Financial documents show Pirates could spend more

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The Associated Press published a round of documents late Sunday night that show the Pirates, on the verge of their 18th consecutive losing season, are still a highly profitable franchise and have been profitable for many years.

According to the documents, which are now on full display over at Deadspin, the Bucs made an income of nearly $29.4 million in 2007 and 2008 thanks to sources like revenue sharing, television packages, MLB merchandise and the MLB.com website. 

That’s not a major sum of money for most professional franchises and it shouldn’t be all that surprising, but the Pirates have operated on a very meager payroll for ages and it certainly appears that they could be spending more.

“The numbers indicate why people are suspecting they’re taking money
from baseball and keeping it — they don’t spend it on the players,” David Berri, president of the North American Association of Sports
Economists, told the Associated Press. “Teams have a choice. They can seek to
maximize winning, what the Yankees do, or you can be the Pirates and
make as much money as you can in your market. The Pirates aren’t trying
to win.”

The Pirates had baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll this season — $34.9 million — and are at the very bottom of a bad National League Central division.  If anything, perhaps the revelation of these documents will put pressure on the Pittsburgh ownership to lock up young cornerstone players like Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez when it comes time for free agency.  Making owners cringe can be a good thing.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.