Orioles Want to Talk to A.J. Burnett

Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports that the Baltimore Orioles are waiting to hear if A.J. Burnett wants to pitch in 2014.

Kubatko says that the Orioles want to talk to Burnett, and that they met with his representative at the Winter Meetings. The Pirates have seemingly moved on with the signing of Edinson Volquez. However, with James Loney signing a deal with the Rays, I can’t see them spending that much money on any of the remaining available first basemen. They said after they signed Volquez that they could still add Burnett. They definitely have the space in the budget to make that happen.

It seems like people have dismissed the possibility that Burnett could actually retire. The general feeling has been that the Pirates can just go give him X amount of dollars and he’d be on the team. What this rumor shows is that he actually is undecided. If the only thing required for Burnett to pitch again was money, then I would think he would have already signed with the Orioles. It appears that he is just undecided about returning.

  • According to Cafardo of the Boston Globe (citing a Pirates official):
    “4. A.J. Burnett, RHP, free agent — Pirates officials seem to think Burnett will come back for one more year, but they have entertained thoughts of signing other veteran pitchers. “There’s no reason for [Burnett] not to be back,” said one Pirates official. “He can still pitch at a high level and we think he only wants to play for us. Seems like a no-brainer.””

  • A few of points re AJ:

    1) Whether you think the Bucs should have given him the QO or not (and I think there are legit points on both sides of that argument), the odds that the Pirates would have received a comp pick are extremely low. Would a team really give up their 1st round pick for 1 year of AJ, especially if they’re paying him $15 mil or more? Would any team give a 2 year contract for $30 mil + and their 1st round pick for a pitcher that was seriously discussing retirement at the time?

    2) A lot of fans are worried about Frankie having another good season because he’s never had 2 in a row before. AJ has WAR of 3 and 4 the last 2 years, but he’s never had 3 or more for 3 years in a row. Could he do it for the frst time at age 37? Of course. But it’s probably more likely that he regresses to somewhere in the 2 – 2.5 range, or lower. So while his value based on the last 2 years may well be $15 – $20 mil, his actual value may be more in the $10 – $12 mil range next year.

    3) I’ve been of the belief that we should take AJ at his word that it’s the Bucs or retirement until something happens that changes that. (Baltimore having interest in him doesn’t change that) Others have said AJ felt that way at the time but the Bucs have screwed him over since then. Or that they’ve insulted him, low balled him or not shown a big enough financial commitment to him. I think these would be legitimate points if the Bucs are offering him $5 mil. If they are loking at the $10 – $12 million range, I think these arguments fall apart. If they are paying you more than any other player (using their portion of Wandy’s option) and giving you 25 – 50% more than Cutch is making, they are not insulting you, low balling you or attempting to screw you over. They are building their team within the constraints of their revenue stream. If you choose instead to play with another team or play with your kids, best of luck and thank you for everything you did the last 2 years.

  • babeadamsforthehall
    December 14, 2013 7:17 pm

    AJ is now the top target of the Baltimore Orioles per MLB network. They are pursuing him aggressively.

    • I only wonder why the Pirates did not offer Loney or anyone else 3 yrs. There isn’t a first baseman anywhere in the system that will be up in the next 5 yrs.

  • Charlie Wilmoth tweeted from PiratesFest that Coonelly stated the Pirates TV contract is in the top half of MLB, and that the quoted figure of $19 mill/year “wasn’t even close”.

    At this point I know longer know what to think as that information, along with other enhanced revenues, would seem to give the Bucs a warchest that would at least make the competitive with the Reds/Brewers. And it’s not that they should spend money on just anyone, it’s more about Neal’s comments that imply the Pirates are revenue starved and can’t pay market rates for anyone period.

    It just doesn’t jibe.

    Meanwhile, I’m remembering how much fun AJ had a PiratesFest last year. It was like he took over the whole event.

    Strange times.

    • I don’t believe Coonley if that’s really what he said. We have the owner of the Rockies coming out and telling us exactly how much he got and what has to come out of it for his team…but before all the things are taken out of it to make his team function there is a number that is above $19M…

      So the Rockies would have to be receiving a larger portion than the Pirates.

      • Think you are comparing Apples and Oranges – I believe Coonley is talking about the Root contract – the Rockies were talking about the increase in the national TV contract payout…

        • Well, no I think he was indicating the NEW tv revenues (which would be the National tv revenues). The Pirates local ROOT revenues are extremely small…and so, yes, I would think that no one would estimate those revenues as close to $19M per year.

          • Jared : stop thinking,it only hurts the team.

            • Do you ever have anything productive to add? At least I actually back up ideas and make arguments opposed to the normal ad hominem fallacies you throw around.

            • More evidence that Coonley had to be speaking about the new national TV revenues and not the local tv contract: Coonley supposedly said the Pirates were in the upper half of MLB…the Pirates local tv contract is 29th lowest in MLB.

      • Jared Frank Coonelly comment was about the local television deal, which is worth an estimated $18-19 million per year and is relatively small compared to the more recent deals. This is a legitimate criticism given the rapid rise in the value of contracts, and something the “Nuttings are cheap” crowd could latch onto to present at least quasi-reasonable arguments. However, I question how much bargaining power Coonelly had in 2010 with the Pirates sitting in market that is 22nd of 26th in size and team that had not won in almost two decades.

        The second link, covers the conversation if you have not seen it. Coonelly is making typical chief executive comment to shareholders or fans comment, while the numbers from Bloomberg are complied by outsiders there is no way the Pirates contract is in the top half, maybe top half as dollars to market size or some construed calculation. Your characterization of it will depend on your priors. Teams get the national revenue in equals shares.



        I would ignore buster, he is a knowledgeable fan, I agree with much of what he says as it related to baseball but seem like a bit of a misanthrope, but that is the nature of the interweb.

        • I’ll add this infographic, which shows the Pirates at 28th in media rights, and truly give a sense of the economic disparity between the top and bottom teams.


