Friday, October 31, 2014

Contract Decisions 2015

The Pirates have quite a few decisions to make regarding their roster construction for 2015; four guys are free agents and another 14 are eligible for arbitration. Here's a capsule of the moving pieces:

The free agents (Qualifying offers must be made by 11/3; players get a week afterward to accept):

Russ Martin, C - Martin is looking at a multi year deal and one last big payday, making it unlikely for him to return to the frugal Pirates. Charlie Wilmoth of MLB TRade Rumors suggests "For Martin, a three-year deal in the range of $12MM-13MM per season might make sense, or possibly a four-year contract worth slightly less per season." We think that may be a tad low; he's the only top gun on the market and $15M/year doesn't seem out of line. For the Pirates, the length of the deal is the sticking point because of Martin's age (he's 32). They're likely to extend a qualifying offer of $15.3M; Russ isn't looking for one year, and the Bucs will get a draft pick if he finds greener pastures.

Francisco Liriano, LHP - Frankie is an interesting guy to try to evaluate. He's been pretty consistently excellent except for a stretch when pitching through an injury, but that's the rub - he's hurt a lot. That background (he's only pitched 323-1/3 IP in two years) could hurt his quest for big free agent money, and if the Pirates make a qualifying offer, he could accept it to try to rebuild his value for another run at a big deal in 2016, although the talk is that he could land a contract for 3 years/$40-45M. We think the QO is worth the risk whether he stays or goes. It's also been reported that he and Neal Huntington are at least communicating, so perhaps there can be a middle ground found.

Edinson Volquez RHP - Eddie is another tweener. His counting stats were excellent, but his deep stats show he's the same old Volquez, with fewer walks, fewer K and a better D behind him. He signed a bargain basement $5M deal this past season. A two year deal worth $16-18M should be in his ballpark, and the FO has to decide between making that offer with its current thin staff or trying to bring in another reclamation project to replace him.

Clint Barmes, IF - Barmes inked a $2M contract last year; he'll come back if he's willing to drop that number down a bit in 2015.

Here's an alpha list of the Bucs' arb-eligible players, with their service time, Matt Schwartz's MLBTR arbitration estimates for 2015 and a brief outlook (The tender deadline is 12/2):
  • Pedro Alvarez, 1/3B (4.085): $5.5M - First? Third? Trade bait? Lotta options available for El Toro this off season, especially with two remaining years of team control.
  • John Axford, RHP - DFA'ed. Tempting because he had a couple of options remaining and back-end experience, but he also carried a $4.5M contract with him.
  • Ike Davis, 1B (4.155): $4.4M - Will he stay or will he go? His future hinges largely on what the Bucs decide to do with Pedro and the FO's view of Andrew Lambo as a platoon option.
  • Jeanmar Gomez, RHP - DFA'ed. The Bucs have several long-man candidates, and Gomez started eight games as a spot starter in '13, but none this season, dropping his value by limiting his role.
  • Josh Harrison, 3B (3.033): $2.2M - Extension candidate after breakout year.
  • Jared Hughes, RHP (2.162): $1.1M - His stat line is probably unsustainable, but his counting numbers earned him Clint Hurdle's trust and a bridge role from the pen.
  • Mark Melancon, RHP (4.098): $7.6M - The Shark is in line for a nice (and well earned) chunk of cash, and along with Tony Watson's development, that could spell a trade.
  • Brent Morel, IF, (2.001+): league minimum - A back-up third baseman who is out of options and probably a roster spot.
  • Gaby Sanchez, 1B (5.025): $2.7M - He could swing either way as far as a tender goes; the Pirates don't have a RH first baseman in the system if they continue to platoon.
  • Travis Snider, OF (4.091): $2M - Finally showed some of his stuff this year, and his ability to hit same-side pitching makes him a valuable 4th OF'er.
  • Chris Stewart, C (4.091): $1.3M - He's a lock to get tendered. Chris' offense was an outlier, but he's a good glove guy and the equivalent of anyone left on the market not named Russell Martin.
  • Neil Walker, 2B (4.166): $8.6M - Unlikely extension candidate; he'll make his money through arb and is under team control through 2016, so neither side has a real compelling reason to talk.
  • Tony Watson, LHP (3.101): $2M - Keeps getting better and is Mark Melancon's heir apparent.
  • Vance Worley, RHP (2.139): $2.9M - The Bucs are short on pitching right now, and the price is right for a guy that can supply back-of-the-rotation innings.

    10/31: Brit Bucco, Reuss Comes To Town, Leyland MoY, Bye-Bye Vets...

    Brit Bucco, Reuss Comes To Town, Leyland MoY, Bye-Bye Vets...
    • 1874 - C Harry Smith was born in Yorkshire, England. He was a reserve catcher from 1902-07, hitting just .202 as a Bucco.
    • 1973 - The Astros traded Jerry Reuss to the Pirates for Milt May. Reuss ended up 61-46 with a 3.52 ERA as a Buc and was a rotation mainstay for four seasons. The lefty worked six campaigns in Pittsburgh (1974-78, 1990) and spent his last MLB season as a Pirate. He did get around; Reuss was on the roster of eight different clubs at one time or another and won 220 games in a 22-year career.
    Jerry Reuss - October, 1990 pitching his final MLB game
    • 1990 - Jim Leyland was selected as the NL Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He guided the Bucs to 95 wins and a division title, easily outdistancing the Cincinnati Reds’ Lou Piniella.
    • 2011 - Roster shake-up day: the Pirates lost four veterans to free agency: C Ryan Doumit, C Chris Snyder, SS Ronnie Cedeno and LHP Paul Maholm. Late season acquisitions OF Ryan Ludwick and 1B Derrek Lee had declared themselves FAs the day before.
    Ronny Cedeno 2009 Topps Update series

    Thursday, October 30, 2014

    10/30: Buy-A-Roster, Bobby Bragan, Lee Tunnell, Ian Snell...

    Buy-A-Roster, Bobby Bragan, Lee Tunnell, Ian Snell...
    • 1884 - Financially troubled despite finishing second to New York in the American Association‚ the Columbus Colts sold its players to the Pittsburgh Alleghenys for $6‚000 and disbanded. The Alleghenys needed all the help they could get; they finished the 1884 season 30-78 and 45-1/2 games behind the AA champion NY Metropolitans. 
    • 1917 - Manager Bobby Bragan was born in Birmingham, Alabama. The former big league infielder managed the Bucs just before they turned the corner in 1956-57, with a record of 102-155 (.397) before Danny Murtaugh took the reins. 
    Bobby Bragan - undated photo via Pittsburgh Sports Report
    • 1960 - RHP Lee Tunnell was born in Tyler, Texas. The Baylor righty was the Bucs’ second pick in the 1981 draft. He arrived in Pittsburgh the following September and then went 11-6/3.85 in 1983, but his four year run (1982-85) produced just a 17-24/4.06 line overall. 
    • 1981 - RHP Ian Snell was born in Dover, Delaware. He spent parts of six seasons (2004-09) as a Pirate starter, showing promise but never quite getting over the hump with a line of 33-46/4.75, and was traded to Seattle. 
    Ian Snell - 2007 Upper Deck series

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    10/29: Solly, Fido and Jim Bibby...

    Solly, Fido and Jim Bibby...
    • 1882 - OF Arthur Frederick "Solly" Hofman was born in St. Louis. Hofman played for the Pirates in 1903, then returned again in 1912-13. Playing off the bench, he hit .246 for the Bucs. Solly had a long run in the show, playing 14 years in the National, American and Federation leagues. His nickname was "Circus Solly." Some attribute the moniker to a comic strip of the era, while others claim it was thanks to his spectacular play in the field according to The Dickson Baseball Dictionary.
    Circus Solly Hofman photo from the Boston Herald 1912
    • 1893 - RHP Marcus “Fido” Baldwin was born in Homestead. He only pitched two years and some change for the Pirates (1891-93) but the club got its money’s worth. Between 1891-92, Fido started 104 games, went 47-55, and worked 878 IP with a 3.14 ERA. He was known as one of, if not the fastest, thrower of his era. He also was sued by St. Louis owner Chris von der Ahe for trying to influence his players to skip leagues (which he did), and was arrested for participating in the Homestead steel strike (he was freed, claiming to be just a spectator). Fido couldn't stay out of trouble; as a minor league owner in 1896, he and his teammates were arrested and convicted of a Blue Law violation for playing the first-ever Sunday professional game in Auburn, NY and was fined $5. Baldwin later became a doctor and was affiliated with Homestead’s Municipal Hospital. He’s buried in Allegheny Cemetery.
    • 1944 - RHP Jim Bibby was born in Franklinton, NC. The big guy worked five years (1978-83; he was out all of 1982 with a shoulder injury) for Pittsburgh, and won 19 games in 1980 during his All-Star season. He was 50-32/3.53 during that span. Bibby started three games in the 1979 championship run (1 NLCS, 2 WS) and while not getting a decision in any of them, put up a 2.08 ERA. His career highlight was in 1981, when he gave up a leadoff single to Atlanta’s Terry Harper and retired the next 27 batters. A shoulder injury suffered later that season eventually led to his retirement in 1984. Oddly, the Pirates signed him as a free agent in 1978 to replace Goose Gossage as the new closer, but he started 91 of his 146 Bucco outings. Another oddity: at 6'5", you'd suspect he had some basketball genes, and he did. Jim was an older brother of Henry Bibby and the uncle of Mike Bibby, both NBA players.
    Jim Bibby Topps 1984 series

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    10/28: Canena, Bob Veale, Nate, Jimmy Leyland...

