Friday, January 31, 2014

1/31: Lots Happening In Bucco History

Al Buchenberger, Don Songer, Ken Gables, Wizard of Whiff, Big Poison, Gentle Jeems, Jake Beckley, Joe Kelley, Al Lopez, Barry Bonds, Jeff Suppan...

  • 1861 - Manager Al Buckenberger was born in Detroit. He managed the Pirates from 1892-94, coming in second in 1893 and posting an overall 187-144 slate while also serving as club president. He tried unsuccessfully to resurrect the old American Association, earning himself a brief league suspension during the 1894 off season. 
  • 1899 - LHP Don Songer was born in Walnut, Kansas. He tossed three of his four MLB years with the Bucs between 1925-27, going 7-9-3/3.55. Songer was part of two World Series teams, but never got to participate, being off the playoff roster in his rookie year of 1925, then traded to the Giants before the 1927 year ended. 
  • 1919 - P Ken Gables was born in Walnut Grove, Missouri. He pitched for the 1945-47 Pirates, spending his entire brief career as a Bucco. Gables had a 13-11/4.69 slate, before being traded to the PCL San Francisco Seals. 
  • 1950 - The Pirates signed high school LHP Paul Pettit (“The Wizard of Whiff” pitched six prep no-hitters) for a record $100‚000 after buying his contract from film producer Fred Stephani‚ who had signed him to an exclusive contract as an athlete/actor. The lefty went 1-2/7.43 for the Pirates (1951, 1953) and retired in 1961 with arm problems that first surfaced a decade earlier. 

Cartoon by Tom Paprocki of the Associated Press

  • 1952 - RF Paul “Big Poison” Waner was elected to the Hall of Fame and inducted on July 21st. In a 20 year career, he led the NL in hitting three times and put up a slash of .330/.404/.473. 
  • 1965 - RHP Pud “Gentle Jeems” Galvin was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee and was the lone HOF selection that year. Galvin earned 20 victories ten times in 14 seasons. He tossed for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys and Pirates from 1885-1892. Pud won 138 games and notched four 20+ win years for Pittsburgh. He was inducted on July 26th. 
  • 1971 - The Hall of Fame Special Veterans Committee selected two Bucs from the early days to the Hall, 1B Jake Beckley and OF Joe Kelley. Beckley played for the Alleghenys, Burghers and Pirates from 1888-96, hitting .300. He banged a modest 43 HR, but legged out 113 triples in that span. Kelley got a cup of coffee with Pittsburgh in 1892, hitting just .239. The Pirates dumped him, and he went on to have a dozen consecutive .300+ seasons beginning the following year, playing mostly for the Baltimore Orioles. They were inducted on August 9th. 
  • 1976 - The Special Veterans Committee selected C Al Lopez for the Hall of Fame. Lopez caught for Pittsburgh from 1940-46, hitting a modest .254. But he was best known for his glove and ability to handle a staff, and went on to manage the Indians and White Sox when his playing days ended. He was inducted on August 9th. 
  • 1992 - The Pirates signed OF Barry Bonds to a one-year contract worth $4.7M‚ the largest one-year deal in baseball history at the time. Bonds won his second MVP trophy and the Bucs won their division, so it was money well spent. 
  • 2003 - RHP Jeff Suppan was signed as a free agent to a $500K deal. After a breakout summer, he was flipped to the Red Sox at the deadline as part of the Freddy Sanchez/Mike Gonzalez deal. Steady Freddy was a Pirate All-Star while Gonzo eventually became the closer.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

1/30: Matt Alexander, '60 Trade, Highpockets, Pokey, Paul Maholm, Eric Hinske...

 Matt Alexander, '60 Trade, Highpockets, Pokey, Paul Maholm, Eric Hinske...

  • 1947 - Pinch runner Matt Alexander was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. He spent the last four years of his career (1978-81) with the Pirates, and though he only got 27 at-bats during that time, he stole 30 bases (out of 37 tries) and scored 36 runs.
  • 1959 - C Smoky Burgess, LHP Harvey Haddix and 3B Don Hoak went from the Reds to the Pirates in exchange for RHP Whammy Douglas, OF Jim Pendleton, OF John Powers and 3B Frank Thomas, providing three major pieces of the 1960 championship club.
  • 1973 - The Veteran’s Committee selected 1B George “Highpockets” Kelly to the Hall of Fame. Kelly spent one season with the Pirates, more or less on loan from the NY Giants, to replace an injured Honus Wagner in 1917 (he was playing first in the twilight of his career). Highpockets was a slick fielder who played 16 MLB season with a .297 BA. He was inducted on August 6th.
  • 2002 - The Pirates signed FA 2B Pokey Reese to a two year, $4.25M contract with a 2004 club option. Pittsburgh was the fourth team for Reese since the end of the 2001 season. He finished the year with Cincinnati, and then was traded to the Colorado Rockies and the Boston Red Sox in a span of three days in December. Boston didn’t offer him a deal, making him a free agent. Pokey stuck with the Bucs for both seasons, although he lost all but 37 games to injury in 2003.

 Pokey Reese bobblehead - 2002

  • 2009 - The Pirates avoided arbitration by signing LHP Paul Maholm to a three year, $14.5M contract, which included a team option for 2012. He was released after the 2011 season.
  • 2009 - OF/UT Eric Hinske inked a one year, $1.5M FA contract with Pittsburgh. Hinske was shipped to the NY Yankees before the deadline, hitting .255 with 1 HR for the Bucs.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

AJ, Non Roster Hopefuls, Still Hunting @ 1B, and stuff...

AJ, Non Roster Hopefuls, Still Hunting @ 1B, and stuff...

  • Travis Sawchik of the Trib reports that AJ is planning to pitch again in 2014, but has decided to test the market. (Jenn Menendez of the Post Gazette also has the same story). The Orioles and Phillies have been mentioned as possible landing spots.
  • CBS' Jon Heyman was on the MLB Network talking free agents, and said possible moves in the AL could shake a first baseman free for the Bucs.
  •  Tom Singer of touts LHP Daniel Schlereth, OF Chris Dickerson and 1B Travis Ishikawa as non-roster invitees who have a chance to break camp with the Bucs.
  • James Krug of isportsnet thinks the Pirate off season has been an insult to the fans.
  • Keith Law of ESPN ranks the Bucco farm system third. (Insiders only)
  • C Erick Fernandez, who was released by Nats, was signed by the Bucs as lower-level organizational depth. IF Blake Davis from the Brewer system was also inked and should go to AAA. Both were offered minor league contracts.
  • Ex Bucs: Pete Anselmo of Mets-Merized thinks "Getting (Dilson) Herrera as well as Vic Black from the Pirates for a couple months of Marlon Byrd was a steal..." RHP Chris Leroux signed a minor league deal with the Yankees. LHP Ollie Perez is looking kinda good, says Mike Petriello of Fangraphs.
  • The MLB has approved a safety cap for pitchers, using a soft foam padding. It's use is optional for the players.

1/29: Billy Swift, Honus Wagnr, Murry Dickson, Max Carey, Branch Rickey, Little Poison, Vic Davalillo, Nellie Briles, Jason Schmidt, Jose Mesa...

Billy Swift, Honus Wagnr, Murry Dickson, Max Carey, Branch Rickey, Little Poison, Vic Davalillo, Nellie Briles, Jason Schmidt, Jose Mesa...

  • 1932 - P Billy Swift was traded by Kansas City Blues of the American Association to the Pirates for P Bob Osborn and C Eddie Phillips. Osborne never pitched in the majors again and Phillips played for three more seasons while Swift worked eight years for the Bucs and notched 91 wins. 

