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Kevin McClatchy Interview

After a year of blogging, I'm not sure I can muster the vitriol to respond to things like this anymore. The promise of Bucs figurehead Kevin McClatchy to raise the payroll next year is, of course, fine - but in this interview he'll only say that it will be above $40 million, which means nothing more than $40,000,000.01 even if he isn't just lying. In major league baseball, a raise to $40 million is like a raise from nothing to nothing and a half.

Also, minor payroll raises will not solve the Pirates' problems. Their choice in free agents the past few years gives me no hope that they will spend money wisely, to fill holes rather than to block young players who might be the best options anyway.

Another problem (as Eric Bowser of Pirates Ownership Must Go likes to point out) is that the free agent class next offseason is not very strong, particularly not in the Pirates' areas of need. The Pirates have an obvious, glaring hole at third base, but the only free agent who might temporarily solve that problem is Bill Mueller. The Pirates might also have an opening in right field, but given the available options there, the Pirates would probably be best served by just taking Craig Wilson to arbitration. Shortstop is also a problem for the Pirates right now, but I don't see them replacing Jack Wilson, who has another $4 million remaining on his contract. Centerfield is another possibility, but it won't and shouldn't be by the end of the season if Chris Duffy keeps hitting.

And that's all. The Pirates aren't likely to improve their dreadful offense through free agency except, perhaps, through the acquisition of bench players. That could be dangerous, since Lloyd McClendon would probably be tempted to play someone like, say, Scott Hatteberg or Mark Sweeney over, say, Brad Eldred.

The Pirates also could acquire pitching, but their rotation should be set, so they'd probably be spending their money on bullpen arms, who likely wouldn't help much.

A payroll raise would be a welcome development, of course, but $40 million is still far too little to spend, and without a much larger raise than McClatchy is willing to promise, whatever spending on free agents the Pirates do this winter is unlikely to help them much. The 2006 Pirates will likely sink or swim on the talent they already have. It is possible a payroll raise will help them keep players they have to take to arbitration, and it's also possible they could take on payroll in a trade. But the first possibility is not very exciting and the second is not very likely or even necessarily appealing - sure, the Brewers did well to acquire Carlos Lee last year, but think about the Devil Rays' trade for Tino Martinez the year before that. It didn't work out badly for the Rays, but it could have - the reason the Cardinals were willing to dump him on the Rays is because they were disappointed with his production.

(By the way, here's a fun free agency page. It says that our boy Randall Simon is now playing with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan.)