Big Lead Sports Bar


Pittsburgh Pirates: The Last Stop

While hanging out with my brother recently, a great Pirate conversation blossomed: "Who was the last player to retire a Pirate?". I'm talking about a teary, this-is-the-end press conference in front of the gathered media. We quickly came to the conclusion that Pirate careers end three ways: via trade, release, or the team choosing to not re-up the player. Retirement is not an option when you wear a Pirate uniform. An interesting subplot we dug up: the career dead end of most players in their post-Bucco days. We were amazed by could a player who started for the Pirates not even be worth signing for the rest of the league? How many times has this happened? Are the Pirates the last stop in MLB? On to our findings...(by the way, this has morphed into an encyclopedia of crappy major leaguers. I'm sorry, it's beyond my control).

PART I: THE BATTERS (I would call them "The Hitters", but that wouldn't apply in most cases)

COMING SOON: The sequel: THE HURLERS (Appropriately named. Trust me.)

Adrian Brown, OF: Started the bulk of games over three seasons in the Bucco OF. Relieved of his baseball duties by Team Nutting in 2002.
Post-Pirate career: 14 games with the Red Sox and Royals, out of MLB.

Al Martin, OF: Al Martin can best be summed up with that crazy story he told about when he played college football at USC, going so in depth that he talked about tackling Leroy Hoard and his tree trunk legs. Unfortunately,
that never happened. Folks, your seven-year starter in the outfield.
Post-Pirate career: Spent some time with San Diego, Seattle, and Tampa Bay. Then joined the 2005 Steelers and won the Super Bowl MVP.

Armando Rios, OF: The main nugget in the Jason Schmidt booty played a total of 78 games as a Pittsburgh Plunderer. Littlefield made him walk the plank.
Post-Pirate career: Was bounced around from White Sox to Marlins to Orioles to Cardinals to Twins. Through all that, managed 104 at bats in 2003. I think I had more plate appearances for the Jefferson Township Red in my 1985 T-Ball season. Out of MLB.

Benito Santiago, C: Your 2005 opening day catcher. Took 6 games for the Pirates to put everyone involved out of their misery. It figures that the Pirates would sign the only man involved with BALCO that didn't add 25 HR per year. Post-Pirate career: Signed by the Mets, and released. Never played again in MLB.

Bobby Hill, 2B: No, not the kid from King of the Hill. This was the gem of the Aramis Ramirez trade. Just not a valuable gem. In all fairness to Hill, since he's no longer in the bigs after 2005, let's compare what he did against what Ramirez did in 2003, 2004, and 2005 since the trade:

Hill: .267, 2 HR, 38 RBI

Ramirez: .301, 82 HR, 234 RBI

Don't you feel better?

Post-Pirate career: Out of MLB.

Brant Brown, OF: He was the dork that dropped the ball in the Cubs playoff game in 1998. That moment really opened Bonifay's eyes, and he would be dropping fly balls for the Pirates soon after. And all he had to give up was Jon Lieber, who's won 79 games since the trade. Post-Pirate career: Much like a winning season in the McNutting era, it doesn't exist.

Carlos Garcia, 2B: I'll never forget sitting in the 6th level at the 1994 All Star Game, feeling so proud of Carlos Garcia for making the All Star Game. I mean, he only hit .277 with 6 HR that year, but I was so excited that fans voted a Pirate to play in his hometown. Later that day, I was told at the tender age of 16 that there was no Santa Claus. Post-Pirate career: Bounced around with the Jays, Angels, and Padres, and bounced from the league after 1999. Alas, he was never elected to any more All Star Games.

Chad Hermansen, SS/OF: Once said by a Pirate scout: "He could walk on water." He didn't mention that he said this while taking a tour of the Civic Arena ice with Hermansen. Scouts like that are why the Pirates have 14 losing seasons in a row. Dumped for a finished Darren Lewis in 2002.
Post-Pirate career: Cubs, Dodgers, Blue Jays, and I'm guessing a beer league somewhere. But he went 13 for 75 in those Post-Pirate ABs!

Chris Stynes, 3B: Played in 74 games, starting many, at 3B for 2004 Pirates. The Pirates lost 89 games that year, so you can't blame him for at least 15 of those losses. Released in August 2004 with a .216 average.
Post-Pirate career: Signed by Baltimore, never appeared in any MLB action.

Daryle Ward, 1B: Started 133 games at 1B in 2005 with Pirates, suddenly lost the ability to hit with any power. Curious for a guy who averaged a HR every 13 at bats in 2000 with Houston, over 119 games. Hmmm. Post-Pirate career: Signed with Washington as a backup and has 59 plate appearances in 2006.

Derek Bell, OF: The Pirates paid him $10 million for 27 hits. That's $370,000 per hit. Good thing the Pirates don't have Ichiro.
Post-Pirate career: Bought a boat and sailed away with a stolen $10 mil. Arrested on April 20,2006 with a warm crack pipe. I kid you not---look him up on Wikipedia. Out of MLB.

Ed Sprague, 3B: He played one year (1999) with the Pirates, hit .267 with 22 dingers, and they let him walk in favor of Aramis Ramirez. I specifically remember Jason Kendall being really ticked about that move. I mean, who wouldn't want a guy that would go on to play two more seasons and hit 14 HR? Post-Pirate career: San Diego, Boston, Seattle, and on 4th down, he punted. Out of the majors after 2001.

Emil Brown, OF: The human yo-yo of trips back and forth to the minors. Traded in 2001 for Shawn Camp and Shawn Garrett. Littlefield figured, "If I'm getting one Shawn who's not going to reach the majors, I might as well get two."
Post-Pirate career: His odyssey has taken him to Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Houston, and KC. Four years after the Pirates gave up on him, he resurfaces as a starter in the world of Dan Quisenberry and BBQ Ribs.