    Canena, Bob Veale, Nate, Jimmy Leyland...
    • 1925 - OF Luis Ángel "Canena" Márquez Sánchez was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. One of the first Puerto Rican players in the MLB, he played for both the Homestead Grays (1946 - 1948) and briefly for the Pirates (1954), going 1-for-9 with four walks with the Bucs.
    • 1935 - Big lefty Bob Veale was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He pitched 10-1/2 years for the Pirates (1962-72) with a line of 116-91/3.06 and 1,652 strikeouts. Veale led the league with 250 K in 1964 and had over 200 whiffs four times in his career; his 276 punchouts in 1965 are still a club record. He also led the league in walks allowed four times.
    Bob Veale 1967 Sporting News
    • 1981 - OF Nate McLouth was born in Muskegon, Michigan. Drafted in the 25th round of the 2000 draft, he spent his first five big league years (2005-’09) with the Bucs, hitting .256 and earning an All-Star spot in 2008. McLouth was traded to the Braves for Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke after his AS season when his value was high and Andrew McCutchen was ready to step in to play center field. 
    • 1992 - Jim Leyland was named the NL Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America, the second time he won the award. Leyland received 20 of 24 first-place ballots to outpoll rookie manager Felipe Alou of the Expos. Pittsburgh won 96 games and the division, only to be derailed by Atlanta in a seven game NLCS. 
    Jim Leyland undated team photo

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    10/27: Ralph, Big Trade, Traveling Band, Pete Vukovich, Mike Dunne...

    Ralph, Big Trade, Traveling Band, Pete Vukovich, Mike Dunne...

    • 1922 - Ralph Kiner was born in Santa Rita, New Mexico. He led the NL in home runs for seven straight seasons as a Buc. Kiner hit 301 bombs, drove in 801 runs, had a .971 OPS in his eight Pittsburgh seasons (1946-53) and was an All-Star six times.
    • 1924 - 1B Charlie "Jolly Cholly" Grimm, LHP Wilbur Cooper and SS Rabbit Maranville were traded to the Chicago Cubs for RHP Vic Aldridge, 1B George Grantham and 1B Al Niehaus. Cooper was near the end of his career, Maranville would have two more strong seasons with Boston, and Grimm played for Chicago for the next dozen years, hitting .296 with 1,079 RBI and became their player-manager (he was later the Braves skipper). Grantham hit .300 for six seasons with Pittsburgh and Aldridge won 40 games in his three year Bucco stint.

    George Grantham - 1927 via Out Of The Park

    • 1935 - According to Charlton’s Baseball Chronology, a touring group of AL All-Stars topped the Negro League champion Pittsburgh Crawfords 7-2 in Mexico City in the final match of a three game stand. Rogers Hornsby drove in three runs against Bert Hunter‚ and he drove in three more the day before when the All-Stars won 11-7. The first game ended in a 6-6 tie. The AL squad featured Hornsby‚ Jimmie Foxx‚ Ted Lyons‚ and Vern Kennedy while the Crawfords roster included Josh Gibson‚ Judy Johnson‚ and Cool Papa Bell.
    • 1952 - P Pete Vukovich was born in Johnstown. In his 11 year MLB career, he never tossed for the Pirates, but in 1992 he was hired by Pittsburgh as a pitching instructor. Vuckovich served as the pitching coach during the 1997–2000 seasons for Gene Lamont, then worked his way through the organization to become the Special Assistant to the General Manager until joining the Seattle organization in 2012.

    Pete Vukovich via Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame

    • 1962 - RHP Mike Dunne was born in South Bend, Indiana. He came to the Pirates as part of the Tony Pena trade and paid immediate dividends, going 13-6 with a 3.03 ERA in 1987 and finishing second to Benito Santiago in the Rookie-of-the-Year balloting. He couldn’t match his first-year numbers down the road, winning just eight more games before being

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    10/26: Harry & Howie, Judy, Frankie, Diomedes...or Not?

    Harry & Howie, Judy, Diomedes...or Not?
    • 1884 - RHP Harry Camnitz was born in McKinney, Kentucky. He worked once for the Pirates in 1909, going four innings and giving up a pair of runs, but that was long enough for him to became an early brother act with sib Howie, who won 109 games with the Bucs. Harry did have a strong minor league career, once winning 27 games for the McKeesport Tubers. 
    • 1899 - 3B William Julius "Judy" Johnson was born in Snow Hill, Maryland. The Hall-of-Famer spent the twenties as a stalwart of the legendary Hilldale Darby teams, then played and managed for the Homestead Grays in 1929-30. He also was with the Pittsburgh Crawfords, serving as team captain from 1932-1936. Judy retired after 17 seasons with a career .290 BA. The New York Times wrote "...as a third baseman, Johnson was often compared with Pie Traynor," and the paper recalled Philadelphia Athletics owner Connie Mack’s comment about Johnson: "If Judy were only white," Mack said, "he could name his own price." 
    Judy Johnson - undated photo from Negro Leagues Museum
    • 1983 - LHP Frankie Liriano was born in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. One of the Pirates most notable reclamation projects, the southpaw went 23-18 with a 3.20 ERA from 2013-14 for the Bucs and won the 2013 "Comeback Player of the Year" award.
    • 1989 - RHP Diomedes Mateo was born in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. John Dreker in Pirates Prospects “This Date In Pirate History” noted that the Bucs were hoodwinked by Mateo, who they signed under the false pretense that he was a 16-year old player named Yoldi Sierra, not the 20-year old Mateo. The MLB found out, suspended Mateo for two seasons, and he was out of organized ball following the 2012 season.

    Saturday, October 25, 2014

    10/25: Vic Aldridge, Branch Bows Out, Garber-for-Rooker, JJ...

    Vic Aldridge, Branch Bows Out, Garber-for-Rooker, JJ...
    • 1893 - RHP Vic Aldridge was born in Crane, Indiana. He only tossed three seasons for the Bucs (1925-27), but bookended those campaigns with World Series appearances. Vic went 40-30-2/3.99 for the Pirates, starting 86 times, and went 2-1 in his four WS starts.
    • 1955 - Hall-of-Fame executive Branch Rickey stepped down as the Pirates' general manager, replaced by Joe L. Brown. During the Mahatma's five-year tenure, Pittsburgh’s “Rickey-Dinks” had three 100-loss seasons. Rickey was credited with developing a solid farm system for the Pirates and stayed with the organization as an advisor. 
    Branch Rickey via Brittanica Online
    • 1972 - The Pirates traded RHP Gene Garber to the Royals for RHP Jim Rooker. Rooker pitched eight seasons for the Pirates, winning 82 games with a 3.29 ERA before becoming a Buc announcer. Garber pitched out of various bullpens until 1988, winning 96 games and saving 218 more. Over his 19 year career, he saved 20+ games five times, with a high of 30 in 1982 for Atlanta. 
    • 1978 - OF Jerry “JJ” Davis was born in Glendora, California. A first round draft pick in 1997, Davis made very little noise in the show, playing in just 53 games from 2002-04 for the Pirates and batting .163, mostly as a pinch hitter.
    JJ Davis 2001 Bowman series

    Friday, October 24, 2014

    10/24: Bill Kuehne, The Antelope, Junior, Raffy, Maz Hangs 'Em Up...

