The Pirates just finished their 18th straight losing season, and 2010 was by far the worst season of those 18. At least 1997 was close to respectable at 79-83 and within shouting distance of .500. Last season’s record was 57-105 which represents a .352 winning percentage. How does a team accomplish such a feat? How about by scoring 587 runs versus 866 runs against? That’s a pretty good start. Sure, the Pirates are the targets of a lot of jokes, but are there any causes for optimism in Pittsburgh (other than the Steelers)? Well, yes. Despite what many would consider a really bad local economy and terrible on-field performance, the team managed to improve attendance from 1.577M in 2009 to 1.613M in 2010. That’s at least one cause for optimism. Also, the team has quietly started to spend a few extra dollars where it really counts…..beer concessions. Just kidding. Sort of. I don’t actually know whether or not the Pirates are spending more on concessions or not.
For a team that is perennially at the bottom of the MLB’s rankings of team payrolls, it seems that the Pirates are actually making strides. They finished 2010 at around $37.4M, but they already have $14.65M committed to just 5 players for 2011. With regulars like Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge still either in pre-arbitration or first year arbitration, they can hold on to their talent for at least another year or so. If the Pirates really do hold and play it out, they could improve a few games and hit my projected number of 63 wins (63-99). If they decide to dump both talent and contracts, then I’m wishing another 100+ loss season on them again. This isn’t a financial situation like San Diego where ownership is handcuffed by the costs of purchasing the team or some similar obstacle. Revenue sharing makes this team viable to the point that they can at least make the appearance that they are trying.
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