Should the Pirates keep pitcher Paul Maholm beyond the 2010 season?
Most Bucs fans that I've chatted with, either verbally or electronically, seem to dismiss the possibility of Paul staying in black and yellow outright. After all, he is due 9.75 million dollars next season. For a team with a payroll of 46 mil, spending 21% of your allotment on a guy with a record of 1-7 seems ludicrous.
However, I continue to find it fascinating that Pirates fans submit to these Nutting economics so easily. Shouldn't the Pirates be spending more than 46 million on payroll? If it's not your cash, as a fan why wouldn't you be a little more concerned that a former first-round draft pick is set to depart town simply based on a lack of willingness to spend dollars?
And it's not like we're talking Cliff Lee dollars here. It won't take $25 million per year to keep a solid performer around, a guy in Maholm who has proven he can do his job well. What business model calls for grooming new talent and the jettisoning said talent when they reach a level of competence in favor of new guys who you're unsure have the talent?
Apparently it's the only business model the Pirates are willing to afford. Since Jason Kendall spent 9 seasons in Pittsburgh, no top player has made it beyond 6. Freddy Sanchez won a batting title but was gone before 5 seasons had passed. Jason Bay almost made 5. No one's saying these guys were Hall of Famers, but when does it stop?
Fan loyalty to a franchise takes a few things in order to take root. Player loyalty, for starters. And it's hard to be loyal to any player as a fan when you know he'll be gone in the time it takes Frank Coonelly to call bars running anti-Pirates promotional beer sales.
Granted, the player performance has to be of value and make sense given baseball's economics. But if you're willing to pay a player $6 million per season to be a solid, durable, innings eater that gives your squad a chance to win every 5th day, aren't you willing to pay another million or two when he starts to reach his baseball prime?
And really, $10 million isn't so outrageous. Milwaukee's three year, $30 million dollar deal for Randy Wolf two years ago may seem overpriced, and it probably is. But Wolf and Maholm are in the same conversation talent wise.
This past offseason, Jorge de la Rosa and Ted Lilly signed $11 million per year deals, and yes they're a cut above talent wise from what we've seen from Paul at this point. So why not target the deals Jake Westbrook, Javier Vazquez, and Carl Pavano signed in the $8 million per season range? Keep in mind Maholm is 28 years old, while these guys are in their mid-30s.
Why not negotiate a new three year, 24 million dollar deal with Paul Maholm and keep a few home-grown guys who have proven they can play?