        • I never heard the FC comments so I was only looking at them from the context that was given. From that context I could only assume he was talking about the new National revenue because, as you indicated, there is no scheme in which the Pirates are in the top-half of baseball in local TV revenues. The Pirates have completely missed-out on the “golden age” as it was so called in 2012 in the Trib of local TV contracts and, indeed, their local TV revenue is amongst the lowest in baseball, as you indicated. That, however, has been essentially the same each year, although the Pirates deal with ROOT sports, supposedly, increases marginally each season. I am more concerned with the influx of new dollars that do not seem to be being spent (although I mean who would we have really spent them on this offseason except AJ).

          As for buster? Well, not much is to be said about that…

          • The national tv revenue is split equally among teams. Each team will receive $51.6 million dollars in national tv revenue this season. This of course means that national tv revenue represents a far larger % of total revenue for small market teams, so an increase in national tv revenue should help them disproportionately, at least in theory, but I don’t know that this is what will happen in practice. MLB is not a cash buisness; like any muli-billion dollar industry it financing is far more complicated than dollars in vs. dollars out.

            • Cato, I agree with all of the above. I knew the national TV revenues are divided equally and represent a sizable addition to all franchises, although, as you indicated, possibly more “meaningful” to the smaller market teams. If FC is stating the truth that the Pirates local tv revenues are that much larger than expected (taking the team from the 27-28-29 range in baseball to the top half) then you would have to wonder why a higher payroll would not be sustainable.

              Nonetheless, payroll was at $75M last year and FC indicated that another approximately $10+M upgrade in overall payroll was likely this year (similar to years past increases) although it would seem the Pirates could increase payroll by more than $10M…$85M is still within the bounds of the estimates that we’ve used on here before.

        • Also, Andrew, thank you for the last article. I had not read the PirateFest article previously and was unaware of the full context of the FC statement. Thanks for the article!

  • It isn’t just the lack of a QO – it gets amped by Huntington making it clear via the media that he was expecting AJ – and anybody else to understand Pittsburgh would not pay top dollar for free agents. I am fine with the team having that as it’s policy – but he didn’t have to wave a red flag like this at AJ or any other free agent.

  • Once again –

    2012 – 3.0 WAR = Value of $16.5 mil; Pirates pay $8 mil – Excess Value to Pirates $ 8.5 mil
    2013 – 4.0 WAR = Value of $22.0 mil; Pirates pay $8 mil – Excess Value to Pirates $14.0 mil

    Over 2 years, $22.5 mil in Excess Value to the Pirates. Like to have him in 2014, but absolutely thrilled that we had him for 2 years and that we both benefitted greatly from the experience. I never read anywhere where he said that he did not want the Pirates to make him a QO – that is on us 100%. If that becomes the understanding between he and his family, and he still wants to play, then I am thrilled for him and wish him and the family the best, and thank you AJ for everything you have done for the Pirates both on and off the field. I think the key here is the term FREE Agent.

    • That was a good way to put it emjay

    • Yeah, I think from the Pirates side the problem is the lack of QO. It’s business and AJ isn’t stupid even if he does throw tantrums…he should have been tendered a QO and then it should have just been said to him that the QO shows the Pirates are willing to make a significant (for us) financial commitment to him bc they value him and want him back. If it still goes like it has then at least we’re protected.

      • With regards to the QO, there are only three logical possibilities:

        1) AJ is worth more than $14.1 million
        2) AJ is worth less than $14.1 million
        3) AJ is worth exactly $14.1 million


        If (1), then the Pirates would have have done AJ no favors by offering him the QO; $14.1 would be a low ball offer, but one AJ would be forced to take or leave, because teams are far less likely to pay to pay him what he is truly worth if they also have to surrender a 1st round pick. I have yet to see anybody say it, but it is entirely possible that when NH said the Bucs can’t pay AJ the market rate, what he really meant is they can’t pay him what he is truly worth, which if the market rate is roughly at ~6.5 mil per 1 WAR, then AJ who averaged of 3.5 WAR over the last 2 seasons is due something in the neighborhood of $22 million. This is why $14.1 would be a great value, but it is also a potentially insulting offer, or one that may not be appreciated by AJ or his agent, as again, if it was offered he would be hamstrung. It is totally possible that Pirates could still pay him $14.1 (or more!) and not contradict themselves.

        If (2)…then it is obvious that paying him $14.1 million is a bad idea. I haven’t see anybody suggest that AJ isn’t worth this, but it is possible that the Pirates are privy to medicals that indicate to them that an injury is imminent, or maybe they don’t believe his heart is in it and they think his performance will suffer accordingly. Again, I haven’t heard this suggested anywhere, but it is a possible explanation for why they might view him as less valuable than the $14.1. million.

        If (3) then they probably should have offered him the QO, but this is by far the least likely scenario.

        One last thing to consider. If the Pirates have a long term plan of finding veteran reclamation projects, it may be in there long term interest to be extra amiable in there dealing with there veteran free agents. That is to say, even if AJ signs with an other team next year and the Pirates don’t get a draft pick as compensation, it might be of some benefit to have negotiated “in good faith” with AJ as it would be a signal to other veterans that if you sign with the Pirates, they deal with their veteran players with respect and will not limit your options going forward by attaching unfair QOs to you. That kind of track record very well could have real value with players and agents going forward. Just something to consider.

        • Cato, I apologize for missing this reply earlier. I guess the number of comments in total in this article have made it somewhat difficult to keep up with all of the replies (especially due to the formatting of the comment system).

          I actually very much appreciate the way you attacked this with logic. A little conditional work, huh? Haha. I do think that those three possibilities are, likely, the only possibilities. I will say that #1 and #3 likely lead tot he same result (giving of the QO) and #2, obviously, would not result in the QO being given. The question, really, is whether there would be “insult” with the QO and whether that “insult” would be a bad thing or against the better-business-sense of the organization.

