February 1, 2010

I’m Torn

I was planning a different post, until Dejan Kovacevic broke the story.

I didn’t have a chance to post anything on the Lemieux/Burkle bid to buy the Pirates due to a rather crazy weekend.  Regardless, after thinking this over.  I am torn.

On one side, I think Lemieux/Burkle would attack the ownership in a way they know is proven to work.  Keep the right players at any cost and fill the roster with complimentary players that would keep the team competitive.  Spend at an appropriate amount and raise the payroll to bring in the players that would put people in the stands.  Players that would have a winning team on the ice, or diamond in this scenario.   All this while focusing on the minor leagues so there is a steady flow of talent coming in.

If they purchased the team 4 months ago when the meeting took place, Dotel and Akimura would not be the big acquisitions.  Likely the Pirates would have been rumored at the higher end free agents considering the Pirates have at least $10 M under their current self inflicted salary cap, there likely would have been at least another $10M to spend. 

That $20M could add a lot of free agent talent to a good solid young foundation that is in place right now.  I could see the Pirates adding a top of the rotation starter and a shortstop while still having cash to land a few other players to make the team more than an afterthought and possibly breaking the streak.

They would also put their own stamp on the team, as in replacing Huntington, Coonelly and anyone else in the management levels they saw fit. 

Here is where I am torn.  I like the direction the Pirates are taking.  I like what Huntington has done with a limited budget.  I like the way he has rebuilt a barren farm system.  I want to see where this team goes.

Mostly, I don’t want to see the management team change just to see where they can take us.  I’d like to see where the Pirates are in a couple years.  But on the other hand, it would be nice to hear the Pirates mentioned in the same breath as some of the upper echelon free agents from time to time.

Slide thought:

Don’t get me wrong, I really think, for the $10M they have sitting around collecting interest,  they could have added a few other players this offseason that could have added another 10 wins to a team that looks to be around 70 wins.  If they were closing in on 80 wins, with the youth on this team, anything could happen.  Adding 10 wins to a young team could multiply into 20 wins just based on confidence levels rising to the point they don’t believe they can win, they expect to.  But that is a whole different post for a different day.

Now for the Truth

Bob Nutting is a smart business man.  He isn’t going to come out and say he is looking to sell the team.  Especially right now when the Pirates are on the verge of bringing up talent from the minors in Alvarez and Tabata that will cause a stir in Pittsburgh and likely create a growth in ticket sales.  Which in turn will also increase the value of the team.  Now would be the worst time to sell the team.

Comments along the lines of, “… what I can confirm for you, at that time, today, tomorrow, next week, the Pirates are not for sale. Bob Nutting is committed to making the Pirates a winner again."  from Frank Coonelly.  Those comments are spot on.  Nutting would be a fool to sell now with the Pirates on the verge of causing enough of a stir in Pittsburgh that ticket sales will increase.  He knows he can get more for the team when they are winning again and the fans are coming out to the park at levels not seen since PNC opened.

The Nutting family has endured the wrath of the last 17 years, which the rightly deserve.  Why would they bail now, when their investment could reach an all time peak in value?

Comments along the lines of, “… what I can confirm for you, at that time, today, tomorrow, next week, the Pirates are not for sale. Bob Nutting is committed to making the Pirates a winner again."  from Frank Coonelly can also give fans hope.  He didn’t rule out next month.

I doubt this story will go away any time soon, especially when the Pirates start struggling in 2010.  I fully expect chants of “Mario” at PNC throughout good portions of 2010.


Quick Note:

Something I did hear over the weekend, the offer was believed to have been in excess of $325M.  Forbes had the teams value listed at $288M in 2009.  Obviously there is no way to confirm this unless I hear directly from Mr. Lemieux or Mr. Burkle themselves.  Mr. Nutting was quoted to say there was no formal offer.

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