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Bucco breakfast: Payroll as a % of MLB average

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

(Feel free to suggest photo captions.)

Just one more day of charts . . . with context! Yesterday the question came up of Pirates’ payrolls as a percentage of the MLB average. So I did the 2007-19 payrolls in that form, using the same “peer group” as yesterday. I also reproduced the chart from yesterday just below the new one, for convenience sake. I don’t think the newer chart creates any different impression. (Note that the 2019 disparities between the Pirates and their peers are liable to grow, as the Reds and Brewers are supposedly still looking to add while the Pirates are rumored only to be looking to subtract payroll.)

Pirates - black
Brewers - blue
Reds - red
Royals - purple
Indians - green

Below I did the same thing for four other teams (since the program allows only five lines in each chart). This one includes the Pirates, Marlins, Rays, Padres and Athletics. I don’t think that’s an appropriate peer group for the Pirates because the other teams, for most or all of this period, lacked the outstanding ballpark that the Pirates have. The Marlins, Rays and A’s in particular have been mired in flat-out non-viable ballpark situations, at least until the Marlins got their new park in 2012. The Marlins and Padres also have been saddled with poor ownership situations for much of the relevant period.

Pirates - black
Marlins - blue
Rays - red
Padres - purple
A’s - green

Two things about this chart. First, as with the other one, it shows that all the other teams’ payrolls have peaked at higher levels than the Pirates’. Second, and more striking to me, is that overall, this looks like a better peer group for the Pirates, at least based on payroll spending. If so, that’s troubling because the other teams in this group (except San Diego) are MLB’s financial basket cases. If the Pirates can’t outspend these teams, it’s hard to see how the Pirates can be competitive over the long term.

Daily Links

  • Baseball America has Pirates outfield prospect Jack Herman, a 30th round draft pick, #3 on a list of ten late-round deep sleepers.
  • Oh noes!
  • There are some very funny replies to this tweet, which is about Steve Blass making an announcement at PNC tomorrow.