          I find the “insult” idea to be one that is hard for me to buy. Yes, some free agents do not like it because it limits their opportunities, but then again the QO is used often and the free agent still returns to their team on more than the one-year QO deal (Napoli and Boston this season). Likewise, teams have not been overly reluctant to lose their pick if they deem the FA worth the contract and of value to bring in. I think the way in which it ends up negatively affecting players is more in the AJ Burnett situation when the player is likely only going to sign a 1 or 2 year deal…do you find enough value over that 1-2 years to give up the money and the pick. So I do think that in AJ’s position the pick compensation could have hurt him. However, with that said, MLB is also a business and it is referred to in many sports that sometimes “that’s the business” and I do think that due to that fact the QO is one of those examples. Sometimes it is “just the business” that you get the QO. Furthermore, as a sign of disrespect, I think you’d have to look pretty hard at the QO to see it as a sign of disrespect from the small-market Pirates. They would be giving you the highest pay on the team, highest pay on the pitching staff, and making a sizable financial commitment out of their limited resources to you and on top of that, while you may have made $16M the previous season the Pirates only paid $8M of that so their $14.1M commitment actually is a “raise” from their contribution standpoint. Furthermore, when you look at the age factor you’d be one of the highest paid players for your age still in the game. Bartolo Colon didn’t get $14.1M (older and probably less worth it anyways) but neither did Tim Hudson who last year was on pace for a 3 WAR season before injury and the previous two seasons put up good WAR numbers. So I do not think it would have been disrespectful of the Pirates to give him the QO (consider further that before he came to Pittsburgh he was being “overpaid” for his production as well so the QO could actually be the perfect amount based on the last several years combined). Finally, AJ Burnett stated he wanted to come back to the Pirates or retire which I believes “softens the blow” of the QO. Get the financial offer to AJ out of the way early and show him he’s a valued member of this franchise and you’re willing to make that commitment to him, but if he chooses to go elsewhere the Pirates need to be secured in getting a return because that’s extremely important for small market clubs (it may have actually sped up the process as well).

          There is, obviously, more that I could say above, but I will reserve for potential “rebuttal” haha. Instead, I will address the contention that the Pirates may have been better off to not offer the QO so as to stay in favor of the agents of veteran free agents. I think that for the guys the Pirates go after this is not such an issue. First, the QO only comes into play on elite free agents. Second, the Pirates sign rebound-type players to one or two year deals to rebound their value with the Pirates. If the Pirates then give them a substantial increase in value offer to their contract (lets use Liriano as an example, giving him a QO if he puts up another year like last year this year would still be an offer of $14.1M over his contract year of $6M) I cannot see how that would be looked on poorly. Again, the situation would also have to play out that the free agent would be able to be offered the QO and those being signed on a one-year deal are not the type of players, even if they do rebound, who would qualify for the offer. In the Liriano situation, if Liriano has another season like he did last year this year, I certainly hope the Pirates give him a QO.

          I think for small market teams the QO is a great tool. One that we’ve seen used multiple times this offseason by smaller market teams and, under the old system, we saw used by Tampa. I think the idea that it would have been “insulting” and have led to problems between AJ and the team are overblown (because its all in the presentation and I think they could have presented it in a favorable way) and I think the contention that it would hurt the Pirates in similar situations down the road are also overblown (I think it would be rare to find the Pirates in those situations first of all and second the Pirates would still be offering huge increases in pay to those select few who did earn the QO). The Pirates cannot afford to give away talent for free, especially when they are now contenders. Who knows if AJ will sign elsewhere or not…but giving the QO seems like, absolutely, the correct business thing to do for a small-market team.

          • Cato the Elder
            December 15, 2013 3:14 pm

            Let’s start here:

            “If the Pirates then give them a substantial increase in value offer to their contract (lets use Liriano as an example, giving him a QO if he puts up another year like last year this year would still be an offer of $14.1M over his contract year of $6M) I cannot see how that would be looked on poorly.”

            Using Liriano as the example, if he puts up another year like last year, then his true value on the open market would bear little resemblance to the $6M the Pirates paid him. In fact, that $6M will have little bearing on what he is worth going forward. If the Pirates offered him a QO -which I am not saying they shouldn’t do in that case – there is no way that doesn’t cost Frankie money. Assuming he is worth more than the QO he either accepts the QO and thereby accepts less than he is worth. Or he rejects it and either signs elswhere – and there is no way you are telling me that a team doesn’t think $X AND a first round draft pick doesn’t hold more value than $X – or he resigns with the Pirates, but with the Pirates using the QO as leverage in there negotiations. The leverage comes from the simple fact that any other team has to surrender a first round pick in addition to any money they spend on the signing.

            “Again, the situation would also have to play out that the free agent would be able to be offered the QO and those being signed on a one-year deal are not the type of players, even if they do rebound, who would qualify for the offer. ”

            The only condition required to be eligible for a QO is that you play the entire season with that club; there are no performance criteria.


            “I find the “insult” idea to be one that is hard for me to buy. Yes, some free agents do not like it because it limits their opportunities, but then again the QO is used often and the free agent still returns to their team on more than the one-year QO deal (Napoli and Boston this season).”

            “Insult” may not be the proper word, but there is no doubt that the QO is a tool used by teams for leverage in their negotiations, n.b. all 13 free agents offered the QO this offseason rejected it so I think it is fair to say more than “some” didn’t like it. The QO generally offers the player nothing but a thinly veiled threat.

            “I think for small market teams the QO is a great tool. One that we’ve seen used multiple times this offseason by smaller market teams…”

            I don’t know if this is true. Look at the list qualifying offers


            Only three of those strike me as small markets: Cincy, Cleveland and KC. The Yankees and Red Sox each extended 3 QOs themselves. At minimum it is controversial to say that the qualifying offer system favors small market teams.



            With regards to future free agents, I guess all I am suggesting is that the Pirates may have bought some goodwill with future free agents by taking AJ at his word and signaling to other aging, bounce-back candidates that the team will deal with players on a case by case basis. Going a little further out on that limb, there may be a market inefficiency to be exploited by signing bounce back candidates at a reduced price, helping them reestablish there value here, and then letting them go elsewhere to sign a big free agent contract that they may or may not live up to. I could see how this might be an glamorous model, but unlike before when we would groom good, YOUNG players to be signed by big markets as free agents, we might groom good, OLD players to go sign big free agent contracts elsewhere, and spend our money keeping our good young players. While the former is intolerably because you have to watch talent go be successful elsewhere for years and years, the latter his far preferable because whatever success or failure the player leaving might have elsewhere, it would be relatively short lived and relatively expensive for our competitors.

  • Bridgevillebuc
    December 14, 2013 8:09 am

    1) AJ has the right to play wherever he chooses that is BEST for him and his family.
    2) He also has the right to change is mind.
    3) He was a classy guy when he was here and helped turn this team around.
    4) Whether he is here or not in 2014, we are STILL gonna see good baseball. This team is still gonna compete.

