Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday: Bucs Take On Rays, Trevor Williams v Diego Moreno, Lineup, Notes, Kang Woes Continue, Bucs Dropped 10-7

Today: The Bucs host the Rays at LECOM Park in Bradenton at 1:05. The game will be shown on Root Sports; no radio.

Lineup: Adam Frazier LF, Jordy Mercer SS, John Jaso RF, David Freese 3B, Josh Bell 1B, Phil Gosselin 2B, Austin Meadows CF, Stew C, Trevor Williams P. JJ and Fraze get to roam the corners today.

Pitchers: Trevor Willams, Tony Watson, Daniel Hudson, Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio. Trevor and the A-Team bullpen.

Trevor takes the bump (photo via MiLB.com)

Yesterday's Game: Hoo boy, just when Hutch looked like he was zeroing in on that fifth starter's role, yesterday happened: a five-run first frame. Jared Hughes gave up a three-spot later on, but gave up just one hard-hit ball; the shift and a couple of misplays in the field hurt him badly. The Buc bats tried to overcome as Starling stroked a grand slam (he also doubled and had five RBI), but all in all, it was too little, too late as the Bucs fell 10-7. Pirate hitting has been strong this spring, but the glovework still needs considerable tightening up.

Notes:
  • Diego Moreno, today's Rays starter, was one of the Pirate farm hands traded to the Yankees for AJ Burnett in 2012.
  • Cutch and J-Hay are back in camp; the whole gang's in Bradenton except for JHK. This KBS article, translated rather loosely (and somewhat comically) doesn't make it sound like a return any time soon, meaning this year, is in the cards for Kang as his work visa was denied.
Cole Train will get some camp work today (image via Positively Pittsburgh)
  • Gerrit Cole is working a minor league game at Pirate City today.
  • James Hesdra of isportsweb posted his take on the 2017 Buccos.
  • Anthony Castrovince of Sports on Earth has Austin Meadows among his 12 Prospects to Watch.
  • Some former Bucco farmhands were MLB camp cuts recently: OF Willy Garcia (White Sox), RHP Lisalverto Bonilla & 2B Dilson Herrera (Reds), OF Harold Ramirez & C Reese McGuire (Blue Jays) and RHP Brooks Pounders (Angels). RHP David Whitehead (Phils), who was the get for Charlie Morton, was released.

3/24: Greenberg Stamp, Kiner Commemoration; HBD Mike, Gus & Corey; RIP Mace

  • 1884 - 3B Mike Mowrey was born in Brown's Mill, Pennsylvania. Mike had a 13 year MLB career, spending a pair of seasons in Pittsburgh. He hit .254 as a Pirate in 1914 and .280 for the Federation League’s Pittsburgh Rebels the following year. Mowrey’s forte was as a defender; he was considered the most accomplished hot corner fielder in baseball and especially sharp against the bunt, a major offensive tool during the dead ball era. Mike’s real first name was Harry; he became Mike thanks to his brother. Mowrey’s dad was sheriff and ran the jail; vagrants were often housed in the cells overnight. Young Harry was friendly with one of his dad’s guests named Mike and so his bro called Harry “Mike the Hobo” after his bro’s incarcerated bud from that time forward.
Gus Dugas (photo via Bases Empty)
  • 1907 - 1B/OF Augustine “Gus” Dugas was born in St. Jean de Matha, Quebec. The reserve hit .250 in 1930 & 1932 (he broke his jaw in 1931) as a Bucco before he was sent to Philly as part of the Freddie Lindstrom trade. “Lefty” (his threw and hit from the left side), along with fellow Quebec-born major leaguers Tim Harkness, Raymond Daviault, Georges Maranda, Ron Piché, Claude Raymond, and Jean-Pierre Roy, threw the ceremonial first pitch before the inaugural Montreal Expos game at Olympic Stadium on April 15th, 1977.
  • 1982 - 1B/OF Corey Hart was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Pirates signed Hart to a one-year/$2.5M contract for the 2015 campaign, taking a risk that he would recover from microsurgery on his knee and fill a hole at first base. The club rolled snake eyes; Corey got into just 35 games battling shoulder & knee injuries, batting .222, and retired prior to the 2016 season.
  • 2002 - RHP Mace Brown passed away in North Carolina at the age of 92. Brown was the first true dedicated reliever for the Pirates, appearing 207 times from the bullpen from 1935-31. He also started 55 games over that span and ended up credited retroactively with 29 saves as a Pirate (a closer wouldn’t be a thing for several more decades; a save wasn’t even kept as a stat until 1969) to go with 18 complete games and two shutouts.
Mace Brown 1941 Double Play
  • March 24, 2006 - At Mickey Mantle's Restaurant & Sports Bar in New York City, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled the "Baseball Sluggers" postage stamps which were issued on July 15th at Yankee Stadium prior to the game against the White Sox. The four Hall of Famers featured in the set had roots in New York with Mickey Mantle (Yankees), Mel Ott (Giants) and Roy Campanella (Dodgers) playing their entire careers in the Big Apple, and the fourth, Hank Greenberg, had set schoolboy records at James Monroe High School in the Bronx. Greenberg spent his final season (1947) in Pittsburgh where he mentored slugger Ralph Kiner.
  • 2014 - The Pirates announced that the team would wear #4 patches all season to commemorate slugger Ralph Kiner, who died on February 6th. Kiner led the NL in home runs for seven straight years (1946-52) and led MLB in long balls for six consecutive seasons (1947-52), both records. He was selected for the All-Star Game in six straight seasons, 1948-53.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday: Bucs @ Bosox, Hutch v Steven Wright, Lineup, More Cuts, Notes