 Bill Swift - 1934 Goudey baseball series

  • 1936 - Honus Wagner, along with Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson, was selected by the BBWAA to become the first Hall of Fame group. They had to wait until July 12th, 1939, for the enshrinement, though, until the museum in Cooperstown was opened and the first four HoF classes were inducted en masse. 
  • 1949 - The Pirates purchased RHP Murry Dickson from the Cardinals for $125,000. During his five-year stay in Pittsburgh, he went 66-85 with a 3.83 ERA and had a 20-win season in 1951. 
  • 1961 - OF Max Carey was voted into the Hall of Fame by the veterans committee and inducted on July 24th. In 17 seasons with Pittsburgh, he collected 2,400+ hits, batted .287 and stole 688 bases. 
  • 1967 - GM Branch Rickey and OF Lloyd Waner were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by a unanimous vote of the Special Veterans Committee and were inducted on July 24th. Rickey was GM from 1950-55; his teams were terrible but he began the process of building a farm system that would pay dividends in 1960. “Little Poison” spent 17 years with the Pirates, mainly in CF, and batted .319 during that time. 
  • 1971 - The Pirates traded OF Matty Alou and P George Brunet to the Cardinals for OF Vic Davalillo and RHP Nellie Briles. 
  • 1973 - RHP Jason Schmidt was born in Lewiston, Idaho. He was drafted by Atlanta and came to the Pirates in 1996 as part of the Denny Neagle deal. In 5-1/2 seasons with Pittsburgh, he went 44-47/4.39 before being traded to San Francisco, where he had his All-Star campaigns. 
  • 2004 - The Bucs signed RHP Jose Mesa to a minor-league deal. The vet became the Buc closer, saving 43 games in 2004 and 27 in 2005 before leaving for Colorado as a FA.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

1/28: Emil Yde, Spittin' Bill Doak, Bill McKechnie, Kiki, Chris Peters...

Emil Yde, Spittin' Bill Doak, Bill McKechnie, Kiki, Chris Peters...

  • 1900 - LHP Emil Yde was born in Great Lakes, Illinois. As a rookie in 1924, Yde led the NL in shutouts with four, in winning percentage (.842) with a record of 16–3, and he was a member of the 1925 World Series championship team, going 17-9 during the season. His career was brief; he pitched four years for the Pirates with a 44-22/3.84 line. The bottom fell out in 1927 (1-3/9.71). He spent 1928 in the minors and was out of MLB after a stint with the Tigers in 1929.
  • 1908 - P “Spittin’ Bill” (guess what his bread and butter pitch was) Doak was born in Pittsburgh. Even though he never pitched for the hometown nine, the Bucs and MLB can thank him for an innovation still in use, the first modern glove. He proposed to Rawlings that a web should be placed between the first finger and thumb to create a natural pocket, and his model was introduced when he pitched against the Pirates in 1920. The Bill Doak glove soon replaced all other mitts and has yet to be bested as a design.

The Bill Doak glove

  • 1962 - Bill McKechnie was selected to the Hall of Fame by the Special Veterans Committee. He was inducted on July 22nd. The Wilkinsburg native played for and managed the Pirates, winning the 1925 World Series.
  • 1968 - OF Kiki Cuyler was elected into the Hall of Fame by a unanimous vote of the Special Veterans Committee, and was inducted on July 22nd. Kiki spent his first seven MLB seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .336.
  • 1972 - LHP Chris Peters was born in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He graduated from Peters Township HS in McMurray, was drafted by the Pirates in 1993 and tossed five years (1996-2000) for the Bucs, going 17-21/4.57 as a long man/spot starter. His career was short circuited by shoulder surgery in 1999, and 2001 was his last season in MLB, with the Expos.

Monday, January 27, 2014

AJ, Young Guns, Projections, Monday Mashup...

Monday news:

  • AJ won't return in mid season, shooting down one of the trendy options being floated about. 
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe gives his two cents on the AJ situation, writing that "The Pirates probably won’t go after a pitcher if he does retire. Right now, the Pirates are looking for a full-time first baseman and would use the Burnett resources toward that end." (scroll down; it's near the end of his column)
  • Last note on AJ: John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times says the Pirates offer to Burnett was $8.5M, and Saber Bucs thinks that's about fair.
  • Clay Davenport has his early team W/L projections, and has the Bucs coming in second in the Central with 83 wins, not enough to get in the playoffs. Pittsburgh will do well to keep an eye on Milwaukee, which signed Matt Garza and Mark Reynolds with Ryan Braun returning.
  • John Dreker of Pirates Prospects notes that six of the 15 top young guns in the Bucco organization played winter ball, and has a report on how they did. 
  • Allan Smith of Sports Media 101 takes a look at Tyler Glasnow and some other fifth round Pirate picks who have made the grade. 
  • Seven Pirates made Baseball Prospectus' Top 101 Prospects: Jameson Taillon (#19), Gregory Polanco (#24), Tyler Glasnow (#42), Reese McGuire (#59), Josh Bell (#77), Nick Kingham (#80) and Ausitn Meadows (#89).
  • James Krug of uses the projection systems to show the Pirates regressing to a .500 team this year, and lists some of the reasoning.
  • MLB Trade Rumors has excerpts of Frank Connelly's interview with David Todd of 93.7 The Fan, touching on TV money and off-season moves.
  • Allan Smith of Sports Media 101 selects the Bucs' Team of the Decade, based on the best season had by a Pirate at each of the nine positions on the diamond. 
  • Ex Bucs: Dewey may or may not have given up catching after a run of concussions.

1/24-27: Ugly Dickshot, Joe Cronin & Hank Greenberg, Roberto Clemente, The Cobra, Otis Clymer

Ugly Dickshot, Joe Cronin & Hank Greenberg, Roberto Clemente, The Cobra, Otis Clymer...

  • January 24, 1910 - OF Johnny “Ugly” (he gave himself the nickname as the self-proclaimed “ugliest man in baseball”) Dickshot was born in Waukegan, Illinois. He played for the Bucs from 1936-38. Ugly was a feared hitter in the minors, putting up a .318 BA in 14 seasons, but was just a .250 batter with Pittsburgh. 
Sporting News Conlon Collection - 1964

  • January 25, 1956 - SS Joe Cronin and OF Hank Greenburg were elected to the Hall of Fame. Both were considered to be among the top RH hitters of their era and had brief stops in Pittsburgh. Cronin started as a Pirate in 1926-27 and played sparingly before breaking out for Washington and Boston, while Greenburg spent 1947, his last MLB season, as a Bucco, hitting 25 HR and served as a mentor to up-and-coming slugger Ralph Kiner. They were inducted on July 23rd. 
  • January 25, 1967 - Roberto Clemente signed a $100,000 contract, then the highest in Pirate history. The Great One’s payday topped Ralph Kiner’s $90,000 deal of 1952.
  • January 26, 1979 - Dave Parker of the Pirates became the first $1M per year player in sports when he signed a five-year, $5M contract. 
  • January 27, 1876 - OF Otis Clymer was born in Pine Grove (Schuylkill County) Pennsylvania. Clymer started his career in Pittsburgh, playing from 1905-07, when the platoon OF’er was traded to Washington after hitting .285 during his Pirate days.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Can the Pitching Carry the Bucs in 2014 and Beyond?

Without AJ Burnett, the rotation should consist of Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract in December. The Pirates’ backup depth is Jeff Locke, Brandon Cumpton and Phil Irwin; Jeanmar Gomez showed in 2013 that he can start if necessary, and Stolmy Pimentel didn't look out of place in the show, although the court is out on whether he best profiles as a starter or potential down-the-road closer.

