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McClatchy Promises to be Less Cheap

Oh my. I can't believe I missed this. It's a letter from Kevin McClatchy to Pirates fans. As with all PR, particularly from McClatchy, you have to read selectively to find out what he's really saying, insofar as he's saying anything at all.

[The rookies] join a solid nucleus of players who continue to improve like All-Star Jason Bay, Jack Wilson, Jose Castillo, Humberto Cota, Oliver Perez, Mike Gonzalez, Salomon Torres and others.

What is Humberto Cota doing in that sentence? If your "solid nucleus" includes Humberto Cota, perhaps it's not actually not that solid.

More importantly, what is Craig Wilson not doing in that sentence? This makes me wonder if he'll be brought back next year.

Just as important, because of the tough decisions we've made over the past several years, we have the flexibility to grow our payroll next season by more than 30% from where we are today to the upper $40 million range.

Oh, he's a clever one... he mentions the Pirates have the "flexibility" to increase payroll to between $45 and $50 million, but doesn't say they're actually going to do it.

More to the point, I'm not sure exactly how they're going to do it even if they want to. The Pirates need a third baseman; the only available players who would be likely to help them there would be Bill Mueller and Nomar Garciaparra. They might also try to get a corner outfielder; the best players there are Brian Giles, Johnny Damon, Reggie Sanders, and Richard Hidalgo. I'd rather have an arbitration-bound Craig Wilson than Sanders or Hidalgo, and I don't see the Pirates landing Damon or Giles. Beyond that, there are a couple good starting pitchers available, but the Pirates don't need any of those. So, short of them grabbing Nomar, I don't see how the Pirates are going to acquire an impact bat here, at least not without displacing someone who needs to play. (They could acquire Garciaparra or Rafael Furcal and let one of them play a lot at shortstop; that would help. But they seem commited to Jack Wilson there.)

It's likely, then, that the Pirates are going to A) not use this money at all or B) use it to acquire role players, or to turn potential key players they already have into role players. For example, I could see them acquiring someone like Sanders, then using Craig Wilson to get 450 at bats filling in at the corner outfield positions and at first base. That might help the Pirates a little, but it would hardly provide the jolt the offense needs.

The Pirates might also pursue a trade this offseason. That might be the best way to acquire an impact bat. The possibility of them doing this scares me, though; the main commodity the team has is young pitching, and they still have the same GM who thought that Bronson Arroyo was worth nothing and that Leo Nunez had the same value as Benito Santiago.

(It's kind of a shame, by the way, that the Pirates don't need a first baseman. Paul Konerko is available. They might also have gotten very good production from Erubiel Durazo without spending a lot of money.)

Here, again, is a good free agent page.