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For a Few Dollars More

Welcome to our regular Saturday feature “What Aggravates Me”

March came in with temperatures fluctuating between “Spring like” and “this sucks!” Summer can’t be too far off though, because they’re playing baseball down in Florida. For twenty losing years, it didn’t really matter here in Pittsburgh. People only went to the ball park to see fireworks and a “Lynyrd Skynyrd” tribute band. Of course they bill themselves as the real band, but since there are no original members, they may as well be “mini-Kiss.”

With three straight playoff seasons, those twenty years are in the past. We have something to look forward to. After two early exits in the wild card round, this could be the year to get over the hump. If they could just add one more quality starter. Maybe this time, tight-fisted owner, Bob “Ka-Ching” Nutting would finally let the money out of his pockets and into the payroll. Yeah, think again.

I don’t want to hear how the Pirates are in a small market. Kansas City is also a small market, yet they managed to win the World Series last year. How? By spending a few more dollars than the Pirates.

Once again the Pirates are trying to fill roster spots with other team’s garbage. First they had to dump the salary of popular Pittsburgh native, Neil Walker. This was because he reached the point in his career when he could be paid the going rate for quality second basemen. “Ka-Ching!”

Instead of maybe signing a decent starting pitcher, the Pirates went out and got a guy that pitched for them a long time ago. Yeah, the other players in the locker room might enjoy hearing stories about traveling by train and playing alongside Honus Wagner, but that doesn’t translate into wins.

Once again, the Pirates expect pitching coach Ray Searage to work his magic on something they found left by the curb. The man has worked miracles before. Look what he did with Edison Volquez two years ago. Of course at the end of the year Volquez expected to be paid the going rate. That didn’t happen. Guess where he ended up? That’s right, Kansas City. “Ka-Ching!”

So instead of Volquez thirteen wins, the Pirates trotted Charlie Morton out to the mound every five days to throw batting practice to the other team. Do you think those thirteen wins would have come in handy getting ahead of St. Louis?

When you’re one of the worst teams in baseball, you get to draft higher. This means it shouldn’t have taken twenty years to have quality players. Of course when you draft good players, you have to pay them.

Remember a few years back when the Pirates needed a catcher. Everyone thought they would take Matt Wieters with the second pick. Nutting wouldn’t allow them to draft him because of the cost. Instead they picked Daniel Markos, who was supposed to last until the third or fourth round. Much cheaper that way. Matt Wieters has made three All-Star games. Daniel Markos sold me a coffee at Starbucks the other day. “Ka-Ching!”

After word got out, the people of Pittsburgh were ready to run Nutting out of town. That’s when he finally allowed them to draft some decent players. One of those players is Gerrit Cole, the best pitcher they’ve had in years. Last year he won nineteen games and made the All-Star team. How did they reward him? By offering him less money than he made last year. When he called them on it they threatened to take him down to the league minimum. “Ka-Ching!”

It’s hard to find anything nice to say about an owner who boos at the end of “A Christmas Carol,” when Scrooge starts spending his money. It’s going on thirty seven years since the Pirates have been to the World Series. If you keep getting rid of players because you’re cheap, it’ll be thirty seven more.

I could be wrong. The Pirates could be competitive this year with only two starting pitchers and nobody to play first. If not, enjoy the fireworks. “Ka-Ching!”