Wilsons leading Pittsburgh attack

Updated: June 4, 2004, 8:33 AM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
The Pirates like to sell Pittsburgh as baseball's Land of Opportunity, which is a nice euphemism for the "Land of Working Cheap." Lots of at-bats and innings await the overlooked free agent who wants to re-establish himself -- provided he's willing to wait until February for a contract and money is not a priority.

In the case of Kenny Lofton, Reggie Sanders and Matt Stairs last season, or Jose Mesa and Daryle Ward so far this year, the approach can be mutually beneficial for player and team. In the case of Raul Mondesi, whose petulance, greed and personal baggage got in the way, it was a fiasco.

Opportunity is also a long-term proposition. The Pirates can afford to give a young player time to mature and deal with failure in the big leagues; that's a fringe benefit to playing before small crowds in a city with low expectations.

The plan has certainly worked for Craig and Jack Wilson, who are giving the Pirates big-money production for a combined $3 million in salary.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer