Union head: "The Pirates have a plan"

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It was a big deal when the MLBPA went after the Florida Marlins a few months ago, essentially accusing them of pocketing revenue sharing money and not investing enough  to improve the team anywhere apart from the bottom line.  It was a serious enough criticism that even Major League Baseball agreed and the league, the union and the Marlins entered into an agreement pursuant to which the Marlins will raise their payroll over the next few years.

When that all went down fingers pointed at the other low-payroll, revenue sharing-receiving teams, and people wondered when they would be similarly pursued. Speculation immediately focused on the Pirates, who have cut payroll substantially in recent years despite moving into a nice new ballpark.

But you can forget about going after the Pirates. Union head Michael Weiner likes what they’re doing just fine:

“Are we happy with the current state of the Pirates’ payroll? Of
course we’d like to see it higher. Is it tough to see when they sign a player
like Nate McLouth and then trade him? Is it tough to see some of the
other things they’ve done? Sure. But, to date, we have been convinced
the Pirates have a plan.

“You guys have as beautiful a ballpark as there is in
the major leagues. You’ve got a phenomenal fan base and history.
(Ownership has) a plan in place, so we’ll continue to monitor it. We’ve
been satisfied so far.”

Those comments were made to students at at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law.  Inherent in those comments, I think, is an acknowledgment that the Pirates are at a very different place on the success cycle than are the Marlins. Indeed, the shortest path between losing and winning for the Pirates is through lower payroll and giving young kids a chance as opposed to paying for more older veterans who won’t be around the next time the team has a chance to win. Compare this with the Marlins who have, for the past couple of years anyway, been a player or two away from being serious playoff contenders.

The union is often accused of being interested in nothing other than high salaries. And to be fair, getting high salaries for its members is part of its mission.  But there’s some reality and pragmatism afoot in today’s MLBPA, and this is some evidence of it.

Starling Marté, Erik González placed on injured list following outfield collision

Starling Marte
AP Images
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Pirates center fielder Starling Marté has been placed on the 10-day injured list with an abdominal wall contusion and bruised right quad and shortstop Erik González has been assigned to the 60-day injured list with a fractured left clavicle, the club announced Saturday. In corresponding moves, outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds and shortstop Cole Tucker have been called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.

Both Marté and González were removed from Friday’s game against the Giants after colliding on an attempted outfield catch in the eighth inning. The players fell to the ground after crashing into each other at full speed and appeared to be in severe pain for several minutes. González was eventually able to walk off the field without assistance, while Marté was carted off after receiving attention from the Pirates’ staff.

It’s an unfortunate loss for the Pirates, as both players will likely require a lengthy recovery process before they’re cleared to rejoin the roster later this season. Prior to the incident, Marté slashed just .203/.247/.377 with seven extra-base hits, three stolen bases (in four chances), and a .623 OPS through his first 74 plate appearances of 2019, while González maintained a .216/.298/.294 batting line with three extra bases, two stolen bases, and a .592 OPS through 59 PA.

In the interim, however, the club will benefit from the talents of two top-10 prospects. Reynolds, 24, ranks no. 8 in the Pirates’ farm system and was promoted to Triple-A at the start of 2019, where he played center field and slashed .367/.446/.735 with five home runs and 11 RBI through 57 PA. Tucker, 22, placed fifth-best among the team’s prospects and also received his first promotion to Triple-A this spring, where his .333 average, three homers, and five stolen bases recommended him for an early MLB debut. Reynolds and Tucker are scheduled to make their big-league debuts together on Saturday against the Giants at 4:05 PM EDT.