It’s easy for Pittsburgh Pirates fans to make blanket statements about the team not spending enough money, and with two decades of losing seasons behind them, a lack of a financial commitment to winning has been evident for far too long. But the Pirates need to be careful not to fall into the trap of spending just for the sake of spending.
A team like the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox can afford to make a mistake on a $100 million contract (although as the Red Sox proved this season, even they can’t make mistakes on a lot of them at once). But teams like the Pirates can’t.
This postseason proved once again that low-budget clubs can be competitive, but what they can’t be is foolish spenders. While the big-market clubs can take risks, teams like the Pirates have to make sure that they spend their money wisely.
Pirates fans have long dreamed of bringing in a big-name free agent to bolster their roster, and perhaps one day they will, but at least for this off-season, any attempts to bring in the likes of Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, the biggest hitting and pitching free agents on the market this winter, would fall under the category of foolish spending.
Hamilton has made it known that he wants a massive contract. That, coupled with his injury history, advanced age (32 is old for a free agent asking for a long-term deal), and the fact that the Pirates lineup is already left-handed-heavy, makes him a poor fit for the makeup of the Pirates roster.
Greinke, on the other hand, will be just 29 and has been a strong, reliable starting pitcher over the five years. He’d be a great fit in a Pirates rotation in search of an ace.
Except he’s not an ace.
Greinke had one dominant season, with the Kansas City Royals in 2009, but since that time, he’s been a very good, rather than a great, pitcher. Because of the potential still stemming from his Cy Young season, coupled with a weak free agent class, Greinke will be demanding ace money, and will likely get it.
If the Pirates are going to shell out ace money, they’d better get a true ace out of the deal.
This off-season, the Pirates, like all teams, need to add talent, but in their case, they need to add talent very specific to their needs. An ace pitcher is one of them, but the makeup of their roster and payroll only allows for one massive contract.
The Pirates need to make sure that when they hand it out, they make it count.
Follow Jeff Moore on Twitter @MLBPW