hit Super 2 status and begin arbitration, while Ross Ohlendorf will make it if he's on the roster all year in 2009. That's ten potential arbitration cases, seven or eight almost certain to make the cut.
Will some be signed to deals? Most certainly. Will some go? Again, most certainly.
By 2011, Andrew McCutchen should be established. Pedro Alvarez will be in the bigs. Jose Tabata, if he continues on, will be a Bucco. Evan Meek, Brad Lincoln and Byran Morris should be in the show; maybe Jeff Sues, too.
Shelby Ford and Jim Negrych should be MLB ready, if not already on the roster. Brian Friday and Jarek Cunningham should be fighting it out for short to replace Vazquez. Steve Pearce and Neil Walker should be in the mix.
Are all of these guys can't-miss players? Of course not. But are some of them going to make today's irreplaceable parts replaceable? Certainly. Some will be gone, some will sputter in the minors, and others will become MLB players.
We believe that 2011 will be the telling year for the Pirates. It's the season the Pirates should have their coming-out party and start to play some serious hardball - if the suits and Bob Nutting stay the course.
The cycle the suits have started will continue; guys with value and a fat contract will be moved for guys with potential as payroll pressure will squeeze the team with every successful deal and draft class. The question to be begged is whether they can replace the parts internally or not.
2010 will be season where a couple of guys will get introduced into the mix, but without much outside influence on the roster.
2011 will be when we'll find out if the suits can carry out their plan, and if Pittsburgh will join the ranks of the Rays and Twins or remain the same ol' Bucs.