    Bill Kuehne, The Antelope, Junior, Raffy, Maz Hangs 'Em Up...
    • 1858 - 3B Bill Kuehne was born in Leipzig, Germany. He played every position but pitcher and catcher, hitting .240 in Pittsburgh (Alleghenys 1885-89, Burghers 1890). His best years were with the Alleghenys, hitting .299 in 1887 and leading the NL with 138 games played in 1888. Kuehne was fleet afoot, averaging 15+ triples per season. 
    • 1952 - Pirate CF Omar Moreno was born in Puerto Armuelles, Panama. “The Antelope” played eight years in Pittsburgh (1975-82) and led the league in stolen bases twice, swiping 487 sacks as a Buc. He hit .333 against the Orioles in the 1979 World Series. Omar was inducted into the Latino Hall of Fame in 2014.

    Omar Moreno - 1981 Topps Coca Cola series
    • 1959 - C Adalberto “Junior” Ortiz was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Junior caught for the Bucs from 1982-83, spent a year with the Mets, and came back again between 1985-89. In seven seasons, the reserve hit .264 as a Pirate. 
    • 1961 - SS Rafael Belliard was born in Pueblo Nuevo, Dominican Republic. He played his first nine seasons (1982-90) in Pittsburgh as a good glove shortstop, hitting .218 during that time but ranking first in the NL in fielding percentage in 1988. Belliard went on to play the second half of his career in Atlanta, and was part of the ‘91-92 teams that eliminated the Bucs in the NLCS. 
    • 1972 - Bill Mazeroski retired from the Pirates after 17 seasons. He only played 34 games and hit .188 in his final campaign as a bench infielder (.260 career BA). The Hall-of-Famer left a legacy of 10 All-Star games, eight Golden Gloves and two World Series championships. His number #9 was retired in 1987 and his statue was erected at PNC Park in 2010.
    Bill Mazeroski - 1967 Associated Press

    Thursday, October 23, 2014

    10/23: Jim Bunning, Danny Murtaugh, Lloyd McClendon...

    Jim Bunning, Danny Murtaugh, Lloyd McClendon...
    • 1931 - RHP Jim Bunning was born in Southgate, Kentucky. The Hall of Famer tossed for the Bucs in 1968 and part of 1969, compiling a 14-23 mark with a 3.84 ERA before being traded to the LA Dodgers for a pair of minor leaguers. 
    Jim Bunning - undated from The Sporting News Mear collection
    •  1958 - The Associated Press named Danny Murtaugh as its Major League Manager of Year. After his first full season, the team improved by 22 games and finished 14 games over .500.
    Danny Murtaugh - September 1970 Sports Illustrated cover
    • 2000 - The Pirates hired deposed manager Gene Lamont’s batting coach, Lloyd McClendon, as their the new skipper even though he had no prior experience as a manager. McClendon spent his last five MLB seasons as a player with the Buccos.
     Lloyd McClendon 1992 Donruss series

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    10/22: Jughead, The Possum, The Hat, Keith Osik, Clines-for-Dyer, Clint MoY...

    Jughead, The Possum, The Hat, Keith Osik, Clines-for-Dyer, Clint MoY...
    • 1885 - Pittsburgh hosted a world series that it wasn’t even part of. The 1885 World Series was an ad hoc post-season playoff road show between the NL champion Chicago White Stockings and American Association champion St. Louis Browns, played in four different cities. The fifth game was played at Recreation Park in Pittsburgh. The weather was cold and fewer than 500 people were present. Chicago won 9-2 in a shortened game that was called after seven innings because of darkness.
    • 1895 - RHP “Jughandle Johnny” Morrison was born in Pellville, Kentucky. He worked eight seasons (1920-27) for the Pirates with an 89-71 record and 3.52 ERA. Johnny made three appearances in the 1925 World Series against Washington, striking out seven in 9-⅓ frames. In 1921, he was part of a Pirate brother act when sib Phil made the roster.
    • 1916 - Announcer Jim Woods was born in Kansas City. He was a sidekick of Bob Prince at KDKA from 1958-69, where he was known as "The Possum." Woods worked for the Yankees, Giants and NBC before coming to Pittsburgh, moving later to the Cardinals, Athletics and Red Sox, then finishing his career as an announcer for the USA Network's Thursday Night Baseball games. Woods picked up his nickname of "Possum" while with New York. He had a slight overbite and close-cropped gray hair, and as he walked into the clubhouse fresh from a haircut, Enos Slaughter, or maybe Whitey Ford, looked him over and said, "I've seen better heads on a possum." Bob Prince picked up on the nickname, and the Gunner's wife even called Woods’ spouse “Mrs. Possum.”

    Jim Woods via the SABR Baseball Biography Project
    • 1916 - Harry “The Hat” Walker was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Walker was hired in 1965 to replace Danny Murtaugh, who stepped down for health reasons. The Pirates contended for the pennant during the 1965 and 1966 seasons, finishing third behind the champion Los Angeles Dodgers and the runner-up San Francisco Giants both years. But when the 1967 Pirates stumbled to a .500 mark in mid-season, Walker was let go in favor of his predecessor, Murtaugh. He did leave his mark, though, as an offensive mind on the organization. Walker, btw, got his nickname from his habit of continually tugging at his cap between pitches during his playing days. 
    • 1968 - C Keith Osik was born in Port Jefferson, NY. He was a catcher and all around utility guy. Osik played for the Bucs from1996-2002, hit .231, and even pitched twice to save the bullpen arms in blowout games.

    Keith Osik 2001 Topps series
    • 1974 - The Pirates traded OF Gene Clines to the New York Mets for C Duffy Dyer. Dyer was a Pirate reserve for four years, mostly playing behind Manny Sanguillen. Clines didn’t do much for the Mets, but still had a couple of decent seasons left in him before hanging up the spikes after the 1979 season. 
    • 2013 - The Sporting News named Clint Hurdle NL Manager of the Year after he led the Pirates to a wildcard and NLDS berth after breaking a 20-year string of losing seasons.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    10/20-21: Jocko, Marc Wilkins, Guisti Deal, Frankie...

    Jocko, Marc Wilkins, Guisti Deal, Frankie...
    • October 20, 1864 - UT John “Jocko” Fields was born in Cork, Ireland. Jocko played everything on the field, hitting .265 as a member of the Alleghenys (1887-88), the Burghers of the Players’ League (1889) and the Pirates in 1890. 
    Jocko Field 1887 Old Judge Cigarettes series
    • October 21, 1970 - RHP Marc Wilkins was born in Mansfield, Ohio. He spent his entire six season MLB career (1996-2001) as a Bucco reliever (he started two games as a rookie), putting up a line of 19-14-3/4.28 and appearing in 70 outings during 1997. 
    •  October 21, 1969 - RHP Dave Giusti and C Dave Ricketts came over from from St. Louis for 1B/OF Carl Taylor and OF Frank Vanzin. Giusti spent seven years in the Buc bullpen and collected 133 saves. 
    Dave Guisti 1971 Arco series
    • October 21, 2013 - LHP Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02) was named The Sporting News “Comeback Player of the Year” for 2013. The runner up was RHP Mark Melancon, the Bucs set-up/closer arm, and third place went to OF Marlon Byrd, who the Pirates picked up from the NY Mets during the stretch run in late August.

    Sunday, October 19, 2014

    10/19: Tom McCreery, Don Leppert, Harry the Hat, Joey Bats & J-Mac...

    Tom McCreery, Don Leppert, Harry the Hat, Joey Bats & J-Mac...
    • 1874 - OF Tom McCreery was born in Beaver. The local kid played from 1898-1900 for the Pirates, batting .303. He later became head baseball coach at Pitt for the 1912 season. 
    • 1931 - C Don Leppert was born in Indianapolis. He had a brief four year MLB career as a reserve catcher, starting with Pittsburgh in 1961-62 and batting .266. But he made the record books by hitting a home run on the first pitch thrown to him in the show on June 18th, 1961, against Curt Simmons of the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5-3 Bucco win. Leppert managed the Pirates’ Class A Gastonia club in 1967 and then served as a MLB coach for Pittsburgh from 1968–1976. 
    Don Leppert via Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers
    • 1964 - Harry “The Hat” Walker was named manager of the Pirates, replacing Danny Murtaugh after an 80-82 season and sixth place finish in the NL. 
    • 1980 - 3B/OF Jose Bautista was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He played for the Bucs from 2004-08, and hit .241 with 43 HR during that time. He blossomed after being traded to Toronto, leading the AL in homers twice. 
    Jose Bautista 2004 Bowman Chrome series
    • 1984 - James McDonald was born in Long Beach, California. The righty came to Pittsburgh in 2010 as part of the Octavio Dotel deal, and was an up-and-down member of the rotation until 2013, going 27-24/4.21 in his Pirate years. He had a breakout campaign in 2012 until after the All-Star break when the wheels fell off, and he never recovered.

