Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dejan's Friday article

On Friday in the Post-Gazette, Dejan Kovacevic had an article about 10 things the Pirates can do in the 2nd half and beyond to improve. It was a well written article for the most part, but I found #4 to be intriguing in a sneaky way.

4. A payroll hike is promised.
It already is plenty clear that the Pirates' major-league payroll will go up in 2011, partly because it really cannot go much lower than the current $36 million, partly because they already have assured the MLB Players Association that it will, but mostly because Nutting has said it would in years to come.
There has been no indication from Nutting or Coonelly that they would announce their payroll for next year, but maybe this is the summer that will change and, perhaps, restore some trust with the fan base.
Management's longtime reasoning against announcing payroll in advance has been that it gives agents leverage in the offseason. But agents have direct links with the union, and agents tend to find these things out, anyway.

The reason why I say it is sneaky is that it absolutely is possible for the Pirates to have a lesser payroll next year. If Duke (est $6.2M in arbitration) and Doumit ($5+M in salary) are non-tendered or traded, their replacements will make significantly less. The Pirates have mostly 0-3 players making $400K to $440K...very few key guys will be arb-eligible. Sure, players such as Ross Ohlendorf will hit arb for the first time, but he won't command a huge increase.

So what Dejan has done is to put pressure on the front office and Bob Nutting, specifically, by using his pulpit in the media. He is setting the table for people to demand higher payrolls and revolt against another sub $40M payroll. "Dejan said the payroll will increase in 2011. It has to!"

And he buried it as the #4 item! Stroke of genius. I just wonder how much effect it has on this ownership group and front office. They are stunningly tone-deaf to the fans. Yes, it is a business. But it is a business based on entertainment for the customers. If this team were a Cirque du Soleil show, the clowns would be fat and chain smoking and the people on the high-wire act would have fallen and broken their necks.

I have had my problems with Dejan's writing in the past couple of years. Once his buddies Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, and Nate McLouth were traded, his writing's tone changed. It became more questioning and skeptical of the front office's overall plan. Little barbs would leak out on his blog or on talk shows.

Perhaps all the losing has taken a toll on Dejan. If you are a Pirates fan, you can simply turn off the TV or not read about them for a few days. Dejan is with them nearly every day during the 6 month season. He can't avert his eyes from the train wreck on the field. Perhaps he also questions his decision to move from the Pens' beat writer and daydreams about covering this current mini-dynasty led by Crosby and Company.

Dejan is an excellent reporter. His work on the Dominican Republic facility and the process of signing Dominican kids last year was excellent. His coverage of Miguel Sano and the subsequent carnage after he was signed by the Twins away from the Pirates was top-notch.

He is an excellent writer. I just fear the Pirates are wearing him down.


  1. DK hasn't talked much about the Milwaukee Brewers payroll since they have played below .500 this season. He used to beat that drum pretty heavily. I'm guessing he'll be pointing out Cincy's payroll now that they are winning and Milwaukee isn't.

  2. I'm sure we'll see a "The trade for veteran Scott Rolen is why the Reds are winning this year" article, at some point.

    DK is a good writer. I just think his viewpoint is askew from losing his objectivity a little over the past couple of years.