Wednesday, December 7, 2016

12/7 B-Days: Deacon, Bobby, Tony, Johhny, Vinnie, Hal, Don & Bo *whew*

  • 1847 - Hall of Famer C/3B James “Deacon” (he was a religious fellow) White was born in Caton, NY. He played as a 41 year old for the Alleghenys in 1889, and lasted one more season before ending his 20-year career with the Buffalo Bisons, retiring with a .312 BA. As a member of Forest City of Cleveland, White led off the opening game against the Fort Wayne Kekiongas with a double off Bobby Mathews, considered the first major league hit (the National Association of Professional Baseball Players was the first pro league), and banged into the first double play. Deacon also helped popularize the catcher’s mask and he was the first pitcher to go into a wind-up (he pitched twice, piling up 10 innings of relief work).
  • 1886 - C Bobby Schang was born in Wales Center, New York. Bobby spent 1914-15 with the Bucs, hitting .194. He was nothing if not persistent - he toiled in the minors for the next 12 years before getting five more MLB at-bats as a Cardinal at the age of 40 in 1927. He was the brother of catching great Wally Schang, who had a 19-year big league gig.
Tony Piet 1933 Conlon All-Star
  • 1906 - 2B Tony Piet (Pietruszka) was born in Berwick, PA. Tony started his career with the Bucs, playing from 1931-33 and hitting a solid .298. He was traded in 1934 as part of the Red Lucas deal after he led the NL in games played in 1932 with 154.
  • 1915 - LHP Johnny Gee was born in Syracuse. In August 1939, the top minor league prospect was purchased by the Pirates for $75,000 and four players, the highest price paid by the Bucs for a player until the purchase of Hank Greenberg in 1947. Nicknamed “Gee Whiz,” he lasted parts of four seasons (1939, 1941, 1943-44) with the Bucs, winning five games. Also known as “Long John” (the bonus baby was also called the “$75,000 Lemon”), he never recovered his form after a 1940 arm injury. Gee was the tallest person at 6’9” to play MLB until 6’10” Randy Johnson debuted for the Montreal Expos in September, 1988. Not too surprisingly, he also went on to play pro hoops for the NBA Syracuse Nationals; he had been captain of his Michigan roundball squad.
  • 1915 - C Vinnie Smith was born in Richmond. Smith’s career was defined by WW2; his rookie campaign was in 1941 and then he was drafted into the Navy. He returned to the Pirates in 1946 and played in a handful of games (he hit .259 over the two seasons) before being relegated to the minors afterward. Smith got a taste of umping on the farm when a crew couldn’t get to the game and the players had to police themselves and found it to his liking. He began to umpire after he hung up his spikes in 1954 and returned to the majors in that role in 1957. Smith became part of Pirates history while in blue: he was behind the plate on May 26th, 1959 when Harvey Haddix threw his 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves.
  • 1930 - C Hal Smith was born in West Frankfort, Illinois. Although the backup catcher only played two seasons (1960-61) in Pittsburgh, his three run homer in the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, overshadowed by Maz’s dramatic walk-off, may have been the key blow of the entire set. Mel Allen called it "one of the most dramatic base hits in the history of the World Series." It put the Bucs up 8-6 after eight innings and set the stage for Maz, whose blow nudged Smith from the history books.
Hal Smith 1960 Leaf
  • 1935 - RHP Don Cardwell was born in Winston-Salem, NC. He spent four seasons (1963-66) in Pittsburgh, where injuries led to a lot of bullpen time. He was 33-33-1 with a 3.38 ERA in his time with the Pirates, winning 13 games in 1963 and again in ‘65 when healthy and starting, but was dogged by arm woes in 1964. Cardwell lasted 14 campaigns, tossing for five teams. He threw a no-hitter for the Cubs and won a ring with 1969 Mets.
  • 1936 - RHP Bo Belinsky was born in New York City. He was the closest thing baseball had to Joe Namath and brought his glitter to the Steel City in 1969 after his playboy career had pretty well dissipated. He went 0-3, 4.38 and would pitch just one more major league game in the show. Bo did clean up his act later in life, getting clean and becoming a born-again Christian.

