"The desire is there. We have the dollars," general manager Dave Littlefield said. "Generally, though, [big free agents] have gone to teams that have won. So our biggest thing is to win. You have to win first."
I have no idea whether to read this as an excuse or as an admission of something that's mostly (but not entirely) true, or both. But in any case, this admission certainly is convenient - we have money to make the team better, but we can't spend it. I've read arguments by Pirates fans that Kevin McClatchy and company actually prefer that the Pirates win 70 games a year rather than 90, because if they win 90 then there's pressure to spend to get one more star to get the team over the hump. I don't exactly buy that argument, but this quote from Littlefield gives it additional credence. As long as the Pirates keep losing, Littlefield is saying, they're not at fault for not spending money on a star. And Littlefield himself is certainly not at fault when management gives him $15 million to spend and he comes back with Sean Casey, Jeromy Burnitz, Roberto Hernandez and Joe Randa.