Today: The Pirates are on the road visiting the Red Sox at JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers. The game starts at 1:05 and will be webcast (audio) by pirates.com.

Lineup (starters): Jordy Mercer SS, Starling Marte CF, Gregory Polanco LF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Jose Osuna RF, Josh Bell 1B, Alen Hanson 2B & Hutch P. Except for the absence of Cutch and J-Hay, looks like a potential Opening Day lineup. The order seems a bit peculiar to us, but hey, Clint is sometimes a manager of mystery.

Hutch looking to impress (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Drew Hutchison, Tyler Webb, Jared Hughes.

Notes:
  • Nine guys met the Turk today. C Elias Diaz and IF Max Moroff were optioned to Indy while assigned to minor league camp were OF Eury Perez; P Brandon Cumpton, P Jason Stoffel, P Edgar Santana, P Dan Runzler, IF Eric Wood and 1B/OF Joey Terdoslavich. No tough decisions among that group in paring the roster down to 38 players. 
  • Neal Huntington had a longish interview with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, covering a lot of things including how he navigates in a small-revenue environment.
  • Alec Brzezinski of The Sporting News has a concise 2017 Pirates preview.
Andrew has a new trophy to add to the collection - 2014 Topps Opening Day
  • The USA took the WBC crown last night with a convincing 8-0 win over Puerto Rico; Cutch knocked in a couple of more runs. They beat the best with do-or-die wins over the DR and Japan to reach the gold medal round. Manager Jimmy Leyland said after the game that he was hanging up his jersey; pretty sweet way to end a career. IF Josh Harrison and coach Rich Donnelly were also on the championship club.

3/23: Cover Boy Jim Bunning; HBD Mike, Danny, Ray, Hooks, Wendell, Johnny & Lanny