12/7 - Lotta Moves: Woodling, Jackson, Bedard Enlist; Reynolds, Cobra, Gott, Redman & Torres Leave; Connie To HoF

  • 1937 - Connie Mack was announced as a selection of the Centennial Commission to the Hall of Fame and was installed on June 12th, 1939, when the Hall officially opened. Mack's last three seasons in the NL were as a player-manager with the Pirates from 1894 to 1896, compiling a .242 BA, close to his career average, and a 149–134 (.527) record as a field general. In 1901 he became manager, treasurer and part owner of the new AL's Philadelphia Athletics. He managed the A’s through the 1950 season, compiling a record of 3,582–3,814 (.484) when he retired at 87.
Connie Mack 2012 Topps Archive
  • 1946 - The Indians sent rosy-cheeked OF Gene Woodling to Pittsburgh for veteran C Al Lopez. Lopez played just 61 games in 1947‚ and Woodling spent a season as a reserve, hitting .266 before the Pirates sent him to the minor league San Francisco Seals. Woodling joined the Yankees in 1949, and when he finally hung up his spikes in 1962, he had a 17 year career with three All-Star nods, five World Series rings and a lifetime .288 BA under his belt.
  • 1973 - RHP Bob Johnson was traded by the Pirates to the Cleveland Indians for OF Bill Flowers, who never made it out of the minors. In one of those close but no cigar scenarios, it was reported that a handshake deal had been been made to get 24-year-old Cecil Cooper from the Tribe, but the deal between Boston and Cleveland that would have made that possible fell through at the last minute.
  • 1976 - Pittsburgh traded shortstops Craig Reynolds and Jimmy Sexton to Seattle for LHP Grant Jackson. It was a win-win; the surrendered Pirates prospects had solid MLB careers while Buck was a key part of the bullpen for five years and pitched shutout ball during the 1979 postseason for the World Champion Bucs.
Grant Jackson 1979 Topps
  • 1983 - After 11 years as a Pirate, OF Dave Parker ended his Pittsburgh era by signing a two year/$1.6M contract with the Reds. In Cincinnati, his hometown, he enjoyed his best season since he won the 1978 MVP with a .312 BA, 34 home runs, and 125 RBI. Parker finished second in 1985 MVP voting to Willie McGee. But the off season wasn’t all peaches and cream; he was a key witness the infamous coke trial held in Pittsburgh. The Cobra was originally suspended for a season as a regular user, but had the sentence reduced to community service and a 10% salary donation to drug treatment organizations.
  • 1989 - RHP Jim Gott opted to fly the Bucco coop and sign with the LA Dodgers. Coming off elbow surgery, both clubs offered the reliever a base salary of $300K with incentives to hike the deal to $1M, but the Pirates bonus was based on performance (innings, saves, etc) while LA’s bonuses were tied to roster time. With an untried wing, “The Mayor” (Gott had been deeply involved with the community during his three-year stay) felt the Dodger incentives, coupled with Bill Landrum returning as the Buc closer, were more attainable. Jim needn’t have worried; he pitched five years in LA, making 272 outings before closing out his career in Pittsburgh in 1995.
  • 2005 - The Pirates traded LHP Mark Redman to the Kansas City Royals for RHP Jonah Bayless and a minor league player, RHP Chad Blackwell. Redman had gone 5-5, 4.90 with the Bucs and was due $4.5M. He won 11 games for KC and an All-Star berth (tho he finished the year with a 5.71 ERA) and won four more games in 2007-08 to end his career. Reliever Bayless worked 50 games for the Bucs in 2006-07, going 5-4, 6.75, and never landed another MLB job.
Salomon Torres 2003 Topps Total
  • 2007 - The Pirates dealt reliever Salomon Torres to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitchers Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts. In 2006, Torres was the Pirate set-up man, appearing in a record 94 games, and was anointed closer after the year. But after blowing four saves, he was replaced by Matt Capps and dealt in the off season. Torres tossed a solid season as Milwaukee's closer, saving 28 games, while Salas and Roberts floundered.
  • 2012 - The Pirates signed free agent LHP Érik Bédard to a 1 year/$4.5M contract. After going 7-14/5.01, he was released in August after beginning the year as the Opening Day pitcher. 14 of his 24 starts lasted five or fewer innings. His peripherals weren't bad, but the numbers didn't translate into very many Bucco victories. After a quick start - he had a 3.12 ERA at the end of May - the team lost 10 of his next 14 starts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

