The Pirates’ opening-day payroll is projected to be $71.5 million. That will be the third-lowest payroll in MLB. It will be the lowest payroll in the NL Central, trailing Chicago by $17.5 million.
 
How does owner Bob Nutting justify that? How do Pirates fans justify that?
 
Reply via Twitter, please: @MarkMaddenX.
 
Like every other MLB team, the Pirates are getting $25m in additional national TV revenue this season. The Pirates drew their second-highest home attendance ever last season. They got playoff cash. They raised ticket prices. Nutting is swimming in black ink.
 
The Pirates have an excellent core. The window is open. Now is the time to spend. You’re tired of hearing it. I’m tired of saying it.
 
Instead, Nutting is using profit to pay down the team’s debt, thus increasing the franchise’s value. To what end, I don’t know. But that’s what he’s doing.
 
The most frustrating thing about the Pirates’ financial subplot is that a sizable chunk of Pittsburgh baseball fans defend Nutting’s thrift. Why do you care about Nutting’s profit margin? Don’t you want the team to win?
 
Letting A.J. Burnett walk wasn’t the Pirates' worst move. They have pitchers that can potentially replace Burnett in the rotation.
 
Starting the season with Travis Snider and Jose Tabata in right field isn’t the Pirates' worst move. Hot prospect Gregory Polanco might arrive by midseason.
 
Counting on Gaby Sanchez and Andrew Lambo to man first base is the Pirates' worst move. Justin Morneau signed a two-year deal with Colorado worth just $12.5 million. If the Pirates give Morneau that deal, they still have the lowest payroll in the NL Central by $12.5 million. (Morneau will make $5 million in 2014.)
 
So, explain. Because I can’t. Nutting won’t. Not honestly, anyway.


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