  • 1868 - OF/P Elmer “Mike” Smith was born in Pittsburgh’s North Side. Smith was a pitcher that was converted to the OF after his arm wore down. He played from 1892-97, then briefly again in 1901, for the Pirates. He was a good hitter with a .325 BA, .415 OBP and 136 OPS+ during his Bucco years. Smith also tossed for the Pirates in 1892, going 6-7/3.62. He remained a local boy after his 14-year career in MLB (during his playing days, he kept a North Side home on Madison Avenue) and when he died, he was buried in Union Dale Cemetery.
Mike Smith (photo via Union Dale Cemetery)
  • 1885 - OF Danny Moeller was born in DeWitt, Iowa. Danny began his career playing 47 games in 1907-08 for Pittsburgh, batting .219. He sharpened his skills in the bushes afterward (and picking up the nickname “Rochester Rambler” for his time spent with that club), returning to the show in 1912 to begin a five-year run with Washington and a brief stint with Cleveland. He did start four years for the Senators, batting leadoff while sporting a fine glove and strong arm, tho he became the first MLB player to strike out 100 times in a season when he whiffed 112 times in 1912. Danny’s career was short-circuited by a chronic shoulder dislocation.
  • 1893 - RHP Remy “Ray” Kremer was born in Oakland, California. Kremer pitched 10 seasons for the Pirates (1924-33), his only MLB club, and went 143-85/3.76, winning 20 games twice and leading the NL in ERA in 1926 and 1927. What's more amazing is that he didn't make his major league debut until he was 31 years old!
  • 1905 - OF Harold “Hooks” (he had noticeably bowed legs) Tinker was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but migrated to Pittsburgh with his family in 1917. He played sandlot for the Edgar Thompson team, then for the Pittsburgh Monarchs. Hooks joined the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1928, playing center field and acting as assistant player-manager of the team; he was said to have discovered Josh Gibson. Tinker was on the team when it was sold to Gus Greenlee in 1931, but when faced with Greenlee's decree to "work or play," Tinker chose to leave the team and keep his mill job to support his family. Hooks answered to a second calling (spoiler; not baseball) while making steel and became a highly respected reverend in the Hill District.
Wendell Smith (photo via Baseball Hall of Fame)
  • 1914 - Writer Wendell Smith was born in Detroit. He was the baseball writer and sports editor for the Pittsburgh Courier from 1937-47. Smith covered the Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Pirates. He chronicled the early days of Jackie Robinson and was reputed to be one of the industry insiders to recommend Jackie to Branch Rickey. He was recognized by the BBWAA Spink’s Award in 1993. In a bit of irony; the group had turned down his membership application while he was with the Courier, though in 1948 they finally relented and admitted him as one of its earliest black members, behind only Sam Lacy.
  • 1926 - IF Johnny Logan was born in Endicott, NY. Logan spent the end of a productive 13-year career with the Pirates (1961-63) as a reserve, getting in 152 games and hitting .249. Playing mainly as a Brave, Logan batted .268 with 93 home runs, 547 runs batted in, 651 runs scored and 1,407 hits in 1,503 games. He was a four-time all-star, including three berths in a row from 1957-'59, and was on Milwaukee’s 1957 World Series-winning club.
Johnny Logan 1963 Topps
  • 1948 - Pirate announcer Lanny Frattare was born in Rochester, NY. He was part of the Pirate broadcasting team from 1976-2008 and announced over 5,000 Bucco games during those 33 seasons ("...and there was no doubt about it"), becoming the Pirates longest-tenured voice before moving on to academia.
  • 1968 - Jim Bunning was featured on the cover of The Sporting News for the story “Bucks In Pirate Bank.” The season didn’t work out quite as expected, though. Injuries to his groin, ankle and hip led Bunning to win just four games as he came in with his worst major league season to date with a 4-14 record and 3.88 ERA.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday: The Camp Outlook With Two Weeks To Go, R&R Day after 5-4 Walkoff Over Tampa Bay

Well, camp should start getting a little more interesting. Cutch and J-Hay will be back and playing by the end of the week and so the innings will become tighter for the guys trying to elbow their way to Pittsburgh.

The starting lineup is again pretty much set, with the wild card being Jung Ho Kang. Freeser will hold the fort with Adam Frazier spelling him and Harrison on occasion. Josh Bell will handle first, though we expect to see lots of time for John Jaso; both he and Bell can spot start in the pasture, too.

Is this Hansen's year? (photo Joe Guzzy/Pirates)

The bench battle will be heated, with Stew, JJ, Freeser & Fraze holding down four spots, with one more available until JHK can straighten out and fly right. Phil Gosselin looks like the fifth man. Alen Hanson has made a push for that extra spot and Jose Osuna has been red hot in camp; his only drawback is that he's pretty much a 1B; his OF skills leave something to be desired. Gift Ngoepe won't break with the club, but flashed some promise that he may yet become a sturdy bench piece.  Edge: Hanson.

Gerrit Cole & Ivan Nova have been strong, Jameson Taillon solid and Chad Kuhl has won the four hole spot in the rotation, but the fifth starter is  a position that no one has stepped up to claim. Hutch and Steven Brault have been fairly consistent, but Tyler Glasnow and Trevor Williams have both been coming on strong after stumbling out of the blocks. Josh Lindblom has been an eye-opener in camp, but there are too many bodies in the scrum for him to break camp as a Bucco. Edge: Hutchison.

The bullpen, eh. Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio have been lights out; the others as up-and-down as Kennywood's Jackrabbit coaster. Daniel Hudson has been steady while Tony Watson and Antonio Bastardo are locked in. That leaves Jared Hughes, Wade LeBlanc and AJ Shugel batttling for two open spots. Edge: Hughes and LeBlanc.

