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Link Roundup

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-P- Dejan Kovacevic tells the fans how he'd spend $70 million (scroll down). I'm on board with nearly all his suggestions, the most provocative of which is this:

Set aside $10 million-$15 million in an escrow account transparent to the public. Use it when the team is in legitimate position to make real moves toward real contention.

This is a great idea. It wouldn't be very productive for the Bucs to spend a ton of money on the major league payroll right now, but they should spend more at some point in the future. The problem is that if the team came out and said that was their plan, no one would believe them. This suggestion addresses this problem.

Kovacevic has two ideas I disagree with. The first is that the Pirates do not need to increase their drafting budget, since major league baseball discourages teams from paying more than slot money. Who cares if the commissioner's office disapproves? There aren't any rules that I'm aware of that would prohibit the Bucs from signing players above slot money.

Second, Kovacevic suggests that the Pirates should lock up players like Freddy Sanchez to long-term contracts well before they're eligible for free agency. I agree with the principle, but not the example - Sanchez is already 28 and is almost certainly at or near the peak of his value. (UPDATE: Kovacevic does note that signing players at the peak of their value is a bad idea, so he may mean that the Bucs should have signed Sanchez before this year. In that case, I'd argue that there's no reason to lock up a guy who looks like he's going to become a slightly-above-average player at best. If Kovacevic predicted Sanchez's outburst this year, he's a far smarter man than I.)

Also, though I generally agree that it's a good idea to lock up certain young stars to contracts through their arbitration years, I think that has to be done in the context of a plan, and you have to pick the right players. Jason Bay is the right sort of player to whom to give a pre-free agency multiyear deal; Jack Wilson is not. It seems that every time a Pirate in his 20s has a good season, a certain segment of the fanbase will clamor for the Pirates to sign that player, whether it's a good idea or not. Right now, I don't see any more players on the Pirates' roster who I'd sign to one of those kinds of deals.

-P- Ryan Doumit has returned to the Pirates. Doumit needs some serious playing time, and a lot of it should come behind the plate.

I like Ronny Paulino - really, I do - but I have to agree with some of the commenters at Baseball Primer. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Doumit can be, as even Jim Tracy admits, a "difference maker," and any difference he can make with his bat is going to be a whole lot bigger behind the plate. Paulino is a nice player, but he doesn't have a ton of upside. Doumit is injury-prone, but the Pirates desperately need difference makers. Paulino should be giving Doumit days off, not the other way around.

-P- Sample size problems apply, of course, but Andrew McCutchen is hitting .389/.436/.611 in his first nine games for Altoona.

-P- Via Van Slyke, Rotoworld says that unless he's traded, the Bucs can and should grab Victor Diaz, whom the Mets recently designated for assignment. I agree. Diaz is having a horrible season, but he's only 24 and was very good for the Mets last year. There's no excuse for a terrible team with the top waiver claim, needs at the corners, and open roster spots not to grab a player like Diaz.