Let’s see how far we’ve come


DALLAS — I’ve gotten a lot of reaction, via email and Twitter, about the Pirates’ moves so far this offseason. No one, it seems, is very happy. I can understand that. But no one should be surprised. The front office folk have said repeatedly over the past couple of years the Pirates are not going to be players for big-money free agents. Not ever. Never. Nevernevernever. No way. That doesn’t change because the team flirted with first place for a couple of months last season. It won’t ever change, I expect, under the current ownership. With that being said, here’s a quick look at what they’ve done and what they’re working on …

Nate McLouth is a good guy and had a couple of good seasons in Pittsburgh, then stunk it up after being dealt to Atlanta. He sees his homecoming with the Pirates as a way to spark his career again. The Pirates see it as a low-cost insurance for left field — I get the impression that management still isn’t 100 percent sold on Alex Presley — and a way to bring an upbeat, veteran presence to the clubhouse. He’s not the big bopper the Pirates desperately need, but as a minor move, it’s OK.

When they signed Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes, the Pirates basically overpaid for a pair of defensive upgrades with so-so (at best) offensive potential. There’s not much more to say ’bout that.

Neither Wilson Betemit nor Mark DeRosa has come to terms yet with the Pirates, though talks continue. The team wants to sign one of those guys as Pedro Alvarez Slump Insurance. And, although no team exec will say it out loud, they want someone around who can give Alvarez a kick in the pants to stay sharp.

Jose Morales? He’s played in 96 games over four seasons in the majors and the next next home run he hits will be his first.

As for the pitchers: I get the sense that manager Clint Hurdle is more of a Jeff Francis fan than anyone in the front office. The suits have concerns about Francis’ past health issues and fret that his price tag will be too steep for a back-end starter. Erik Bedard can be one of the most effective lefties around when he’s healthy, but he’s often hurt.