Posted on: August 25, 2010 10:57 am
Edited on: August 25, 2010 11:57 am

Ohlendorf's nightmare season might be over

Ross Ohlendorf
Ross Ohlendorf's offseason plans should probably begin with finding someone to take the curse off him. Because that might be the only way to explain the run of bad luck the Pirates right-hander has had this year.

He's been on the disabled list with a lower back injury and missed more games with a leg injury. He got hit in the head by a line drive. Now his season might be over after he was diagnosed with an upper back muscle strain, and he has no idea how the injury happened. He thinks he might have slept on it wrong.

Ohlendorf is 1-11 this season, even though his ERA is a respectable 4.07. As a point of reference, Florida's Ricky Nolasco has won 14 games and the Angels' Ervin Santana 13 with higher ERAs. And neither of them plays for a winning team, though they don't play for a team as bad as the Pirates.

It seems only appropriate that in what might have been Ohlendorf's last start Monday, he took the loss despite throwing just 10 pitches before leaving with the injury. According to baseball-reference.com, only four other pitchers since 1988 have lost a game while throwing 10 pitches or fewer.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: August 24, 2010 10:39 pm

MLB zeroing in on document leaks

The New York Daily News points the finger at an unnamed insurance carrier as the source of a leak of financial documents for several teams.

Naming two "Major League Baseball sources," the newspaper says MLB's Department of Investigations is hot on the trail of the leaks.

The Associated Press got its hands on the Pirates' books, while the Rays, Marlins, Mariners, Angels and Rangers had their financial information given to Deadspin.com.

Deadpsin writer Tommy Craggs would not say if he had more financial reports -- "can't comment on that, unfortunately, at least not while my source is running from black helicopters," Craggs told the paper in an e-mail.

The documents showed some teams were pocketing revenue-sharing money from some of the larger teams.

"It was beneficial, some of the information," one source told the paper. "I think a lot of people were glad to see that the receipts were higher" but not happy to see some "transfer of equity was not going toward players and player development."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 23, 2010 2:30 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2010 2:34 pm

Financial statements of teams released

Money On Sunday night, Deadspin released financial statements for the Pirates, Rays and Angels, giving fans a rare glimpse inside the checkbook of teams. The privacy of team's spending allocations and revenues has been a tightly guarded secret, so this information is rather rare to come by.

For example, did you know the Rays only made a paltry $2.46 per person on concessions in 2007, a figure that skyrocketed to $5.38 in 2008, the year they made the playoffs?

Yep, winning does indeed make money.

How about the flailing Marlins, who made just $1.64 per person in concessions in 2009 -- but spent just over $30 million in player development? The $44 million received in revenue sharing gave the Marlins a net income of $3 million. Doesn't exactly mesh with the prevailing notion that the Marlins just take the money and pocket it, now does it?

Monday morning, the financial documents of the Mariners were released as well on Deadspin, giving teams an even clearer picture of how teams stack up. And while most of the stories have focused on the fact that these teams are turning a profit instead of putting it back into the team, what people are missing is the fact that a) relatively speaking, the profit is not all that much and b) there are plenty of expenses that go into a team other than major-league payroll.

Maury Brown of BizofBaseball.com broke down what it all means in a series of tables. One such table is a breakdown of all the team's profit (minus long-term debt) as measured by BizofBaseball.com:

Net Income
Year Club Amount
2008 Pirates $14,408,249
2007 Pirates $15,008,032
2009 Angels $10,732,000
2008 Angels $7,088,000
2009 Marlins $3,900,000
2008 Marlins $29,462,000
2008 Rays $4,016,163
2007 Rays $11,066,191
2008 Mariners ($4,533,000)
2007 Mariners $17,864,000

The Mariners are the only team to lose money, and this was in 2008 when the team went 61-101. No wonder Bill Bavasi lost his job as general manager.

Take these profits with a grain of salt. Yes, sometimes profits do go in the pockets of the owners -- as is their right; it is a business, after all -- but oftentimes the budget calls for theoretical money put aside for a midseason acquisition, signing international free agents and drafted players and the like. It is not always a measure of pocketing money. Sometimes that money gets spent -- sometimes it doesn't. In Padres assistant GM Paul DePodesta's blog recapping their poor draft signing season of 2010, DePodesta notes that in the last few years, the Pads have been among the most aggressive in cash outlays. Not doing so in 2010 isn't because the owners wanted to pocket money, but because the opportunity never materialized.

"It doesn't change the fact that from 2007-2009 only the Yankees and Red Sox spent more on amateur players than we did. We planned for that trend to continue in 2010, and we'll plan for it again in 2011," he wrote on his blog.