Juan has quietly put together a fierce spring (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Beside fine-tuning and filling in at the edges, two other factors will play into the final roster decisions - the aforementioned Kang situation, which could end tomorrow or end up a long-drawn affair, and whether the schedule will allow the club to pass on a fifth starter early on. Then the question is whether to carry and extra bat or arm.

So the battles entering camp are pretty much the same that will be waged over the final days of spring. Fifth starter, bullpen depth and final bench spot. Last year's bugaboo of running into outs has still continued. It's a tough habit to break overnight. The new outfield configuration will have to hustle to reach a comfort level thanks to the WBC. But the Pirates have gotten some learning experiences in, too.

The Pirates have emphasized versatility in Bradenton, and the bench will be loaded with guys Clint can match-and-mix (although the D has been, not too surprisingly, erratic). The depth may not be as great without S-Rod and Matt Joyce, but it should be acceptable. The pitchers have been working with a change and renewed emphasis on the two-seamer. Most of all, this year the pipeline is showing up; there are more young guys ready for the show than the Pirates have trotted out in years.

Fraze is a lock to break camp (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Yesterday's Game: Gift Ngoepe's two-out walk-off single scored Adam Frazier for a 5-4 win over Tampa. Fraze set it up with a walk, stolen base and snaky slide to beat the throw from right. Ngoepe is batting a surprising .389 this spring. JJ and Jacob Stallings went deep while Jose Osuna added two more hits. Chad Kuhl gave up two third inning bombs but settled in to give the Bucs five innings. AJ Shugel ducked some raindrops and Josh Lindblom brought it home, working 2-2/3 IP and giving up a run while whiffing four.

Notes:
  • John Jaso made his debut at third and played all nine innings at the hot corner without a single ball or play coming his way.
  • Ivan Nova tossed six innings yesterday in a minor league game at Pirate City. He threw 97 pitches, giving up no runs, five hits and a walk while striking out five.
  • Wilbur Miller of Bucs Dugout has a list of eight minor leaguers (Jake Burnette being the most highly touted) who were released by the Pirates and three more who hung the spikes up after a season. The post is here.
  • Team USA defeated Japan 2-1 last night and will face Puerto Rico for the WBC crown tonight. Great pitching - ex-Bucco Mark Melancon put up a nerve-wracking zero - and just enough hitting, with Cutch banging out a RBI knock, carried the day.
  • Long-time blogger Charlie Wilmoth is leaving Bucs Dugout to work on some personal projects. His writing was always clean and to the point; he'll be missed in Pirates blogsphere. Good luck to him in his future endeavors (and he'll still be a contributor to MLBTR).

3/22: Dann Signed; HBD Moose, Ramon, Beast & Ike


  • 1906 - OF Julius “Moose” Solters was born in Pittsburgh. He never played for the Pirates but was one of the better local ballplayers with one of baseball’s sadder stories. Moose (he was 6’1”, 190 lbs), the son of a Hungarian immigrant who worked at J&L Steel, went to Fifth Avenue HS. Solters played nine years in the AL for four clubs, slashing .289/89/559 and put up five double-digit homer seasons along with four 100+ RBI campaigns. In 1941, he was hit by a ball during pre-game fielding drills after he had turned to wave to his in-laws in the stands. Solters suffered headaches and double vision afterward, effectively ending his baseball career, and slowly began losing his vision. He returned to his native Beltzhoover and ran a bar. Solters was also a key figure, along with Frankie Gustine, in planning and fundraising for Frank Vittor’s 1955 Honus Wagner statue. He passed away in 1975 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery.
  • 1968 - RHP Ramon Martinez was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He ended his 14-year career, primarily with the Dodgers, as a Pirate in 2001 with four largely forgettable outings before retiring. He won 135 games over that span but was bested for family honors by his little brother, Pedro.
Michael Morse 2015 Topps Update
  • 1982 - 1B Michael Morse was born in Fort Lauderdale. “The Beast” (he’s 6’5”, 245 lbs) was a third round selection of the White Sox out of high school in 2000 and the Pirates picked him up in 2015 in a trade with the Dodgers. The Pirates were the 11-year vet’s seventh team, counting LA, who flipped him before he ever played a game for them. He hit .275 in 2015 and after one outing in 2016 was released in April. He’s now in the Giants system, having signed a minor league deal with the G-Men.
  • 1987 - The Bucs purchased C Dann Bilardello from the Montreal Expos, and after a minor league stint at AAA Buffalo, he was sold back to Montreal in July. The Bucs then brought him back him back as a free agent signing in 1989 and he hit .225 as a bench guy. He was released after the year, signed again, and then released for good after the 1990 campaign when he hit just .054, spending both years mainly in AAA. In all, Dann played two seasons for Pittsburgh, appearing in 52 games and batting just .171.
  • 1987 - 1B Ike Davis was born in Edina, Minnesota. The Bucs were hoping that Ike, who they got from the Mets in mid-April for a couple of prospects, could plug the hole at first in 2014, but 10 homers/.235 BA in 94 starts with 397 plate appearances didn’t cut it. The Pirates sold his contract to Oakland after the season and announced that Pedro Alvarez would be their first baseman in 2015.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday: Tampa Bay @ Pittsburgh - Kuhl v Alex Cobb, Lineup, Notes, Bucs Squeak Out Another W

