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| Nov 17, 2014 - 2:35 PM
Unless you're stuck at work, without a phone or live in a cave, you know by now that the Toronto Bluejays signed Russell Martin to a 5 year contract worth $82 Million.
Great deal for Russell Martin, bad deal for the Bluejays in the long run.
That breaks down to $16.4 million per year.
The Pittsburgh Pirates reportedly offered Russell Martin a 3 year contract worth $48 million.
That breaks down to $16 million per year.
I'm sure that the Pirates could've scraped up $400K if needed to match the dollar figures. This however was about years. The length of the contract. At 32 years of age, this is Russ's last contract and whoever gave him the most years was likely to be the winner. The Dodgers could've easily outbid in terms of $$$$$ same with the Cubs. Both are teams that like to spend with reckless abandon with little to show for it.
Martin wanted job security.
He got it.
3 years was plenty to offer Russell Martin. That would've kept him here until he was 35. He could've mentored Pirates prospect Elias Diaz to take over with Reese McGuire in the background. What the Pirates didn't want is to be paying a catcher at the age of 36 and 37 the remainder of a hefty contract that is likely to be over $10 million per year regardless of how it's structured. The Toronto Bluejays had no problems doing this. It's also why the Blue Jays are never anything more than a 3rd-4th place team in their division.
The Pirates offered the same money. This isn't about being cheap. The internet shouldn't be complaining. This should be about personal decisions made on the length of the contract and if Martin was valuable enough for years 4-5...
.. but that pesky internet!!!! Who didn't see the Bob Nutting whiners??
First off, the Pirates have stated publicly the last couple of seasons that they will be raising ticket prices annually until they are at League Average. This isn't news.
Secondly, "stupid draft picks" are words Dave Littlefield and Cam Bonifay used to mumble as they fumbled draft after draft to the point that the Pirates weren't just garbage on the MLB diamond, but garbage... [Read More]
Teams must set their roster in anticipation of the Rule V draft by Thursday next week. There have been some excellent previews of whom the Pirates may protect in the upcoming draft, including this one from Pirates Prospects, but I am going to chime in with my two cents on the issue anyway.
The No Doubters: Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Elias Diaz
The consensus among pretty much everyone is that there are three players the Pirates will undoubtedly add to the roster and I agree with that. Taillon and Kingham are top prospects who are set to begin next season in AAA and who could be helping the club by the middle of next season. The Pirates would be foolish not to protect them. Elias Diaz has garnered quite a following lately thanks to his strong 2014 campaign and the attention the Pirates catcher position has gotten. By all accounts he is a strong defender who just needs his bat to develop a bit before he can become a major league regular. All 3 of these players project to be important players for the 2016 squad and could even contribute this upcoming season.
With those guys out of the way let's take a position by position look at some of the more debatable cases.
Catcher: Aside from the previously mentioned Diaz there isn't a catcher eligible for the Rule V draft who is even worth considering as a possibility to be added or selected.
1st Base: Stetson Allie, Jose Osuna, Justin Howard
As you can see I'm casting a really wide net here. Howard has no chance of being selected or added but he has shown an ability to hit AA pitching at a somewhat reasonable clip so he is at least worth mentioning. His lack of power and true defensive position limits his upside meaning he won't even really be considered. Osuna comes with some upside and is interesting enough that some team may possibly consider him but defensively he is basically limited to 1B (he has played some OF) and he has yet to play above A ball so its hard to imagine a team actually going through with their consideration and therefore the Pirates will not protect him. Allie was eligible for the Rule V draft last year and went unselected. That's no surprise as he only had success in A ball but this year he had decent success in AA so he would seem a much more... [Read More]
With the free agency theory officially under way I thought today represented a good opportunity to take a look at what the Pirates may do this offseason. Think of this as just a fun speculation exercise.
Ah, we start out with the big one. Under control the Pirates have a capable backup in Chris Stewart, a struggling but still intriguing young catcher in Tony Sanchez and a promising looking prospect in Elias Diaz. There is also Ramon Cabrera who still resides on the 40 man roster but for this purpose we will ignore him.
The big elephant in the room of course is Russell Martin. The Pirates would surely love to have Martin back and will likely make him a competitive offer but it seems more likely than not that someone will give him and offer that the Pirates simply shouldn't be willing to match. In this scenario the Pirates could either turn to their assortment of internal options none of which appear to be strong bets to be ready to handle regular duty to start the season or they could look at outside help.
