We have news from Pirate City . . . .
In the item that really matters, Gregory Polanco is officially still on the same schedule he was to start with, i.e., seven to nine months from surgery. (This is from Pirates Prospects, but the paywall there still seems to be down so it should be accessible for the moment.) After noting the time frame remained the same, Pirates’ Director of Sports Medicine Todd Tomczyk stated:
“I can’t over emphasize about the progress that Gregory has made,” Tomczyk said. “I know he’s said that his target is mid-May, and that’s awesome, but again this is going to be truly indicative of how he responds to the throwing, what distance he’s at, and how it goes.”
So April may be a bit optimistic, but realistically, mid-May would be great.
Meanwhile, Bob Nutting came out of hiding to say a lot of stuff about payroll and stuff. It’s tempting to do a line-by-line commentary, but there’s not much point. The one thing I can’t help noting is Nutting’s comments about how the Pirates “invest heavily” in the draft, on international players, etc. In reality, they spend what MLB lets them spend, just like everybody else. It’s just that everybody else also spends more on the major league team.
P2 adds some more vague commentary from Nutting about payroll floors and caps. Nutting of course steers clear of any specifics, which is not surprising because — leaving aside the problem of getting the MLBPA to agree — the chance of MLB even pursuing a cap/floor arrangement is about the same as the chance of me becoming Tsar of All the Russias. Nutting wouldn’t even go so far as to say he’s advocating any such measures within MLB, and you can safely assume he’s not.
P2 also reports that the Pirates are doubling the size of their Dominican academy. Over the last two years, they’ve dramatically increased the number of international players they’ve signed and have operated two teams in the Dominican Summer League. (This started with a sharp increase in everybody’s international bonus pool via the most recent labor agreement.) They’ve had international signees doing more training in Bradenton recently, operations that I imagine they’d like to transfer back to the Dominican facility. I’m not sure how all this is going to work out. Since all the international pools were sharply increased two years ago, theoretically everybody will be signing more players. The talent pool, however, hasn’t increased, so the Pirates won’t get any benefit from the larger signing classes unless they also do a better job of scouting. Of course, they changed international scouting directors a year and a half ago, so time will have to tell how it all plays out.