Today: The Rays play the back end of a home-and-home series with the Pirates. The opening pitch is at 1:05 at LECOM Park in Bradenton. The match will be carried by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

Lineup (starters): Adam Frazier SS, Phil Gosselin 1B, John Jaso 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Jose Osuna LF, Danny Ortiz CF, Eric Wood RF, Max Moroff 2B & Chad Kuhl P. Goose is at first and JJ debuts at third, a role reversal for the duo.

JJ is at the hot corner (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Chad Kuhl, AJ Schugel, & Josh Lindblom. Chad has a tight grip on the fourth spot in the rotation with two weeks to go. AJ needs to pick it up in his challenge for a bullpen spot. Josh has opened some eyes as a depth guy; it'll be interesting to see where he starts the season and in what role.

Yesterday's Game: The Bucs kept rollin' with a 5-4 win over Tampa Bay. JT had a so-so start with control issues and Edgar Santana was brought to earth, but Wade LeBlanc's and Dan Runzler's zippos held the fort. There are gonna be some interesting decisions when it's rug-cutting time for the pen. Jose Osuna is still red-hot, smacking his fifth HR and adding three ribbies to go with a .441 BA. Fraze hasn't been a slouch either; his three hits brought his spring line to .450. Jordy banged a two-run shot as the Pirates now have a 15-7-1 Grapefruit slate after overcoming four GIDPs on the way to the victory.

Notes:

  • The Bucs made an interesting defensive change yesterday when jack-of-all-trades Phil Gosselin slid to first base to replace Josh Bell in the eighth inning. The Goose has now played every IF position this spring, and he'll get the start at first today. 
The Goose is loose (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
  • Ivan Nova will toss a minor league game at Pirate City today. He’s slated for 100 pitches, a sure sign the season is just around the bend.
  • The players were involved in a paintball shootout at the ballyard this morning; the club calls it a "team-building exercise," we call boys gotta be boys after a month of camp.
  • Audrey Stark of Beyond the Box Score makes the argument that Cutch still has CF chops and last year's woes were the result of a perfect storm of shallow positioning and Pirate pitchers serving up few ground balls
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America projected the Top 20 Rookies of 2017; Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow made the list.
  • The safety net behind the plate at PNC Park will be extended to the end of dugouts this season. A pain to watch through to be sure, but it beats a liner or bat to the noggin and the ensuing visits to the doc and/or lawyer.

3/21: Bucs Bought; Duke for Lefty; Vance for Ross; Esteban Inked; HBD Mysterious, Bill, Manny & Pablo