And they'll need that reserve strength. Cole had a heavier than expected workload last year, Liriano has never posted back-to-back solid seasons, Morton and Rodriguez both have durability questions, and Volquez is a reclamation project. That's where the probable loss of AJ hurts

Burnett's WAR as a Buc was 3.0 in 2012 and 4.0 in 2013. Over the same span, Volquez's WAR was 1.1 in 2013, 0.4 in 2013 (Fangraphs). And in the Central, that three or four wins swing could be costly. To counter, the Bucs should have full seasons from Liriano, Cole, Morton and maybe Rodriguez, the baseball gods willing, and that will help pick up the AJ slack.

Jameson Taillon may join the big team this year and Kyle McPherson is expected to be ready for combat at some point later in the season, with Locke and Cumpton also joining the potential cavalry. But that leaves the Bucs with a lot of youth and mid-to-back end arms.

We don't foresee the starters as being as strong this year as last, unless Frankie, Charlie and Gerrit all come up with lights out years. Swapping out a top three pitcher like AJ for a backender has to show up in the loss column, so the onus will be on the pen and the bats.

The bullpen has fewer question marks. Jason Grilli, after knocking off the rust, picked up where he left off before being injured, though at 37 durability may be an issue.

Mark the Shark had some late season issues against righties; on the year, he held opposite side hitters to a .186 BA while same side guys hit a much stronger .286, flipping the norm. Some of it is due to his bread and butter cutter that devastates LH hitters, while luck played a role, too - righties had a .375 BABIP against him, lefties just .195. We'll see if that requires any adjustments to the way he goes after guys this season.

Tony Watson and Justin Wilson were strong bridge pitchers. The lineup behind them will be hotly contested. Vin Mazzaro, Byran Morris, Jeanmar Gomez and Stolmy Pimentel are all out of options. Jared Hughes is looking to regain his mojo after shoulder issues in 2013 affected his performance. Duke Welker and maybe Brandon Cumpton are knocking on the door, though both have options, which hurts their cause this year. 

Bullpens are volatile; this year's Bucco version could continue to be the team's glue, or they could regress. Our guess is that if they don't get burned out (the Pirates 545-2/3 IP from the pen was fourth in MLB and led all playoff teams) is they should provide another solid season.

The future? The organization boasts several projectable young arms like Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham and Luis Heredia, and the pipeline should begin to flow in 2015.

After 2014, two of the Pirates’ two left-handed starters, Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez, will both be free agents, leaving Jeff Locke to work from that side. And the Pirate philosophy, given the dimensions of the home ballyard, is to load up with southpaws.

In house, they could stretch out Justin Wilson and hope that Andrew Oliver can find the plate. But look for the Bucs to add at least a veteran lefty to the roster then.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Stuff...

Saturday stuff...

  • Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated will be watching to see if Gerrit Cole and some other young guns will regress this season because of their workload in 2013.
  • Tom Singer of writes that even with all the highly touted young arms rising in the system, Brandon Cumpton is still very much in the mix of things for the Bucs.
  • Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs posts that the biggest decision left after the Tanaka signing is whether AJ will return to the Pirates.
  • Cutch was interviewed by Mint Condition about some off-the-wall stuff. The vid is here.
  • Saber Bucs makes the argument that Bob Friend, not Vern Law, should have won the 1960 Cy Young.
  • Cliff Corcoran of Sports Illustrated thinks the Reds inactivity in the market will cost them this season.
A little old-timey history: The Boston Americans (the forerunners of the BoSox) had a fan club called the Royal Rooters that would march to home games from a tavern to their seats behind third base. In the first World Series in 1903, when the Americans played the Pirates, the Rooters traveled to Pittsburgh and became a major factor, singing, hooting, and generally distracting the hometown Buccos players, especially Honus Wagner, much like the "Cue-to" blackout fans did at PNC Park last season. They did such a good job at discombobulating the Pirates that Pittsburgh lost three of its four games at home in Exposition Park - and the Series. (from Dugout Legends). And speaking of Honus:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Notes & News

A couple of Bucco links...

  • Jamie Newburg of the Newberg Report still thinks a deal for Mitch Moreland is the Bucs best option at first base.
  • "The Pittsburgh Pirates have 'turned the page' on the likelihood of pitcher A.J. Burnett returning to their starting rotation, but they're leaving the door open a sliver..." according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. No new ground broken.
  • Bob Smizik of the Post Gazette wonders where the Bucco money is this off season? Dejan Kovacevic of the Tribune Review thinks there may be a method to their madness.
  • Tom Singer of reports that Jared Hughes has a new appreciation of off-season conditioning after his bout with shoulder tightness last season.
  • has been selecting the Top Ten Prospects by position. They reached the outfield, where Gregory Polano and Austin Meadows both made the cut. The Pirates placed six players in the final Top 100 Prospects list.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

1/23: Rabbit Maranville, Kurt Bevacqua, Benny DiStephano, Ralph Kiner...

Rabbit Maranville, Kurt Bevacqua, Benny DiStephano, Ralph Kiner...

  • 1921 - SS Rabbit Maranville was traded to the Bucs by the Boston Braves for IF Walter Barbare, OF Fred Nicholson, OF Billy Southworth and $15,000. Hall of Famer Maranville played four seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .283. Southworth played another eight seasons and entered the Hall of Fame with a career slash of .297/52/561 and a stellar coaching record, winning four league titles and a pair of World Series.

  • 1947 - IF Kurt Bevacqua was born in Miami Beach. The Bucs called on him twice, in 1974 and then again from 1980-81 despite him hitting just .171 in a Pirate uniform. But he was a popular bench guy, especially in San Diego. He spent 15 years in MLB (six with SD) and hit 2 homers in the Padres’ World Series win against the Detroit Tigers in 1984.
  • 1962 - 1B/OF Benny DiStefano was born in Brooklyn. He played for the Bucs in 1984, 1986, and 1988-89, hitting .228 in 300 PA. Distefano was the last lefty to catch a major league game, catching in three games for the Pirates in 1989.
  • 1975 - OF Ralph Kiner was elected to the Hall of Fame and was inducted on August 18th. Kiner played only 10 years in MLB, but led the NL in home runs for seven consecutive seasons. He received 273 votes on the 362 ballots cast by the writers, exactly enough to be selected.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

1/21-22: Schoolboy Hoyt, Octavio Dotel, Diomedes Olivo, Jimmy Anderson

Schoolboy Hoyt, Octavio Dotel, Diomedes Olivo, Jimmy Anderson...

  • January 21, 1933 - Future Hall of Fame RHP Waite Hoyt was signed by the Pirates after being waived by the New York Giants. Working mostly out of the bullpen, he went 35-31/3.08 in his five year Bucco career before being sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937. 

1933 Goudey Baseball Card 

  • January 21, 2010 - Free agent RHP Octavio Dotel agreed to a one year, $3.5M deal with the Bucs, the only team that offered the right-hander the opportunity to save games. The 36-year old reliever hadn't been a closer since 2007 with Kansas City. He thrived in the role, saving 21 games before being traded at the deadline to the Dodgers. 
  • January 22, 1919 - LHP Diomedes Olivo was born in Guayubin, Dominican Republic. He was the second oldest rookie to pitch MLB when in 1960 he got a September call-up at age 41 after being plucked from the Mexican League. He spent the following season in AAA, then all of 1962 in Pittsburgh, going 5-1-7/2.78 in his 66 big league games with Pittsburgh. He was traded to St. Louis in 1963, his final year in the show. 
  • January 22, 1976 - LHP Jimmy Anderson was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. After being drafted in the ninth round of the 1994 draft, he pitched the first four years (1999-2002) of his six-season career in Pittsburgh, going 24-42 with a 5.17 ERA.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snow Day

