TW writes: For a team that hasn't had a winner since the early 90's, how is it possible they are just now getting to rebuilding their minor leagues? Better yet, when will they have a major league team worth talking about?
The fallacy of the small market team not being able to function in baseball is akin to WMDs in Iraq. The Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers etc have been paying payroll for teams like the Pirates since the last lockout.
All the "lambasting" about Wilson, Sanchez, and Adam Laroche are we forgetting that they kept the good Laroche!
Since 1993, the Pirates have done everything small-market franchises shouldn't do. The most egregious mistake has been consistently chasing 81 wins a year instead of respecting the importance of a minor-league talent pipeline and truly committing to one serious rebuilding process. Instead, they've consistently signed or traded for mediocre talent to exorbitant contracts in that quixotic quest for .500.
That's why the hand-wringing over Wilson, Sanchez, Laroche, etc. was overblown. All three were free agents after the season. The club held $8 million-plus options on both Wilson and Sanchez, a price tag far beyond their worth. Laroche was making $7 million this year and the Pirates could be forgiven for thinking he was not going to accept a significant reduction in salary at the onset of free agency.
It would be sheer lunacy for any franchise, regardless of available cash flow, to commit more than $20 million in 2010 salary to those three players. That could've represented as much as 40 percent of the total Pirate payroll next year.
For big-market clubs like the Mets, overpaying for mediocrity simply guarantees more mediocrity. For small-market clubs like the Pirates, overpaying mediocrity leads to 65-win seasons.
Andy Laroche, in his first full season, has a .253/.331/.372 line with 5 home runs in 109 games. I like Laroche and still think he can become a good third baseman at the major league level, but he needs to have a bigger year in 2010. Otherwise, the sound of Pedro Alvarez's footsteps will become very loud indeed.