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.


Tuesday Trade Tree – Damaso Marte: Act I

My first trade tree was about the Jason Bay trade. Since it was the first one I did I hadn’t worked out all of the ground rules I now use, such as including every instance a player appeared with the franchise, even if it wasn’t directly related to the original trade I was working on. Damaso Marte was an below average left handed reliever for the Pirates in 2006 and a pretty good one in 2007 and 2008 before he was sent to the Yankees with Xavier Nady for Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen and Ross Ohlendorf. Marte’s rookie year with the team was in 2001 when he was acquired from the Yankees for Enrique Wilson. Before the next season began he was flipped to the White Sox for a younger, right handed reliever, Matt Guerrier. Pirates Prospects’ John Dreker has all the details on that trade in today’s This Date in Pirates History, but here’s the visual guide.

I had high hopes for the Wil Cordero trade, as I’m sure others did too. It seemed like Wilson was a highly thought of shortstop prospect at the time, so getting him and a young outfielder for a mediocre veteran looked great. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Dock Ellis Trade Tree

Happy Birthday to Dock Ellis, who would have been 67 today. John Dreker of Pirates Prospects has an in-depth look at Dock’s career today and asked me if I would create this trade tree to go in conjunction with it. Little did I know this would be one of the longer trees I’ve come across, spanning 28 years and 25 players. It even has a link to the Manny Sanguillen tree. (I missed Miguel Dilone‘s second stint with the Bucs when I made that one.)

Dock started the All-Star Game in 1971 while winning 19 games for the World Series winning Pirates. In 1970 he threw a complete game no-hitter and posted the highest WAR (3.1) of his Pirates career.

I always learn something new doing these. On this one I found out that former Astros, A’s and Mets manager Art Howe is a Pittsburgh native and started his playing career as a Buc.

Thursday Trade Tree – Mike Fetters

Ed. Note: Thursday Trade Tree? On a Friday? Just trust me that I wrote it last night.

With a turn of the head so sharp it gives you whiplash, here comes Mike Fetters.

A couple of memorable Pirates in this tree, for positive and negative. Fetters’ trademark headsnap to the plate was always fun to watch even of the results weren’t always pretty (8 saves, 1.50 WHIP & 0.4 WAR over 48 innings.)

Then there’s Randall Simon, who is infamous for the Sausage incident. In July of 2003, on his way to hitting a robust .274/.305/.417 (85 OPS+), Simon inexplicably took a swing at the Italian Sausage during a game in Milwaukee. Luckily the runner inside the costume was unharmed and Simon got off with a $432 fine. The Bucs were lucky to trade him a month later for Ray Sadler. Leave it to Dave Littlefield though. He liked what he had seen enough to bring Simon back the next season. After 194 at bats of .194/.264/.280 (42 OPS+) Randall was finally released.

Trade Tree – A.J. Burnett

After rumors of this deal first leaked about a week ago, the Pirates and Yankees finally completed the deal for A.J. Burnett.

Both of the minor leaguers in the deal, Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones were originally signed out of Venezuela. Neither is expected to do much if they ever make the big leagues so the added pitching depth is well worth the trade.

Thursday Trade Tree – Dale Long

Today’s post was inspired by yesterday’s This Date in Pirates History post on Pirates Prospects. John Dreker goes into great detail on the Kluszewski/Fondy part of this tree, but I’ll stick with the more notable Pirate, Dale Long.

Long was a firstbaseman for the Pirates from 1955-1957, making the All-Star team in 1956. He set a major league record that season by hitting a home run in eight straight games. Don Mattingly tied that record in 1987 and Ken Griffey Jr. did it in 1993 but no other National League player has made it to more than seven games.

Four years later Long was on the 1960 Yankees team that lost to the Pirates in the World Series. He was 1 for 3 with a single in three pinch hitting appearances.

Tuesday Trade Tree – Casey McGehee

Last night the Pirates traded Jose Veras – who was a candidate to be non-tendered and released – for Casey McGehee.

There’s nothing but upside to this deal. McGehee hit .223/.280/.346 last year but the two seasons prior were .285/.337/.464 and .301/.360/.499 for his age 27 and 26 seasons.

Where does his true talent level lie? Casey’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP) the last three years was .330, .306, .249. The league average is usually in the neighborhood of .300, so the easy conclusion is that he was lucky in 2009, unlucky in 2011 and that his true ability is around his 2010 output.

Personally, I think that would be asking a bit much. If the Brewers believed he could still hit .280 consistently with 23 HR’s they wouldn’t have traded him for a relief pitcher who is prone to meltdowns. On the Pirates he’ll be Pedro Alvarez insurance and in the mix at first base. I’m not sure how he would fit in a platoon situation; after being slightly better against LHP in 2009 and much better against them in 2010 he was horrid against lefties in 2011.

The most likely scenario that I see (assuming Pedro doesn’t go in the tank): he hits .270/.330/.410 and forces the team to find him 300 PAs. That would make this a good trade.