Don't paint Pirates with Marlins brush

In the wake of the Marlins getting their wrists slapped for not spending enough money, Dejan Kovacevic checks out the Pirates:

    I just communicated with a source outside the Pirates who confirmed that the Pirates are not a target for a similar push, nor have they ever been. Not from MLB and not from the union. That squares with what I was told in September by MLB commissioner Bud Selig.

    No reason was given for why the Pirates were not included, but one good guess is that the Marlins have spent much less than the Pirates in actual payroll over recent years, as this Biz of Baseball research shows.

    The Pirates' total spent on the 40-man roster for 2006-08, the last three full years on record, was $145.6 million. The Marlins' total in that span was $81.2 million, a difference of $64.4 million. In 2009, the Pirates' estimated amount spent was $48 million, while the Marlins' was $38 million.

    Both teams could end up in the range of $40 million in the coming season.

    Also, the Marlins have received larger revenue-sharing checks than the Pirates all through that period, including in 2009.

This is like steroids. Sometimes you have to believe your eyes. If hitters aren't throwing crazy numbers on the board, you can reasonably believe that drug testing is doing something, right? I don't believe that the players' ethics have changed much. But most of them probably figure it's just not worth the risk of getting caught or the hassle of finding good stuff that won't be detected. And it's also probably true that the testing regime has created an atmosphere that not only discourages drug use, but encourages those who aren't predisposed to such things in the first place.

I believe my eyes when it comes to the Marlins and the Pirates, too. I don't know if the Marlins were "cheating" -- if they really weren't plowing their revenue-sharing money back into the franchise -- but I do know that whatever they were doing just looked bad.

It's all about appearances. You hit 70 home runs and people are going to wonder how you did it. You spend $25 million on payroll and people are going to wonder what you're doing with all that money the Yankees gave you.

Perception might not be reality. But usually it's close enough.