Okay, so what if that money did get spent on the draft? How do you explain the rest of the profit? It could be from overachieving -- more fans coming out to the park than projected, or simply not having a need to spend that money. If you have money, it doesn't mean you should just throw it around.

Take Pittsburgh, for example, a team that made roughly $15 million per year in 2007 and 2008. Does anyone think that signing a player to a $10 million deal -- which would have given them roughly an above-league average player, would have been the tipping point to get Pittsburgh into the playoffs? Why not hold onto that money and invest it elsewhere in future years, as Pittsburgh has? The team is among the leaders in dollars laid out for amateur players, so it's not like Bob Nutting is dropping the money into a tank and diving into piles of money like Scrooge McDuck.

Carlos Guillen makes an average of $12 million on a contract running from 2008-2011. Would he have made the Pirates win? How about Rafael Furcal? Scott Rolen? All made about $10-$12 million annually in the 2007-08 time period. All would not have been enough. And all could have been had as free agents.

These financial statements are extremely illuminating and will be fodder for discussion in the coming months. However, while MLB and team owners must be outraged that these documents were leaked, in the long run, these documents may help people understand the costs of running businesses. Yes, it is admirable when owners pay out of their pocket to ensure a winning team, but do that too long and a "For Sale" sign will eventually be put up.

What these documents show is that teams are pocketing far less than anticipated. Nothing jumps out here that represents a gross abuse of power -- and the Marlins and Pirates have been at the forefront of these claims recently (with yours truly joining in). Perhaps this will quiet those claims.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 21, 2010 1:46 am

Pirates' futility reaches adulthood

John Russell
It was only a matter of time, but the Pirates officially extended their record run of futility Friday night, losing their 82nd game of the season. They have now eliminated the possibility of running off 82 straight wins to avoid a losing season, and will finish on the wrong side of .500 for the 18th consecutive year.

One interesting thing is that while the Pirates have been losers all that time, they’ve rarely been really awful. They’re an aggregate 1,206-1,600, a winning percentage of .429, and they’ve only lost 100 games once (though they’ll surely do it again this year under the watchful eye of manager John Russell, pictured).

Some tidbits on the streak, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

* The previous record for consecutive losing seasons by a North American major professional sports team was 16 by the Phillies (1933-48).  The NFL record is 14 (Buccaneers, 1983-96), the NBA record 15 (Kings, 1983-98) and the NHL record 15 (Canucks, 1976-91).

* This is the fastest the Pirates have made it to 82 losses, a week faster than the 2001 team.

* Pittsburgh has actually spent 82 days in first place during the streak.

* In the same span, the Steelers and Penguins have played 34 seasons combined, and reached the playoffs 24 times. The Steelers have been in three Super Bowls, winning two, and the Pens have split in a pair of Stanley Cup appearances.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Category: MLB
Tags: Pirates
Posted on: August 20, 2010 1:27 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2010 2:18 pm

Pirates expect to boost payroll

Andrew McCutchen Don't look now, but the Pirates could have a payroll in 2011 that would be their highest since prior to 2000, if not highest ever.

Currently with a league-low $39 million payroll, the Pirates will have a "meaningful" increase in payroll, says team president Frank Coonelly to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette .

"We have the capacity to add to payroll in a meaningful way,” Coonelly said. “We’ll be evaluating the trade market and free agency and, if we see a player or players we like, we’ll be aggressive in pursuing that player."

In the offseason, owner Bob Nutting foreshadowed this decision to the Post-Gazette , saying spending would eventually rise to the level of the Reds and Brewers who hover around $75 million.

"I think that's expected," Nutting said. "I think it's rational. I think it's where Pittsburgh needs to be. And we're in that trajectory now. As you see our current core of players -- one I have faith in -- as they mature, the dollars are going to increase."

The 40-man roster payroll is expected to land around $44 million, and Coonelly said the projected payroll increase would go beyond that figure. In 2008 and 2009, Pittsburgh averaged a $48 million payroll while the high over the last decade is $57 million, set in 2001 when the team went 62-100 with Brian Giles, Jason Kendall, Kevin Young (!) and "Operation Shutdown" Derek Bell the four highest-paid Bucs.

Don't expect Pittsburgh to go after Cliff Lee, though. Any massive financial outlay will come with players acquired through the draft. That leaves Pittsburgh checking out the mid-tier stable of players. Combined with the team's young, budding stars, the right stable of mid-tier players could be enough to push Pittsburgh to .500 in a season that has been so disappointing, Coonelly said no one's job is safe -- not even GM Neal Huntington or manager John Russell even as Coonelly sings their praises.

Here's one possible guess at a 2011 lineup, using strictly internal options and projected free agents -- in other words, no possible trades. The free-agent imports are bolded.

