From the Post-Gazette, can the Bucs really be this head-slappingly stupid?
Yes, because the lesser sums spent on Randall Simon, Raul Mondesi, Chris Stynes, Benito Santiago, Jose Mesa, and Joe Randa went quite well, didn't they?
If the Pirates are going to go the free agent route, they should at least do it right. The problem, if you'll remember, is that they gave three players - Burnitz, Randa, and Sean Casey - way more money than they deserved, and all three tanked. The solution is either to stay out of the free agent market, or to stop spending money on mediocrities. You don't avoid mediocrities on the free agent market by paying less. You avoid them by signing stars, by taking that $15 million and spending on one player instead of three. The Pirates didn't spend too much of their payroll on one player. They spent too much of it on three bad players.
The rest of the article mentions some potential free agent targets, and they're depressing enough to be believable. Aubrey Huff? Vicente Padilla? Gil Meche? Wow. The Pirates appear to have decided that they must have a left-handed power hitter and a right-handed pitcher, and when Dave Littlefield decides what he wants, be it a third baseman or a lefty corner player, he sprints out of the gate like a horse wearing blinders and gets it, even if there aren't any targets in those areas who make sense for the team. The P-G is spot-on here - expect to see those players, or very similar ones, earning $15 million for the Bucs next year. And expect Huff to pull a Burnitz and Padilla and Meche to wind up on the DL.