Team president: Pirates' payroll to increase in 2011
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The Pirates' payroll will have a "meaningful" increase for 2011, team president Frank Coonelly said this morning.
"We have the capacity to add to payroll in a meaningful way," Coonelly said in an interview with the Post-Gazette. "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."
The Pirates' current major-league payroll is at $39 million -- last in Major League Baseball now that the San Diego Padres added salary at the trading deadline -- but the Pirates' 40-man roster payroll for the year projects to finish at $44 million, Coonelly said. The increase would be above the latter figure.
It would not, he added, be an increase as dramatic, say, as one approaching the $76 million payroll of the Cincinnati Reds.
Coonelly reiterated management's long-held stance that a pursuit of free agents would not include those at the upper tier, citing as an example, "We're not going to be in the market for Cliff Lee," the Texas Rangers' ace with the $9 million salary expected to escalate. "When we bring in players at that level, they have to be the Jameson Taillon and Pedro Alvarez types through the draft."
Of the Pirates' current season, now 40-81 with a chance to clinch an 18th consecutive losing season tonight at PNC Park against the New York Mets, Coonelly said, "This year has been more painful than anything I've experienced. Our performance this year has been an embarrassment, to the city, to the Pittsburgh Pirates and to our fan base."
Earlier in the morning, in an interview with The Fan, KDKA's FM radio station, Coonelly also called the team's current 40-81 record "extremely disappointing." When asked if he still had confidence in general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell, he replied, "I hate the vote-of-confidence questions, but I do still have confidence in Neal and JR. But we need to figure out why we're underperforming the way we are." He added that "nobody's job is absolutely safe" and repeated that, each offseason, the Pirates evaluate all their processes, and this one would be no exception.
First Published August 20, 2010 11:21 am