A couple of reads on a snowy day...
  • Paul Swydan of ESPN makes a pitch for the Pirates to target Kendrys Morales.
  • Michael Augustine of Behind The Count predicts that Gerrit Cole will be one of 2014's breakout pitchers.
  • Ken Davidoff of the NY Post explains how Bucco bossman Frank Connelly struck a small blow for the small revenue clubs.
  • Ex Bucs: LHP Joe Beimel signed a minor league deal with the Mariners after sitting out a year following TJ surgery. 1B Lyle Overbay also inked a minor league deal with the Brewers.
  • Melissa Castellanos of the Latin Post reminds us that Roberto Clemente's ballplaying days weren't a bed of roses and helped fuel his social activism. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

1/20: The Black Babe Ruth, Carl Taylor, Adam LaRoche, DJ Carrasco, Brian Giles

The Black Babe Ruth, Carl Taylor, Adam LaRoche, DJ Carrasco, Brian Giles...
  • 1947 - Homestead Gray and Pittsburgh Crawfords C Josh Gibson, the “black Babe Ruth,” died of a stroke at the age of 35. The future Hall of Fame catcher was put to rest in an unmarked grave in Allegheny Cemetery. In 1975, Negro League teammate Ted Page paid for a granite marker that read: "Josh Gibson, 1911-1947, Legendary Baseball Player." 

 Josh Gibson's Plaque in Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame
  • 1944 - UT Carl Taylor was born in Sarasota, Florida. He caught, played first and pinch hit for the Bucs in 1968-69, and again in September of 1971 for their pennant drive. His best season was far and away 1969, when he hit .348/4/33 in just 221 at-bats. 
  • 2009 - 1B Adam LaRoche signed a one-year, $7.05M contract and avoided arbitration. 
  • 2010 - RHP DJ Carrasco was signed to a one year, $950K contract. The reliever lasted until the deadline, and was packaged as part of a deal with Arizona. Carrasco was a part of the Pirate organization way back in 2002, before KC took him in that year’s Rule 5 draft from Pittsburgh's High A Carolina League club, Lynchburg. 
  • 1971 - RF Brian Giles was born in El Cajon, California. In five years with Pittsburgh, he put up a line of .308/.426/.591 with 165 HR/506 RBI and three All-Star berths.
  • Quote of the day: "I won't play for a penny less than fifteen hundred dollars." - Honus Wagner

Sunday, January 19, 2014

1/18-19: Hank Greenberg, Wandy Rodriguez, Adam LaRoche, Stan the Man...

Hank Greenberg, Wandy Rodriguez, Adam LaRoche, Stan the Man...

  • January 18, 1947 - The Pirates purchased Hank Greenberg from the Tigers for $75,000 after a contract dispute. The Bucs signed him to a reported $90,000 deal, the biggest in history at that time. In his one season with Pittsburgh, he hit .249 with 25 homers and 74 RBI. He became the first player with a 25 homer season in both leagues, walked a league high 104 times and served as a mentor to a young Ralph Kiner. He inspired “Greenberg Gardens” when the Bucs shortened Forbes Field’s left field for him. When he retired after the season, his garden was renamed Kiner’s Korner. 
  • January 18, 1979 - LHP Wandy Rodriguez was born in Santiago Rodriguez, Dominican Republic. Wandy joined the Bucs in 2012, when he was acquired in a deadline deal from the Astros. He didn’t become a major contributor as hoped, as his 2013 season derailed after just a dozen starts with arthritis in his pitching arm, and so far he's contributed just 11 wins in 25 outings with a 3.66 ERA as a Pirate. 
  • January 19, 2007 - The Bucs traded LHP Mike Gonzalez and SS Brent Lillibridge to the Atlanta Braves for 1B Adam LaRoche and minor league 1B/OF Jamie Romak. Gonzo ended up injury-bitten, Lillibridge became a utility player, Romak a career minor leaguer while LaRoche has held a starting job at first for several clubs since the deal. 

2007 Topps Allen & Ginter SP series

  • January 19, 2013 - Hall of Famer Stan the Man Musial of the Cards, who was born in Donora, died at the age of 92.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

16 Pirates Under Contract; Payroll Taking Shape - Kinda...

Bucs signed to MLB contracts:

Wandy Rodriguez - $13M
Russ Martin - $8.5M
Cutch - $7.25M
Francisco Liriano - $6M
Neil Walker - $5.75M
Edison Volquez - $5M
 Pedro Alvarez - $4.25M
Jason Grilli - $4M

Charlie Morton - $4M
Jose Tabata - $3M
Mark Melancon - $2.595M
Gaby Sanchez - $2.3M
Clint Barmes - $2M
Travis Snider - $1.2M
Chris Stewart - $1M
Vin Mazzaro - $950K

Those 16 players total about $65M in salary (Houston is on the hook for $5.5M of Wandy's paycheck). The remainder of the 40-man roster, as constituted today, are minimum wage players, with a dozen in $500K range (Tony Watson, Josh Harrison, Gerrit Cole, Jeanmar Gomez, Andrew Lambo, Jeff Locke, Starling Marte, Jordy Mercer, Bryan Morris, Andrew Oliver, Stolmy Pimentel, Justin Wilson).

With signing bonuses (but without performance bonuses), Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects has the current 40-man payroll pegged at nearly $74M, which is just about at last year's level of $74.6M.

That's not a very good snapshot of the 2014 ultimate salary cost. Guys will go on the DL, the Pirates are still presumably looking for a first baseman and haven't entirely given up the ghost on AJ, players will be added before camp and probably again at the deadline.

To soften the blow, Pittsburgh will get $20M in extra TV revenue and found a few coins under the cushion thanks to last year's on-field success. And signing all their arb guys does give them some payroll certainty.

But we don't look for them to break into the cookie jar yet. Given the options, they could be satisfied with Andrew Lambo or Travis Ishikawa teaming up with Gaby at first, at least in the early going. If AJ becomes a full-time poppa, they should add another depth starter. The most probable route to fill those needs is by trade; we suspect they're done with the FA market until a couple of fringe value players are left unsigned as camp approaches. 

So the FO probably has one more decent signing left this off season, which should leave the payroll at $80M or so when the season opens.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Kid, Pedro, Mark the Shark, Gaby, Snider, Vinnie Sign, Bucco Notes

The off season grinds on...

  • Neil Walker accepted a $5.75M contract to avoid arbitration, Pedro Alvarez signed a $4.25M contract, Mark Melancon agreed to a $2.595M contract, Gaby Sanchez inked a $2.3M contract, Travis Snider took to have signed a $1.2M deal and Vin Mazzaro settled for $950K. So all the Bucco arb-eligible players are taken care of. (Charlie Morton was signed for 3yrs/$21M, while Garrett Jones, Mike McKenry and Felix Pie were non-tendered).
  • Tom Singer of Change For a Nickle says the Bucs may need AJ more than they publicly admit. 
  • Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections for the 2014 Bucs were posted by Fangraphs. Check out the comparable players; there are some interesting matches.
  • Jack Smathers of H4TV notes four things the Bucs have to tighten up before the season.
  • Aaron Weitzman of Roto Baller has the 2014 Pirate preview.
  • Matt Snyder of Eye on Baseball selects his version of the Bucs All-Time Single Season team. He also added a sidebar piece on Roberto Clemente, who is the MLB's RF career assist leader. No surprise there. As Vin Scully said "Roberto Clemente could field the ball in New York and throw out a guy in Pennsylvania." Wilbur Miller of Bucs Dugout put together his own version, with different results.
  • Mark the Shark has been everywhere this offseason...
  • Ex Bucs: C Mike McKenry signed a $750K minor league deal with the Rockies. SS John McDonald also signed a minor league deal with the Angels. Both have invites to camp.
  • Everybody's finally on board with expanded replay, which will commence this season with a manager's challenge, to be reviewed at a central location in New York.