    Saturday, October 18, 2014

    10/18: Phil Morrison, Bucs Lose Cup Finale, Cash-for-Brett...

    Phil Morrison, Bucs Lose Cup Finale, Cash-for-Brett...
    • 1894 - RHP Phil Morrison was born in Rockport, Indiana. His MLB career consisted of ⅔ IP for the Pirates in 1921, but he became one of the early Pirate brother acts with that appearance, joining his brother, pitcher Jughead Johnny Morrison, on that season’s stat sheet. 
    • 1900 - The Brooklyn Superbas won the Chronicle-Telegraph Cup three games to one with a 4-1 win at Exposition Park as Iron Man Joe McGinnity outpitched Sam Leever. The series was a challenge match sponsored by the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph (bought by the Pittsburgh Press in 1924) between the top two NL teams in an era before post-season games. It was a fruitful learning experience for the runner-up Pirates, which went on to win the next three NL pennants and played in the first World Series in 1903. The Brooklyn club didn’t win another postseason set until 1955, when they claimed the World Series title as the Dodgers. 
    • 1973 - The Pirates shipped 2B Dave Cash to Philadelphia in exchange for LHP Ken Brett. Cash was being phased out for Rennie Stennett, but still had seven years and three All-Star games left in him. Brett went 22-14 with a 3.32 ERA for Pittsburgh in two seasons and made an All-Star team before an elbow injury slowed him down, and like Cash still had a long shelf life. He pitched seven more years after leaving the Pirates, although he wasn’t really effective again after 1976.
    Ken Brett 1974 Topps series

    Friday, October 17, 2014

    10/17: Bucs Win 1971 & 1979 WS, Lose 1991 NLCS...

    Bucs Win 1971 & 1979 WS, Lose 1991 NLCS...
    • 1900 - Pittsburgh avoided being swept in the Chronicle-Telegraph Cup series by nickle-and-diming Harry Howell for 13 singles and 10 runs. Tommy Leach reached base five times and scored four runs. Ginger Beaumont had three hits, and Claude Ritchey, Honus Wagner and Bones Ely added a pair. Deacon Phillippe threw a six-hit shutout for the win at Exposition Park, although the Pirates still trailed the best-of-five series two games to one. 
    • 1971 - Steve Blass hurled a four-hitter and Roberto Clemente homered as the Pirates won Game Seven of the World Series, 2-1, at Baltimore, earning Pittsburgh its fourth World Championship. The winning run scored in the eighth, when Jose Pagan doubled home Willie Stargell. Clemente hit safely in all seven games of the series, a feat he also accomplished in 1960 against the Yankees, extending his consecutive Fall Classic hitting streak to 14 contests. He also became the first Latino player to earn World Series MVP honors after batting .414. Bruce Kison and his best man Bob Moose were taken from Memorial Stadium by helicopter to a waiting Lear Jet to attend his wedding in Pittsburgh; the groom arrived just 33 minutes late. And though it was a bright moment for the club, it wasn’t for some fans. After the game‚ 40‚000 people ran wild downtown; many were arrested and at least 100 were injured‚ some seriously. 
    • 1979 - In Game Seven at Baltimore, President Jimmy Carter opened the game with a ceremonial pitch and Willie Stargell finished it by going 3-for-4 with his third World Series homer, lifting the Pirates to a 4-1 win and their fifth World Championship. Captain Willie gave the Bucs a 2-1 lead in the sixth with his blast. Kent Tekulve worked out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth and Pittsburgh tacked on a pair of ninth inning insurance runs to take a 4-1 victory, with Grant Jackson earning the W. Pops was named Series MVP after the Pirates erased a three-games-to-one deficit to rally past the Orioles. 60,000 fans greeted the team at the airport when they arrived home at 3AM, with thousands more lining the parkway. Baltimore, which planned a victory parade two games prior, still held one the next day and drew 125,000 for their beloved and now bedraggled Birds. The game was big - an estimated 80 million people, then the largest TV audience in the history of the World Series, watched the showdown. 
    • 1991 - In Game Seven of the NLCS, Brian Hunter's two-run shot in the first inning off John Smiley was all John Smoltz needed as he tossed a 4-0, six hit whitewash against the Bucs at TRS. Atlanta won their first NL pennant since their move from Milwaukee as the Pirates failed to score in the last 22 innings of the series. The Braves lost the World Series to the Minnesota Twins four games to three in one of the most dramatic championships in the MLB annals.

    Thursday, October 16, 2014

    10/16: Pirates Win First Title in 1909, '71, '79 WS, '91 NCS, Cutch Baseball America RoY & More...

    Pirates Win First Title in 1909, '71, '79 WS, '91 NCS, Cutch Baseball America RoY & More...
    Honus Wagner via Extravaganzi
    • 1898 - According to Charlton’s Baseball Chronology, Honus Wagner hurled a baseball 403 feet 8 inches in a throwing contest at Louisville's League Park (teams often featured races and long-toss exhibitions back in the day) to beat the record of 400' 7 1/2" set by the Brooklyn Mutuals' John Hatfield in 1872. Wagner's distance throw was‚ in some histories‚ topped by Larry LeJeune’s toss 435 feet on October 3rd‚ 1907, although that distance is not universally accepted. 
    • 1900 - The Bucs committed six errors against the Brooklyn Superbas at Exposition Park during the Chronicle-Telegraph Challenge series and lost 4-2 as Fred Kitson got the better of Sam Leever. Pittsburgh was held to four hits, with Honus Wagner’s double leading to one run and Jack O’Connor driving in Tom O’Brien for the other tally. 
    • 1909 - In a World Series showdown between two of baseball's premier players, Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb, the Pirates downed the hometown Detroit Tigers, 8-0, in game seven to become World Champions for the first time. The real star of the Series, though, was rookie pitcher Babe Adams, who notched three victories, including the decisive seventh game six-hit shutout. The Pirates were helped by Tiger wildness; the Bucs banged out just seven hits, but the 10 walks were the killers for Motown (Fred Clarke got zero official at bats; he walked four times and scored twice). Honus Wagner and Dots Miller had a pair of RBI, while Clarke and Tommy Leach scored twice. It was the first World Series to go seven games. The Flying Dutchman, battling injuries in his first World Series in 1903, bounced back this time around. Hans hit .333, with seven RBIs and six stolen bases to outshine Ty Cobb, who hit .231 with six runs driven home and two steals. 
    Babe Adams in his final season of 1926 (photo uncredited)
    • 1928 - P and scout Lenny Yochim was born in New Orleans. He had a brief career with the Pirates (1951, 1954, 1-2, 7.62 ERA), but a long and fairly shiny one in the minors, where he once tossed a no hitter. After his playing days, Yochim rejoined the Pirates in 1966 as part of their baseball operations department. He served in various scouting positions before moving into the front office in 1994, where he worked as a senior adviser for player personnel through 2004. 
    • 1971 - The Baltimore Orioles came back from a 2-0 hole to take a 3-2, 10 inning win from the Bucs at Memorial Stadium and forcing the World Series to a seventh game. The Pirates left the bases loaded in the 10th. Baltimore didn’t. Brooks Robinson’s short sac fly to center off Bob Miller barely brought in Frank Robinson; Al Oliver had been removed in a double switch just that inning, putting the weak-armed vic Davalillo in center. Robinson paid a price; he injured his hamstring and reaggravated an Achilles injury, limiting him severely in the decisive game. Roberto Clemente had a homer for Pittsburgh and also had a highlight throw in the bottom of the ninth, a one hop strike to home that froze Mark Belanger, who represented the winning run, at third after Don Buford’s two-out double. Bob Moose became the Bucs sixth different starter when he took the hill in the first, as the scheduled pitcher, Dock Ellis, was scratched with an injury. 
    • 1979 - With Baltimore papers planning the Orioles’ World Series victory parade, the Bucs rode John Candelaria and Kent Tekulve to a 4-0 win at Memorial Stadium to square the series at three games each. The top of the order (Omar Moreno & Tim Foli) and the bottom (Ed Ott & Phil Garner) combined for nine hits and scored all four runs. 
    John Candelaria 1980 O-Pee-Chee series
    • 1991 - For the second time in the series, the Bucs were 1-0 losers to the Atlanta Braves to send the NLCS to a seventh game. The Pirates were held to four hits by Steve Avery and Alejandro Pena at TRS. The game’s only tally came with two outs in the ninth when Greg Olsen doubled home Ron Gant to hand Doug Drabek the defeat. 
    • 2009 - Andrew McCutchen was named the Baseball America Rookie of the Year for 2009, and finished fourth in the NL ROY balloting.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    10/15: Pirates Whip Big Train To Win '25 Series, Bucs Lose Silver Cup, Alleghenys Join AA, Carlos B-Day...