  • 1884 - RHP Frederick Mitchell “Mysterious” Walker (his moniker came from pitching under a fake name for the San Francisco Seals) was born in Utica, Nebraska. He didn’t play much or well in Pittsburgh: in 1914, Walker pitched for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the outlaw Federal League and appeared in 35 games, tossing a career-high 169-1/3 innings with a record of 4–16 and a 4.33 ERA. He made more of a name for himself locally in football. He was Carnegie Tech’s head coach from 1912-13 and in 1914 served as an assistant football coach at W & J College.
Frederick Mitchell "Mysterious" Walker in his early days (image via 1910 Spokane Press)
  • 1893 - The Pirates traded C Duke Farrell and $1500 to the Washington Nationals for LHP Frank “Lefty” Killen in a win-win deal for both clubs. Farrell banged heads with manager Al Buckenberger and after leaving Pittsburgh played 13 more years as one of baseball’s better hitting catchers, retiring in 1905 with a career .277 BA. Duke, just recovering from a broken leg, appeared against his old mates for Boston in the 1903 World Series as a pinch hitter. Killen tossed six seasons for the Bucs with an 112-82/3.71 line and set the team record for wins with 36 in 1893, one of two thirty-win seasons he had for Pittsburgh.
  • 1915 - RHP Bill Brandt was born in Aurora, Indiana. Brandt spent his brief career (1941-43) as a Pirate, going 5-3 with a 3.57 ERA and getting just 80-⅔ IP over that time. He was effective as a minor leaguer, but after serving his country from 1944-45, Brandt never pitched above AAA ball again, topping out at Hollywood in the PCL.
  • 1944 - Former Pirate C and current PNC restaurateur Manny Sanguillen was born in Colon, Panama. In 12 years with the Bucs, he batted .299 and was on three All-Star teams, which was quite a feat during the Johnny Bench era. Manny hit .282 in two World Series and five NLCS bouts. Noted for never seeing a pitch he didn’t like, the free swinger’s lifetime batting average of .296 is in the Top ten for catchers in MLB history. Like many Buccos, he was dubbed by Bob Prince; his nickname was "The Road Runner" because of his surprising speed as a catcher. Manny is still a well known figure with a ballyard eatery and service as a special instructor during the spring.
Manny Sanguillen 1981 Topps
  • 1945 - SS/OF & scout Pablo Cruz was born in San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic. Pablo never played for the MLB Bucs, although he spent all 14 years of his pro career (1965-’78) in the Pirates system. He was a good stick, so-so glove guy who had the bad luck to play during the Gene Alley era and then lost out to younger prospect Frank Taveras in the seventies. After his playing days, Cruz became a full-time scout for the Pirates and lassoed a corral full of Latino talent like Moisés Alou, Tony Peña, Aramis Ramírez, Félix Fermín, José Guillén, José Lind, Orlando Merced, José de León, Cecilio Guante, José Castillo, Ronny Paulino and Rafe Belliard. He scouted for several teams after the Bucs, and his son, Ishmael, also became a Pirates bird dog for a spell.
  • 1982 - The Pirates traded SS Vance Law and RHP Ernie Camacho to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitchers Ross Baumgarten and Butch Edge. Law, who was at the beginning of his career, played nine more MLB seasons, once as an All-Star, and Camacho pitched for eight more years. Baumgarten and Edge never panned out for the Bucs. Baumgarten got 10 starts, went 0-5, 6.55 and was released the following spring to end his MLB stay while Edge pitched for Toronto in 1979 during his only big league campaign.
  • 1986 - The Pittsburgh Associates, a coalition of 13 public and private investors, formally purchased the Pirates from the Galbreath family for $21.8M in a deal that had been essentially hammered out in the previous fall. The Associates were led by Mayor Richard S. Caliguiri along with Westinghouse, Alcoa, PPG, USS, PNC, Mellon, CMU and Ryan Homes. Private investors included Chicago real estate developer Harvey Walken, contractor Frank Schneider and businessman Frank Fuhrer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher William Block. It assured that the club would stay in Pittsburgh while a new long-term buyer could be found to keep the club in the city and out of the clutches of circling vultures like Portland and New Orleans.
Esteban Loaiza 1996 Pacific Prisms
  • 1991 - RHP Esteban Loaiza was signed as an undrafted FA by the Bucs as a 19-year-old pitching for the Mexico City Reds. He worked his first four seasons, from 1995-98, with Pittsburgh (27-28-1, 4.63) and had a 14-year career in MLB with a pair of All-Star selections and 126 wins.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday: Bucs at Rays - Taillon v Jake Odorizzi, Lineup, Notes, Pirates Kiss Sister

Today: The Pirates visit the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte. The game starts at 1:05 and will be webcast (audio) by pirates.com.

Lineup (subs): Adam Frazier 2B, Jordy Mercer SS, Josh Bell 1B, David Freese 3B, Jose Osuna RF, Phil Gosselin LF, Austin Meadows CF, Stew C (Jackson Williams) & Jameson Taillon P. Today features one of the likely starting infield configurations for the 2017 Bucs.