12/6 Birthdays and a Death: HBD Tun, Walter, Frank, Tim & Adam; RIP Honus

  • 1867 - UT John Henry “Tun” Berger was born in Pittsburgh. He played for the Alleghenys in 1890, hitting .266 and playing all over the field for one of the worse teams (23-113) ever fielded. The following year, he became one of the original Pirates, hitting .239 and again playing just about everywhere. Tun played one more season, for Washington. He was a Pittsburgh guy all his life, working as a glassblower and dying at the early age of 39 from kidney disease. He was laid to rest at Mt. Royal Cemetery. As for his nickname, we can only speculate - a “tun” is an archaic name for a large cask or barrel (usually holding wine or beer) and our Tun was listed at 5’9”, 209 lbs. Perhaps one of his teammates noticed the similarity in shapes...
Walter Mueller 1926 (Charles Conlon/Baseball Magazine)
  • 1894 - OF Walter Mueller was born in Central, Missouri. He is best known as the first player to hit a home run on the first pitch thrown to him in the major leagues, and the only Pirate to do so until Starling Marté repeated the feat in 2012. Mueller played his entire career (1922-24, 1926) for Pittsburgh, hitting .275 - and he only blasted one more homer in those four years.
  • 1896 - OF Frank Luce was born in Spencer, Ohio. After a pair of .300+ minor league seasons and going 6-for-12 in a brief 1923 callup, Luce and Kiki Cuyler were the main candidates for RF in 1924. Kiki won the job and held it down for the next four years, blocking Frank. Luce hit .322 at the highest minor league level, AA, from 1925-29 but never got another call to the show.
  • 1950 - SS Tim Foli was born in Culver City, California. Tim played in Pittsburgh from 1979-81 with a brief return in 1985, hitting .269 and solidifying the Bucco infield with his glove after being flipped to the Mets for Frank Taveras. In 1979, his bat was hot in the NLCS and WS; he batted .333. Tim hit second for those clubs; his lack of speed and power was offset by his ability to move a runner, and he always put the ball in play, whiffing just 49 times as a Buc in over 1,500 PAs. His 16-year career ended in 1985 when he played his final couple of months with the Pirates and retired. He managed in the minors and coached in the show until the 2006 season, when a heart condition led him to permanent retirement from baseball.
  • 1955 - Carnegie Hall of Famer Honus (His given name was Johannes) Wagner died at the age of 81 and was buried at Jefferson Memorial Cemetery. Considered by many (including Bill James) to be the greatest shortstop in history, Wagner batted .327 over a 21-year career and retired with more hits, runs, RBI, doubles, triples, games and steals than any other NL player. After retirement, Wagner served as a Pirate coach for 39 years, primarily as a hitting instructor. He crossed into films, playing in 1919's Spring Fever and 1922's In the Name of the Law. His sporting goods company operated until 2011. The Flying Dutchman’s number 33 was retired and his statue has graced Forbes Field, TRS and PNC Park.
Adam Hyzdu 2003 Topps
  • 1971 - OF Adam Hyzdu was born in San Jose. A first round draft pick of the Giants in 1990, he was a reserve outfielder for the Bucs from 2000-03 with a .231 BA in Pittsburgh. He had his shining moment, though. Adam was the NL Player of the Week in July of 2002 when he hit .588 (10-for-17) with three homers, six runs and 11 RBI, with all 11 driven in during a two-game span when he homered three times against the Cards, including his first grand slam.

12/6: Pirates Pick Up Pitchers & A Delayed Deal...