    Pirates Whip Big Train To Win '25 Series, Bucs Lose Silver Cup, Alleghenys Join AA, Carlos B-Day...
    • 1881 - H. D. "Denny" McKnight resurrected the Allegheny Baseball Club of Pittsburgh (it had disbanded after the 1877 season) to join the newly formed American Association. In 1887 they joined the NL, and in 1890 morphed into the Pittsburgh Pirates
     Denny McKnight from the Baseball Hall of Fame collection

    • 1892 - On the last day the season, Cincinnati pitcher Charles “Bumpus” Jones no-hit Pittsburgh at League Park in his first major league start. Bumpus won 7-1, fanning three and issuing four walks. His MLB career lasted eight games and he won just one other decision. Still, he remains the only player to pitch a no-hitter in his first MLB appearance.
    • 1900 - The Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph offered a silver cup to the winner of a best-of-five series at Exposition Park between the NL’s top two teams, the Pirates and the Brooklyn Superbas; Brooklyn won the 1900 title by 4-½ games over the Bucs during the regular season. Two future Hall of Famers faced off in the opener as NL ERA leader Rube Waddell (2.37) went against “Iron Man” Joe McGinnity, who topped the league with 28 wins. McGinnity shut out the Pirates for eight innings before two unearned runs in the top of the ninth cost him the shutout. Not only was he hurt by shoddy fielding, but he had been knocked out briefly the inning before during a rundown when he was accidentally kneed. He refused to come out after he came to, and went the distance for a five-hit, 5-2 victory, with Claude Ritchey banging a pair of knocks in a losing cause.
    • 1925 - In Game Seven of the World Series at Forbes Field, played on a muddy track soaked by a two day rainstorm, Kiki Cuyler laced an eighth-inning, two out, bases loaded double off Washington's Walter “Big Train” Johnson to lead the Pirates to a 9-7 comeback victory and their second World Championship, made all the sweeter by rallying from an early 4-0 deficit. Ray Kremer got the win, his second of the Series, with four innings of relief after pitching a complete game win two days before. Errors by SS Roger Peckinpaugh, the AL MVP, in both the seventh and eighth innings led to four unearned runs. He had a tough Series in the field, committing a record eight errors. The Bucs became the first team to win a World Series after being down three games to one. The Series also was a financial hit‚ grossing a record-setting $1.2M. Winning shares were $5‚332.72 while the losers pocketed $3‚734.60.
    Kiki Cuyler 1926 publicity photo
    • 1967 - IF Carlos Garcia was born in Tachira, Venezuela. In seven (1990-96) Bucco seasons, he hit .278 and was an All-Star in 1994. García was the first base coach and infield instructor for Pittsburgh in 2010. He was named the manager of the Bradenton Marauders in December 2010, and in 2013, he was promoted to manager of the Altoona Curve (he was relieved of his duties after the 2014 season).

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    10/14: Sid's Slide, '09, '71, '79 WS, '91 NLCS, Scoops & Other B-Days, Transactions...

    Sid's Slide, '09, '71, '79 WS, '91 NLCS, Scoops & Other B-Days, Transactions...
    • 1909 - The Pirates scored three times in the first inning, but the Detroit Tigers came back to take a 5-4 win at Bennett Park to force a seventh game in the World Series. The Cats used a balanced attack, banging out 10 hits, five of which were doubles, to give George Mullin the win and send Vic Willis to defeat. 
    • 1915 - LHP Ken Heintzelman was born in Peruque, Missouri. He pitched for Pittsburgh from 1937-42, was off during the war years, and then returned for 1946-47. In eight years, the southpaw made 154 appearances with 86 starts and went 37-43 with a 4.14 ERA. 
    • 1946 - OF/1b Al “Scoops” Oliver was born in Portsmouth, Ohio. He played 10 of his 18 big league years in Pittsburgh with a line of .296/135/717 and three All-Star berths. Scoops was a key member of the early seventy clubs that won a World Series and five pennants in six seasons. 
    Al Oliver 1976 Topps series
    • 1952 - 22 year old Pirate OF Gus Bell was traded to the Giants for outfielders Gail Henley and Cal Abrams, along with C Joe Rossi. Bell spent the next 13 years in the show, nine with the Reds and four as an All-Star, and belted double figure homers for the next eight seasons with a high of 30 in 1953. 
    • 1968 - The Pirates lost OF Manny Mota, 1B Donn Clendenon and 3B Maury Wills to the Montreal Expos along with pitchers Dave Roberts, Al McBean and Ron Slocum to the San Diego Padres during the expansion draft. 
    • 1971 - Nellie Briles tossed a two hit shutout at the Baltimore Orioles, and the 4-0 win put the Pirates up three games to two in the World Series. Every Pirate batter reached base during the game, with Bob Robertson hitting a solo shot at TRS in front of 51,377 Pittsburgh fans. 
    Nellie Briles via Fans From the Stands blog
    • 1971 - OF Midre Cummings was born in Christiansted, St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands. A first round pick of the Twins in the 1990 draft, he came to Pittsburgh as part of the John Smiley deal. Between 1993-97, he barely got over 500 AB for the Bucs, hitting .217. After the Pirates let him go, he played until 2005, having just one season hitting under .275, although in reserve roles. 
    • 1979 - Staring at elimination, Jim Rooker and Bert Blyleven tossed a combo six hitter against the Orioles at TRS as the Bucs stayed alive with a 7-1 victory. Tim Foli tripled and had three RBI while Bill Madlock went 4-for-4, with Baltimore still ahead in the WS three games to two. 
    • 1991 - The Pirates Zane Smith was the victor as the Bucs took a 1-0 win over the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and a 3-2 lead in the NLCS. Tom Glavine was the loser, touched up only in the fifth when Chico Lind singled home Steve Buechele. The Braves lost a run when David Justice missed 3B while heading home on a two-out, fourth inning single in a call that was controversial and replay inconclusive. 
    Zane Smith 1993 Ultra series
    • 1992 - Pittsburgh lost the seventh game of the NLCS to the Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium 3-2 when Sid Bream scored in the ninth, barely beating Barry Bond's off-line throw and Spanky LaValliere’s lunging tag to begin a two-decade long Bucco Dark Age. Pittsburgh carried a two run lead into the last frame when a Chico Lind error and two walks proved fatal. The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Bravos four games to two in the World Series, taking all four of their victories by one run and three of those wins came in their last at bat.

    Monday, October 13, 2014

    Pittsburgh Infield - 2015

    The Pirates' Opening Day lineup across the infield was 1B - Travis Ishikawa, 2B - Neil Walker, SS - Jordy Mercer and 3B - Pedro Alvarez. It sure looked different in October, and will morph again in 2015.


    The fielding: One Josh entered the lineup (or perhaps when Pedro left it) the Pirates solidified in the infield. Jordy was a pleasant surprise, proving he not only could hit at the MLB level, but more importantly hold his own with the glove. He and Josh provided a solid left side in the final few weeks of the season, and their glovework was one of the reasons the pitching staff improved down the stretch as they converted grounders into outs.

    The right side, though, wasn't nearly as strong. Neil Walker was steady, but didn't show much range.  That's not unexpected - he is 6'3", 210 lbs and a converted catcher. Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez were competent with the leather, but neither was very nimble.

    UZR/150 (250+ innings)
    Josh Harrison 3B (7.0)
    Jordy Mercer SS (0.5)
    Gaby Sanchez 1B (-3.2)
    Ike Davis 1B (-8.1)
    Neil Walker 2B (-8.4)
    Pedro Alvarez 3B (-12.4)

    The Ultimate Zone Rating confirms the tale: the left side was pretty good, the right side, not so much.

    The hitting: The infield sticks proved to be much better this season than in 2013. Jordy outpaced Clint Barmes' production, Josh and The Kid had career years, and first base...well, that was a bit disappointing.

