Thursday Trade Tree – Arky Vaughan

On any other team he’d be the greatest shortstop in their history. A nine time All-Star and Hall of Famer: Arky Vaughan

Check out Vaughan’s 1935 season: .385/.491/.607 for a 1.098 OPS and 190 OPS+. Outstanding doesn’t do that justice.

Everyone knows about Wally Pipp, but Babe Dahlgren is notable for being the other bookend to Lou Gehrig.

Thursday Trade Tree – Manny Sanguillen

Today’s tree was suggested by the founder of the Pirates email listserv, Arik Florimonte. Three time All Star, two time World Champion, purveyor of fine barbecue and everyone’s favorite free swinging catcher: Manny Sanguillen.

Manny has the distinction of being one of only three players in Major League history who were traded for a manager. (Randy Winn and Bill Denehy are the others.) The Hardball Times had a great article last week on this subject.

You’ll find six separate trees, due to six players that each had two stints with the club. Can you locate them all?

Although I don’t remember seeing him play, Manny was always a favorite of mine due to this picture, taken during spring training in either 1975 or ’76.

On other fronts, the Pirates acquired AA RHP Eliecer Cardenas to complete the Matt Diaz trade.

Ryan Doumit is bad at framing pitches

Pirates’ fans have seen the results of Ryan Doumit’s defense up close and have pretty universally agreed that it’s not good. Over the past four seasons I’d rate it as “bad,” “somewhat improved,” “wretched” and “eh.”

But beyond the passed balls and weak throws, how does he rate as a receiver of ball and strikes? I’ve never heard any of his pitchers call him out (not that they should do so publicly.)

Mike Fast at Baseball Prospectus has done more work than anyone else I’ve found trying to give objective analysis to catcher defense. In his latest piece he dissects the effect catchers have on ball and strike calls based on their setup and movement. Standing out among his conclusions: Over the last five years, Doumit is the worst at framing pitches to create strike calls for his pitchers, costing the team 26 runs per 120 games played.

The article is well worth a read even if you don’t want to get into the deep number crunching parts. There are animated .gifs illustrating different techniques by various catchers that help or hurt their pitchers, including one that shows Doumit nodding his head as he follows pitches that are low in the zone, which leads to more ball calls.

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 – Rick Reuschel

Probably better known for his time with the Cubs and Giants; today’s tree features three time All Star and two time Gold Glove winner Rick Reuschel.

Rick wasn’t a Pirate for much of career but he had one good season, one mediocre one and part of another good one before he was traded away. I had been meaning to figure out how Don Slaught was acquired but it had slipped my mind and I was happy to find Sluggo here.

Thursday Trade Tree – Honus Wagner

The Pirates wouldn’t be The Pirates without this trade. (click to embiggen)

The link above covers the players in great detail, but anytime you can trade four players to get back twelve players including three Hall Famers and the best pitcher in franchise history, and get the original four players returned to your team before the start of the next season, you do it.

A few notes on the more notable players:

Honus Wagner – HoF, best shortstop in major league history by just about any measure.

Fred Clarke – HoF, star left fielder, elected to the Hall as a player but could have made it as a manager as well.

Rube Waddell – HoF, only played one season for the Pirates but lead the league in ERA, ERA+ and WHIP.

Jack Chesbro – HoF, sent to Louisville in the deal, returned when that franchise folded. More known for his achievements with the Yankees.

Deacon Phillippe – Five time 20 game winner, five times lead the league in fewest BB/9 IP.

Tacks Latimer – 86 AB in five years as a pro. Every team should have a backup catcher named “Tacks.”