Is it just me, or do the numerous reports of the Pirates pursuing injured or damaged-goods players remind anyone of the 2002-2003 offseason, when Dave Littlefield grabbed Reggie Sanders, Matt Stairs, Kenny Lofton and Jeff Suppan on the cheap? Frank Coonelly is explicitly making the argument that Rick Ankiel should sign with the Bucs as a way to get some playing time to get his career back on track. Littlefield did about the same thing prior to 2003, when the market was incredibly unfavorable to players and, as I recall, several of the guys Littlefield acquired couldn't find anyone to give them a big-league contract even though they weren't that bad the previous year. Sanders, for example, played decently for the Giants in 2002, but he couldn't get more than a million bucks elsewhere, so he signed with the Pirates and used a great 2003 performance as a springboard for a $6 million contract with the Cardinals.
Of course, Littlefield tried to do about the same thing in 2003-2004, but it didn't work because the market had normalized. That's how the Bucs got stuck with Raul Mondesi. But what he did prior to 2003 was one of the few smart things he ever did. It seems like Coonelly is trying to do the same thing, albeit with risky players rather than with a depressed market. Play here, he seems to be saying, and you can create a path to a bigger paycheck somewhere else.