  • Please AJ. Stay with us. We need your innings, your strikeouts, and we need Volquez to stay in the bullpen.

  • I heard that the Pirates were talking to the Agent(s) of Bronson Arroyo. How did that turn out? AJ is gonna retire or play with us.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they haven’t already agreed on a contract $$$ number. No way AJ wants to pitch to the AL East bombers.

    O’s – AJ lives a half an hour from us. THink he’d come play with our team for 1/$15 mil or 2/$30 mil.
    Agents – He has indicated to us that his desire is to play with the Pirates or retire. His missus REALLY wants him to stay home.


    As for first base, just about any first baseman left out there can do better than GI Jones. Plus, there’s the added bonus of Gaby not getting as many ABs vs RHP, with GI in RF.


  • Hope he gets paid nicely from the O’s the Pirates are fools if they don’t spend the money and sign this man AJ deserves just as much credit as the pitching coach Ray Searage for getting this rotation turned around AJ is a leader

  • AJ is done with the Pirates, I think that’s a guarantee that we can all agree on. If he was going to return here, he would’ve signed within the first 2-3 weeks of the end of the regular season. If he pitches in 2014, it will be with the Baltimore Orioles. I’ve been saying that for a few weeks now.

  • Wouldn’t have minded the Pirates going after Gavin Floyd instead of Volquez. Floyd had Tommy John surgery in May so I doubt he’d be ready until after May, but neither was Liriano really. Floyd has had 3-4 good seasons in a row and with an increase in gb% and defense behind him he could do even better, I believe. Oh well.

    • I wouldn’t have minded Floyd either, but I’d like to point out again that Volquez had a better FIP, xFIP and GB% than Liriano had when he signed with the Pirates, so he does have that going for him.

      • But there are other numbers that don’t support Volquez…and you have to look at more than one year too. I do not like the Volquez signing, but its over and done with so nothing I can do.

        That said, I would have liked Gavin Floyd…he’s progressing very nicely. Long toss at 180 ft and should be throwing from a mound by December. Looks on track for a similar progression as Liriano went through last offseason, although I would expect it to take a little longer.

        • I’m sure there are, but are they as predictive as FIP/xFIP or do the resonate with the Pirates defensive strategies as much as GB%. I mean one could cite K% and/ BB%, these are baked into FIP, and as you might then expect those number compare favorably to Liriano’s when he signed with the Pirates. And you are not wrong when you suggest that one ought to look at more than one year, but that complicates things considerably – for example a look at career numbers would include Liriano’s exceptional season with the Pirates last year, and for the sake of comparison, we don’t want to include that in our analysis. Anyways, I think it is fair to say the Pirates and/or the free agent market has determined that Volquez < Liriano. I am just pointing out some reason for some optimism given the numbers and the Pirates track record. Furthermore, with the market price of $6-7 million per win above replacement all Volquez would have to do produce about .75 WAR to have earned his money, which is an eminently reasonable expectation even if one doesn't take into account the possibility of improvement.

          • Cato, I like the analysis this time. I think this might be the first time where you and I actually have a good conversation. Haha.

            My issue with Volquez is this: 1) I never really liked him even when he was “supposedly” so good because I thought he was extremely wild and inconsistent. 2) When you go back and look at the k% and bb% I think they tell a larger story about his struggles. 3) Comparing him to Liriano misses the fact that Volquez only had one good season ever and was later busted for PEDs. Liriano has had multiple good seasons and you can actually see what happened in his bad seasons…consider this:
            In Liriano’s three outstanding seasons here were his peripheral statistics:
            -2006: 55.3% gb, 10.71 k/9, 2.38 bb/9
            -2010: 53.6% gb, 9.44 k/9, 2.72 bb/9
            -2013: 50.5% gb, 9.11 k/9, 3.52 bb/9

            His other seasons he saw a dramatic drop off in both gb% (his best season in his off-years was 48% gb…a 6% drop-off from previous successful year), huge increase in bb/9, and a drop-off in k/9. You can, therefore, kind of diagnose what goes wrong in his poor seasons.

            What about Volquez? His gb% has actually been going up, with his best statistical year being 2008 when he had only a 46% gb has had 50+% gb in 3 of the last 4 seasons. He’s always walked way too many batters per 9 innings (thats what, I think makes him the most unappealing to me)…a full bb more per 9 than Liriano. Looking at Volquez peripheral numbers there is no glaring mismatch in statistics like there is/was for Liriano. Instead, Volquez has always been woefully inconsistent and walks too many batters.

            I agree that we’d only have to get a 0.75 WAR out of him to get the value, but he pitched in extremely pitcher friendly parks last season and in 170-innings put up only 0.4 WAR. Liriano came to this team after putting up a 1.5 WAR making his contract a bargain starting out ($6M vs. estimated minimum worth of $7.5M)…and Liriano had had multiple seasons of 1.5+WAR as well. Volquez has had one season and only one season of 1.5+WAR and that was his 2008 season.

            When Liriano came to the Pirates the Pirates got a pitcher who, honestly, was much more consistent than what the Pirates got in Volquez. Consider Liriano put up 3.8 WAR in 121 innings in 2006, missed all of 2007, but in 2008 put up 1.5 WAR in only 76 innings. In 2009 Liriano struggled but still managed to put up a 1.0 WAR in 136 innings (or a 1.5 WAR in a full 180-190 season). In 2010, Liriano had a 5.7 WAR in 190+ innings…Volquez’ numbers have been much more inconsistent.

            Ultimately, here’s what I will say: I am slightly biased because I have always liked Liriano. Yes, he had his struggles but he was an ace-type, elite pitcher in my mind…a Cy Young pitcher and when he struggled with injuries I thought he was injury-prone, but still a good starter and if he could stay healthy he’d find his magic again. I have never held Volquez in high-regard. I have never thought of him as an elite pitcher and I have never thought of him as a Cy Young type pitcher. I was 100% behind the Liriano signing, not just because of the peripheral statistics, but because the eye-test told me that Liriano was a good pitcher who was struggling in a bad year and had the ability to reclaim his prior brilliance. Volquez? I have never had him pass the eye-test…never seen him as a pitcher I would want on my team.

