Saturday, December 12, 2015

12/12: HBD Phenomenal; Frankie Signed; Deals & Moves

  • 1864 - P Phenomenal Smith was born in Philadelphia. He had a couple of brief stops in Pittsburgh in 1884 & 1890, compiling a 1-4 record. He was actually born John Francis Gammon, but got his nickname when he struck out 16 batters in a no-hit game in 1885 while pitching for minor league Newark, with no batter hitting the ball out of the infield. Only two runners reached base, one on a walk and one on a dropped third strike – and Smith picked both of them off.
  • 1913 - The Pirates traded P Hank Robinson, OF’ers Chief Wilson & Cozy Dolan and IF’ers Art Butler & Dots Miller to the St Louis Cardinals for P Bob Harmon, 1B Ed Konetchy and 3B Mike Mowrey. The Cards got two or three good seasons out of their new acquisitions, but the Bucs weren’t so lucky. Harmon was keeper, tossing for four seasons and going 39-52 with a 2.60 ERA. But Konetchy and Mowrey both had so-so 1914 seasons for the Pirates, skipped to the outlaw Federal League’s Pittsburgh Rebels in 1915 and then signed with different clubs in 1916.
  • 1923 - The Pirates traded IF Spencer Adams, along with pitchers Earl Kunz and George Boehler, to the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in exchange for RHP Ray Kremer. Kremer was a Pirate lifer, pitching from 1924-33 with a 143-85-9 slate and 3.76 ERA. The workhorse went 200+ IP and won double-digit games (hitting 20 wins twice) for eight straight years, plus was the NL ERA leader twice. Kremer went 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 1925 & 1927 World Series games.
Ray Kremer 1925 (photo: The Sporting News Archives)
  • 1928 - The Pirates bought LHP Larry French from Portland of the Pacific Coast League. From 1929-34, the knuckleballer went 87-83 with a 3.50 ERA for Pittsburgh and in a 14 year MLB career won 197 games. French, like a lot of players, joined the Navy in 1942. Unlike most, he became a career sailor, retiring in 1969 with the rank of Captain.
  • 1932 - Giant CF Freddie Lindstrom ended up a Bucco in a three-way deal. New York sent CF Chick Fullis to the Phillies. Pittsburgh sent RHP Glenn Spencer to the Giants and OF Gus Dugas to Philadelphia, who shipped OF Kiddo Davis to New York. Lindstrom hit .302 in two seasons at Pittsburgh, playing between Lloyd and Paul Waner on his road to the Hall of Fame. For the cost of two reserves, the Bucs got two years of a Hall-of-Famer.
  • 1941 - The Bucs traded SS Arky Vaughan to the Brooklyn Dodgers for IF Pete Coscarart, RHP Luke Hamlin, C Babe Phelps and OF/1B Jimmy Wasdell. Only reserve infielder Coscarart stuck with the team past 1942. In ten seasons, Hall of Famer Vaughan hit .324 for Pittsburgh. He later had a couple of strong seasons for Brooklyn, then left the team and worked his ranch for three years after, according to baseball lore, a dispute with manager Leo Durocher (although his family said he ran the spread because his brother Glenn was drafted and there was no one else to do the job.) Whatever the reason, he didn’t return to baseball until 1947, after Durocher was suspended for gambling.
Pete Coscarart 1945 Play Ball
  • 1984 - The Bucs traded LHP John Tudor and OF Brian Harper to the St. Louis Cardinals for UT Steve Barnard and OF George Hendricks. Tudor won 21 games with the Cards while tossing ten shutouts the next season and won two World Series games. Hendricks hit .230 and lasted until August, when he was sent to the California Angels.
  • 2008 - The Pirates signed IF Ramon Vazquez, the only player with major league experience added to the roster during the winter meetings, to a two-year deal worth $4M. He hit .230 in 2009, then was released the following April, ending his nine year MLB career with the Pirates eating $2M in salary.
  • 2009 - The Bucs non-tendered RHP Matt Capps, allowing the closer to walk as an uncompensated free agent. He signed a one year deal with Washington for $3.5M and became an All-Star. Capps then went to the Twins and closed, but shoulder inflammation derailed him there in 2012, and a year later he had surgery. He hasn’t pitched in MLB since that time.
Matt Capps 2007 Topps
  • 2014 - The Pirates officially announced Francisco Liriano’s three-year, $39M contract, the biggest FA contract in franchise history, after Frankie passed his physical. The financial terms of the deal were: $2M signing bonus, $11M in '15, $13M in '16, $13M in '17 plus sundry bonuses. The free agent had been 2014’s opening-day pitcher for the Bucs, going 35-25 with a 3.26 ERA and 543 K in 510 IP during his three campaigns with Pittsburgh.

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