ST. LOUIS -- Pirates fans, conditioned by years of losing to paying uncommon attention to prospects' development on the Minor League level, have long expressed their desire this season to see certain players get the big league call.
In a couple of weeks, many of those wishes will come true. When rosters expand on Sept. 1, the Pirates will make an unspecified number of additions to help with their playoff push.
"We'll have the appropriate number [of young players] to help us be the most competitive [we can be]," said manager Clint Hurdle, who indicated internal discussions about those moves are ongoing. "We'll look at areas where we feel we need personnel to strengthen our club -- a runner, a bat, a reliever, another outfielder."
Hurdle was candid about a pair of factors that affect the number of September additions. There are financial considerations: With MLB's minimum salary at $480,000, the one-month commitment is about $75,000 per each callup, plus routine travel expenses. There are also decisions with priorities: Several Minor League affiliates are in playoff positions, including Triple-A Indianapolis, which would be the source for most callups.
"We have to be sensitive to the needs of the Triple-A team," Hurdle said, "but they need to understand the needs of the Major League team, too."
Remaining in the race for a National League postseason berth would give Hurdle and the Bucs a different perspective on a timeless debate about unfair competition between expanded September rosters. Contenders consider themselves at a disadvantage against the also-rans' parade of players.
"It can get absurd late in the season. One September, we played a team with 37 men," Hurdle said. "You can't out-manage them -- they just keep coming."
With respect to that, Hurdle has made a suggestion to Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations: Require teams to select and announce the 25 actives from their expanded rosters on a day-by-day basis for each September game. Hurdle got an overall good reaction to that idea when he shared it with other managers at the last Winter Meetings.