            • Cato the Elder
              December 14, 2013 4:01 pm

              I followed you all the way up to the “eye-test.” You are right though, there is very little reason to expect Volquez to pull a Liriano and become a legitimate ace. Luckily, we don’t need him to fulfill that kind of expectation. If he can merely be an average to above average innings eater then he will be well worth the $5 million; anything better than that is gravy. Liriano has set the bar exceedingly high; I can’t think of a better free agent signing anywhere in baseball over the last…oh hell, who am I kidding, I have no idea. All I am suggesting is that every signing is going to look bad when compared to Liriano, and I fear that has set up some unreasonable expectations from the fanbase.

              And BTW, my apologies if I have come off as combative toward you (or anyone else here); I don’t wish to embroil anyone in unproductive, emotionally charged arguments, but there is something about the nature of internet comment sections makes that hard: *reading comments*annoyed*reading comments*”oh, come on!”*reading comments*”that’s it I’m saying something!” It is like I am conditioned to only respond once a certain threshold of anger/annoyance has been reached, and when I do respond, I tend to be responding to 10 people who have earned my ire. I think I end up responding to you in particular so often, NOT because I find you most offensive. On the contrary, you are more likely than not to actually have an informed opinion (even though it often differs from my own) and the ability to formulate a coherent, evidence based response. So my apologies if I’ve come off as a jerk at any point; it’s not you, it’ me.

              Also, there is a whole host of regular commenters that I rarely engage because, well, they are generally saying what I am thinking, or at least something close enough that I don’t feel the need to respond. I sort of wish I could “upvote” or “like” comments or something to show my approval, but it is really not that important. I silently stalked this site for years and I’m just really happy to see it become such an active community. For a long time it felt like leefoo was the only one commenting, but everyday, nearly every article he would add a comment. So, a special shout out to Lee, if he’s listening. I hope he takes extra pride in bootstrapping this comment section into the community it is today.

              Truth is most any person this concerned with Pirates baseball at this point in December is a kindred spirit, at least in some measure, and it would be a shame to lose sight of that. In other words, I’d probably enjoy havin’ a beer with all of yinz! Anyways, I’ll can the cornball and get back to yelling like a jackass, but I just wanted to say, “sorry.” I’m not really a jerk – I only play one on the internet.

              • Awesome rsponse, and I appreciate this response greatly. I agree with everything you said…about the site, the way comments usually work on the internet etc.

                About the baseball part of it I will only say this: depth is important to a pitching staff and having an innings eater at average or slightly above average is extremely important/helpful. I am not certain that is what I think we are getting with Volquez and I think there were other options out there: both internal and external (Floyd as I mentioned) who I would think would cost less and be as useful.

                Oh well…they haven’t put me in charge yet…when they do I’ll still make sure to comment on here and let y’all know what I am up to!

              • Cheers my friend. Agreed.

    • Anyone would’ve been better than Volquez. His ERA will be well over 5 this year, his walk rate will be astronomical, and worst of all since he’s owed $5 million they won’t cut him like they did Sanchez when he blows up.

  • My opinion of A.J. is worsening by the week, I don’t blame the Pirates for at least attenting to move on, he’s acting like a full blown diva in my eyes. Dont get me wrong, at first I understood his dilema, but too much time has pass by, approaching Farve territory now. All in all, I enjoyed watching him pitch for our buccos and good luck to him.

    • Nuttig has not spent a penny more to make this club better…Again if they go back to normal …The money is there …20 YEARS OF SPENDING NUTTING

      • What player(s) specifically would you have wanted Nutting to spend his money on?

        They were runners up for Josh Johnson, who preferred to play on the west coast.

        They were clearly in the running for Loney, and we will find out shortly what went on there, but my hunch is that it wasn’t about money.

        You can’t say AJ, at least unless he signs with another team, because we don’t know whether he would have accepted an offer at any price.

        So it’s your team now, you need a solution at 1B, a short term answer in RF, a SP and a backup SS. Who are you spending money on?

      • Yep. No extensions for Cutch or Morton. Not a single penny. Or don’t those count? No draft bonuses for Cole, Bell, Pedro, or Taillon. Just a bunch of Moskos. Or don’t those count?

        Is there some super-secret free agent market I am unaware of with a plethora of cheap young controllable superstar 1B available? Please offer up SOLUTIONS if you are going to take shots.

        Sounds like you need a break from being so invested in this disaster of a fluky 94 win team. I heard there are plenty of seats available in Tampa.

        • Nathan : you could also explain to that person that Nutting has spent more than any owner in MLB on player acquisiton and developement in Latin America. Of course,that doesn’t matter to yahoos like that.

          • That’s patently false.

            • Since 2009 ? Look it up then come back to me Jared. Or is it that it just doesn’t that fit your narrative ?

          • babeadamsforthehall
            December 14, 2013 7:12 pm

            Yinzers like you are the reason the front office has been able to go unquestioned for the past 20 years. Now that they have had a winning season, largely due to a process that NH has had right since he got here but has, unfortunately, been terrible at implementing until this year, I guess they can now go unquestioned for another 20 years because of “yahoos” like you.

      • Cato the Elder
        December 14, 2013 9:41 pm

        I guess the honeymoon is over

  • lack of sex

  • how is such a high fraction of the fanbase so angry about something that hasnt even happened yet?

    • Because this team won 94 games last year, after 20 straight losing seasons, and now is regressing this offseason. I’m angry, very angry. Don’t blame others for being angry. NH is asleep at the wheel this offseason. Other than extending Morton this offseason has been a disaster. Volquez sucks, they dropped the ball on 1B, and the rotation will be a real mess next year.

      • Slow down Chicken Little. The sky is not falling. I can’t think that a team that relies soooo heavily on the draft would just toss away a possible comp pick w/o there being a legit reason behind it. There is more to it than we will likely ever know.

        I agree w/ Matt. We are likely to see one of, if not thee best OF in the league for the next handful of years. We have guys coming up that most teams would kill to have.

        Keep in mind, this team is actually competitive a yr or two AHEAD of schedule. We are on track. I’d rather NOT do something stupid just because you want get a mediocre upgrade.

