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Blog Entry

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

Posted on: March 6, 2012 1:55 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 4:28 pm
 

BRADENTON, Fla -- Pirates owner Bob Nutting declared, "This is an exciting day for the Pittsburgh Pirates.'' And so it was. While the newly cost-conscious New York Yankees were practicing on the field behind them, the Pirates, dreadfully low in the spending and winning departments almost all of the past two decades, were announcing their $51.5-million contract for star outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a neat little area by their clubhouse beyond right field.

The Pirates are starting to show they mean business, doing things in recent months they hadn't done in a while, including spending serious money. They acquired semi-pricey veterans Derek Lee and Ryan Ludwick at the trade deadline last July, imported A.J. Burnett and $13 million of his bloated contract (from said Yankees) on the eve of spring training, and now have signed off on the seceont largest contract in their history for the multitalented McCutchen. The Pirates, it is said, just could not chance losing McCutchen, who is their best player and also a very good player as well (one doesn't necessarily ensure the other).

My contract expert rates this as "a fair deal for both sides,'' though he did note that McCutchen hit .216 in the second half last season and has only one 20-homer season (also last year). It's a very similar deal to those given to two other young star outfielders, Justin Upton and Jay Bruce, and I'd rate McCutchen third in that group, with Upton first and Bruce second. But still a strong third.

As everyone in Pittsburgh knows, the Pirates haven't had a winning season since another young outfielder, Barry Bonds, left town following the 1992 season. So for all they've done the past few years in the way of draft and international signings (draftees Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie are the team's pitching future), and they spent a whopping $50 million in amateur talent since starting with No. 2 overall pick Pedro Alvarez in 2008, everyone understands they had to seal the deal with McCutchen.

The move is rightly being applauded throughout the Pittsburgh area because it is another reminder the team is trying hard. Yet, even after all the good feeling here over the big deal, there are two questions: 1) Did the need to make a statement play a role in signing him? and 2) Was he signed because he's a great ballplayer or a great kid?

As for the first question, Nutting says no. "This signing is not done to make a statement,'' Nutting said. Pirates president Frank Coonelly said that statement signings may only be good for a day, and pointed out that spending this kind of money only for the intention of positive pub carries a great risk. Though of course, if they failed to lock up McCutchen, what would that say? This says they are committed to winning, so whether they intended it or not, a statement was made.

As for whether they signed a person or ballplayer, the main message seemed to be about what kind of young man McCutchen is. "This commitment is one we're willing to make because of the person he is,'' Nutting said in one of multiple statements made along those lines. Here's another, from GM Neal Huntington, "I'd like to thank Andrew's parents for raising such an outstanding person.''

All indications are that McCutchen is just an absolutely terrific kid (he even made a special trip over to say hello to the Pirates beat writers). But there is a danger if a team is paying for persona. There is a reason personality is sometimes cited as a consolation compliment.

Of course, for this deal to work he's going to have to do more than be pleasant to the fans and great in the community; he's going to have to perform on the field. McCutchen wound up hitting only .259 last year with 126 strikeouts, but he has posted consistent OPS marks in his career -- .836, .814 and then .820 last year. He's a very good player who's not yet great. The key is, he is only 25.

Pirates people talked about the type of player they hope he becomes. The reality is, he isn't a $51.5-million player yet. But they think he will be one day.

As we all know, previous Pirates regimes had a knack for giving big deals when they weren't warranted, including one infamous one to journeyman infielder Pat Meares. Their biggest contract ever was a $60 million six-year deal. That one went to Jason Kendall, a catcher who could hit for a high batting average at one time.

Pirates people figure this deal will pay off much better for them. On the day they signed Kendall, they also made a very big statement. And he didn't even have such a great personality.






Comments

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:13 am
 

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

Go zips ... it sounds like you were waiting for a chance to lash out at somebody.
Carry much anger around with you?

Of course we are all hidden behind our computer screens, but attacking somebody by saying they have no right to an opinion because they didn't serve "in the trenches" like you did ... how do YOU know what somebody did that puts them behind a computer screen?

Calling people "idiot" because they can't relate to turmoil in the the hallways of your school (if you actually didn't make that up after watching a movie) ... see where I'm headed with this?

There's way too little discourse on these boards as it is. Attacks on someone's point of view are pretty easy to make.

I would have used the private message function, the truly proper way of communicating this -- but, hey ... it's out there. Public is the choice of floor for the debate.

I won't start a diatribe about patriotism and the so-called "ultimate sacrifice," because my own experiences taught me to not hang that out on the front door for the world to cherish.

Meanwhile, this was all about an outfielder for a baseball team.







Since: Dec 21, 2006
Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:55 am
 

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

yankee trev-

i am a teacher in an inner city school, where police officers are constantly in the halls and police dogs are brought in monthly to check for drugs, weapons and/or anything else associated with life on the streets.  i have had three separate operations due to injuries suffered while breaking up fights in school. 

i have had students killed in action and/or maimed due to serving our country so that idiots like you can say what you want from behind a computer screen without repercussions.

finally, i have a son who attends chardon schools.  unless you have lived thru something like that, please keep comments such as the ones you made to yourself.

i was trying to put things in perspective.  i could give you an economics lesson, since i have taught that for 12 years, but you probably wouldnt understand it anyway.

thank you for your input, but also thank you for the man who chased a killer from my sons school and thank you to all of the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that i may sit here and type messages on a sports website.