Edgar Santana works today (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pitchers: Jameson Taillon, Edgar Santana and Wade LeBlanc. The seasons around the corner and the arms are getting stretched some.

Yesterday's Game: Gerrit Cole went five IP (60 pitches), yielding one run, five hits, five K and a banging a two-run knock to help his cause. Alen Hanson helped him bigly by chopping down two runners at the plate (altho he misfired trying for the trifecta later in the game) from left as he continues to push hard for a spot. The Bucs blew an early led as Tony Watson was lit up and Daniel Hudson surrendered another marker. The Bucs battled back to take an 8-7 lead on a Michael Suchy dinger and Max Moroff knock after a shutdown frame from Jared Hughes.

Didn't last long as Antonio Bastardo was a wild child in the last frame and the Jays went up 11-8. Pittsburgh rallied to tie in the ninth, and that was the game as Toronto was plumb out of pitchers. Nice to see the Pirates hit, but the big innings against them were fueled by walks, sloppy fielding and a soft hit or two. Those are the things that need to be tightened up before the games count for real, and with the emphasis on jack-of-all-trades & master-of-none versatility and last year's control issues, that may be a formidable task in the next two weeks.

Alen Hanson had a big afternoon (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Notes:
  • Jared Lakind, Casey Sadler & Angel Sanchez were assigned to minor league camp and Pat Light was optioned to Indy as the Bucs whittled down the pitching roster a bit.
  • Gregory and Starling are due back in camp tomorrow. Marte's ankle sprain will be a big topic; it kept him out of half of the Dominican games. Ironically, he injured it against the Pirates when the DR played an exhibition at Bradenton before the WBC kicked off.

3/20: Roberto to HoF; Josh & Judy to Grays; HBD Pete, Walter, Rick & Blas

  • 1864 - 3B Pete McShannic was born in Pittsburgh. Fittingly, he played his only MLB season for the hometown Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1888, batting .194, and closed out his career in 1890 in the minors.
Walter Schmidt (image from Conlon Collection/Baseball Magazine)
  • 1887 - C Walter Schmidt was born in London, Arizona. He donned the tools of ignorance for Pittsburgh from 1916-24, hitting .257. Schmidt went through the unusual transaction of buying his own release from the San Francisco Seals after the 1915 season for $3K and then negotiated a deal with the Bucs. He went that route because he suspected that the Seals had turned down previous offers for him made by MLB clubs and didn't want to miss the boat to the show.
  • 1937 - The Homestead Grays acquired future Hall of Famers Josh Gibson and Judy Johnson for $2,500 in cash and a pair of journeymen players after Pittsburgh Crawfords owner Gus Greenlee was forced to unload his stars as salary dumps. While the amount seems paltry, the deal was thought to be the largest cash transaction in the history of the Negro Leagues. It wasn’t enough to save Gus. By the end of 1938, the Crawford’s Greenlee field was razed to give way to the Bedford Dwellings housing project, and Greenlee sold the Crawfords to Toledo businessmen, leaving the Grays as the only black team in town.
  • 1952 - RHP Rick Langford was born in Farmville Virginia. Signed by the Pirates in 1973 out of college, he worked briefly for the club in 1976, getting in 12 games before being shipped to the A’s as part of the Phil Garner trade in early 1977. He went on to have a solid 10-year career with Oakland, once winning 19 games and leading the AL in complete games in back-to-back seasons while tossing over 200 frames four times. In 1980, he threw 22 consecutive complete games while piling up over 290 innings.
Blas Minor 1994 Pacific Crown 
  • 1966 - RHP Blas Minor was born in Merced, California. Working out of the Buc bullpen from 1992-94, he had an 8-7-3 record for Pittsburgh with a 4.76 ERA. Minor also pitched for the Houston Astros, New York Mets & Seattle Mariners, and got to live out every boy’s childhood fantasy - after being a major league ballplayer, he retired to become a fireman.
  • 1973 - In a special election held by the BBWAA‚ Roberto Clemente was voted into the Hall of Fame. The Board of Directors waived the five year eligibility period for Clemente, and he was inducted on August 6th as the first Hispanic player to enter Cooperstown, having posted a .317 lifetime BA and earned 12 All-Star nods. Roberto was a Latino trailblazer as the first Latin American/Caribbean player to win a World Series as a starter (1960), to receive a National League MVP Award (1966), and to receive a World Series MVP Award (1971).