Putting the Pirates payroll in perspective

Clayton Kershaw 2013

Even though the Pirates haven’t made a huge splash or spent a ton of money this offseason, their payroll could rise to around $70 million or even as high as $80 million. That factors in the few moves they have made, as well as the raises six players will receive from the arbitration process. It’ll be the fourth consecutive season that the club sees a payroll increase. While that seems like a big deal for the small market Bucs, it’s next-to-nothing for what some other MLB teams are throwing around…

We got another reminder of that this evening, as Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw signed a huge contract extension to stay in LA. It’s worth $215 million over seven years, giving him the largest annual average salary in baseball history. At $30.7 million per season, that’s considerably more than the Pirates will pay their entire starting rotation in 2014:

  2014 Salary
Francisco Liriano $6 million
Charlie Morton $4 million
Gerrit Cole $500,000 (minimum)
Edinson Volquez $5 million
Wandy Rodriguez $7.5 million ($5.5 paid by HOU)
Jeff Locke $500,000 (minimum)
Total $23.5 million


If the entire Pirates payroll comes in around $70-80 million to start the season, that’s considerably less than what the Dodgers have tied to their batch of starting pitchers:

2014 Salary
Clayton Kershaw $31 million
Zack Greinke $29 million
Hyun-Jin Ryu $6 million
Dan Haren $10 million
Chad Billingsley $12 million
Josh Beckett $15.75 mililon
Total $103.75 million


And they still want to add Masahiro Tanaka (or someone else expensive).

This is what the Pirates have to compete with. The economics of baseball are spiraling out of control with these contracts growing and growing.

Thankfully the club locked up Andrew McCutchen to one of the team-friendliest contracts in the league, but you worry/know that guys like Gerrit Cole are going to get priced out of Pittsburgh down the line.

If there’s anything we learned from the 2013 Pirates, it’s that you can 100% compete on a budget. Even with a smaller payroll, they still have a shot at being a legit contender. Maybe it’s just a little frustrating that they don’t have limitless cash to spend like the Dodgers.

Go Bucs

Saturday Stat Sheet 6/15/13

– Two great stats via @MLBStatoftheDay:


We wrote about Jeff Locke’s recent success last night. In his last five outings: 1.21 ERA, .186 opponent batting average, 28 strikeouts.

– And who would’ve guessed Locke would be the only pitcher in the Opening Day rotation still standing on June 15th? A new face gets an audition today, as 24-year-old right-hander Brandon Cumpton makes his MLB debut. From Pirates Prospects:

[quote_simple]”Cumpton will pound the strike zone with his fastball, which usually sits around 92 as a starter and has a lot of movement and downward angle. He pairs that with a good mid-80s slider and also throws a changeup. He can get strikeouts with the slider, but mostly works toward efficiency and tries to get outs on the ground. He is fearless when throwing inside, usually living on the inner half of the plate. He’s got good command of his pitches, doesn’t issue a lot of walks, and is very efficient with his pitch counts.”[/quote_simple]

– In four years of Minor League ball, Cumpton went 26-24 with a 3.85 ERA.

– Cumpton’s mound opponent is one of the best in the game: Clayton Kershaw. In his career against the Pirates, Kershaw is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 42 innings.

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Pirates Batting Stats (Table of stats updates daily):

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Pirates Pitching Stats (Table of stats updates daily):

Russell Martin earns NL Player of the Week

Pirates’ catcher Russell Martin has earned National League Player of the Week honors for his solid hitting from April 22 – April 28.

In that time frame, Martin hit .375 with two doubles, four home runs, and a 1.333 OPS. He collected base knocks in five of six games, including three of the multi-hit variety:

Apr 22 PIT @ PHI L,2-3 3 1 2 0 0 1 1 .241 .349 .426 .775
Apr 23 PIT @ PHI W,2-0 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 .241 .343 .414 .757
Apr 24 PIT @ PHI W,5-3 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .226 .324 .387 .711
Apr 26 PIT @ STL L,1-9 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 .227 .320 .379 .699
Apr 27 PIT @ STL W,5-3 4 2 2 1 0 1 2 .243 .329 .443 .772
Apr 28 PIT @ STL W,9-0 5 2 3 1 0 2 3 .267 .345 .547 .892
PIT 75 12 20 6 0 5 9 .267 .345 .547 .892
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2013.

Click HERE to watch some of his blasts from the past week.

Previous winners of NL Player of the Week this season: Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey, and Carlos Gomez.

