The winds of change seem to be swirling around the Pittsburgh landscape as well as the Pirates’ batting cage nowadays. Last week, Tribune-Review columnist Tim Benz wrote a column partially explaining why certain Pirates may be headed to the auction block. Benz wrote that: “(Outfielder Corey) Dickerson is one of many veteran players who has been mentioned potentially getting shipped out if the Pirates decide to make moves. Dickerson, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova, David Freese, Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer are owed a prorated $46.86 million to be paid out the rest of the year. Combined, they are owed $48.66 million over the remainder of their contracts after 2018. So you know Pirates management would love to unload that projected debt as much as possible between now and the end of the month.”
I have a hunch that Tim is, at the very least, partially right. With the Pirates’ attendance figures being significantly down in 2018, there has to be a way for management not to lose money and maybe even make a profit, especially in light of the very obvious fact that there seems not to be a very concerted effort by the Pirates ownership to put together a roster that has a chance to compete and win on the field. As long as the bottom line is green, Pittsburgh fans will remain blue and the chances of the Pirates fielding a winning squad will remain secondary.
Benz also relayed the fact that Corey Dickerson would prefer to remain in Pittsburgh. Benz wrote that Dickerson also told him this: “I love it here, I feel comfortable. I’m not even thinking about anywhere else.”
Sound familiar? Remember Andrew McCutchen said many times that he wished he could remain a Pirate. But what did that mean? Absolutely zilch. With the turnstiles at PNC Park becoming a tad chilly that means the thermostat in the trading and selling arena has to be turned up, post haste. This bears repeating. “Dickerson, Cervelli, Nova, Freese, Harrison and Mercer are owed almost $47 million even if it is prorated through the 2018 season.”
Let’s hit rewind and make a quick comparison. In 2016 “A-Rod” made $20 million by himself. Miguel Cabrera has made $28 million solo. Are you getting my drift?
Whatever happened to the saying, “You have to spend money to make money?” That doesn’t seem to apply to the fiscal policies of the Pirates ownership because of their current practices; they may still be able to turn a profit even with subpar performances on the field. If Pittsburgh unloads just three of the six aforementioned players, a Little League game might possibly be more competitive than the Pirates in the upcoming seasons.
This past weekend, the Pirates pulled off a five-game sweep of their NL Central Division rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers. Many folks said, “Bring out the brooms.” What brooms will the Bucs’ management use to sweep the excuses and ineptitude under the “rug of greed,” when the Pirates begin to purge many players from their current roster that more than likely may represent the only reasonable chance for them to become and remain competitive, now or in the near future?
Josh Harrison may be holding his cards close to the vest in regards to committing to remain a Pirate. However, Harrison is not being any more or less covert than ownership is when they decide upon making a move by upending their current roster, not for the sake of winning but simply for the love of what the R&B group the O’Jays simply describe as, “Mean, mean, oh mean, mean green, almighty dollar…”
Let us hope and pray that the memories and photos of Honus Wagner, Pie Traynor, Roberto Clemente, Vernon Law, Bill Mazeroski and Willie Stargell will not be defiled and replaced with photos of “dead presidents.”
(Aubrey Bruce: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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