We're less than two weeks from September 1, when baseball permits its teams to expand their active rosters to 40 players. Most teams don't expand their rosters to the maximum 40, in part because some players protected on the 40-man roster are prospects who aren't ready. But it isn't uncommon to see a team call up several players, and the Pirates in particular should be aggressive this year in calling up pitching. Players like Jeff Locke, Daniel McCutchen, Justin Wilson, Kyle McPherson and Bryan Morris, all of whom are already on the 40-man roster but not on the active roster, would seem to be possibilities, along with outfielder Alex Presley and catcher Eric Fryer.
It sounds, however, like the Pirates will balance a variety of considerations.
"I’ve been with another organization where we raided the Triple-A team as it was headed to the postseason. The guys came up and didn’t play very much, and that didn’t go over very well on many fronts," Huntington said. "I’ve been with an organization where we didn’t bring up many guys, and it seemed like we needed a different guy every night than the ones we brought up. So it’s a challenge.
"You want to be respectful of what Indianapolis is doing, but we want to put ourselves in a position to win here in Pittsburgh."
Indianapolis is in first place in the International League West division, so the Bucs' AAA team appears to be headed to the AAA playoffs, which will start in September. To "raid" the Indianapolis roster would, in fact, probably be pretty annoying for the folks who work for the team. But the worst that can happen is that Indianapolis gets mad and wants out of its affiliation with the Bucs (Indianapolis is contracted to remain with the Pirates through 2014). And you know what? If the Pirates had to get a new AAA team, it wouldn't be that big a deal. They'd find one. In the meantime, they've got a playoff race going.
Clint Hurdle's comments about the possibility of callups are even worse.
"In my rookie year, if you got a call-up, you made $5,000 or $6,000 (in September)," said Hurdle, who made his big league debut in 1977.
"Now you’re talking about making $75,000. So if you call up 10 guys, you’re picking up $750,000 in salary and everything that goes with it."
Earth to Clint Hurdle. You're the manager of a major-league baseball team, not the Washington Wild Things. If it costs $750,000 to help your team get to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, you do it. And then promptly stop thinking about it, because even small-market major-league teams spend $750,000 like it's nothing. Given the large percentage of the Pirates' fanbase that's actively looking for reasons to shout about the Pirates being cheap, Hurdle's comments are, at the very least, hilariously tonedeaf.
Ultimately, this probably isn't a matter of great import. (Sure, it might be most helpful for the Pirates to call up five pitchers, but it probably wouldn't be much more helpful than just calling up two or three.) And the Pirates' decisions about who to call up might end up not matching their current rhetoric. Hopefully they won't. Really -- the Bucs' relationship with their Class AAA affiliate? $750,000? When there's a pennant out there to win, why should these things matter?
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