        I’m sorry, did anyone suggest that Volquez needs to be the ace if the staff? I know I’m totally worried and disgusted by full seasons of Cole, Morton, and Liriano. What a train wreck!

        Honestly, some of you sound like whiny children at Christmas, ungrateful for the thing so you HAVE and only focused on what you wanted but didn’t get.

      • How are they regressing? The only reason people are angry is because they havnt paid attention to how Neil had been running the team leading up to last year. Who exactly did you want him to get this offseason? I can’t think of anyone other than Loney who made sense, and he chose to stay with his former team. I’ll take my chances with a guy who hit over 30 home runs in the upper minors over anybody we could get for first anyway. Also, the rotation will not be a mess this year. There’s Cole for an entire season (who has a higher ceiling than anyone we could have gotten), Frankie (I’ll take my chances that he kills it again), Morton (above average number 3) and tons of young arms to battle it out for the 4th and 5th spot. Also, AJ is still deciding whether he wants to retire, so there’s a 50% chance he’ll be back. Tons of teams wish they had that situation. Finally, its December, not the day before spring training starts, I don’t understand the panic. The Pirates have returned to success by not bringing in aging, big name players and relying on young high ceiling players. If some of these complainers were the GM we’d have another 20 straight years of losing seasons to look forward to starting now.

      • Marty : ” I’m angry, very angry. ” I would be too Marty if someone slapped me and then stole my lunch money. Or if I had predicted the Pirates would suck and then they fooled me and won a total of 97 games this past season. If you are truly are THAT angry though, I have a suggestion : get a real life !

        • Buster, you are being an ass. Stop it.

          Realistically speaking, we have done nothing to strengthen the team this offseason, but had plenty of money to do so. That’s all. Its not deeper than that. The choices are realistically gone which is why people are mad, there just aren’t any good options out there to significantly make the positions of need we had, go from weaknesses to neutral or strengths. We waited, let everyone else sign, and now there’s nothing left. We are the guys left sitting around waiting for our favorite products to go to the clearance rack, and they all sold out. We’ve had 20 years of losing and 1 season of winning. Someone has to take responsibility for the fact that we aren’t doing anything to make this team better or at least equal to where it was at the end of last season.

          • Cato the Elder
            December 14, 2013 1:06 pm

            The one thing that has become clear to me this off season is that fans have absolutely no financial acumen whatsoever. The literal dollars and cents of 1/2 a season of fans showing up is really a drop in the financial bucket. What it represents the potential for future earnings which can be borrowed against – you think the Magic Johnson or Lil’ Steinbrenner is going the the ATM to take out $150 million to cover payroll, seriously? – but given how quickly this fan base is wired to turn on this team, if I were the lender I would want to see more before I felt confident lending money to this franchise. St. Louis on the other hand…

            Good grief. I can see it now: imgine the Pirates are 4 – 6 after their first 10 games of the season, people will be showing up with paper bags on their heads and demanding refunds for the season tickets.

            Also, it is utterly beyond my comprehension that people could honestly insist that this team team is somehow worse today than it was at the end of last season. Who has left exactly? Even if AJ does not return, which is a distinct possibility, how it is not plainly obvious to everyone that losing him would be mitigated by full seasons of Cole, Liriano, and Morton, and the eminent arrival of Tallion defies my understanding. Throw in a full season of Mercer at SS and assume Polanco is riding the same train as Taillon, and suddenly that looks like a bunch of upgrades to me.

            I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, personally I would rather see the Pirates spend their money extending their own players (e.g. Morton, maybe Marte next) than spending money on free agents. It is just a more efficient allocation of resources. And frankly, I’d start throwing wads of cash at Searge, because if I were another MLB team, I would be targeting him, and if I were the Pirates, I would want him to know that he was greatly appreciated right here.

          • Thank you Y2. Coming from another ass,I will have to consider your advice.

      • marty,

        I wasn’t saying that people were already mad because the team was going to suck. If you think the team sucks, and you wanna be mad, go ahead.

        I was saying that people are already mad because AJ has signed a 2 year contract with Baltimore or Philly, and that isn’t even close to happening yet.

        • I think what we are all realistically afraid of, is more signings like Volquez that make no sense, status quo in keeping players like Barmes around, and bad trades which end up happening because we didn’t act early enough to get players for just money, rather than giving up money and players. So far our actions this offseason have been reminiscent of the 2008 pirates, not the 2012 Pirates that gave us hope.

          • Cato the Elder
            December 14, 2013 2:04 pm

            I would love, L-O-V-E, to have seen/heard your comments one year ago today. I bet after two straight second half collapses and 20 consecutive years of losing and the Pirates off season up to that point having consisted of signing the largest free agent in team history – a catcher, who many said was declining and who hit .224 the previous year in a hitter ballpark – I can just imagine your glowing optimism. I am sure you were high on Liriano, too. Am I right?

            I can just see it now, Y2JGQ2 standing in the middle of town waving a Jolly Roger screaming to a downtrodden baseball town weary from 20 years lost wandering , “The end is neigh. Our collective torment is at an end, for soon the seas will part and our boys of summer will climb 162 mounds and lead us to the promised land. Do not lose faith in our darkest hour.” It was something like that, am I right?

            • babeadamsforthehall
              December 14, 2013 7:09 pm

              So it worked once out of 21 years and therefore everyone who doubts moves like Vloquez need to be quiet? Bull. This team needs to get better to have a chance. SOMETIMES you need to spend actual money to do just that. Burnett at $14 mil was a no brainer. If he declines then we can still negotiate. If he accepts, the rotation looks a TON better than it does now. So sorry that some of us are not willing to bend over every time the front office breaks wind.

              • Cato the Elder
                December 14, 2013 9:40 pm

                Plenty of examples, both positive and negative, that spending money in free agency does not be necessarily equal success.

              • We don’t know all the details of the non-QO yet. Refer to my previous post about some players getting offended by the QO.

                Since we’re all playing the “I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED AND EXACTLY WHAT AJ IS THINKING” game, lets say AJ was only gonna play for the top bidder whether it was the pirates or not.

                the QO would have killed his market, making the pirates the only team that wouldnt give up a pick. he could have retired because the QO could have meant a lack of trust that he was telling the truth about “buccos or retirement”.

