Friday, March 25, 2011

Pittsburgh Pirates: A Generation of Characters

The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates season is upon us and a 19th consecutive losing season is looming.  As someone who is approaching 30 years old I have seen only a handful of winning baseball teams.  Six winning seasons in twenty-nine years has produced many five year plans, prospects, high draft picks, retreads, and minor leaguers who have roamed the friendly confines of Three Rivers Stadium and PNC Park with the promise that this year will be different.  However, all have ended similarly, a season under .500.  With that being said here are some of my favorite Pirates that made Pittsburgh proud and a haven for baseball fans.  Hopefully some of these former Pirates bring back some fond memories for you.

C    Mike Diaz ('86-'87) - Kind of looked like Rambo, got his autograph at a Burger King when I was 5 or 6
1B  Mark Johnson ('95-'97) - Power hitting prospect and Bradenton sensation didn't translate to majors
2B  Warren Morris ('99-'01) - Promising rookie season in '99, went down hill fast hitting, last game 2003
3B  Andy LaRoche ('08-'10) - Big time prospect acquired from Dodgers, average routinely hovered around .200, released in 2010
SS  Pat Meares ('99-'01) - signed 5 yr $16 million contract, played 21 games in '99, hit .238 as a Pirate and released two years before contract and career ended
OF Tike Redman ('00-'05) - Speedy CF that never stole many bases, decent batting avg, name alone worthy of honors, career lasted six seasons
OF Chad Hermanson ('99-'02)- Former 1st rd pick, career .195 BA, 13 HR over six year career
OF Derek Bell ('01) - "Operation Shutdown" signed $5 million contract and lasted 46 games, later charged with felony drug possession
B   Jacob Brumfield ('95-'96) - knew franchise wasn't going to get any better anytime soon with him starting
B   Orestes Destrade ('88) - Bucs on the cusp of their big run, couldn't stand for a .149 hitter with big glasses and mouse ears
B   Bobby Hill ('03-'05) - traded for one of the premiere third basemen Aramis Ramirez, co-stared in Fox animated show "King of the Hill" and couldn't juggle two careers
B   Randall Simon ('03-'04) - batted .245, 13 hrs, and hit an Italian sausage with a bat
B   Sam Khalifa ('85-'97) - A stoned Wiz Khalifa may have been able to make more contact than this career .219 hitting former 1st round pick.  Career lasted 3 yrs.
B   Jim Morrison ('83-'87) - Mr. Mo Jo Risin, one of the first few Pirates I remember along with Tony Pena and Johnny Ray

Pitching Staff
P Ian Snell ('04-'09) - former 14 game winner and opening day starter, looked like a promising pitcher then self-destructed and retired at age 29
P Jimmy Anderson ('99-'02) - 5.17 ERA, 220 BB to 222 K, and blew up like a balloon.
P Paul Wagner ('92-'97) - another pitcher labeled by Pirate broadcasters as having "great stuff." That "great stuff" provided a 26-42 record and ERA of 4.58 with the Bucs
P Matt Morris ('07-'08) - acquired from SF, washed up and Bucs picked up a $10 million contract, released after 5 starts in '08 and career ended
P Brian Bullington ('05-'07) - former 1st overall draft pick by Pirates, selected over Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, BJ Upton, Matt Cain, and Nick Swisher due to affordability, waived in 2008 and currently a free agent

P Rich Loiselle ('96-'01) - anointed closer of first 5 yr plan - 29 saves rookie year, ERA and WHIP skyrocketed two years later, career lasted 6 seasons
P John Van Benschoten ('04, '07-'08) - great collegiate hitter drafted in 1st Rd and converted to an awful pitcher, career lasted 3 years
P Ryan Vogelsong ('01-'06) - acquired from SF in Jason Schmidt trade, supposed gem of deal, ERA commonly in 6.00s, career lasted 6 seasons
P Bob Kipper ('86-'91) - reliever who had a great last name
P Blas Minor ('92-'94) - came out of the bullpen and was shelled routinely; WHIP and ERA extremely high
P Dave Wainhouse ('96-'97) - career ERA as a Pirate near 7.00

ManagerJohn Russell ('08-'10) - looked like he was in a coma; no emotion, terrible fielding and base running and 105 losses in 2010
GMDavid Littlefield ('01-'07) - First round draft picks include the like of Bryan Bullington and Daniel Moskos.  Traded away Aramis Ramirez for Bobby Hill, Chris Young for Matt Herges (released in spring training and went on to have fantastic season), Rajai Davis for Matt Morris and his $10 million contract, future closer Leo Nunez for a 39 year old Benito Santiago who lasted six games, and received next to nothing for Jason Schmidt.  Farm system was consistently ranked in bottom half of league for most of his tenure

Other guys who gave Pirate fans lasting memories:  Al Pedrique, Junior Ortiz, Midre Cummings, Chris Duffy, Brandon Moss, Will Pennyfeather, Mark Parent, Steve Cooke

() - Pirates career listed
Statistics and player information collected from


  1. Great List Rob. I would like to add honorable mentions for Brad Eldred and Oliver Perez as well.

  2. There have been so many bums its hard remembering them all