  • 1939 - The Pirates traded P Jim Tobin to the Boston Bees for P Johnny Lanning. Starter Tobin went 76-88 in six seasons after the deal. Lanning pitched six seasons for the Bucs (he missed almost two years because of WW2) and went 33-29/3.44 as a starter and long man. Lanning’s bread and butter was the curve; he threw both a soft and hard hook.
Johnny Lanning (photo via NCS Baseball)
  • 1966 - The Bucs sent P Don Cardwell and OF Don Bosch to the New York Mets for P Dennis Ribant and OF Gary Kolb. Cardwell had three solid years with NY and appeared in the 1969 “Miracle Mets” World Series, while Ribant pitched for a year in Pittsburgh before leaving and being converted to a reliever by the Tigers. The OF players never panned out.
  • 1983 - Pittsburgh traded OF Mike Easler to the Boston Red Sox for P John Tudor. Easler had a big year with the Red Sox before fading. Tudor went 12-11 in 32 starts for the Pirates in 1984, then was traded to St. Louis for OF George Hendrick. Tudor was brilliant in 1985 for the Cards, with 21 wins and 10 complete game shutouts. He led St. Louis to the World Series, and after pitching masterfully against KC in games 1 & 4, he fell apart in Game 7, losing 11-0. The lefty cut his pitching hand punching some locker room equipment while in a snit after the defeat and he never won more than 13 games afterward.
  • 1990 - The Pirates inked LHP Zane Smith as a free agent for two years and $4.75M after getting him from the Montreal Expos for Moises Alou in the middle of the 1990 season. Smith pitched six of his final seven campaigns in Pittsburgh with a line of 47-41/3.35 and was part of the rotation for the 1990-92 playoff teams, winning 16 games in 1991. Though he was released in 1996 by the Bucs, he went out in style: his 100th and final win was in June of that year, a six-hit, complete game shutout of the San Diego Padres.
Evan Meek 2011 (photo Getty Images)
  • 2000 - The Bucs, with the second pick in the Rule 5 draft, selected RHP Evan Meek from Tampa Bay. He stuck for parts of five years with Bucs (2008-12), going 7-7-4 with a 3.34 ERA. After a breakout All-Star year in 2010 when he went 5-6-4 with a 2.14 ERA, arm injuries took their toll on the flame thrower’s (he could touch 98) career.
  • 2006 - The Pirates came close to landing 1B Adam LaRoche, but a swap with the Braves for LHP Mike Gonzalez fell through. Both were good fits - Gonzo was 24-for-24 in save opportunities while LaRoche was coming off a 32-HR season - but the Pirates said that Atlanta was concerned about injury issues while the Bravos claimed Dave Littlefield dragged his feet too long. Either way, the Bravos went in another direction and landed Rafael Soriano to make the matter moot. The finger pointing resolved itself quickly; the two sides kissed and made up, and a few weeks later Gonzalez and SS Brent Lillibridge were sent to Atlanta for LaRoche and 1B/OF Jamie Romak.

Monday, December 5, 2016

12/5 Birthdays: Frank, Pink, Bill, Sam & Tony

  • 1868 - C Frank Bowerman was born in Romeo, Michigan. He spent a couple of his 15 pro seasons, 1898-99, in Pittsburgh, batting .265 while throwing out 49.5% of attempted base stealers and also playing 1B. But Bowerman had a hair trigger temper and once started a fight with manager Fred Clarke, giving him a shiner, helping to explain why his stay in the City was so short.
Pink Hawley (photo via Wikipedia)
  • 1872 - RHP Emerson “Pink” Hawley was born in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. He tossed for Pittsburgh from 1895-97 with a slash line of 71-61 and a 3.76 ERA. He was a workhorse, appearing in 56 games in 1895 while throwing 444-⅓ innings, both league-leading numbers. Pink was a stand up guy, once turning down a bribe to throw a game. But he came from good stock. His ancestor was the noted essayist Major Joseph Hawley, who joined with Samuel Adams and James Otis, Jr., as a revolutionary leader during the Stamp Act/Boston Tea Party era. Pink is his given middle name; he was part of a set of twins, and his family, as the story goes, put a blue ribbon on his brother and a pink one on Emerson so they could tell them apart. Fact of the day: The color choice didn’t lead to any childhood traumas. Up until the baby boomers came along, baby’s clothes colors were either considered sex-neutral or actually the opposite of today, with pink for boys and blue for girls.
  • 1922 - OF Bill Rodgers was born in Harrisburg. Bill was a wartime special - he played for the Bucs from 1944-45, got into three games and went 2-for-5 with one run scored. Rodgers was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1946, but never again made it to the major leagues.
  • 1963 - SS Sam Khalifa was born in Fontana, California. Khalifa was a first round pick (#7 overall) from Arizona’s Sahuero HS, but in his three years MLB career, all as a Pirate (1985-87), he hit just .219. He’ll go down in the history books as the first player of Egyptian ancestry to play major league baseball.
Tony Beasley 2008 (photo/Associated Press)
  • 1966 - Coach Tony Beasley was born in Fredricksburg, Virginia. A minor league infielder who spent time with the Pirates, Beasley became a farm coach/manager in the Bucco organization after his playing days. Starting out as a player/coach and roving batting instructor, Beasley then managed in the Pirates system for the next five seasons, making the playoffs every year. Tony became the Pirates roving minor league infield instructor and was named third base coach in 2008 by John Russell; he was considered instrumental in the transition of Neil Walker into a second baseman. After JR left, Beasley spent four seasons in the Washington organization before getting the call from Jeff Banister to become the third base coach of the Texas Rangers. In 2016, he was diagnosed with cancer. After surgery and chemo, he was back in uniform at Arlington, albeit primarily as a quality control coach.

12/5: Welcome Wally, Enrique & Neal; Bye Big Poison; Charlie Hustle Trots Away...