1/16-17: Art Whitney, Hoops, Pink Hawley, Kip Wells...

Art Whitney, Hoops, Pink Hawley, Kip Wells...

  • January 16, 1858 - IF Art Whitney was born in Brockton, Massachusetts. Known for his glove, he played for the Alleghenys and Pirates from 1884-87, hitting .248 in Pittsburgh. 
  • January 16, 1960 - The Steelers beat the Pirates, 22-20 in overtime, in a benefit basketball game played at the Pitt Field House to help support Children's Hospital. Former Duke All-America and Buc shortstop Dick Groat led all scorers with 14 points in the 15 minute contest. 
  • January 17, 1895 - The Pirates traded P Red Ehret and cash to the St Louis Browns for P Pink Hawley. Hawley won 71 games for the Pirates in his three year (1895-97) stint with Pittsburgh, while Ehret would claim 35 victories for the remainder of his MLB career. 

  • January 17, 2006 - The Bucs signed RHP Kip Wells to a one-year, $4.15M contract, avoiding arbitration.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bucco Notes

Camp is just a month away...

  • All six remaining arb-eligible Bucs - Pedro Alvarez, Vin Mazzaro, Mark Melancon, Gaby Sanchez, Travis Snider and Neil Walker (Charlie Morton signed a contract while Garrett Jones and Mike McKenry were non-tendered) - filed for salary arbitration Tuesday, and will exchange salary figures with management on Friday. Around the league, 146 players filed of the 180 who are arb-eligible. The others have agreed to contracts. Hearings begin in February. 
  • Vinny Gala of Rant Sports posts that Jeff Locke looks like the odd man out in the rotation, at least early in the year.  
  • Anthony Castrovince of writes that the Bucs can't overlook the hole at first. Tom Smith of Rumbunter isn't buying it.
  • Saber Bucs thinks that Edison Volquez was in the process of reinventing himself last season, and it may bear fruit this year. 
  • Add Peter Gammons to the Gregory Polanco fan club
  • Teddy Cahill of has Bucco farmhand Alen Hanson as one of his Top Ten minor league SS prospects. RHP Jameson Taillon made the Top Ten RHP Prospects, and Tyler Glasnow just missed the cut. C Reese McGuire made the roster of the Top Ten catching prospects. Mike Rosenbaum of Prospect Pipeline has his Top Ten Pirate prospects, with a couple of newer names than in years past.
  • Looking forward to the upcoming season? Allan Smith of Pirates 101 has selected the top 12 series of 2014.
  • Ex-Bucs: C Mike McKenry & RHP James McDonald are on's Doug Miller's list of under-the-radar value signings left on the FA market. OF Nyjer Morgan signed a deal with the Indians. LHP Zach Duke agreed to a minor league contract with a camp invite with the Brewers. OF/1B Xavier Nady is hoping for a chance at San Diego. C Rod Barajas will manage the Padres' Rookie League club if he can't land a MLB gig for 2014. He last played in the show for the Bucs in 2012.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

1/15: Mike Mansell, Jock Menefee, Jeff Banister, Chuck Hartenstein

Mike Mansell, Jock Menefee, Jeff Banister, Chuck Hartenstein

  • 1858 - OF Mike Mansell was born in Auburn, New York. He played three seasons (1882-84) for the Alleghenys, with a .251 BA. 
  • 1868 - RHP Jock Menefee was born in Rowlesburg, West Virginia. Jock tossed three not very successful campaigns for Pittsburgh (1892, 1894-95), going 5-9/5.75. But he did have a shining moment: Menefee became the first NL pitcher to pull off a successful steal of home, against Brooklyn on July 15th, 1902, while with the Cubs. 
  • 1965 - Jeff Banister was born in Weatherford, Oklahoma. Drafted in 1986, he got one at-bat with the Bucs in 1991 and singled. Jeff is a Pirate lifer; beside going through the minor league system, he’s served as a coach or manager for the franchise since 1993. 
  • 1969 - The Pirates traded OF Manny Jimenez to the Cubs for minor league IF Ron Campbell and RHP Chuck Hartenstein. Jimenez played briefly for Chicago before fading into the minors, while Campbell never did make it to the show. Hartenstein made 56 appearances for the Bucs in 1969, with 10 saves and a 3.95 ERA, but slipped in 1970 and was traded to St. Louis. 

Topps 1969 series

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Notes & News

The beat goes on...

  • Unsigned arb-eligible players Neil Walker, Pedro, Mark the Shark, Gaby, Vin Mazzaro and Travis Snider will exchange salary figures with the Pirates Friday in the first step to either hashing out a contract or heading to an arb hearing in February.
  • Zach Morrison of Rant Sports gives his guess as to how much the Bucs should count on Wandy Rodriguez in 2014. 
  • Michael Clair of Yahoo Sports wonders if the Pirate staff can hold it together in 2014 without AJ Burnett. 
  • The Pirates invited four minor-leaguers to camp: 1B Matt Hague, C Carlos Paulino, RHP Jameson Taillon and  RHP Zack Thorton.
  • Ben Badler of Baseball America tweets that Pirate prospect Austin Meadows is among the players he thinks have a chance for a big time breakout in 2014.
  • Not too surprisingly, the MLB Network contest to select the "face of the franchise" ended up with Cutch as the Pirates' poster boy.
  • The Pirates have named their 2014 minor league managers and coaches.
  • Ex Bucs: C John Buck is close to a deal with the Mariners. 1B Lyle Overbay, who staged a resurrection of sorts with the Yankees last year, is on the radar of The Astros and Brewers. RHP Jesse Chavez signed a $750K deal with Oakland, avoiding arbitration. SS Ronny Cedeno inked a minor-league deal with the Phillies.
  • The Pirates play their first 26 games against division foes in 2014.  They don't have a non-Central Division match until April 29th against Baltimore.
  • Baseball America's newly released 2014 Prospect Handbook tabbed the Pirates farm system as #1, up from #8 last season.
  • Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects has a post examining the "Makers vs the Takers," the large revenue teams exerting their muscle over the smaller revenue clubs. Dejan Kovacevic of the Tribune Review has an article on the subject, too. He makes a case for a salary cap/floor and a 50/50 revenue split between the owners and players.
  • You may recall that at the December baseball meetings, MLB proposed expanding replay and eliminating collisions at home. There's been no traction on either yet, as the MLBPA says "wait a sec..."

1/14: Billy Meyer, Chet Brewer, Hank Gornicki, Steve Cooke, Moises Alou, Adam LaRoche...

Billy Meyer, Chet Brewer, Hank Gornicki, Steve Cooke, Moises Alou, Adam LaRoche...

  • 1893 - Manager Billy Meyer was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was skipper from 1948-52, with a dismal 317-452 record after a promising fourth place finish in his first year. In fact, the Yankees thought so highly of him that they asked if they could hire him after that season to replace Bucky Harris. NY was rebuffed and had to settle for Casey Stengel instead. After managing, Meyer scouted for the Bucs until 1955, and later had his jersey #1 retired. 
  • 1907- RHP Chet Brewer was born in Leavenworth, Kansas. While he pitched for a a couple of dozen teams in the Black leagues and Central America, the pitcher never toiled in Pittsburgh until his playing days were done. Brewer was a Pirates scout based in LA from 1957 to 1974 (he signed Dock Ellis) and later worked for the Major League Scouting Bureau. 
  • 1911 - RHP Hank Gornicki was born in Niagara Falls, NY. He pitched his final three seasons (1943-44, 1946) for the Bucs, with a two year break when he served during WW2. His slate as a Pirate was 14-19/3.38, and he was used primarily as a spot starter. 
  •  1970 - LHP Steve Cooke was born in Lihue-Kauai, Hawaii. A 35th round draft pick in 1989, he spent five years with the Pirates (1992-97), going 26-36/4.31. 1993 looked like a breakout year when he went 10-10 with a 3.89 ERA and he was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team. But he had shoulder problems that surfaced in 1994 and missed the 1995 season, and never again matched his rookie performance.

