Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Pirates Offer Contracts to All Seven

Ridiculous. In my last post, I said that what the Pirates did yesterday would say a lot about Dave Littlefield's plans for 2004 and the future.

Well, the results are in, and we've learned that Littlefield would rather stick with the crap he's got than use available funds to improve the team. The Pirates offered contracts to Kip Wells, Craig Wilson, Jack Wilson, Rob Mackowiak, Josh Fogg, Brian Meadows and Daryle Ward. The first three guys are worth keeping, and offering a contract to Mackowiak is defensible given his bat and the Pirates' situation in center field. But Fogg? He'll cost millions, and the Pirates already have lots of young starters. Meadows? He's a pretty good reliever, but there's no reason to pay a million dollars or more to someone like him. And, seriously, Daryle Ward? Why in the world would you pay a million dollars or more to Daryle Ward?

There is one silver lining to this situation, and it's that we now know the Pirates are willing to spend some money. Good. But here are some 2005 salaries to which the Pirates have committed (the ones for the arbitration-eligible guys are approximate):

Jose Mesa: $2.5 million
Josh Fogg: $2 million
Brian Meadows: $1 million
Daryle Ward: $1 million
Benito Santiago: $.7 million
TOTAL: $7.2 million

$7.2 million can be used to pay the yearly salary of a player who is very likely to be an enormous upgrade (Corey Koskie, who's a much better offensive player and exponentially better defensive player than Ty Wigginton) or a player who at least has enormous upside (Richard Hidalgo). True, these players might not want to play for the Pirates, but $7.2 million is a significant amount more than either of them got. The Pirates could then sign a bunch of guys to minor league contracts in order to find the next Meadows or Mesa. These arbitration offers are a terrible use of resources. Fogg, Ward and Santiago are scrubs, Mesa's pretty bad and a thousand years old, and there's no reason to commit to a reliever who isn't dominant.

* * *

Conversation with my brother:

CHARLIE: The Pirates gave contracts to all those players, including Ward.

SAM: Well, but they didn't do the worst possible thing, right?

CHARLIE: You mean non-tender Craig Wilson or something?

SAM: Right. If they don't do the absolute worst possible thing, you've got to consider that a victory, right?

* * *

SAM (upon learning of the Benito Santiago trade): Darwin would say that this team shouldn't exist.


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