Martin is a big reason why the Bucs have won eight of their last ten games. His defense has been a nice addition as well, already showing signs of improvement over Rod Barajas. He’s been suiting up behind the plate quite a bit, so hopefully he doesn’t wear himself out. It’d be nice to see Martin continue his sharp hitting, especially after starting the year on an 0 for 17 skid. He’ll make a lot of fans in Pittsburgh if he keeps producing, both at the plate and behind it.

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates @ Dodgers

preview LAD

Pittsburgh Pirates @ Los Angeles Dodgers

April 5, 2013 – 10:10 pm
April 6, 2013 – 9:10 pm
April 7, 2013 – 4:10 pm

Dodger Stadium


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Probable Starters:

Game 1 – Jonathan Sanchez vs. Zack Greinke

Game 2 – A.J. Burnett vs. Clayton Kershaw

Game 3 – Jeff Locke vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu

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Batting Leaders:




Andrew McCutchen (.300)

Carl Crawford (.556)


Clayton Kershaw (1)


McCutchen, Gaby Sanchez (2)

Four players tied with 1


McCutchen (4)

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Pitching Leaders:




Wandy Rodriguez (1)

Clayton Kershaw (1)


A.J. Burnett (10)

Kershaw (7)


Wandy Rodriguez (0.00)

Kershaw (0.00)


Jason Grilli (1)

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Opponent Blogs: True Blue LA, Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, Lasorda’s Lair

Player to Watch: Zack Greinke, who makes his Dodgers debut on Friday night. He signed a 6 year, $147 million deal with LA in December, later admitting that he’s all about the money.

Go Bucs

Bucs’ bats still cold; tough pitching awaits in LA

The Pirates head out to the west coast this weekend, carrying a 1-2 record. They’ve hit just .144 (13 for 90) as a team with six runs scored, and have yet to put a ball over the fence. Andrew McCutchen leads the team with a .300 batting average, while Russell Martin, Jose Tabata, and Travis Snider are a combined 0 for 16 to start the season. It won’t get any easier for the Bucs, as they’ll face some of the Dodgers’ top pitchers this weekend. Here’s a look…

Zack Greinke

On Friday night, Zack Greinke will make his Dodgers debut. The 29 year old right-hander admitted that he went to the Dodgers for the money:

[quote_center]”I could play for the worst team if they paid the most. If the last-place team offers $200 million and the first-place team offers $10, I’m going to go for the $200 million no matter what team it was.”[/quote_center]

Greinke was arguably the top free agent on the market this winter. His signing with Los Angeles easily increased their payroll and chances of winning. He can throw six different pitches (fastball, sinker, cutter, slider, curveball, changeup), and is 4-1 in his career vs. Pittsburgh. The Bucs cracked Greinke for six runs (five earned) on seven hits in Milwaukee last season.

Jonathan Sanchez will face off against Greinke and make his Pirates debut. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares against Matt Kemp & Co.

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Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw, two-time All-Star and 2011 Cy Young Award winner, gets the nod for LA on Saturday. Kershaw’s performance on Opening Day was unbelievable; not only did he throw a complete game shut-out against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, he also hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning.

Nearly unhittable when he’s on, Kershaw is arguably the top left-handed pitcher in the game today. Plus, he’s only 25 years old (born March 19, 1988); to put that in perspective, he’s only seven months older than Starling Marte and a year and a half younger than Andrew McCutchen. Despite his young age, he’s appeared in 152 big league games and holds a 2.77 career ERA. Kershaw needs to pitch just 47 more innings to reach 1,000 in his career.

A.J. Burnett will go on Saturday, as he’ll be pitching on regular rest. Hopefully A.J. brings his “A” game to match up with Kershaw.

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Hyun-Jin Ryu

LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, who made his MLB debut on Tuesday night, gets the ball on Sunday. He allowed three runs (one earned) on 10 hits vs. San Francisco, escaping trouble with a trio of double plays. The 26 year old southpaw hails from Incheon, South Korea and received a six-year, $36 million deal to pitch for Los Angeles.

Jeff Locke, the youngest pitcher in the starting rotation, will start for the Pirates. He posted a 2.63 ERA and surrendered just one home run in 27.1 innings this spring; hopefully he can carry that performance over into the regular season.

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After their off-day on Thursday, the Dodger bullpen should be well-rested for this series as well. The Bucs got nice outings from the first three starters of the year, although Burnett is the only one who will pitch in Los Angeles.

Starting Friday, the Buccos will face clubs that finished .500 or better in their next 29 games.

Here’s to hoping the Pirates’ offense can explode and win a few ballgames in LA.

Go Bucs