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Frank Coonelly: Pirates Will Raise Payroll to Compete

Frank Coonelly:

This year's trades slashed about $7 million from the Pirates' payroll. But the team also spent $5 million to build a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, increased its budget for scouting and held firm on a $10 million budget for draft bonuses at a time when other clubs are cutting back.

"If we're doing this right — and we think we are — then there will come a time when we'll have to increase the major-league payroll," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said.

This is, of course, the key. The spending on the draft and Latin America and the trades of veteran players for youngsters are critical, but it's also important that the Pirates be willing to raise the major league payroll substantially when they have enough talent to compete. Feel free to refer back to this article if the Pirates are about to take off in a couple years but still have an absurdly low payroll.

One more link. I thought this article about Neil Walker was ridiculous:

"The sheer truth is that I'm a young guy, and I feel like I can play at the major league level," Walker said before pausing. "And if Pittsburgh isn't the place I make it, I'm confident there is somewhere that I will make it. I just really don't know what the future is for me with this organization"...

"Treated differently?" Walker replied to a question on that topic. "I don't know if 'differently' would be the right word, but you can tell who the old guys are and who the new guys are. I just look at it like this: In any situation, in any business, new bosses come in and want their guys and are more comfortable with people they see as their guys. That's the situation I feel like I'm in. I'm not one of their guys. Bixler and I are not their guys, and it isn't hard to tell we aren't their guys."

Walker simply hasn't earned a promotion; not even close. He's posted OBPs of .280 and .297 in the past two years. If he were in the big leagues right now, he'd probably struggle to bat .210. He's been a tremendous disappointment, and if I were him I'd be thanking my lucky stars that I got an enormous first-round bonus that will, in all likelihood, turn out to have been a terrible investment for the team.

He's still a prospect, but that's almost entirely because of his reputation as a first-rounder and the small possibility that he somehow finds a way to harness his talent. He now has a .316 career minor league OBP, isn't young for his level, and no longer plays a premium defensive position. There isn't an intelligent team in baseball that would give him a major-league job. And Bixler is just as lost as Walker is. I know every ballplayer is supposed to believe that he can set the league on fire if only given a fair shake, but Walker's assessment of his abilities is so far from reality that it's either offensive or unintentionally amusing.