  • 1940 - Paul Waner was released by the Pirates. The Hall of Fame OF’er played 15 seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .340 with 2,868 hits, 1,627 runs and 1,309 RBI. A party-hearty type, Waner was famous for his ability to hit hung over. He gave up the bottle for a year in 1938 at management’s request, and only hit .280, the first time he failed to reach .300+. Needless to say, the teetotaler experiment ended after that campaign. Another bit of lore was that the Bucs discovered he was nearsighted late in his career and made him wear glasses. He gave those up when he found the large fuzzy object he had been swinging at all those years turned into a small spinning BB that was nearly impossible to hit when he had his peepers on. Paul and his younger brother Lloyd (Little Poison), one of baseball’s premier sibling duos, hold the career record for hits by brothers with 5,611.
Wally Westlake 1951 Topps Redbacks
  • 1946 - The Bucs sent Johnny Hutchings and $35,000 to Oakland of the PCL for OF Wally Westlake. Wally spent 1947-51 as the Bucs starting outfielder, hitting .281 with an All-Star nod, before being traded to St. Louis. He played through 1956, although he only had one strong season after he left the Pirates.
  • 1978 - 37-year-old Pete Rose signed a four-year, $3.2 million deal with the Phillies. He had been hotly pursued in free agency by several clubs, including the Bucs, and owner Dan Galbreath had even invited Rose to his Ohio horse farms. The Pirates admitted that their cash offer was half that of the Phillies, but didn’t confirm if any other sweeteners, especially those rumored to involve equine ownership as bait for Charlie Hustle, had been part of the proposed deal.
  • 1978 - Pitchers Enrique Romo and Rick Jones along with shortstop Tom McMillan were sent to the Pirates by Seattle, who got pitchers Rafael Vasquez, Odell Jones and shortstop Mario Mendoza in return. Romo pitched four years for the Pirates (1979-82) pretty effectively, going 25-16-26/3.56 and was part of the 1979 World Series club. Romo only tossed six seasons total in the MLB, but with good reason - he started late. He pitched 11 seasons in Mexican baseball prior to making his major league debut for the Mariners in 1977 at the age of 29. McMillan and Jones both ended up minor league players. Jones tossed six more years, including a brief 1981 return to Pittsburgh, Mendoza played for four more seasons and Vasquez appeared in nine 1979 games for Seattle, which proved to be his MLB career.
Neal Heaton 1991 Ultra (back)
  • 1989 - The Bucs signed LHP Neal Heaton to a three-year, $2.85M contract with incentives and a limited (eight team) no-trade clause after he went 6-7, 3.05 for the Pirates the previous campaign. Neal made the All-Star roster in 1990 but had a bumpy second year and was traded in the 1992 preseason for Kirk Gibson. His Bucco line was 21-19, 3.46 with 43 starts in his 114 outings. He finished out his career pitching for three AL teams from 1992-93.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

12/4: Big Trade Day, Big Poison MVP, HBD Ted

  • 1886 - The St. Louis Maroons traded 1B Alex McKinnon to Pittsburgh for 1B Otto Schomberg and $400. Schomberg was the Alleghenys starting first sacker who had some power and a great eye, but the 30 year-old McKinnon was considered a potential star. The Boston native was hitting .340 for the Pittsburgh club in July when he contracted typhoid fever and died 20 days after his last game.
  • 1925 - LHP/OF Ted Toles was born in Newton Falls, Ohio, near Warren. His pro baseball career began in 1946 with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and after a brief Negro League career, he played for the minor league affiliates of the Cleveland Indians (including a stop with the New Castle Indians in 1951), New York Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics. Ted also toured with the Jackie Robinson All-Stars with Robinson, Lary Doby, Satchel Paige and teammate Willie Pope barnstormed against different MLB all-star teams during the offseason. Toles was one of the last remaining links to the Negro Leagues and was featured in the book “Living on Borrowed Time: The Life and Times of Negro League Player Ted Toles Jr.” before passing away in April of 2016.
Big Poison 1934 Goudey
  • 1927 - OF Paul "Big Poison" Waner finished ahead of the Card's Fordham Flash, Frankie Frisch, for NL MVP honors by 72 votes to 66. In his second year in the show, Waner hit .380, drove in 131 runs, scored 114 and banged out 237 hits to lead Pittsburgh to the NL title. He entered the Hall of Fame in 1952.
  • 1936 - The Brooklyn Dodgers traded LHP Ed Brandt for Pirates IF Cookie Lavagetto and LHP Ralph “Lefty” Birkofer. Lavagetto started for the next five years, hitting .275 for Brooklyn and making four All-Star teams before losing four years to the Second World War. Brandt lasted two years with the Bucs as a swingman, going 16-14 with a 3.23 ERA before he retired at age 34 after 11 MLB campaigns. While here, he tied a Bucco mark held by several by winning three 1-0 games in 1937, a record no Pirate has matched since. Lefty made 11 appearances for the Dodgers in 1937, his last year of MLB ball.
  • 1973 - The Pirates traded P Nelson Briles and IF Fernando Gonzalez to the KC Royals for UT Ed “Spanky” Kirkpatrick, IF Kurt Bevacqua and minor league 1B Winston Cole. Briles lasted five more seasons, but posted an ERA under four just once in that span while none of the others became everyday contributors, tho Spanky hung around as a utility guy with the Bucs until 1977.
Sluggo 1995 Flair
  • 1989 - The Pirates picked up C Don Slaught from the Yankees for RHPs Jeff Robinson and farmhand Willie Smith after New York had first turned down a reported package of RHP Randy Kramer and C Tom Prince. Slaught would form a platoon tandem with Spanky LaValliere through 1992, and remained with the Bucs until 1996 after being injured during most of the 1995 campaign, hitting .305 during his Pittsburgh tenure. Sluggo played for the Royals, Rangers, Yankees, Pirates, Angels, White Sox, and Padres in his 16 year career; a catcher with a .283 lifetime BA has an awfully long shelf life in MLB. Robinson tossed for three more seasons in the AL, while Smith threw seven frames in 1994 in his only taste of the show.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

