It’s late February, 1993. Spring training in Bradenton, Fla. is right around the corner. Barry Bonds will not be in the locker room. The chances of competing for the NL Pennant without Bonds in the lineup are slim at best.
So, what do you do if you are sitting in the general manager’s office for the Pittsburgh Pirates?
John Dematteis has been mulling over this problem for the last couple of weeks as he was preparing to begin his first challenge playing Out of the Park Baseball 19.
“I was just finishing college back in 1993, and I remember thinking the most important thing was to build back up by developing young talent,” said Dematteis, who will be checking in with the start of his version of the Pirates attempt to avoid 20 consecutive losing seasons this week. His fellow challenger, John Brinkman, will also be posting within the next few days and joining in the discussion with Dematteis and other OOTP 19 fans.
“Now, as I’m looking back at the 20 years that followed, I still think the biggest problem was the way the Pirates failed to invest in player development,” Dematteis continued. “I mean, their Dominican ‘facility’ was a dilapidated mess until just a few years ago.
“Looking at the Pirates in OOTP 19 at the start of 1993 and you can see the problems.”
Here’s the budget for player development. Take a look at the Pirates compared to the MLB average.
More of Dematteis’ thoughts below:
In my mind, to put a winning team on the field or simply get the Pirates back to playing competitive baseball again means putting money into bringing in top talent and developing it.
But where to find the money? Here’s a look at the current financial situation. Money has been allocated for free agents ($2,043,260) and for contract extensions ($9,834,990).
If you look at salaries, an aging Andy Van Slyke will tie up $5.0m per year through 1997 with a vesting option in that final season. Jay Bell is in the prime of his career at age 27, but he is the next most expensive player on the roster at $4.8m in the coming season with bumps through his final season under contract in 1999 when he will be paid $6.0m.
Lonnie Smith, who will make $4.8m at age 37 and Don Dlaught, $4.2 million at age 34, will come off the payroll after 1993.
Let me hear your suggestions.
I love Bell and think he could be a nice piece to a competitive team in the future, but my gut tells me he should be moved for prospects. Van Slyke may have been my favorite player in the 1990s, but his best days are behind him in 1993. Getting him off the budget would be a way to find more money to put into player development.
Shopping Bell is bringing some interesting offers. Below are the offers for Van Slyke. A move for 41-year-old Dave Winfield would provide some salary relief, cutting $2.6m from the budget for two years before his contract runs out. Kevin Seitzer at age 30 would give the Pirates a player who could actually help on the field. He would also be under contract for two years while providing even more salary relief at $2.2m per season. Seitzer could play first base with Al Martin moving to the outfield. So far, I like the Seitzer offer and am leaning in that direction. What do you think?