Since: May 29, 2009
Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:18 am
 

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

This writer, like most people get caught up in the $51.5M and fail to realize that he will only make $1.5M this year. Is he worth that? Of course, it's a steal. The next years it is $4.5M, he should be easily be worth that. Then it goes up every subsequent year, so by year 4 and he is scheduled to make $14M or whatever that number is then you decided based on the previous years results if he is worth that now high number. If he is a .300 35 120 guy you pay it and if he is a 250 15 60 guy you trade him. 
Pitt South,

Your response would work in a perfect world.  If McCutchen is only hitting .250 with 15 hrs and 60 rbis on a backloaded contract -- he will be untradeable, unless the Pirates eat the majority of the contract (i.e. AJ Burnett)

So while the cheap years in the 1st and 2nd is nice -- if McCutchen doesn't perform, Pittsburgh is going to be stuck with him for the length of the contract.  If teams could just trade away high priced player who are underperforming -- NY would have traded away ARod long ago.  Barry Zito would have been traded years ago by SF.  NY would have traded Tex and his 23 million a year contract as he has set career lows the last two years in BA and OBP.

Personally -- I think McCutchen is a quality player and someone the Pirates won't regret signing to this deal anyways, so it will be a moot point.  Hopefully for the Pirate fans, the 2nd half last year was an exception and not what they have to look forward to in the future. 



Since: Apr 2, 2008
Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:20 am
 

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

This writer, like most people get caught up in the $51.5M and fail to realize that he will only make $1.5M this year. Is he worth that? Of course, it's a steal. The next years it is $4.5M, he should be easily be worth that. Then it goes up every subsequent year, so by year 4 and he is scheduled to make $14M or whatever that number is then you decided based on the previous years results if he is worth that now high number. If he is a .300 35 120 guy you pay it and if he is a 250 15 60 guy you trade him.




Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:17 am
 

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

Do the Pirates really think they can produce a winner with Ryan Ludwick and Derek Lee, McCutcheon and some young players.They have a decent pitching staff, but what does A.J. Burnett bring? - 8Cowboys22

Um, no. I don't think anyone, including the Pirates management, expects the Pirates to win the division this year. You have to take a longer-term view of success. Their fortunes are not tied to Ludwick and Lee (who I don't even think is coming back to the Bucs), but to guys like Cutch, Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, and Neil Walker. Quite frankly, they do not have the pitching to win now (to say it's "decent" is an insult to decent things everywhere). They do have a stockpile of young arms, such as Cole, Taillon, and Heredia who they are banking on. AJ Burnett is immediately their #1 starting pitcher, which says it all right there, although I think James McDonald is poised for a great year. Either way, guys like Ludwick, lee, and Burnett are all stopgap solutions. If they win now, or in the future, it will have to be on the backs of their young kids (I'm looking at you, Pedro Alvarez).



Since: Dec 12, 2011
Posted on: March 7, 2012 6:25 am
 

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

I am surprised at the outrage on the part of some. I agreed it was an exciting day for the Pirates and praised them for spending a lot lately. As for McCutchen, I said he was a terrific kid who is a very good player. "Very good'' is a compliment. Great isn't a word I throw around easily. I just don't think he is quite there yet. I said he was a "strong'' third to Upton and Bruce. I can see where many would rate McCutchen ahead of Bruce. It is close, that's why I said a "strong'' third. I really thought I was praising the Pirates and merely raising the question of whether he's worth it. I quoted someone saying it was a "fair deal,'' so I certainly wasn't saying he definitely was not worth it. He may well be.



Since: Feb 5, 2012
Posted on: March 7, 2012 4:34 am
 

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

So Jay Bruce is obviously better than Cutch because..? Why because yay for homeruns!!? McCutchen has only one 20 homer season, that's your main argument? Nevermind that....


-The GAP is a top 5 park for hitters and increases HR totals, PNC park saps right handed power at a bottom 5 rate
-Centerfielders are more valuable than right fielders
-McCutchen has accumulated 12.9 WAR, compared to Bruce's 11.3 in around 200 LESS plate appearances.
-Bruce's lineup has been MUCH stronger around him than Cutch, compare Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto to umm Neil Walker and Garrett Jones for example?
-McCutchen has been shifted between the 1st thru 4th slots in the lineup a bunch of times due to lack of offensive help around him, which can obviously adversely affect approach.

?

Disappointingly bad article. McCutchen is a star, and if he ever gets help around him his numbers will reflect it even more.

Also...

After last season I would point to Luis Heredia over Stetson Allie as the third arm of the future along with the big 2. Allie has no idea whatsoever where the ball is going when it leaves his hand. Until he can shore that up he can't be counted on.

    



Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:05 am
 

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

Every article Heyman writes is dumber than the previous one, which is amazing considering the depths of stupidity he's already sunk to.  How can a national writer be so utterly clueless about the topic he's supposed to write about, its truly boggles my mind.



Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: March 7, 2012 12:42 am
 

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

This is more than just Cutch.
I compare it to the Reds and their signing of Jay Bruce, who's still only 24. They locked up a local favorite, gave the fans a reason to believe that not all their top guys were 3-and-done ...

And maybe some other players who become free agents will look at the Pirates and say, yeah ... maybe I can play there.

Doesn't make them a perennial power but it makes them a contender. That will fill the ballpark. They can then be like the Cubs.





Since: Oct 4, 2006
Posted on: March 7, 2012 12:31 am
 

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

And Heyman proves once again that he is utterly clueless.

This is a great contract.  

  .836, .814 and then .820 last year. He's a very good player who's not yet great.

Go find me 5 CF who played good defense and had an OPS like this last year. I'll wait. To put it in perspective, the guy was worth over 20 M per year last year if you factor in his fWAR and the dollar value of one win. 


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