                It’s fun to try to pretend to know what all was said to lead to the non QO. but for every “OMG THE PIRATES ARE CHEAP” scenario, i can come up with a just-as-reasonable “the pirates were avoiding a mess with how temper tantrum prone AJ Burnett is” scenario

              • I think the Volquez deal prooves that the really do believe AJ still has a chance of coming back.

                He is the cheapest guy around that has a chance to be decent.

                He’s a guy who can log innings (and have a 4 ERA according to past FIP, and possibly have a 3.5 ERA based on Demon Searage Magic.) if AJ DOESN’T come back, and is a guy who was cheap enough that they could still sign AJ if he wants to come back.

                An insurance policy.

  • I will go on record as saying this whole thing is a blown call by the Pirate management group. They should have made the QO, and if AJ wanted to pitch in Baltimore, you are not out anything, and you get a draft choice. If he retires, you are not out of anything. If he decides to pitch, you get him at a competitive salary.

    • The only thing i can think of is that when the QO didnt happen, i saw guys like Tim Dierkes, the owner of Mlbtraderumors, say that sometimes agents and players who are close to retirement can get offended by QOs in situations like that.

      knowing AJ and the little tantrums he throws, this wouldn’t surprise me. it could have been a simple gesture of good will. i know NH said the stuff about X% of a team’s salary to one player being bad, etc, but you can’t take one word that GMs say in hot stove season at face value.

      But regardless, the QO would have given them a much quicker answer, which would have had value, i’m sure.

      • I think you’re very close to the likely truth about why no QO happened

      • Exactly. But I would say that if AJ doesn’t want to pitch for the Pirates, then I am fine with that. Thanks for the memories. If he wants to pitch for Baltimore, because its closer to his home and his family, good for him. Good luck. If money is the biggest factor in his returning one last year, well call me crazy, but I’ll take my chances with some of our young arms. Again, I have no hard feelings toward AJ and only would wish him the best whether that with the Bucs or Os or in retirement.

    • LongJohn are you another ” baseball genius ” ? Bartolo Colon got $ 10 million a year and itched every bit as well as AJ. So explain to me how a QO of $ 14 million a season is ” a competitive salary ” ?

      • Bartolo Colon had an ERA way under his FIP and xFIP due to his extremely high strand rate…80% LOB. The two previous years he was a 2.4-2.8 WAR player who also out produced his advanced metrics. If his strand rate comes back down to his career average (more around 70%) then he suddenly becomes a 2.0-2.4 WAR player again and has an ERA in the 3.70-3.90 range. At 2.0-2.4 WAR, Colon is worth between 10-12.5M per season. That’s what he received.

        AJ Burnett has actually still pitched under his advanced, peripheral stats. His FIP and xFIP the last two years has still been better than his actual ERA. His strand-rate has continued to be at exactly his career average. He’s averaged 3.5 WAR per year the last two years and projects at another 3.5-4.0 WAR next season, again based on his excellent peripheral statistics. That means that Burnett projects to be worth around $17.5-20M in value…so tell me, again, how $14.1 isn’t a good value for him?

        As the one and only Tim Williams has said, again and again, by EVERY calculation and estimation of value out there AJ Burnett is well worth the $14.1M QO amount. The only way you don’t see that is if you don’t believe in advanced statistics and WAR…but then again if you don’t believe in advanced statistics then Edinson Volquez is worse than a “bad signing” he’s a “god-awful” signing.

        Basically: AJ has more value than Bartolo Colon.

        • Jared : ” If his strand rate comes back down to his career average “….and if it doesn’t,then you have the wins Colon has piled up the past couple of seasons,right ? As much as I myself want to see AJ come back to the Pirates for another season,I am going to give you this little bit of information,ok ? No orginization is now going to pay AJ $ 7 million a season more than Colon.

          • babeadamsforthehall
            December 14, 2013 7:00 pm

            Seven million? Probably not. Four or five, especially on a one year deal? They would be stupid not to.


      • babeadamsforthehall
        December 14, 2013 6:57 pm

        Wow Buster. You make a living out of calling everyone else stupid, then you make a comment like this. Do yourself a favor. Put your hands in a pair of mittens and try typing. Your posts will make much more sense.

        • I haven’t really called anyone stupid,though there a number of times I would like to. But you,calling Huntingdon stupid just points out to some people how much knowledge you seem to lack. If you think NH is stupid,explain to me why Jerry DiPoto,Dave Dombrowski and Jack Z have made some of the deals they have made ? I guess in your opinion they are they stupid also ? Is Billy Beane stupid for overpaying Scott Kazmir ? Give me a break “babe “,you might not be stupid,but most of your facts come out of your butt.

  • No upgrade at 1st base, and they have to hope Polanco is ready at some point this year or RF is a disaster. If AJ moves on the starting staff is much weaker because there is no guarantee that Wandy’s arm can take a full year of starting. Once again the front office is asleep at the switch while Nutting is busy counting his profits.

    • Really? When will this crap ever stop? You would have thought we just had another 68 win season if you read half of the comments on here.

      The starting staff is not a disaster. The 2007 staff at the end of the season was Duke, Malholm, Gorzelanny, Snell, and Morris… that’s a disaster.

      Taillon will be here by June or July if he’s needed, same with Polanco… the Pirates have a serious chance at fielding the best OF in all of baseball for the next 3 seasons.

      My guess is that Loney wanted the 3rd yr, the Rays gave it to him and the Pirates didn’t want to or maybe the offers were essentially the same and he choose to stay put.

      Tim’s article from last week was spot on, NH (and Bob Nutting – my add) deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point

    • Yeah Bucco Joe,the FO has been asleep for the past 6-7 years or so…where do people like you come up with that crap ?

      • I wouldn’t say the front office was asleep but I think this off season shows that the Bucs do not intend to compete on the FA market now or ever. That is Nuttings prerogative but don’t fool yourself into believing that this is all a grand plan to make our team better. If given the chance I am sure NH would have a first basemen by now. I have always understood not wasting capital in an effort to get to 82 wins but the team now is clearly choosing not to chase needs when we have a competitive team. Thats a slippery slope for this team and any team. I get that if (and thats still a big if) we are competing that we will go out and get a 1B midseason but don’t be fooled into thinking we will not have to give away something of value (such as what we traded to the Mets and twins). To me this offseason proves no matter what the situation is we will never compete financially even with most of the small market teams.