    OPS+ (250+ PA)
    Josh Harrison 134
    Neil Walker 127
    Ike Davis 104
    Pedro Alvarez 102
    Jordy Mercer 95
    Gaby Sanchez 91

    So the Bucs had a couple of guys performing well above league average in Josh and Neil, a couple at league average and a couple just beneath (with Mercer's OPS+ about mid-range for his position). First base is the sore spot; it's a premium offensive position and the Pirates are decidedly so-so with the bat there.

    What to watch for in the offseason: Neil Walker has two arb years remaining; if the Pirates are going to make him an offer, it will be this off season. Alen Hansen is on the horizon, so The Kid's heir-apparent should be honing his game at Indy this year and ready for prime time in 2016.

    Walker is under team control during that timeline, and the Pirates may feel no urgency to ink him past arbitration. So while many expect his long term future to be at third base as his range diminishes, the truth is that he may not have a long-term future in Pittsburgh.


    The real donnybrook will be at first. Pedro has two years of arb left, and Scott Boras has let it be known that his client would rather be at the hot corner than first. A ploy to move him? Maybe, but it's no secret that the right offer, and El Toro will be Pittsburgh history.

    Logic would dictate that despite similar slashes (Ike has an average 111 OPS+; Pedro 105; Ike's career WAR is 5.8; Pedro's is 5.9), the Bucs would keep Pedro over Ike because of upside, if nothing else. He'd also, oddly enough, probably provide a defensive upgrade - Alvarez may have trouble throwing, but he has a better glove and superior range than any other Pirate 1B candidate.

    But if he becomes a distraction and they could get a little value back, they would move him. A deal would likely, but not absolutely, assure Ike the first base spot. Andrew Lambo should again get a spring camp look, and he looked a lot more poised this September than he has in past MLB auditions.

    While many have written off Gaby, our guess is that the Pirates will try to keep him if he meets their price. All the first base pieces in the Bucco jigsaw are lefty, and the market isn't all that alluring, so he could remain in a 200-to-250 at-bat, platoon/bench role. Tony Sanchez will catch if Russ walks, and the odds seem to favor that scenario.

    First base has been a developmental problem spot for the Pirates seemingly forever. And it's still the same. There is no real in-house help ready; maybe Josh Bell or Stetson Allie will one day be the answer, but neither are now.

    Jordy has taken shortstop and made it his after a dismal April, and we give the Pirates credit for letting him play through the early jitters. His 2015 job is to repeat his performance and give the Bucs some confidence that he will be a consistent hitter with some pop and steady defensive skills.

    Ditto with Josh at third. His job will be to prove he's an everyday bat in 2015; he proved he can handle the hot corner defensively. We don't expect expect another run at a batting crown, but a .285 BA is certainly attainable. And he does have to keep on hitting; he had a 4% walk rate, so all his value comes via counting numbers.

    Another issue will be a reserve middle infielder; Clint Barmes was hurt for a few weeks and didn't get much time when healthy. Michael Martinez has opted for free agency, Chase d'Arnaud will likely join him, while Brent Morel is entering his first arb year and is unlikely to be tendered.

    So it looks like another year of Clint, and he's fine for the role. Behind him, JaCoby Jones is making the most noise. Whether he can challenge for a starting MLB spot or is a utility guy down the road is the question; he has the speed and pop to earn a big league check, but was a college player at the A level, so he's still got challenges ahead of him.

    The outlook: The infield is solid but not very deep, and the left side is held by two young guys who have to prove they can repeat an impressive first-year campaign. There's not much in the way of help in the pipeline for 2015, but there are a couple of guys coming up that could be just a couple of seasons away. Once the Bucs decide what to do with Pedro, the pieces should fall together.


    10/13: MAZ!!! & Game 7 Gang, '03, '09, '25, '71, '79 WS, '91, '92 NLCS, Rube & More...

    MAZ!!! & Game 7 Gang, '03, '09, '25, '71, '79 WS, '91, '92 NLCS, Rube & More...
    • 1960 - Game Seven of the World Series at Forbes Field ended with this call by NBC’s Mel Allen “There's a drive into deep left field, look out now… that ball is going, going gone! And the World Series is over! Mazeroski… hits it over the left field fence…” Bill Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth with the most dramatic home run in Series history, a blast off Ralph Terry, breaking a 9-9 tie with the Yankees and bringing Pittsburgh its third World Championship. It’s still the only walk-off homer to win a seventh game in the ninth inning. Hal Smith hit a key two out, three run blast in the eighth to give Pittsburgh a short-lived lead. Harvey Haddix, the fourth Pirate hurler, recovered from a blown save to get the win thanks to Maz, who also cost Casey Stengel his job; the Ol’ Perfessor was “retired” as NY manager five days after the loss, telling the media "I wasn't retired - they fired me." Other factoids: Bobby Richardson of the Yankees was named MVP of the Series, the only time that someone from the defeated team has been so honored, and it was the only World Series game played without a strikeout recorded by either club.
    Maz rounds third...from CORBIS Images
    • 1876 - LHP George “Rube” Waddell was born in Bradford, Pennsylvania. He pitched just two season for the Pirates (1900-01), but his legend deserves mention. He wore out his welcome with Pittsburgh, getting into two games in 1901 after leading the NL in ERA (2.37) the year before with the Bucs. His eccentricities: He was a fire fanatic in a good way; Rube always wore a red t-shirt so he could join up with any fire-fighting brigade that he found in action. Though he never showed up drunk at a game, he was a heavy drinker - The Sporting News called him a “sousepaw” - and was distracted by crowds, who would mesmerize him by flashing shiny objects at him. In exhibition games, he had his teammates sit around him on the mound. Waddell wrestled alligators in the off season. Current baseball historians believe he was autistic or had ADD before the conditions were commonly diagnosed. But Rube could throw a baseball. He won 193 games and struck out 2,316 batters in his career (349 batters in 1904 alone). Rube K’ed three batters on nine pitches in 1902. He was one of the great drawing cards of early baseball, and is in the Hall of Fame. The story of his life was in the stars: Rube was born on Friday the 13th and died on April Fools Day (4/1/14) 

