-P- The Pirates spent much of Monday's game, which they won 5-2, getting played like a fiddle by John Maine and generally looking like they'd never seen a changeup before, but one thing they did well was to rack up a number of epic plate appearances, which ultimately allowed them four innings against the Mets' bad bullpen. Around the time Moneyball came out, people used to say that one benefit to having patient hitters was that they drove starting pitchers out of games early and allowed hitters to tee off against mediocre relief pitching. Nobody really talks about that anymore, and probably for good reason--the difference between the number of pitches a very patient lineup takes as compared to the average isn't so huge--but that's exactly what the Pirates did on Monday.
-P- Even though some of the comments from the Pirates' ownership and management are pretty ridiculous, I enjoyed this article. Here's a particularly interesting tidbit:
The Pirates spent a team-record $9,780,500 in signing 32 of 50 picks, five more than last year. That total included Alvarez's $6 million -- divided in payments of $3 million this year and next -- but not extras such as vouchers for college education. The total, as per MLB guidelines for computation, ranked second only to the Kansas City Royals. Baseball America reported that the Boston Red Sox will exceed $10 million in bonuses, which would be a record for any team, but there was no independent confirmation.
That the Pirates outspent nearly everyone may initially seem shocking, but it actually had to be this way. Pedro Alvarez's bonus accounts for well over half the Pirates' total expenditures, and the only way you have to pay six million dollars to a single player is if you pick really early in the draft. The way you pick early in the draft is to stink, and the most common ways you come to stink are to fail to spend your money or fail to spend it well.
If the Pirates hadn't spent a lot in this draft relative to other teams, it would've been a grotesque failure on their part--either they would have failed to sign Alvarez, or they would have skimped on late-round picks and thus failed to address the lack of prospect depth that has been such an important cause of their problems in the first place.
The Pirates' big spending this year is a result of a turning point: until late last year they didn't care about winning, and now they care. They'll spend big next year too, and perhaps the year after that, but after that they're probably going to start winning, and then they won't be paying six million dollar bonuses to first round draft picks anymore.