Five Principles

 The Bucs are interested in getting starter Chad Durbin from Detroit. I'm not really sure how this is going to work; the Tigers don't have a lot of starting depth themselves. Still, they're apparently thinking of non-tendering Durbin.

Whatever the case, Durbin isn't a good pitcher, and he'd be around mostly to provide depth. I assume the Bucs wouldn't be interested in trading any more than a non-prospect or cash for him.

This provides me with a good opportunity to re-articulate my position on these sorts of trades or signings, including the Brandon Inge rumor or the Michael Barrett rumor or whatever. (By the way, the Post-Gazette says the Tigers approached the Pirates about Inge, not the other way around, and the talks went nowhere, so you all can breathe a sigh of relief for now.) I think these signings are fine - and can be good, even - as long as

A) they do not block anyone interesting;
B) they don't involve taking on tons and tons of salary;
C) the Pirates don't have to deal prospects or players they could get prospects for;
D) they don't prevent the Bucs from signing the best draft picks or international amateurs; and
E) the player being acquired has some chance of helping.

If all those conditions are met, then there's no problem, in my view. The big problem with the way Dave Littlefield acquired veterans (well, other than the fact that he acquired terrible veterans and assigned them key roles) was that he didn't meet those conditions. Randall Simon blocked Craig Wilson and thus violated principle A; Jeromy Burnitz cost a bunch of money and blocked Wilson, thus violating principles A and B; Matt Herges cost the Pirates Chris Young, violating principle C; and Matt Morris cost millions and arrived weeks after the Bucs passed on Matt Wieters, violating principles B and D; Simon the second time violated principle E.

There is no reason why veteran acquisitions have to do this, and there's no reason to get upset until they do. Clearly, acquiring Michael Barrett has nothing to do with making the Pirates a better team in 2009 or 2010, but if he costs little and makes the Pirates a better team in 2008, they still come out ahead. Obviously, it shouldn't be the Pirates' top priority to acquire these sorts of players, and if they spend their offseason acquiring only these kinds of players, it will have been a huge failure. But if they can grab a few guys who come cheap through free agency or whose teams have had enough of them, I see no problem with that. The problems before were the way Littlefield did it, and that he seemed to do it as an end in itself.

Relatedly, the Pirates have officially signed infielder Chris Gomez to a one-year, $1 million deal. It's a decent deal, and it's obviously not that important. I commented on the deal last week after the Trib jumped the gun on it. It's not worth getting upset about - it should help the team a bit in the short term and costs almost nothing, so it doesn't violate any of the five principles.

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