Pirates brass banking on core of team to keep improving in 2014

The Pirates off-season philosophy has revealed one thing. Management is banking on the core of the team to keep improving and be better in 2014 which the team feels will make up for the losses of key players such as A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau, ect.
It’s a risky strategy as projections from those who strongly believe in advance statistics have the Pirates regressing to the 82-84 win mark in 2014.
Much discussion as Pirates pitchers and catchers hold their first workout on Thursday is whether the Pirates blew it two months ago by not qualifying A.J. Burnett at $14.1 million.
“From a value standpoint, you can argue that $14 million should have been a no-brainer, and we understand that,” Pirates GM Neal Huntington told the Tribune-Review. “But the reality is in 10 to 15 markets, a qualifying offer, if accepted, becomes a large chunk of payroll and something — right or wrong — we were not comfortable in doing at that time.”
I’m in he camp where I felt the Pirates had no reason to qualify Burnett when there was going to be a very few select teams Burnett would consider. That said, fans should be frustrated as the Pirates have not put those saved dollars into upgrading the team for right now as in 2014.
“It’s always easy to look in hindsight. If he’d accepted the offer, it would have had a significant impact on what we could have done. … It would have affected our approach on the first-base market, the right-field market and bullpen market,” Huntington said.
Spending money at the right field position would have made no sense with Gregory Polanco on track for a potential second half callup but Huntington’s comments to the Trib about how the qualifying offer would affect the approach on the first base market has little merit as the Pirates go into spring training with Gaby Sanchez and Andrew Lambo as their top two first base options in a likely platoon role if the Pirates don’t add a bat between now and opening day.

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William DePaoli

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William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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