12/3:Barney, Billy & Deacon HoF; Trades & Signings; HBD Hickory

  • 1878 - RHP Walt “Hickory” Dickson was born in New Summerfield, Texas. Hickory never tossed for the Pirates, but did spend the last two years of his career with the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League between 1914-15. He worked 67 games for the Rebs, going 16-24-1, 3.44 pitching at the ages of 35 & 36. Dickson’s claim to MLB history is rather dubious: in his first full year in the show in 1912, he started 18 straight games that his team, the Boston Braves, lost. It took 95 years for the Brewers’ Dave Capuano to break that mark. But in the minors, he once tossed back-to-back, complete game, five-hit shutouts on the same day at the end of the season for his Cleburne team against second place Fort Worth; it’s said that Fort Worth was so discouraged after the twin bill that they forfeited the championship series against first place Cleburne.
Monty Basgall 1952 Topps
  • 1947 - Busy day for the Buccos. They sold 11-year vet 1B Elbie Fletcher to the Cleveland Indians (he had one more MLB season left), traded minor league IFs Jimmy Bloodworth and Vic Barnhart to the Dodgers for 2B Monty Basgall (Bloodworth played four more seasons and Barnhart, whose dad Clyde was also a Pirate, never made it back to MLB while Basgall played three years for the Bucs hitting .215) and named Al Lopez manager of the AAA Indianapolis Indians. Lopez had turned down the same deal a year ago to get in a last go-around as a player (he caught for 19 years). That decision to bypass managing may have cost him a shot at the Bucco field general job when skipper Billy Herman was fired and replaced by Billy Meyers after the campaign.
  • 1952 - Pittsburgh traded C Clyde McCullough to the Chicago Cubs for RHP Dick Manville and $25,000. Clyde made the All-Star squad in 1953, tho he only caught 77 games while hitting .258 and wound down his career from there while Manville never appeared in the majors after the deal.
  • 1956 - OF Jerry Lynch was taken by the Reds from the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft. Lynch played seven years with Cincinnati, earning a spot in the franchise’s Hall of Fame, before returning to Pittsburgh in 1963. Lynch is considered one of baseball's all-time best elite pinch hitters, with 116 off-the-bench hits (and 18 homers) during his career. He remained a Pittsburgh guy after retiring, living in Allison Park, and had his ashes sprinkled over Champion Lakes Golf Course in Ligonier, co-owned by him and Dick Groat, after he passed on in 2012 at age 82.
Luis Arroyo 1952 Topps
  • 1958 - Pittsburgh traded RHP Luis Arroyo to Cincinnati for Nino Escalera. Arroyo hit his stride with the Yankees in 1961, winning 15 games and saving 29 more with a 2.19 ERA during his All-Star season while pinch-hitter/1B Escalero never made it out of AAA. It would have been interesting to see what damage a pen of Arroyo and ElRoy Face could have wreaked on the NL.
  • 1982 - 2B Jose “Chico” Lind was signed as an 18-year-old FA out of Puerto Rico. He won the 2B job in 1988, and the defensive whiz played six years in Pittsburgh, hitting .255. Chico was a member of the 1990-92 division-winning clubs before ending his career in the AL amidst a swirl of personal problems. He got his nickname as a toddler; “Chico” is the Spanish term for a youngster.
  • 2007 - German-born Barney Dreyfuss, owner of the Pirates from 1900 until his death in 1932, was elected by Veterans Committee to the Hall of Fame. He built Forbes Field, helped to establish the first modern World Series in 1903, won six pennants & two titles during his term, cleaned up the game and was considered one of the founding fathers of modern baseball. He was inducted on July 23rd, 2008. The Pirates honored him with a stone memorial which has traveled from Forbes Field to TRS and now sits in PNC's concourse behind home plate.
Billy Southworth 1919-21 W514
  • 2007 - Billy Southworth was also selected to the HoF, with his playing and managing careers both lasting 13 years. OF Southworth played three years for the Pirates (1918-20), leading the NL in triples in 1919 (14) and hitting .294 as a Buc. As a manager, he won four pennants and two World Series titles with St. Louis and Boston. Southworth was inducted on July 28th, 2008.
  • 2012 - James “Deacon” White was elected to the Hall of Fame by the pre-integration era committee. Earning his reputation as a bare-handed catcher, although he played several positions over his career, Deacon also helped popularize the catcher’s mask (Al Spalding, who founded a sports equipment company that sold them, was once his battery-mate) and as a young spot pitcher (he tossed twice) is credited with developing the first windup. He played for the Bucs near the end of his 20-year career in 1889, hitting .253 from the hot corner. Deacon came by his nickname honestly; he was a devout Christian in an era when ballplayers were notoriously rowdy.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Notes: Busy Week - Arb, Cutch & Josh on Block, Minor & FO moves, JHK, WBC, CBA & More...