    Rube Waddell's Hall of Fame plaque
    • 1899 - Smoky City, indeed. Per Charlton’s Baseball Chronology, the Louisville Colonels scored four runs in the ninth to take a 6-5 lead over the Pirates at Exposition Park‚ as thick‚ black smoke from the steel mills settled over the field. The game was called before the Bucs could bat because of poor visibility (darkness, technically), and the score reverted to the last full frame, the eighth inning, giving Pittsburgh a 5-2 victory. 
    • 1903 - Boston won the first World Series five games to three (it was best-of-nine) with a 3-0 win at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds in a battle between Deacon Phillippe and Bill Dinneen. The key blow was Hobe Ferris’ two run single. Dinnen tossed a four hitter, and ended the game with his seventh K, whiffing Honus Wagner. Even in that rubber-armed era, it was too much for Phillippe, who started five of the eight games (and went the distance in all of them) because of an injury to Sam Leever’s shoulder, the mental breakdown of Ed Doheny, a 16-game winner during the season, and the defection of 1902 rotation members Jack Chesbro and Jesse Tannehill to the American League. Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss added his share of the gate receipts to the players' share, so the losing team's players actually finished with a larger individual share than the winning team's ($1,316.25 to $1,182.00). Dreyfus also gave Deacon Phillippe a bonus and 10 shares of stock in the Pirates for his yeoman efforts. 
    • 1909 - The Pirates broke out the bats at Forbes Field to take a 3-2 lead in the World Series with an 8-4 win over the Tigers. Fred Clarke had a homer and three RBI to lead the offense while Babe Adams cruised to his second WS win. 
    Babe Adams - Dan Austin Virtual Card Collection
    • 1925 - Pittsburgh evened the World Series at three games each as they downed the Washington Senators 3-2 at Forbes Field. Ray Kremer bested Alex Ferguson, giving up six hits, among them a homer to Goose Goslin and a RBI double to Roger Peckinpaugh. Leadoff man Eddie Moore had two hits, including a homer, two runs scored and an RBI; Pie Traynor and Clyde Barnhart drove in the other tallies. All the scoring was in the first five innings. The Sens’ Joe Harris doubled with an out in the ninth, but Kremer routinely retired Joe Judge and Ossie Bluege to seal the deal. 
    • 1925 - The Pirates purchased SS Hal Rhyne and OF Paul Waner from San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, then an unaffiliated independent organization. Rhyne played a couple of years for the Bucs and had a seven year MLB career while Big Poison went on to the Hall of Fame after spending 15 of his 20 big league seasons with Pittsburgh. 
    • 1937 - The Bucs got OF Johnny Rizzo from the Cards for 1B Bernard Cobb, C Tom Padden, OF Bud Hafey and cash. The rookie Rizzo hit 23 homers in 1938, a team record that lasted for nearly a decade, but was traded early in 1940 for Vince DiMaggio. 
    Johnny Rizzo 1939 Play Ball series
    • 1942 - 3B Bob Bailey was born in Long Beach. He began his 17 year pro career in Pittsburgh (1962-66) where he hit .257 with occasional power. Bailey had his best years with Montreal in the early seventies, with three 20+ HR seasons and three more with 80+ RBI.  
    • 1967 - Larry Shepard was named manager, replacing Danny Murtaugh, who in turn had replaced Harry Walker earlier in the year. 
    • 1971 - Roberto Clemente had three hits while Milt May drove in the winning run with a pinch-hit single in the eighth as the Pirates rallied to defeat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 in Game Four of the Fall Classic. Luke Walker gave up three runs in the first frame before heading to the showers with two outs, but Bruce Kison came to the rescue, tossing 6-⅓ one hit innings, then Dave Giusti saved it by pitching perfect ball over the last two frames. It was the first night World Series game in baseball history and evened the Series at two games at TRS before a house of 51,378. 
    • 1979 - The Bucs took a 6-3 lead into the eighth against the Orioles in the fourth game of the World Series, but they and 50,883 fans were stunned by a six run eighth by the O’s and a 9-6 loss snatched from the jaws of victory at TRS. Kent Tekulve, inheriting a mess from Don Robinson, gave up a pair of two run doubles to Terry Crowley and John Lowenstein to take the defeat. The Pirates banged out 17 hits, but stranded 10 with two DP, a caught stealing and a throw-out at home. Willie Stargell had three knocks, including a homer and double, but Pittsburgh fell into a three games to one deficit against Baltimore. 
    • 1985 - Saul Finkelstein sat at the base of the flagpole by the Forbes Field wall outside Schenley Plaza and listened to a taped NBC radio broadcast of Chuck Thompson and Jack Quinlan calling the seventh game of the 1960 World Series on his boombox. Since that day, it has since evolved into an annual ceremony open to all under the auspices of the Game Seven Gang, often drawing members of the championship team. 
    They still celebrate...Photo via Historic Pittsburgh
    • 1991 - Pittsburgh evened the NLCS at two games with a 10 inning, 3-2 win at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium over the Braves. Mike LaValliere’s two out, pinch hit single off Mark Wohlers scored Andy Van Slyke, and Stan Belinda tossed two scoreless frames for the win. Steve Buechele's three hits gave him five straight over two games to tie an NLCS record. 
    • 1992 - The Pirates pounded the Braves 13-4 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to even the NLCS series at three games each. Tim Wakefield won his second game while Jay Bell, Barry Bonds and Lloyd McClendon homered. The Bucs ran away with the game after an eight run second inning, featuring a pair of hits by Bonds And McClendon during the frame.

    Sunday, October 12, 2014

    10/12: Bucs Stay Alive in '71, '09, '25, '60, '79 WS, '90, '91 NLCS, B-Days & More...

    Bucs Stay Alive in '71, '09, '25, '60, '79 WS, '90, '91 NLCS, B-Days & More...
    • 1856 - Charles “Pop” Smith was born in Digby, Nova Scotia. He played the infield for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys from 1885-89. Pop wasn’t much with the bat, hitting .220 for the Alleghenys, but could run (117 stolen bases in 557 games) and was a good glove man who could play second or short equally well. 
    • 1882 - Negro League OF and manager John Preston "Pete" Hill was born in Culpepper County, Virginia, but was raised in Pittsburgh after arriving in town as an infant. He played for 11 teams during his Hall of Fame career, getting his first taste of organized ball as a teen with the Pittsburgh Keystones in 1899. 
    • 1901 - RHP Erv Brame was born in Big Rock, Tennessee. He spent his five year MLB career (1928-32) with Pittsburgh, going 52-37-1 with a 4.76 ERA, mostly as a starter who was converted to the pen in his last season. 
    Erv Brame (1928) from The Sporting News 1993 Conlon Collection series
    • 1909 - The Tigers, behind George Mullin’s five hit whitewash, evened up the World Series at two games with a 5-0 win at Bennett Park. Deacon Phillippe tossed four shutout innings for Pittsburgh after relieving starter Lefty Leifield. The Buc fielders didn’t help out as they committed six errors during the contest. 
    • 1925 - Five different Pirates banged out a pair of knocks as Pittsburgh used a 13 hit attack to defeat the Washington Senators 6-3 at Griffith Stadium and stay alive in the World Series, although down two games to three. Vic Aldridge went the distance for the win. Clyde Barnhart had a pair of hits, two RBI and a run scored while Joe Harris, who would play for the 1927 Pirate WS club, homered to lead the Senator offense. 
    Joe Harris as a Bucco 1927-28 (photo via Bumblebeagle Baseball Page)
    • 1960 - Whitey Ford again owned the Bucs in the World Series, tossing a seven hitter as New York blanked Pittsburgh 12-0 at Forbes Field to stave off elimination and force a seventh game. Bobby Richardson tripled twice and had three RBI as the Bronx Bombers amassed 17 hits. Roberto Clemente and Hal Smith had a pair of hits each for the Pirates, who shot themselves in the foot by bouncing into three double plays.
    • 1963 - The final baseball game at the Polo Grounds was the Hispanic American All-Star game, the only one held in MLB history. The roster of Latino stars included Pirates Roberto Clemente, Manny Mota, who delivered a clutch two-run pinch-hit single, and Alvin McBean, who got the W in a 5-2 NL victory. 
    • 1971 - The Bucs broke open a duel between Mike Cuellar and Steve Blass by scoring three times in the seventh on the way to a 5-1 World Series win at TRS in front of 50,403 fans. Bob Robertson blasted the deciding three-run homer came after he missed a bunt sign. Steve Blass was sitting next to Danny Murtaugh in the dugout at the time, and told the skipper: "If you fine him (Robertson, for missing the bunt sign), I'll pay." Murtaugh didn't. The three-hit victory left Pittsburgh with a pulse, as they were now down two games to one in the Fall Classic. 
    Bob Robertson catches Steve Blass after clinching 1971 World series (AP photo)
    • 1979 - The Pirates brought the World Series back to TRS and 50,848 fans, but were run off the field 8-4 by Baltimore, which lit up John Candelaria with a five run fourth inning. The Birds were led by Kiko Garcia, who drove in four runs with four hits. For the Bucs, Willie Stargell had a pair of hits and scored twice while Phil Garner chipped in with two RBI and Omar Moreno added a pair of doubles. It was too little, too late against Scott McGregor as the Orioles went up two games to one.
    • 1990 - Danny Jackson‚ Norm Charlton‚ and Randy Myers combined on a one-hitter as Cincinnati beat the Pirates 2-1 to win the NLCS in six games. 1B Carmelo Martinez had the only Bucco hit, a double that scored Barry Bonds (aboard on a walk) as Zane Smith took the loss at Riverfront Stadium. Jim Leyland started a back-end reliever, Ted Power, in order to keep the Reds from using their favored platoon lineup (he followed him with LHP Smith) and it almost worked. The game clincher was an over-the-fence catch by RF Glenn Braggs, robbing Carmelo Martínez of a two-run homer with an out in the ninth, to preserve the win in dramatic fashion. The Reds would go on to sweep Oakland in the World Series. 
    • 1991 - The Braves returned to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and pasted the Pirates 10-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the NLCS. Pittsburgh had 10 hits, but stranded 11 runners as John Smoltz took the win from John Smiley. Jay Bell and Orlando Merced homered for Pittsburgh, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a four run first and an eighth inning, three run pinch hit homer by Sid Bream.

    Saturday, October 11, 2014

    10/11: Hans Steals '09 WS Win, Mannny's Hit in '79 WS, '25, '71 WS, '72 NLCS Wild Pitch, Walk's '92 NLCS Win, Rube, Bye-Bye Burleigh, Hello Jim Tracy...