1994 Pinnacle series

  • 1986 - The Pirates selected OF Moises Alou as the second overall pick in the draft, behind pitcher Jeff Shaw. 
  • 2008 - The Pirates re-signed 1B Adam LaRoche to a 1-year/$5M contract.

Monday, January 13, 2014

1/13: Odell Jones, Swede & Lucky, Elmer Dessens, Ryan Church

Odell Jones, Swede & Lucky, Elmer Dessens, Ryan Church

  • 1953 - RHP Odell Jones was born in Tulare, California. Jones had two stints with the Bucs, starting out in 1975, spending a year in the minors and returning from 1977-78, then coming back via trade in 1981. He went 9-12/4.28, splitting his time between the pen and starting. 
  • 1954 - The Pirates traded workhorse P Murry Dickson to the Phils for P Andy “Swede” Hansen and IF Jack "Lucky" Lohrke. Dickson won 52 games over the next decade, while neither Hansen or Lohre ever suited up for Pittsburgh. Both were sent to the top Bucco farm team, the Hollywood Stars, and retired shortly thereafter. 
  • 1971 - RHP Elmer Dessens was born in Hermosillo, Mexico. He started out with the Bucs, pitching from the bullpen from 1996-98 with a 2-8/6.12 slash. He went to Japan the following year, then came back to toss in the MLB through the 2010 season. 

  1997 Pacific Prisms - Gems of the Diamond series

  • 2010 - Ryan Church inked a $1.5M, one-year deal with the Bucs. The 31-year old outfielder was expected to be the Bucs' fourth outfielder, behind Brandon Moss, Andrew McCutchen, and Lastings Milledge. Instead, Church hit .182 and was traded to Arizona at the deadline in what was his final MLB season.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

News & Notes

Mo' happenings...
  • JP Breen of Fangraphs thinks there are too many red flags for any good to come of the Pirates' Edison Volquez project. Marcus at Hidden Vigorish also wonders if Volquez's struggles with doing the little things on the mound will sabotage his reconstruction.
  • The Bucs have shut down (Spoiler alert: Leo Lopez's tweet is in Spanish) Starling Marte in the DWL due to what is reported as minor back pain (Thx to John Dreker at Pirates Prospects). It seems to be precautionary; let's hope so.
  • Tony Canella of Rumbunter thinks the Bucs will rock again in 2014 "if our starting pitchers step up and the shark tank stays hungry..."
  • Ex Bucs: Shi Davidi of SportsNet believes that Jason Bay is ready to hang up the spikes. And former Buc C JR House has been named manager of the Hillsboro Hops, Arizona's Class A club in the Northwest League.
  • Steve "Dirt" DiNardo, legendary head groundskeeper for TRS, passed away on Friday. 
  • Curious about the HOF ballots? Here's the complete list by writer. And Jack McCaffery of the Delaware County Daily Times wonders where the Cooperstown love is for Danny Murtaugh and Mickey Vernon.
  • Looking for a good gig, no college needed? Robinson Cano will make $45 dollars per minute & $65,753 a day for the next ten years.

1/12: Ed Swartwood, Big Ed Stevens, Rich Loiselle, Captain Willie

Ed Swartwood, Big Ed Stevens, Rich Loiselle, Captain Willie...

  • 1859 - C/1B Ed Swartwood was born in Rockford, Illinois. Swartwood played for the Alleghenys from 1882-84 and then spent his last big league season as a Pirate in 1892. He put up some good numbers, including a .322 BA in Pittsburgh.
  • 1925 - 1B Big Ed Stevens was born in Galveston, Texas. He played in 212 games from 1948-50 for Pittsburgh, batting .253 with 14 HR. The Pirates got him from Brooklyn when he was bumped off the bag by a rookie named Jackie Robinson. Big Ed didn’t hit it big in the MLB, but was a minor league legend. In 16 farm seasons spanning 1941-61, Stevens belted 257 home runs and drove in 1013 runs on his way to being named to the International League Hall of Fame.
  • 1972 - RH reliever Rich Loiselle was born in Neenah, Wisconsin. He tossed his entire career of six seasons (1996-2001) for the Bucs, and went 9-18-49/4.38 during that span. Loiselle was the Bucco closer in 1997-98 when he picked up 48 of his 49 career saves.
  • 1988 - Willie Stargell was the only player elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA‚ and the 17th player elected in his first year of eligibility. He was inducted on August 1st. In 21 Pirate seasons, his slash was .282/.360/.529 with 475 HR and 1,540 RBI.

The image is from the Pittsburgh Baseball Hero Decks, available at: - Heinz History Center - Sportzburgh, Pittsburgh Airport & Settlers Ridge Shopping Center - Hall of Cards, 300 Mt Lebanon Blvd - Allegheny General Hospital Gift Shop - Morini, The Mall at Robinson - Do It Best Hardware, Ambridge, PA - Washington Hospital Gift Shop - Synders Gateway Travel Plaza, Breezewood, PA

Saturday, January 11, 2014

1/11: Max Carey, Legendary Lloyd, Warren Morris and Cutch...

Max Carey, Mac, Warren Morris and Cutch...

  • 1890 - Hall of Fame OF Max Carey was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. He played 17 seasons in Pittsburgh, compiling a .287 BA and stole 688 bases, leading the NL in that category 10 times. He was at his best during the 1925 World Series, hitting .458 as the Pirates dethroned the Washington Senators and Walter “Big Train” Johnson in seven games. 
  • 1959 - Utilityman and later manager Lloyd McClendon was born in Gary, Indiana. McClendon spent five years (1990-94) as a player in Pittsburgh where he hit .251, mainly off the bench. He was named Buc manager in 2001, and in his five seasons as skipper, McClendon compiled a 336–446 record and famously "stole" a base. A side note: In 1971, as a 12-year old, McClendon earned the nickname "Legendary Lloyd" when he hit five home runs in five at bats, all on the first pitch, and was walked in his other five plate appearances in the three games he played in the Little League World Series. 

 Lloyd walks off with first base - Associated Press

  • 1974 - 2B Warren Morris was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. He made his major league debut in 1999, going from non-roster invitee in spring training to starting second baseman early in the season for the Bucs. Morris had a sharp rookie campaign, hitting .288 with 15 home runs, 73 RBI and earning a spot on the 1999 Topps All-Star Rookie team at second base. It went downhill fast, and the Pirates released him before the 2002 season; his last MLB campaign was in 2003. 
  • 2013 - Andrew McCutchen was voted to be the cover athlete on the baseball video game “MLB 13: The Show.” Cutch gathered 108,147 votes from fans via Twitter and Facebook, while NY Yankees' pitcher CC Sabathia came in second place with 89,054 votes.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Notes & History...

Notes and On This Date...

  • Ray Searage was interviewed by 93.7 The Fan, and said that he thinks the odds are that AJ will retire and that Jeff Locke's problem in the latter half of 2013 was fatigue, among other topics.
  • Josh Norris of Baseball America features Gregory Polanco in "Prospect Pulse."  Polanco credits winter ball with its many veteran ballplayers for improving his game, telling Norris that " I’ve been able (to absorb) a lot of knowledge, especially when it comes to hitting.”
  • Travis Sawchik of the Tribune Review chatted with John Manuel of Baseball America about the who and what of the Pirate farm system, which BA has ranked #1 in MLB. 
  • Pirate pitchers and catchers report to camp February 13th; the entire squad on the 18th.
  • The Bucs have announced that their primary logo this season will be the ol' Pittsburgh P. They'll still use the Jolly Roger, which served as their main logo since 1997, as a sleeve decoration.