Stuff is happening: All the arbs & pre-arbs tucked away except for Jeff Locke and Eric Fryer; Cutch and Josh being dangled, WBC, some minor signings, office movement...just wait til the meetings begin!

  • Arb results: Tendered - Tony Watson, Juan Nicasio, Gerrit Cole, Jordy Mercer, Drew Hutchison, and Jared Hughes; Signed - Wade LeBlanc (one year + option, $800K guaranteed); DFA'ed - Jeff Locke. C Eric Fryer was also non-tendered; he was a pre-arb player. 
Jeff didn't make the cut. (2016 Topps Now)
  • Cutch is still with us; apparently, Washington and the Bucs weren't ready to pull the trigger. Could get interesting this week as other clubs play the "Price is Right" with Neal.
  • Jung Ho Kang just can't stay out of trouble. Reports from Korea say he was arrested for DUI after fleeing the scene of an accident. Here's a dashcam view of the incident tweeted by Sung Min Kim.
  • The Pirates signed RHP Lisalverto Bonilla. To open a 40-man spot for him (and save themselves a non-tender), they DFA'ed LHP Jeff Locke. Bonilla, 26, tossed five games for the Rangers in 2014, had TJ surgery in 2015, and split time between the Dodger's AA and AAA clubs last year as a reliever and sometimes starter.
  • It's been back burner news, but as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reminds us, Josh Harrison is also available.
Josh on the block, too? (2016 Topps)
  • Matt Joyce got his reward, too, signing a reported two year/$11M deal with Oakland per Ken Rosenthal.
  • Per MLB Trade Rumors: The Bucs brought in LHP Dan Runzler, who last appeared in the bigs in 2012 and put up a 5.82 ERA in 21-2/3 IP in AAA last year with the Twins. Also joining the organization is RHP Jason Stoffel, a 28-year-old who has spent plenty of time in the upper minors but hasn’t cracked the bigs. He put up a 2.44 ERA with 11.9 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 over 59 frames in 2016 in AA-AAA with the Orioles. Both signed MiLB contracts with camp invites.
  • Another P the Bucs were sniffing at is off the boards. The Miami Marlins have struck a two-year/$22M deal with Edinson Volquez, pending his physical (he passed). Eddie didn't do much for KC in 2016 but will be reunited w/Jim Benedict. It is a thin FA group; the Pirates are more likely to sign a project arm and trade for mid-rotation guy.
  • Starling Marte, as reported, and Gregory Polanco are on the preliminary roster (Spanish 101 is helpful) for the Dominican Republic's World Baseball club. There are more Pittsburgh connections to the team - Moises Alou is the GM and Tony Pena is the skipper.
El Coffee is on the WBC roster. (2015 Topps Futures)
  • Jameson Taillon told Jon Morosi of MLB Network that he won't pitch for Canada in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Taillon cited his workload and injury history as his reasons to pass.
  • Well, that was quick. The Rangers claimed RHP Brady Dragmire off waivers from the Pirates. Pittsburgh had bought from the Blue Jays in early October and was hoping to sneak him past waivers while clearing a 40-man roster spot.
  • The Indians signed ex-Bucco C Erik Kratz and former utilityman Michael Martinez to minor league contracts with invites to camp.
  • Vance Worley was non-tendered by the Orioles and is now a free agent. Ditto for ex-Pirates property C Ramon Cabrera, let go by the Reds.
Vanimal is an FA. (2015 Topps)
  • And yet another hit on the administrative team: The Diamondbacks named Mike Fitzgerald as Director of Research & Development. He spent the last five seasons as a quantitative analyst for the Pirates. If that sounds piddling, it isn't. Fitz broke down opponents and analyzed players from the team's data sets. He helped drive the Bucs selection of Russ Martin, was part of Clint's daily pre-game strategy sessions and traveled with the club to provide game input. Mike was the bridge between the dugout and PC boys and is a big loss to the Bucco sabermetric gang.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays have hired former utility guy Cole Figueroa, 29, as a baseball development assistant in the front office. He played in a couple of dozen games for the Bucs in 2016, hitting .154.
  • The Pirates aren't the only club that scours the seven seas for players. Ditto for the Brewers. They just hired ex-Bucco P Bryan Bullington as their Asian scout.
Bryan Bullington - from prospect to scout. (2003 Bowman's Best)
  • The new CBA was pounded out. It features a few new items: 10-day DL, no home advantage for ASG winners and an international pool rather than cap, with changes in the luxury tax and FA draft compensation.