    Hans Steals '09 WS Win, Mannny's Hit in '79 WS, '25, '71 WS, '72 NLCS Wild Pitch, Walk's '92 NLCS Win, Rube, Bye-Bye Burleigh, Hello Jim Tracy...
    • 1900 - Rube Waddell punched out a NL season-high of 12 in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Orphans at Exposition Park. He led the senior circuit with 130 strikeouts and a 2.37 ERA in 208-⅓ IP, even though his record was just 8-13. Rube only pitched twice for Pittsburgh in 1901 before embarking on a Hall-of-Fame career, mostly with Philadelphia Athletics and St. Louis Browns. 
    • 1909 - Honus Wagner became the first player to steal three bases in a World Series contest as Pittsburgh beat Detroit at Bennett Park, 8-6, in Game 3 of the Fall Classic to go up two games to one. The second player to swipe three sacks was LA’s Willie Davis, who matched the feat in 1965. Nick Maddox struggled, but went the distance for the win, buttressed by a five-run first inning outburst by the Bucs against Ed Summers; all the opening runs were unearned as Motown made three errors in the inning. Honus Wagner had three hits with three RBI, and Bobby Byrne, Tommy Leach and Bill Abstein each added two more knocks. 
    Honus Wagner via mlb.com
    • 1925 - The Big Train shut out the Pirates 4-0 on six hits at Griffith Stadium to give the Senators a 3-1 lead in World Series wins. Washington scored all four runs in the second inning off Emil Yde, the killing blow a three run homer by Goose Goslin, with Joe harris adding another. Walter Johnson was in complete control; only one Pirate runner reached second all day. 
    • 1934 - It was the end of an era as the Pirates released RHP Burleigh Grimes. The Hall of Famer was the last player to legally toss a spitter, one of 17 hurlers exempted when the pitch was outlawed in 1921.
    Burleigh Grimes via Sportsfolio Online
    • 1971 - In a game delayed a day by rain, Brooks Robinson set a World Series record by reaching base five consecutive times (three hits, two walks) against the Pirates as Baltimore won 11-3 in Game Two. Bob Johnson and Bob Moose were hit hard at Memorial Stadium. The O’s scored nine times in the fourth and fifth frames and belted three homers in the laugher. The Bucco runs came in the eighth on a Richie Hebner three-run shot. 
    • 1972 - Bob Moose's wild pitch in the ninth inning allowed George Foster to score the winning run with two outs as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Bucs 4-3 to capture the NLCS and a World Series berth at Riverfront Stadium. The Pirates had entered the ninth inning with a 3-2 lead before Johnny Bench's solo homer against Dave Giusti tied the game. The Reds lost the World Series to the Oakland A’s in seven games. 
    • 1979 - Pittsburgh pushed a run across in the ninth to knot the World Series with Baltimore at a game apiece, taking a 3-2 win at Memorial Stadium. Bill Madlock and Ed Ott drove in second inning runs while Eddie Murray homered and doubled to plate a pair. Jim Palmer and Bert Blyleven left the 2-2 game to the bullpens to decide. Both teams left the bases loaded in the seventh. Bill Robinson singled to start the ninth against Tippy Martinez, and Matt Alexander came in to run, only to be caught stealing. With Don Stanhouse on the mound, Bill Madlock drove one deep to center, but it was a loud out. The Bucs kept chuggin’. Ed Ott hit a ground ball single, Phil Garner drew a four pitch walk, and pinch hitter Manny Sanguillen singled to right for the lead. Don Robinson got the win and Kent Tekulve the save, striking out a pair of Orioles in the ninth. 
    Manny Sanguillen 1972 Sporting News cover
    • 1992 - Pittsburgh stayed alive against the Atlanta Braves at TRS, as they scored four times in the first inning to chase Steve Avery and rode a three hitter by Bob Walk to a 7-1 win. Lloyd McClendon and Jeff King each had three knocks, and the Bucs drilled five doubles among their 13 hits. The Bucs returned to Atlanta down three games to two in the NLCS. Deion Sanders flew to Pittsburgh for the game after playing for the Miami Dolphins that afternoon looking to become the first player to take part in two pro games in different sports on the same day, but even in a blowout didn’t get into the lineup. 
    • 2005 - The Pirates hired Jim Tracy as manager, signing him to a three year deal. It was the first time in two decades, since the hiring of Jim Leyland from the White Sox, that Pittsburgh went outside the organization to select its field boss.

    Friday, October 10, 2014

    10/10: Maz Double Wins Game #5 in 1960, '03, '25, '79 WS, '72, '90, '91, '92 NLCS, Cutch's B-Day & More...

    Maz Double Wins Game #5 in 1960, '03, '25, '79 WS, '72, '90, '91, '92 NLCS, Cutch's B-Day & More...
    • 1903 - The fourth and final game at Exposition Park saw Deacon Phillippe start his fourth game of the Series against Cy Young, making his third start. Boston won the matchup easily 7-3, and returned home up 4-3 and needing one more win to claim the first World Series crown. Kitty Bransfield went 3-for-4 for the Pirates while Jimmy Sebring and Phillippe added a pair of knocks. 
    • 1925 - The World Series moved to Griffith Stadium and Washington took a two-to-one lead in games with a 4-3 win, scoring twice in the seventh off Ray Kremer when a walk and infield single eventually came home to score. Alex Ferguson and Firpo Mayberry scattered eight hits; Max Carey had a pair of them. Pittsburgh loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but Mayberry got Clyde Barnhart on a pop to the catcher and Pie Traynor on a fly to center to close out the win. The game is famed for the Senators Sam Rice’s catch. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Earl Smith drove a ball to right-center field. Rice caught the ball at the fence, flipped over its top and landed in the stands, disappearing for 15 seconds or so. When Rice popped back up, the ball was in his glove and the umpire, Cy Rigler, called the batter out. The ump's explanation was that as soon as the catch was made the play was over, so it didn’t matter if Rice dropped it during his tumble or not. Rice was mum about the grab - “The ump called him out” was all he’d say - and seemed to enjoy the life-long conversation piece. After his death in 1974, a letter he penned was opened at Cooperstown, and he had written "At no time did I lose possession of the ball." 
    Earl Smith (1927) - The Sporting News Conlan Collection 1991 series
    • 1930 - An All-Star team played its first game in Cuba on a ten day barnstorming tour, including Pirates OF Paul Waner, 3B Pie Traynor and P Larry French, and won three of the seven games played on La Isla. 
    • 1960 - Billy Maz’s two-run double was the big blow as Harvey Haddix and Roy Face claimed a 5-2 win and 3-2 World Series lead against the New York at Yankee Stadium. 
    • 1961 - The expansion draft claimed six Pirates - the Houston Colt .45s took OF Roman Mejias, P Bobby Schantz, P Jim Umbright and C Hal Smith, while the New York Mets selected OF Joe Christopher and P Al Jackson. 
    Roman Mejias - 1958 Topps series
    • 1972 - Cincinnati, facing elimination, took the Pirates behind the woodshed at Riverfront Stadium, winning 7-1 and forcing a winner-take-all showdown for the NLCS crown. Ross Grimsley tossed a two hitter; both hits were by Roberto Clemente, including a solo homer. 
    • 1979 - The Orioles rocked Bruce Kison for five first inning runs and then hung on to take the first game of the World Series 5-4. Willie Stargell homered with a pair of RBI while Jim Rooker, Enrique Romo, Don Robinson and Grant Jackson pitched three-hit ball over the last 8-⅔ innings. Mike Flanagan gave up 11 hits, but went the distance for Baltimore’s win at Memorial Stadium. 
    • 1986 - Andrew McCutchen was born in Fort Meade, Florida. The 2005 All-Star first rounder has been the face of the team and its energizer bunny since replacing Nate McLouth during the 2009 season and won the NL-MVP in 2013. 
    • 1990 - Pittsburgh stayed alive in the NLCS by edging the Reds 3-2 at TRS to cut the Cincinnati margin to 3-2. Doug Drabek worked into the ninth, then Bob Patterson came on to get the last two outs to save the victory. Andy Van Slyke and Barry Bonds each had an RBI and run scored against Tom Browning to lead Pittsburgh. 
    Bob Patterson - 1987 Donruss series
    • 1991 - Steve Avery and Alejandro Pena combined to stop the Bucs 1-0 at TRS and even the NLCS at a game apiece. Mark Lemke’s two out double up the third base line scored David Justice and sent Zane Smith to a tough defeat. 
    • 1992 - John Smoltz won his second NLCS game 6-4 at TRS, putting the Bucs in a 3-1 hole as Doug Drabek took another loss. The Bucs managed just six hits, with Andy Van Slyke banging out a double and triple.