April Fool’s Day Trade Tree – Ed Ott

If I were a major league ballplayer and someone told me I was being traded on April 1st, I’d think someone was trying to pull one over on me. However, trades do happen, even on days known for their practical jokes. Ed Ott was your average useful catcher: not great with the bat but solid behind the plate with a good arm. I remember Ott being one of my favorites as a young child, mostly because his name was easy to say and remember. Coming off of a decent 1980 season, Ott was dealt to the Angels with Mickey Mahler for Jason Thompson. The Pirates had a promising young catcher named Tony Pena ready to step in and needed a replacement for aging Hall of Famer Willie Stargell. Thompson was then immediately dealt to the Yankees for first baseman Jim Spencer and minor leaguers Greg Cochran and Fred Toliver, but the commissioner blocked the deal. This turned out to be a big boon for the Bucs. Spencer was instead dealt to Oakland midseason and was done the next year. Cochran never made the majors and Toliver bounced around as a middle reliever before ending his career pitching in 12 games for the 1993 Pirates. Thompson started at first for four years, hitting 31 HR and making the All-Star team in 1982.

Thanks again to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects for bringing this deal to my attention. Be sure to read This Day in Pirates History for more on this deal and the Tony Pena/Andy Van Slyke trade which happened six years later to the day.

Spring Training 2012: Friday 3/23 McKechnie Field Recap

If you missed it, check out Part 1: Pirate City.

As I walked into McKechnie I got word that Pedro Alvarez was in the batting cage.

animated gif maker
Animated gif maker

This is five shots of five different swings I’ve put together in a gif. Pedro looked to be swinging well and the ball had a good sound coming off of his bat. The coach pitching to him was having him work on staying back. This was bout two hours before news broke that Alvarez has discomfort in his knee and will be held out for a few games. As you can see he’s not wearing a brace and I saw no sign of a limp. But as someone who has some knee issues of my own, I can say that certain movements trigger the pain more than others. It may be an issue where he can’t run or field as well as he needs to but swinging does no harm.

On to the game. Recap. Box Score. Pictures at the bottom.

Good: Charlie Morton was lights out. 4 IP, 2 H, 2 K. Mostly groundballs. I’ll have more on him below. Matt Hague continued to look strong in his bid to make the big league club both at bat (2 run HR) and in the field (nice pick of a throw in the dirt.) Jose Tabata went 3-4.

Up and Down: Casey McGehee booted one easy grounder but made a nice play later on one which was hit harder. No hits fell in for him but he hit the ball square each time. Rod Barajas went 0-3 but had a good throw to catch Georgia Tech alum Tony Plagman stealing.

Nearly Bad: Chris Leroux got Charlie Brown’d during his one inning. A line drive had him duck so fast his hat came off. Luckily he wasn’t hit or hurt and finished the inning without incident.

Just Bad: Daniel McCutchen was more unlucky than anything else. Most of the hits he gave up were soft ground balls that just eluded the defense. However, the grand slam was a no-doubter to centerfield.

After the game I was able to briefly speak with Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington. I asked him about Morton not being named to the rotation for the opening week in contrast with his stellar outing today, and if it was just a matter of getting him stretched out. I didn’t have a recorder so I’ll paraphrase in an attempt not to misquote Mr. Huntington.

  • The team is in a fortunate position in that the schedule allows them to “find out where he is” and take the time to make sure Charlie is healthy and ready to go without rushing him.
  • In a similar situation last year with James McDonald, James came back too quickly to start the year and ended up not performing well in April.
  • Asked if Charlie could be used the first time the 5th starter is needed on April 14, Huntington responded that it was “an option.”

Barring any new developments, my gut says to look for Charlie on the 14th. Many thanks to Mr. Huntington for his time and words.

Pictures:

Lineups

Morton doing long toss while Barajas stretches.

Clint Hurdle signs an autograph.

Just for Pat at WHYGAVS, a signed Andy Van Slyke ball that was up for auction.

Former Pirates' manager Jim Leyland.

Former Pirate Rafael Belliard took out the lineup card.

Sellout, full house.

Morton throws a warmup pitch.

The Sandbar on Anna Maria Island

Dinner was a nice piece of grouper with a baked potato and a Maker's and Coke. Oh, and this great view.

Tomorrow: Last day. Probably go to Pirate City and see if A.J. Burnett will be throwing his simulated game there.

Thursday Trade Tree – Jason Kendall

The number 18 has a history of being worn by some pretty good Pirates; from Bill Virdon and Matty Alou through Andy Van Slyke and Neil Walker. In 1996 it was donned by an exciting young catcher who would make three All-Star teams and was one of the best players in the league from 1998 to 2000 (OPS+ of 131, 136 and 124): Jason Kendall.

Young Jason Kendall was a lot of fun to watch until a thumb injury in 2001 sapped him of his power and he began his descent to the slap hitter we’ve known for the last decade. The trade to Oakland came just before he fell completely off of the table as a hitter, so good timing there. Unfortunately they didn’t get much in return, as was the norm at the time.

*I tried to find out what happened in the Bayliss trade at the end there but team officials were unable to find or confirm any information on who the PTBNL turned out to be or if the transaction was settled with cash. Neal Huntington should call Alex Anthopoulos and demand a player.

Thursday Trade Tree – Tony Pena

This deal is looked back on as a prototype rebuilding trade. Tony Pena was the best player – an All-Star catcher- on some very bad Pirates teams in the 80′s. In return the Pirates got three good players, two of whom played major parts on the back-to-back-to-back division winners in 1990-1992.

Not much left at the end, but the last glory the Pirates franchise has known wouldn’t have happened without that trade.

As always, I am open to suggestions and comments. If there’s a trade tree you’d like to see then let me know.

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