Picking Mark Appel with the 8th overall pick in yesterday’s draft was downright gutsy.  As a friend of mine would say, the Pirates are shopping at C.O. Jones with that one.  (Get it?  Get it?  Yeah, it’s pretty bad…)  The problem is that the very same spending constraints written into the new CBA made Appel available as low as #8 AND may very well make him unsignable for a small-market, low-profile team like the Pirates.  Surely Scott Boras will do what he does and exploit every opportunity to ‘make money for his client’, which may mean severely compromising Pittsburgh’s draft this year and/or next (and/or next…).

However…  There are some very powerful messages being sent here regardless of where/how Mark Appel continues his baseball career.  First off, he Pirates front office is ballsy.  So ballsy, they may be qualifying to steal one of the best nicknames in baseball.  (Back in 2004, Curt Schilling said Arroyo had ‘balls the size of Saturn’ – with or without rings?  Since then, ol’ #61 has been dubbed ‘Saturn Balls’ in some parts. For those fond of the Spanish nickname meme, Las Bolas de Saturno?)  If the Pirates do end up successfully signing Appel, they will have Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Mark Appel all 2-3 years away from the PNC Park.  Think: Tampa Bay and the Zito-Hudson-Mulder A’s.  This high risk/high reward approach isn’t for the faint of heart.  The Pirates could settle for slowly creeping toward 82 wins and leave it there.  But apparently they’re looking to build a championship team.  Gotta love that…

But the Pirates may not actually sign Appel.  It’s a very real possibility given the Boras-scripted non-committal statement offered by the Stanford pitcher yesterday – I’m focused on winning a championships; I’ll talk about a possible start to my professional career later.  And Neal Huntington is playing his part by publicly saying all the right things for a stout-hearted GM bracing for an ol’ fashioned back-alley donnybrook – we’re not paying over slot.  If this stare-down leads to a non-signing, it could very well be a heavy, high-profile statement to Bud Selig (et al.) that the new CBA is really, really (really!) bad.  It’s fixed nothing.  In fact, it’s made things worse.  If a team can’t actually add a player they want through the amateur draft process, then what are we doing here?  It may not change anything, but it’ll make one thing even more clear: Major League Baseball hates Pittsburgh (and Kansas City and Minnesota and Oakland and…).

Game on! It’s  Boras v. Las Bolas!  Hang on to your seats…

 

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