I haven't written anything for Bucs Dugout for a while because a) I'm a terrible editor and a burden on the site and b) I've been too busy at my day job lately to do more than shove the occasional sandwich into my yap hole and then collapse into a dull and sullen torpor until the new day arrives and rudely kicks me in the ribs. That said, I've seen some interesting Pirates-related news items out there lately, so I figured I might as well throw them into a list of bullet points, for the amusement of Zeus and our mutual pleasure. It's got something for everyone - just like a truck stop seafood buffet, only with less listeria and e. coli. Or is it more? I always get those two confused...
- The first link is a little bit old, but it's new to me, and I thought some of its information was interesting in light of the remarks made about the Pirates' finances last week by former minority owner Jay Lustig. Writer David Yanofsky took information on secondary market ticket prices (i.e. tickets purchased from resellers like StubHub) and used it to compile an informative series of graphs breaking down trends in ticket pricing across MLB.
Most fans in Pittsburgh recognize that the Pirates don't sell as many tickets as most clubs - even with the advantage of last year's run as an unexpected contender, the 2012 Pirates were second-to-last in the NL in total attendance, ahead of only the woeful Astros. Not as many casual fans, however, understand the extent to which the Pirates are also at a disadvantage against other teams in demand for tickets that have already been sold. In 2012, the Pirates were one of only four teams in the NL without even one game for which the average secondary market price of a ticket exceeded $100. In fact, there were only two dates on which the average Pirates home ticket price exceeded $50, and the average price for all home games of $27.32 was well below the ML average of $39.96. That $27.32 figure was even below the Pirates' average ticket price of $35.90 in road games, and the Pirates aren't exactly a hot road draw in cities not named Philadelphia.
One of the few consolations for 20 years' worth of losing baseball has been the relatively low buy-in for hardcore fans. I enjoy having access to cheap, readily-available seats as much as the next guy, but this is a situation that's going to need to change before the team is able to compete on level financial footing with even mid- or small-market teams. In any event, Yanofsky's piece is fascinating, and I encourage you to read the whole thing.
- While we're on the subject of tickets and prices, in a totally unrelated matter, one of Groupon's current deals is for deeply discounted seats at several upcoming Pirates home games over the next two months. The games in question are 4/17 against the Cardinals, 4/21 against the Braves, 5/5 against the Nats, 5/14 against the Brewers, 5/22 against the Cubs, and 6/11 against the Giants. Depending on where you want to sit, some of these do seem to be cheaper than the prices on StubHub, so if you were planning to make a trip on one of those days, it might be worth a click.
- Those of you who have slightly more money burning a hole in your pocket may be interested to note that Andy Van Slyke's house is for sale. For approximately the cost of a slightly used Charlie Morton + Gaby Sanchez, you can be living the Slick life in a 6 bedroom/9 bath French provincial on 1.8 acres just outside St. Louis. Designed by the amusingly-named Dick Bush, it looks a little bit fussier than I would have expected from a guy like Van Slyke, who always felt more like an American Craftsman type to me. It does have an indoor batting cage, though, and there are no green carpets - an understandable aesthetic choice for a man who spent the majority of his professional life sliding on his belly across the unyielding turf of Three Rivers Stadium.
- Want a gamble even riskier than the celebrity housing market? As was noted in the FanShots, the Angels have signed recent Bucs NRI Brad Hawpe to a minor league contract. Hawpe looked pretty terrible this spring, so I'm not sure that I would have been in any great hurry to give him a job. He seems like a decent enough guy, though, and since the Angels are spending their money on him instead of mine, I'm glad to see him catch on with a new club.
- Baseball America also got on the financial news train today, as they posted a (free) Ben Badler piece that's a good refresher on the way international signing bonus pool money will be handled this year. The most interesting change for 2013 is that portions of a team's bonus pool will be able to be traded, much like the competitive balance draft pick that we traded in the Gaby Sanchez deal last year. Basically, each team's pool will be broken down into various segments, each of which has an assigned slot value. Starting on July 2, teams will be able to treat each of those sub-sections of their pool as discrete entities and include them as components in deals. There are some restrictions, including a cap that limits a team's ability to increase its pool value by more than 50% (giving Pittsburgh a theoretical maximum of $3.639 million), but on the whole this is still an interesting option for the Pirates. Rene Gayo has been a very valuable asset for the team, thanks to international signings like Starling Marte, Luis Heredia, Alen Hanson, and Gregory Polanco, so anything that might increase his ability to sign additional players is probably good news for us as fans.
- Unlike the rest of the list, the last item doesn't really have anything to do with money, but it's too useful for me to not share anyway. Fake Teams pointed out this reliever workload table at Baseball Press, which shows how many pitches each relief pitcher on each team has thrown over the last three days. I think it's intended for use by fantasy baseball GMs who want to try and snag cheap saves in daily transaction leagues, but it's also a nice resource for anyone who likes having a little added tactical insight at their fingertips while watching a game. Isn't second-guessing Hurdle's in-game decisions something we can all come together and enjoy?