C: Chris Snyder
1B: Garrett Jones/Ty Wigginton
2B: Neil Walker
SS: Juan Uribe
3B: Pedro Alvarez
LF: Jose Tabata
CF: Andrew McCutchen (pictured)
RF: Austin Kearns /Ryan Doumit/Lastings Milledge
SP: Aaron Harang
CL: Frank Francisco

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Tags: Pirates
Posted on: August 19, 2010 8:22 pm

Pirates land top Mexican prospect

It's been a big week for the Pirates and young pitchers. They signed talented draft picks Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie earlier in the week, and Thursday they announced that they have closed the deal on 16-year-old Mexican prospect Luis Heredia.

Heredia was hot property during the international signing season, with the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Rangers, Mariners and Blue Jays reportedly joining the Pirates in pursuing the right-hander. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates paid $2.6 million for Heredia, by far the most they have ever paid for an international prospect. Veracruz, the teen's team in Mexico, gets to keep 75 percent of that money.

Heredia is 6-feet-6 and already reportedly has a 92-93 mph fastball.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Posted on: August 18, 2010 2:22 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2010 8:06 pm

Adam LaRoche clears waivers

Adam LaRoche Do you suppose Adam LaRoche even unpacks his bags anymore? Does he dare to buy fresh fruit?

In 2009, the first baseman was traded from the Pirates to the Red Sox to the Braves. In January he signed with the Diamondbacks, but now he could be on the move again.

John Gambadoro of Phoenix-area radio station KTAR reports via Twitter that LaRoche has cleared waivers, which means the Diamondbacks can now trade him to any team. He'd be a nice pickup for a contender, and fairly cheap -- he's owed a little over a million remaining on this year's salary, and has a mutual option for 2011 that can be bought out for $1.5 million (or picked up for $9.5 million). What's kind of odd is that his contract called for the option to escalate from $7.5 million to $9.5 million if he was traded, pretty much assuring if he changes addresses during the season, he'd have to do so again next year.

LaRoche has always been a second-half player, and he's doing it again this year. He's batting .381/.409/.762 with six homers and 11 RBI in August and on Sunday hit his 20th homer. The White Sox and Rays are looking for power, and even after signing Carlos Beltran, the Red Sox might consider LaRoche a superior option to platoon with Mike Lowell.

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE: Colorado's Brad Hawpe has also cleared waivers, according to the Denver Post's Troy Renck (via Twitter ). The suitors for Hawpe would likely be about the same as LaRoche, though he may be a tad less desirable.  Hawpe is owed roughly $2 million and he can void the $10 million  club option for 2011 if traded. The buyout for that option is $500,000.

UPDATE: Renck tweets he expects a move with Hawpe after tonight's game or before tomorrow's game. Hawpe may be outrighted. In addition, Texas seems to have some interest in picking him up.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: August 17, 2010 12:00 am
Edited on: August 17, 2010 1:37 am

Signing deadline update

Bryce Harper
As of exactly midnight ET, 11 first-round picks have not been reported as signed (although many of them have been and it just hasn't gotten out yet). Overall No. 1 Bryce Harper (pictured) was expected to sign.

Amazingly, the Dodgers have just signed Zack Lee ($5.25 million), which seemed impossible a few days ago.

Here are the reported first-round deals reported to have closed on Monday:

No. 2 Jameson Taillon, Pirates -- $6.5 million

No. 5 Drew Pomeranz, Indians -- $2.65 million

No. 12 Yasmani Grandal, Reds -- around $3 million

No. 18 Kaleb Cowart, Angels -- $2.3 million

No. 24 Gary Brown, Giants -- $1.3 million

No. 28 Zach Lee, Dodgers -- $5.25 million

More as it becomes available.

UPDATE: In the 15 minutes since the deadline, the following signings have been reported through various outlets:

1. Bryce Harper (Nationals) -- $6.25 million bonus, $9.9 million total value
3. Manny Machado (Orioles) -- $5.25 million
7. Matt Harvey (Mets) -- $2.5 million
11. Deck McGuire (Blue Jays) -- $2 million
23. Christian Yelich (Marlins) – $1.7 million
25. Zack Cox (Cardinals) -- $3.2 million
26. Kyle Parker (Rockies) -- $1.4 million

Also, looks like the Padres did not reach agreement with high school pitcher Karsten Whitson (No. 9), who will play at Florida.

UPDATE: With the confirmation of No. 17 Josh Sale ($1.62 million) reaching agreement, all first-rounders appear to be accounted for. Everybody signed except for No. 6 Barret Loux (Diamondbacks passed on him after the results of a physical), No. 14 Dylan Covey (who decided to go to college after a Brewers physical revealed he has Type 1 diabetes) and Whitson.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com