Outside of Martin the next tier of free agent catchers isn't a very encouraging group. A.J. Pierzynski in theory could be a bounceback candidate but he'll be 38 next year and has definitely been on the decline the last few years. David Ross is somewhat intriguing but he too is in his late 30s and has only been used in a backup capacity in recent years. It’s possible he's not capable of anything more. John Buck and Nick Hundley are non zeroes with the bat who are generally regarded as decent defenders but both seem to be poor pitch framers which really doesn't fit with the Pirates recent emphasis. Geovany Soto is interesting in that he is a decent pitch framer and is generally considered solid on defense and not a zero with the bat but he hasn't been able to play much each of the last years. Still he might be the best bet of this group.
Trade targets are always tough to predict but if we keep in mind the Pirates MO of good pitch framers and look at teams that may have a catcher available we can come with some sort of a list. Francisco Cervelli spends his time backing up Brian McCann and is generally considered a plus defender and good pitch framer. Past few years he has shown a solid bat in a limited sample size and the last time the Pirates got a catcher from the Yankees it worked out well. Hank Cogner was reportedly on the Pirates radar a few years ago and with Chris... [Read More]
After coming off of a blowout of the Colts, In which the Steelers put up 51 points on the strength of 522 yards and 6 touchdown passes by Ben Roethlisberger, the big question was could the Steelers build off of that breakout performance from the offense. After a slow first quarter against the Ravens in tonight's game at Heinz Field, the answer was a resounding yes, as the Steelers overcame an early 7-0 deficit to throttle the Baltimore Ravens 43-23 in front of loud and raucous crowd that is always ready for prime time in this heated rivalry.
Early on, it looked like it just might be a repeat of the first meeting, when the Steelers couldn't get much of anything going in their 26-6 loss at M&T Bank Stadium. The Steelers didn't get their initial first down tonight until there was 1:27 left in the first quarter. From that moment on the Steelers took over control of the game and outscored the Ravens 43-16 and kicked them into last place in the AFC North. For the second consecutive game, Big Ben tossed 6 touchdown passes ( an NFL record), the last seeming to be a big "F" you to Baltimore from Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley, as Ben hit Matt Spaeth with his final touchdown pass to put an exclamation point on their Sunday night beat down in this heated rivalry.
With tonight's dispatching of the Ravens, the Steelers made a statement, that they are on the way back and that they are going to have their say in the AFC North and the playoff picture. The biggest things about this game that stood out were, not that the Steelers came back from a lethargic first quarter, but the fashion in which they did, and that they never took their foot off the gas pedal. All night, Roethlisberger had a swift and immediate response when Baltimore put points on the board. The general concensus at the beginning of the year was that the offense was going to have to pick up the defense until they started to gel as a unit, but tonight, the defense rose to the occasion, keeping the Steelers in it until Big Ben could start to crank it up. It was only appropriate that James Harrison was the guy to lead the defense and that Joe Flacco was never the same after Harrison drove him into the turf after a very hurried throw late in the second quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger, on the other hand, seemed to come to life after being sacked on three consecutive plays and nearly having his jaw broken on another. His 47 yard touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton... [Read More]
Go big or stay home. That is the way the Steelers have to think, how they can make something of this season and a necessary mantra for their challenging course. There can be no Steelers football in January if the rest of October and all of November and December aren't about going big.
The offense has not always looked like the Steelers' attack of the past three seasons. There was actually a time when Ben Roethlisberger was allowed to throw the ball, and by that I mean he spiraled it downfield.
The Steelers were basically a top-five team in terms of average yards per pass attempt over the initial eight seasons of the Roethlisberger Era. They made the playoffs six times over that span, winning two Super Bowls, losing one and also falling short in an AFC title game.
Those eight years represent the second-greatest era in franchise history, topped only by those Super Steelers of the 1970s, and we probably took it for granted because it felt like there was a formula in place for the good times to keep going.
Actually, the formula was in place.
Then the Steelers switched their offensive philosophy, replaced coordinator Bruce Arians with Todd Haley and tried to party like it was 1999 when the offense was a bunch of “Bus” rides and short routes. Call the current approach whatever you want — coach Mike Tomlin offered the word “balanced” last week — but it's really running to set up the pass, and it had made for some nice looking numbers, just not the one that mattered.
The modern NFL may be about complicated offenses and defenses deemed successful by making stops only at the most opportune times, but there remains a simple way to win: stretch the field.
Only one of the past five Super Bowl participants has finished outside the top 10 in average yards per pass attempt, and those 2012 Ravens completely changed their attack plan — essentially turning loose quarterback Joe Flacco — after changing... [Read More]