As the hoi polloi debate whether the Pirates should re-sign P A.J. Burnett or OF Marlon Byrd, remember: The Pirates can afford to keep both, and 1B Justin Morneau, too. Owner Bob Nutting has extra revenue generated by the Pirates’ first winning season in two decades, plus $25m in additional TV cash.
But signing players willy-nilly would be foolish. Nutting is flush now. But another playoff season in 2014 is hardly guaranteed. SPEND WISELY.
Paying Byrd what he's likely to get in free agency would be dumb.
Byrd, 36, just had a career year. The season before, he got suspended 50 games for using a banned substance. Byrd says he took Tamoxifen to treat a medical condition. He was allied with BALCO founder Victor Conte as recently as 2012, the last major-leaguer to work with the designer steroid king.
Byrd says he's done nothing wrong. Do you believe him? I'm not anti-steroids, but it's a good bet Byrd used this past season. All those career highs didn't pop up out of nowhere.
Byrd is not somebody the Pirates should sign. He filled a need. Did well as a rental. But it should end there.
If Byrd was using PEDs this past season and continues doing so, he could get pinched again. If Byrd was using this past season and stops, his performance might dwindle. In 2012, when Byrd got suspended, he hit just .210 with just one home run in 153 at-bats. He finished the campaign playing in Mexico.
Too many variables. Too many negative possibilities.
Byrd is not a guy the Pirates should keep. If a big-market franchise signs a player like that and it blows up, that team just spends more money. The Pirates can't.
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