Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rainy Day Notes

The bad news is that last night's game was rained out; the silver lining is that the Pirates bullpen really needed a day off, and a rain-out is as good as a complete game to them.

-- Jeff Karstens and Livian Hernandez will try to get it on again tonight, if the weatherman cooperates (the forecast calls for scattered showers this evening, even though ol' Sol has made an appearance this afternoon).

The game is scheduled for 7:05 PM and will be broadcast on Root Sports. Tonight's give-away is the ever-popular Andrew McCutchen action figure, although Bucco umbrella night would be a more apt promotion.

-- The lineup: Andrew McCutchen CF, Jose Tabata LF, Lyle Overbay 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Garrett Jones RF, Ryan Doumit C, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Ronny Cedeno SS, Jeff Karstens P.

Caveat Emptor - this is yesterday's lineup; we'll edit it if there are any changes. We expect Clint Hurdle will let Brandon Wood figure out what time zone he's in before penciling him in the order, although one can never discount the effects of an adrenaline rush.

-- Wood will be in uniform tonight; he's supposed to arrive in Pittsburgh between 8-9AM on a red-eye from LA. Hope he's good at power naps and doesn't catch a touch of SAD (seasonal affective disorder, better known as the rainy day blues/cabin fever, an epidemic in town this year.)

Pedro Ciriaco is likely to return to Indianapolis with Wood here; he was called up from the Tribe as infield insurance until BW's arrival.

-- Starling Marte had three hits and six RBI in Altoona's 15-inning marathon victory over Richmond last night. He tied the game in the ninth with a two-run single and capped it in the fifteenth with a bases-juiced triple. Marte only had 3 RBI going into the game.

He's not overmatched in AA, though - he's hitting .364 with an 11 game hitting streak, and has reached base in all 13 games the Curve have played.

Give the bullpen (Brian Leach, Tim Alderson, Mike Dubee, Tom Boleska, Anthony Claggett & Noah Krol) huge props. They threw goose eggs for ten frames, allowing three hits and striking out a dozen. Of course, mirroring the big team, they walked seven.

-- Kyle McPherson pitched a dandy for Bradenton last night, leading the Marauders to a 4-0 win over Fort Myers. He went seven innings, giving up five hits and striking out six without issuing a free pass. (Terry Mathews of Pirate Prospects has a report on his outing). Jarek Cunningham smoked three doubles to prime the attack.

-- Colin Fry of the Associated Press has the details of Ryan Braun's new five-year, $105M contract extension:

"The agreement includes a $10 million signing bonus payable in four equal installments each April 1 from 2012 through 2015. Of his salary, $4 million annually from 2016-18 will be deferred without interest and $3 million a year in both 2019 and 2020. The deferred money will be paid in equal installments each July 1 from 2022 to 2031."

"Braun signed a seven-year deal in 2008 for $45 million. His newest contract runs through 2020 and the Brewers are committed to paying him at least $145.5 million."

The deal probably doesn't leave much left in the kitty for Prince Fielder, who becomes a free agent after this season. And it surely sent shivers down the spines of Bob Nutting, Frank Connelly and company to see another mega-contract agreement reached in the Central Division.

To give you an idea of how far behind they are in salaries, here's the Central 2011 payroll breakdown according to Cot's Contracts:

-- Chicago Cubs, $134M
-- St. Louis Cards $109M
-- Milwaukee Brewers $83M
-- Cincinnati Reds $80M
-- Houston Astros $76M
-- Pittsburgh Pirates $42M

Sooner or later, the purse strings will have to loosen, no matter what industry model they follow, as the bar keeps being raised higher and higher and their young guns pile up service time.


WilliamJPellas said...

They do have to loosen the purse strings to some degree. Surely Andrew McCutchen is the first big test case for the current regime. That said, it's not true that the Pirates never pay somewhat larger dollars for their own players; Ryan Doumit, Ian Snell, and Nate McLouth---all homegrown---were all given fairly lucrative contracts to buy them out of their arb years, though McLouth was of course immediately traded. Believe it or not, I have no problem, in principle, with the Pirates being careful with their money, PROVIDED they prove that they are still willing to spend appropriately when doing so would give them a legitimate shot at making the postseason. Otherwise, I have very little time for the insane greed of the MLBPA. While their entertainment value is off the charts and while I greatly enjoy being entertainted by them, the fact is that, at the end of the day, these guys are playing a kids' game and being paid obscene amounts of money to do it. Even at the lowest end of the pay scale.

Ron Ieraci said...

I really don't have any complaints yet, Will, now or past. A pricey free agent without a nucleus and pitching staff is just throwing money away.

And you're right that the payroll is more a function of service time than penny-pinching to date. But contracts keep escalating, and so does the cost of business.

The time of ponying up is approaching, and I agree with you that the way they handle McCutch will probably be an indicator of how they plan to deal down the road.

In the next two or three seasons, they'll have to come to grips with paying their players big-boy money...or letting them go, and that, of course, is the big question. Which road will they choose?