  • Sorry, I never believed it. This smells like a set-up. AJ could not have left outright — that would make him a heel — so Balt comes in and will coax poor AJ from retirement. All that and a piddly $15 mil. That’s sports folks.

    Actually, if you want to see how sincere he is, wait and see if it’s a 2-year deal. Some retirement.

    • I don’t understand the “heel” argument from anyone. Why would it matter to Burnett what the fans think of him in Pittsburgh? If he leaves, he doesn’t have to pitch in front of them. I don’t think he’s going through this master plan to make sure he’s beloved and the Pirates take the blame for him leaving. It’s really far fetched.

  • Call me naive, but I believe AJ when he said it is Pgh or retirement.

    Also, they can talk to AJ’s agent. All they are doing is talking.

    I truly believe that, had AJ indicated that he wanted to test the market, NH would’ve extended a QO.

    Jmho, but I think this is much ado about nothing.

    • I guess I’ll call you naive. Players, coaches, GMs and owners do it all the time when they suggest they want something but they really want something else. Look at Seattle, they are telling everyone they are going to rotate, Morrison, Hart and Smoak. The reality is they can’t wait to get rid of Smoak. Its professional to not share the dirty laundry or to threaten your employer. The Pirates keep claiming they want Burnett back but seem to be forewarning that they can’t afford him. Look at the coach for Ark St., he removed himself from the coaching search for Boise St. 1 day before excepting the job. Burnett did the professional thing and struck all the right chords. That will not stop him from taking more money from another team especially if its the O’s who are situated in his wife’s home town. Quite frankly I would not blame him a bit if he did.

      • IC Bob : if you know so much about the Mariner’s situation,then please tell us what they are going to do with LoMo,Hart and Kendrys Morales when he accepts their QO ? And that is even if they can convince someone to take Smoak . You are another one of those folks out there pulling stuff out of your behind the way I see it.

        • They don’t have Morales…he can’t accept their QO now, the deadline to accept that offer has passed. Hart isn’t really a completely terrible defender in the outfield (career UZR of -13.8 and -3.0 UZR/150…not terrible numbers when you consider those are career numbers, not averages…Jose Tabata is a career -8.1 and -3.4 respectively as a guidepost) and carries a better overall bat then Morales. Logan Morrison was someone that people, here, were clamoring for to play at 1B…if we thought he’d bounce back here why is it so hard to believe he could in Seattle? Finally, Seattle has the DH position available and, therefore, has more flexibility with their roster.

          • Morales is going to wind up re-signing with the Ms when he discovers nobody else wants a guy whose mobility is so limited that he has to DH exclusively,which he does quite well by the way, The only other team that would have him is KC,but they have that guy already : Billy Butler.

        • As Jared stated they don’t have to except teh QO from Morales although it ahs been reported that he may sign a 1yr deal for less then the QO. It has also been reported that they are again looking to trade Smoak 2 days after saying they were not looking to trade him (what a shock). I hate to say this but when a GM moves his lips it usually means he is lying. Quite frankly I wouldn’t want my GM to tell us the truth because it would probably hurt.

    • I don’t think you are naive. I really think he means it.

      Also, I don’t think he will sign with Baltimore. Not saying he doesn’t want more money, his perogative. But Baltimore will not be competing in the AL East in the foreseeable future.

      I for one, get a little tired of AJ’s petulance on the mound and in the dugout. But I don’t doubt that this stems from a immense desire to do well and win. Going to Baltimore at this point we just be about collecting a paycheck, and I don’t see that.

      We will see, hope I am right.

  • The 5 million wasted on Volquez would come in handy me thinks…

    Wonder why we never heard anything on Omar Infante – could have moved walker to 1st to platoon with Sanchez

    But that would have been creative – we love career .200 hitters with good defensive skills

    • Not sure why you would do that. Infante signed for 4 years at AAV of $7.5M and is basically a .750 OPS guy. Any of Smoak, Davis or Moreland would give you that production or better at half the cost and no long-term guarantee.

    • Me thinks you are pretty short sighted Bruce.

  • I heard that AJ wants what he was paid last year to come back to play, which was 17m. Unfortunately for the Pirates they can’t get the Yankees to pay half this year. So he won’t be back!!! Now if another team pays the going rate then we’ll all see him pitch again but it won’t be here.

    • Interesting. You got some inside information there, Bob. Do you reckon the strategy is wait out the market until Tanaka, Garza, Jimenez and Santana are all signed and see who’s still desperate enough for pitching to give him $17M? Boy, that would make the non-QO move look like a big mistake.

    • From your post I gather you aren’t a huge fan of his so you are being as subjective as you sound. Any sources to list on where you “heard” he wants 17m.

    • Bob…you appear to be talking out your rear again. Why do you do that? You do it elsewhere, also.

      My sources tell me that isn’t a very good trait to have.

    • Do you really think any orginization thinks AJ is worth $ 7 million a year more than Bartolo Colon ? If you do,you are even dumber than I think you are Bob ! And that is pretty bad.

  • This is a Black Friday.

  • I don’t like the sound of this though, even though its been rumored for awhile and expected, because I am not sure that the Pirates will pay Burnett enough if he does come back and say “I want to pitch in 2014″…yes, people can say “He’s made a lot over the years and so a couple million won’t matter…” but guess what? He’s leaving his family for an extended period of time, making a major time and physical commitment if he decides to play again and so, yes, I do think that money will become important…not only that but it will be the last time he gets paid before retiring so if he’s going to be away from his family and he’s going to be putting himself out there every day and starting every 5th day then he should want/expect, and deservedly so, to get paid. The Pirates SHOULD have given him the QO if for no other reason than to say, “hey you’re important to us and we’re willing to make a sizable financial commitment to you, sizable for us, because we understand the sacrifice we’re asking you to make to come and help our ball club again in 2014.” Instead, NH has done the exact opposite…we’ll see how it plays out, but I would not be surprised if AJ were pitching for Baltimore next season (and maybe his numbers will go down because he’d be back in the AL East, but I believe he’s 100% capable and likely to have another good season).