Did Astros' Gerrit Cole take a subtle shot at the Pirates in his first press conference

Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole was announced as a new member of the Astros during a press conference on Wednesday, fresh off the club's acquisition of him from the Pirates. The Pirates also recently traded Andrew McCutchen and are reportedly looking to deal Josh Harrison. As a result, many Pirates fans are angry with ownership. There's even a petition to make Bob Nutting sell the club

During Cole's press conference, he said something that could be taken as a shot at the Pirates as well. Even if he didn't mean it that way, it'll only throw gas on the fire, so far as Pirates fans are concerned. Here's the snippet, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"It's refreshing to come to an environment where the team is willing to continually put resources into the club and continue to move forward and try to provide the best possible product for its fans."

It's entirely possible Cole was only speaking in positive terms about the Astros and meant nothing negative toward the Pirates. It's reasonable to believe it's a veiled shot, too. 

The comment is a bit funny in light of the Astros winning 56, 55 and 51 games, respectively, from 2011-13 with the MLB roster and payroll stripped to the bone during a massive rebuild. It did pave the way for this current group that is outstanding and now owners of a World Series trophy, though. 

The Pirates enjoyed three straight playoff seasons through 2015, but they never reached the NLCS and only got out of the Wild Card Game once. 

The Opening Day payroll rose to 18th in MLB in 2016, but fell to 23rd last season and now figures to be around the bottom five to seven in 2018, currently in the ballpark of $85 million (though Harrison is set to make over $10M and he'll be traded, it appears). Pittsburgh is a small market, but the Pirates get revenue sharing money and every MLB owner is getting a $50 million check at some point in the next month for MLB's sale of BAMTech LLC to Disney. 

After 2018, the Pirates are only committed to $43.35 million before arbitration and pre-arbitration and their commitments to 2020 are less than $20 million. They should be able to spend much more, if they wanted to. 

Per Forbes, last season the Pirates were the 17th most valuable MLB franchise with $265 million in revenue and $51 million in operating income. This is a small-market team, but it's not poor. The fan outcry and Cole's shot -- if he was taking one intentionally -- make a lot of sense. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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