  • January 10, 1922 - LHP Cliff Chambers was born in Portland, Oregon. He worked for the Bucs between 1949-51, going 28-28 with a 4.33 ERA. But he had a shining moment: On May 6th, 1951, Chambers pitched a no-hitter for the Pirates, the second complete no-no in franchise history, beating the Boston Braves 3-0. 
  • January 10, 1926 - SS George “Bo” Strickland was born in New Orleans. The Pirates got him from the Red Sox in the Rule V draft, and he played for the Bucs from 1950-52. He hit .199 over that span, and then was traded to the Indians, where he lasted eight more seasons, several as a starting SS, including the 1954 AL championship club.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

1/8-9: Gene Freese, Brian Boehringer, The Goose, Bye Bye Burleigh, Jeromy Burnitz

Gene Freese, Brian Boehringer, The Goose, Bye Bye Burleigh, Jeromy Burnitz...

  • January 8, 1934 - IF Gene Freese was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. Augie went to Wheeling Central HS and West Liberty State College, spending two stints (1955-58, 64-65) and six years with the Bucs. Mostly a reserve with Pittsburgh, he hit .247 as a Pirate, though while between Bucco rosters, he started at third for three years at Cincinnati. 
  • January 8, 1969 - RHP Brian Boehringer was born in St. Louis, Missouri. The reliever closed out his 10 year MLB career in Pittsburgh between 2002-04, with a Bucco record of 10-9-1, 4.36 ERA. 
  •  January 8, 2008 - In his ninth year on the BBWAA's ballot, Rich “Goose” Gossage was the only player elected to the Hall of Fame. During Goose's' 22-year career, he compiled a 124-107 record, saved 310 games, and posted a 3.01 ERA. He spent 1977 as a Pirate, going 11-9-26 with a 1.62 ERA and 151 K in 133 IP. Goose was inducted on July 27th.

Hostess series 1977

  • January 9, 1918 - The Pirates traded P Burleigh Grimes to the Brooklyn Robins in a five player exchange that brought Casey Stengel back to Pittsburgh. Hall of Famer Grimes went on to win 158 games in nine seasons with Brooklyn. The Bucs top prize was George Cutshaw. The slick fielder manned second for Pittsburgh for four years, hitting .275. 
  • January 9, 2006: 37 year old OF Jeromy Burnitz was signed by the Bucs to a $6M contract. He hit .230 for Pittsburgh during his last year in the majors.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pirate Patter...

Bucco bits...

  • The Pirates continued their depth signings by bringing back Robert Andino, a middle infielder who played at Seattle and later Indy last season on a minor league deal with a camp invite. He's a decent glove guy and should serve as Clint Barmes' insurance. Andino, a 2002 second-round draft pick of Florida from Miami, has a career .232/.294/.318 slash in 1467 plate appearances (468 games) with the Orioles, Marlins and Mariners.
  • Wandy Rodriguez told Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review that he was feeling good, throwing short toss since December and hoping to begin bullpen sessions in a couple of weeks after a winter of rest.
  • Speaking of camp invites, RHP Jameson Taillon also received an invitation to the MLB side, as he did last season.  
  • Tampa, which claimed OF Jerry Sands from the Buc around Christmas, have DFA'ed him. 
  • Small world: Biertempfel tweets that "former Buc bullpen coach Luis Dorante was named manager of Class A Charleston (Yankees). He replaced Al Pedrique, former Pirates shortstop."
  • The Pirates changed four PNC Park game times to accommodate national TV.
  • Attorney John Racanelli in Fangraphs examines the little known law suit following Roberto Clemente's fatal plane crash. The Clemente family won the opening round, but later lost on appeal.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

1/7: Kitty, Ted Beard, Ducky, Kevin McClatchy...

Kitty, Ted Beard, Ducky, Kevin McClatchy...

1875 - 1B William “Kitty” Bransfield was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. He played four seasons for Pittsburgh (1901-04), batting .271, and started for the 1903 Pirate team that represented the NL in the first recognized World Series, losing to the Boston Americans.
1921 - CF Ted Beard was born in Woodsboro, Maryland. He played for the Pirates as a reserve outfielder from 1948-52, batting .203, after losing three years to WW2 as a medic. A top prospect, Ted had speed and showed some occasional flashes of power (he became the second player, after Babe Ruth, to clear the RF roof at Forbes Field), but was fated to become a AAAA player. He had great success playing for the Hollywood Stars & San Francisco Seals in the Pacific Coast League and also with Indianapolis through the fifties and into the early sixties.

 Topps series 1952

1935 - IF Dick “Ducky” Schofield was born in Springfield, Illinois. He played eight (1958-65) of his 19 big league years with the Pirates, and took over for an injured Dick Groat during the 1960 title stretch run, hitting .333 to help the Bucs take the NL title without looking back. Schofield was a regular infielder from 1963-65, but his BA (.248 as a Pirate, .227 overall) limited him to a backup role through most of his career.
2009 - Selling the last of his remaining shares in the Pirates, Kevin McClatchy ended his 13-year relationship with the team. After local ownership failed to materialize in 1996, the former managing general partner guaranteed that the struggling club would stay in Pittsburgh by finding shareholders and securing the cash needed to buy the franchise.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bucs Sign Dickerson and More Notes...

More tidbits...

  • Pittsburgh signed OF'er Chris Dickerson, formerly of the Orioles, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune-Review. The 31-year-old put up a line of .238/.266/.400 with four homers and five stolen bases as a Baltimore backup in 2013.The lefty plays all three OF positions, but will be vying for a spot in the RF rotation.The team later announced that it's a minor league deal with an invite to camp.
  • The Bucs are no longer talking to the Mets re: Ike Davis, tweets ESPN's Adam Rubin, but could be drawn back if the internal options fizzle during camp.
  • Sheer speculation: The Pirates and Red Sox seem comfortable dealing with one another. That makes us wonder if Mike Carp, the odd man out at first base with Mike Napoli returning, might be available.
  • Joe Lemire of Sports Illustrated in his 2014 baseball predictions post says the Pirates won't regress this year. He writes "Pittsburgh's groundball-heavy pitching staff will still play to its favor, and the likely midseason arrivals of its next two top prospects, outfielder Gregory Polanco and righthanded starter Jameson Taillon, will keep the Pirates churning along behind reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen."
  • Tom Smith at Rumbunter uses Jeanmar Gomez as an example of the Bucco FO strengthening the club without splashy moves.
  • The Pirates offer to FA 1B James Loney was competitive, but he decided to stay home with the deals being equal, according to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Trib
  • Ex Bucs: Joel Hanrahan, recovering from surgery ahead of schedule, will throw for teams during spring training, reports Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors. Tony Plush (Nyjer Morgan) is looking to return to the major leagues after a strong season in Japan, per Jerry Crasnik of ESPN. Also, RHP Jeff Suppan retired. His half season in Pittsburgh was memorable, and the Bucs flipped him at the 2003 deadline to get mainstays 2B Freddy Sanchez and LHP Mike Gonzalez from the Red Sox. 3B Brandon Wood, who last played in the majors with Pittsburgh in 2011, signed a minor league deal with the Padres.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

1/3-5: Gus Suhr, Clemente Memorial, AJ, Joe Randa, Sam Barkley, Lonnie Smith, JR, Bert Blyleven...

Gus Suhr, Clemente memorial, AJ, Joe Randa, Sam Barkley, Lonnie Smith, JR, Bert Blyleven...