12/2 TRS-PNC Era: Danny Murtaugh RIP, Big KC Deal, Bobby Bo & El Toro Go, Stew Arrives

  • 1970 - The Pirates and the Kansas City Royals swung a six player trade with P Bruce Dal Canton, C Jerry May and SS Freddie Patek going to KC while C Jim Campanis, SS Jackie Hernandez and P Bob Johnson came to the Bucs. Patek and Dal Canton were everyday players for KC, with Patek playing nine years for the KC and winning three All-Star berths. Johnson was 17-16-7/3.34 with the Bucs and Hernandez was a reserve infielder, both lasting three years for the Pirates. Campanis didn't make the club until 1973, and he only had six at-bats.
Jackie Hernandez 1973 Topps
  • 1976 - Danny Murtaugh‚ who had retired two months earlier as Pirate manager‚ died of a heart attack/stroke at age 59 in his Chester home. He compiled a 1,115-950 record in 2,068 games (.540), second-most wins in Pirates history behind only Fred Clarke, and took two World Series championships. His number 40 was retired by the Pirates on Opening Day, 1977.
  • 1991 - After six years as a Pirate, Bobby Bonilla signed as a free agent with the New York Mets. His five-year, $29M deal made him the game's highest-paid player at the time. From 1986 to 1991, Bonilla had a .284 batting average, with 114 home runs, and 500 RBI's. He led the league in extra base hits in 1990 and in doubles in 1991. Bonilla also made the All-Star team four years in a row. Bo is currently being paid about $1.2M by the New York Mets each year up to 2035, as part of a negotiated buy-out of a second deal signed in 1999, turning $5.9M due to him in 2000 into $29.8M over 25 years.
  • 2013 - C Chris Stewart was traded to the Bucs by the New York Yankees for a PTBNL, who ended up being minor league pitcher Kyle Haynes. Stew played through two option seasons before signing up for another two year stint (with a club option for a third) following 107 games and a .292 BA with the Pirates as the #2 man from 2014-15. Stew got into just 34 games in 2016 and had season-ending surgery on his knee in September.
Pedro Alvarez 2015 Topps
  • 2015 - Former #1 pick (second overall) in 2008, 1B Pedro Alvarez, was non-tendered and became a free agent. Pedro hit 131 homers in 742 games for Pittsburgh, but his inability to solve lefties (.203 BA), strikeouts (809) and fielding woes made his projected $8M arbitration award too pricey for the Bucs, which had tried unsuccessfully to move him to an AL club for two years running. Jaff Decker, a depth outfielder, was also non-tendered. El Toro hit .249 w/22 HR with the Orioles in 2016, mostly as a DH (he handled nine balls in the field and made four errors). Jaff served as organizational depth for Tampa, getting into 19 games.