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Whiff!

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WASHINGTON — The Pirates used their first-round draft pick, the fourth overall selection, on Daniel Moskos, a left-hander from Clemson.

Poor kid.

I wonder if his first move after getting the call from GM Dave Littlefield was to set up his obligatory appointment for surgery with Dr. James Andrews.

Considering the near-total lack of impact position players in the farm system — Andrew McCutchen is the only one worth waiting for, and he’s just now finding his way at Class AA Altoona — it’s safe to say the Pirates’ biggest need was a bat. Factor in the recent run of devastating injuries to the pitchers taken in the first round by the Pirates, it’s no wonder everyone was clamoring for them to choose a hitter.

But, in the draft, a team’s needs don’t always mesh with taking the best player available. And the Pirates weren’t about to divert from that old-fashioned thinking — even if it has produced one ho-hun draft after another over the past … oh, 20-odd years.

Also, no matter how much the front-office suits will deny it, money was a big factor. When the Pirates passed up a chance to take catcher Matt Wieters of Virginia Tech — whom the Baltimore Orioles gladly snatched with the No. 5 pick — it was because Wieters has signability issues (i.e. his agent will seek a top-dollar signing bonus).

Of course, the Pirates’ fan base (what’s left of it) is angry. I got two honked-off text messages within minutes of the pick. Want to see even more rage? Read my e-mails or the message boards.

Moskos might turn out to be a fine pitcher. But unless he wins the Cy Young Award, Pirates fans will always compare him to the Hitters Who Got Away. They will view him as nothing more than another sign of ownership’s lack of commitment to putting a win-at-all-costs product on the field.

And I can’t say I’d blame them.

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