  • January 3, 1906 - 1B Gus Suhr was born in San Francisco. He spent 9-1/2 seasons (1930-39) with the Pirates, hitting .279 with a .386 OPB and driving in 818 runs, earning an All-Star berth in 1936. Suhr played 1,339 games at first base for Pittsburgh, a team record, and once held the NL standard of 822 consecutive games played, which lasted until 1957.
  • January 3, 1973 - President Nixon gave a $1,000 check in Roberto Clemente's memory to the Nicaraguan embassy. At the President's request, Dan Galbreath, owner of the Pirates, along with Dave Giusti and Steve Blass, met with him at the White House about setting up a memorial fund in Clemente's honor to aid the survivors of the earthquake.
  • January 3, 1977 - RHP AJ Burnett was born in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The veteran tossed for two years in Pittsburgh (2012-13) after being obtained from the Yankees in a Gotham salary dump. His Pittsburgh line was 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA, averaging a whiff per frame.
  • January 3, 2006 - 3B Joe Randa was signed as a free agent for his second go-around with the Pirates. He was inked to a $4M deal, nearly double his 2005 salary at Cincinnati. Joe hit .267 in 89 games in what would be his last MLB season, losing his job to Freddy Sanchez.
  • January 4, 1886 - St. Louis owner Chris Von Der Ahe sold the rights to IF Sam Barkley to the Alleghenys, despite the fact that the infielder had already signed a contract with the Orioles. Because they were late in sending Von Der Ahe their check for Barkley’s rights, he unilaterally voided the deal and shipped him to Pittsburgh instead. The American Association eventually resolved the controversial case by allowing Barkley to play for the Alleghenys, and sending Milt Scott from Pittsburgh to Baltimore as compensation. Additionally, the Browns were allowed to keep the $1,000 they received from Pittsburgh for Barkley's reserve rights. Baltimore could have kept him; Barkley hit .248 in his two years with the club, splitting time between first and second base.
 Sam Barkley - Old Judge Cigarettes 1897

  • January 4, 1993 - The Pirates signed OF Lonnie Smith to a $1M deal. He put up a line of .286/6/24, with a .422 OBP and 9 stolen bases before he was flipped to the Orioles in September for two minors leaguers, Terry Farrar and Stanton Cameron, neither of which became big leaguers.
  • January 5, 1961 - Manager John Russell was born in Oklahoma City. After his playing career, he managed the Bucs from 2008-10 during some dark seasons, with a record of 186-299. It wasn’t his first stop in Pittsburgh; JR had been Lloyd McClendon’s third base coach from 2003-05.
  • January 5, 2011 - After a 14 year wait, curve ball king RHP Bert Blyleven was elected to the Hall of Fame. He won 34 games for Pittsburgh between 1978-80 in a 22 year career that saw him earn 287 victories, and was inducted on July 24th.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Notes & News

 The hot stove keeps burnin'...

  • C Mike McKenry may not be a future option for the Pirates now that they've added Chris Stewart to the fold. Chris Cotillo of The Daily Dish says other clubs have been checking in on The Fort, so his Bucco days may be a thing of the past.
  • Baseball News Source's Christopher Moran compares aces in the making, Gerrit Cole and the Indians Danny Salazar.
  • Paul White of USA Today went about building "...the best (MLB) team a reasonable amount of money can buy" and put three Pirates on it - OF Starling Marte, IF Jordy Mercer and RHP Mark Melancon, with Cutch just getting nosed by Mike Trout. 
  • More on payroll: Peter Gammons says the Bucs, along with the other sub-$100M payroll playoff clubs, are "...proof that very smart, innovative leadership can beat traditional spending habits." 
  • Greg Thurston of Climbing Tal's Hill says one time Pirate prospect LHP Rudy Owens may be facing a crossroads this season after missing most of last year with a stress fracture.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Questions Yet to be Answered...

As we head into the New Year, the Bucs have been quiet as a mouse during the hot stove season, adding a couple of depth pieces without addressing the holes in the rotation and first base. Throw a coupla more logs in the ol' stove; the Pirates have 10 weeks to...

  • Swing a couple of under-the-radar trades like those that brought Mark Melancon, Stolmy Pimentel, Jeanmar Gomez and Vic Mazzaro to town.
  • Decide if someone will overpay for Justin Wilson or Tony Watson.
  • Kick themselves in the backside for not tendering AJ Burnett. It's thought now that his decision isn't to whether return to Pittsburgh or not, but to decide if he wants to toss in Baltimore this season. Edison Volquez is not exactly a comparable, and the remaining thinned-out starter market will blow up once Masahiro Tanaka picks a team.
  • Wonder if Scott Boras is going to play nice during Pedro's first arbitration year? Matt Schwartz of MLB Trade Rumors estimates it should cost $4M for El Toro in 2014; it'll be interesting to see if Scott and the brass agree.
  • To agree on a value for Neil Walker and Mark Melancon in their arb cases. Schwartz pegs The Kid's worth at $4.8M and The Shak's at $3.3M.
  • Roll the dice that Andrew Lambo can fill the lefty role at first base. Ditto that some combo of Lambo, Jose Tabata, Travis Snider and/or Jaff Decker can keep RF warm.
  • Hope that both Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon become contributors sometime around the All-Star break or sooner. They are the long-term answer to a couple of short-term question marks in the lineup

Thursday, January 2, 2014

1/1-2: Hammerin' Hank, Josh Gibson, Sure Shot, Mad Dog, Mike Williams...

Hammerin' Hank, Josh Gibson, Sure Shot, Mad Dog, Mike Williams...

  • January 1, 1911 - Hall of Fame OF Hank Greenberg was born in New York City. He played for the Bucs in 1948, teaming up with Ralph Kiner in the middle of the Pirate order. The original Hammerin’ Hank signed for $100,000, the biggest contract to date, and though he hit just .249 in Pittsburgh, he had a .408 OBP and launched 25 HR in his final MLB season. 
  • January 1, 1943 - C Josh Gibson suffered a nervous breakdown and was admitted to St. Francis Hospital for rest and treatment. He was released in time to play for the Homestead Grays. The Pirates reportedly wanted to sign the future Hall of Famer that season as the first black player in baseball, but were thwarted by the commissioner, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The color line wouldn’t be crossed until Landis died in 1944 and Happy Chandler replaced him in 1945.
  • January 2, 1888 - 2B Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap signed with the Alleghenys following the sale of his contract by the Detroit Wolverines. He agreed to a $5‚000 salary and a $2‚000 bonus‚ making him the highest-paid player of the time. Sure Shot wasn’t such a sure shot; the defensive whiz played three years for the team, hitting just .240. 

 Fred "Sure Shot" Dunlap

  • January 2, 1951 - 3B Bill “Mad Dog” Madlock was born in Memphis. The third baseman played seven seasons for the Bucs (1979-85) with a line of .297/.357/.428 while leading the league in hitting in 1981 (.341) and 1983 (.323). He was a key part of the 1979 Championship team, batting .333 in the playoffs and World Series. 
  • January 2, 2002 - The Pirates signed a two-year deal with RHP Mike Williams worth $5.5M. After two years and 74 saves, Williams put up another 25 saves in 2003, but with a 6.27 ERA. He was traded to the Phillies, and 2004 was his last MLB season.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Years/Notes

Happy New Years and a couple of notes to start the season...

  • Buster Olney of ESPN (behind a subscriber wall) says the Pirates are the #10 team heading into 2014 and may be a fit in Kendrys Morales, the rumor that just won't die. 
  • The Bleacher Report's Andrew Gould predicts that Gerrit Cole could be 2014's version of Matt Harvey.
  • At Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan explores PNC Park's effect on the three true outcomes: walks, strikeouts, and home runs, influencing them more than any park in MLB.
  • ESPN's Mark Simon looks at the defensive impact of this year's hot stove moves around the league, and likes what the Pirates have done.