Freddy Garcia, 3B. No, the Pirates didn't have the rights to the dominating pitcher who looks like The Rock

. This is the Pirates' Freddy Garcia, of the .222 career average. Post-Pirate career: 2 ABs with the Braves. Got to take infield behind Chipper Jones for a game.

Ivan Cruz, 1B/OF: Supposedly a late blooming power prospect. I'd say he spoiled. Post-Pirate career: 14 AB with the 2002 Cardinals, and that's about it. Out of MLB.

Jeff Reboulet, 2b: One year experiment at 2B in 2003. Never send Littlefield to the lab. Post-Pirate career: None. Pirates were the last stop. Out of MLB.

Jermaine Allensworth, OF: Given the shot at starting OF in the late 90s, and graciously gave up that spot to other players. Dealt to the Royals in a blockbuster for Manuel Bernal in 1998. Post-Pirate career: 104 games with the Royals and the Muckin' Fets. Out of MLB after 1999.

J.J. Davis, OF: Former #1 pick in 1997 dealt in 2004 to Washington (then Montreal) for future OF stud Antonio Sucre. And sucre he did.
Post-Pirate career: 26 AB with Washington in 2005, signed by Colorado, appears to be finished.

Joe Oliver, C: After Jason Kendall let Pirate fans see what an ankle bone looks like on the 4th of July in 1999, Cam Bonifay needed a catcher. He needed a catcher so bad, he needed 2 catchers. And on July 23, he acquired catchers Oliver and Humberto Cota. And all it cost was future .300 hitter Jose Guillen. And that move let the Pirates finish 5 games under .500 in 1999.
Post-Pirate career: 86 games with the Mariners, Boston, and the Yankees. The last 2 teams were at the request of Peter Gammons.

John Wehner, OF: For those of you who missed my article on John Wehner, you'll get a lot more info by clicking here for the story. Post-Pirate career: Pirate announcer. He has Pirate Seperation Anxiety (PSA).

Keith Osik, C: The Humberto Cota of yesteryear shopped his wares after the 2002 season. There's always a market for light-hitting backup catchers...OR SO HE THOUGHT!!
Post-Pirate career: 96 games over 3 seasons with the Brewers, Orioles and Nationals. Out of MLB.

Kevin Elster, SS: What do you say about a guy who started all those years for the Mets and the highlight was his .241 average in '91? How about "Why would another team sign him in 1997?" Post-Pirate career: half a season with Texas, and half with LA. Out of MLB after 2000.

Kevin Polcovich, SS: I swear this guy was actually a local high school kid that snuck into the dressing room. He was 5'9", 170 and looked like he was 14. I never heard of him before he joined the team, and I never heard of him after he left the team. Anyone who can hit .189 over 212 ABs has one talent: fooling baseball executives into thinking he can play. Post-Pirate career: Finished high school and attended Triangle Tech.

Kevin Young, 1B: Released by the Pirates in 2003. Actually stopped playing like he cared in 1999. Post-Pirate career: Signed by Minnesota, but never reached the majors - no additional MLB action.

Lou Collier, SS: The Pirates saw enough in him to give him 110 starts in 1998. He had such a great season, the Pirates waived him goodbye that December. Post-Pirate career: 4 teams, 342 ABs, and was actually traded for Jason Bay in 2002. Out of MLB after 2004.

Mark Johnson, 1b: 6'4". 230 lbs. Towering. Just never panned out, for whatever reason. Post-Pirate career: Don't worry, like many Pirates, he didn't pan out anywhere else, either. Out of MLB after 2002.

Matt Lawton, OF: The juice didn't do much good for this admitted user. All it took was 101 games for Littlefield and Co. to show him the door in 2005.
Post-Pirate career: 19 games with the Cubs & 21 with the Yankees in 2005; 11 games with the Mariners in 2006; released by Seattle May 31, 2006. Currently out of MLB.

Mike "All About the" Benjamin, SS: Hit a stunning .150 over 108 games in 2002. Are they sure he was a SS and not a pitcher? Really?
Post-Pirate career: Come on. Fool MLB GMs once, shame on you. Fool MLB GMs twice, shame on MLB GMs.

Mike Kingery, OF: OK, this is like, the 38th of these I've done, and I'm seriously ready to puke. I don't know how the Pirates acquired so many guys that suck, it must be a gift. But I have to see this project till the end. The only thing I can say here is that the Pirates have never had a good player in this era named Mike. Benjamin, Kingery, Restovich, and in the pitcher section, Williams, were all terrible. This clown started in 1996 and hit .246. 'Nuff said. Post-Pirate career: ( ) *symbolizing nothing

Mike Restovich, OF: 52 games, .214 average in 2005. Mediocrity wrapped in averageness and deep-fried in apathy. Team elected not to re-sign.
Post-Pirate career: 2 for 12 with the Cubs in 2006. Currently at AAA Iowa.

Pat Meares, IF: Can you believe this guy made about $21 million in his career? But that's another topic. The frequently injured malcontent was finished in 2001, even with 2 years left on his contract. Between Larry Brown and Meares, this not-working-for-pay thing looks pretty good.
Post-Pirate career: Figuring out how many generations of Mearses can live off of $21 million.

Pokey Reese, 2B: Team elected not to re-sign after 2004 season. Played one more year for Boston, then signed with Seattle but did not appear in any MLB action. Picked up by Florida in '06, but had no contact with the club for 72 hours and was cut loose. The most he contributed as a Pirate was parking that cool Mercedes SUV of his in the player's lot.

Post-Pirate career: 1 season, 96 games, .221 average, out of MLB.

Randall Simon,1B : A two-time Pirate, he was released in 2004 and signed by Tampa Bay.

The only Pirate that can claim whacking a weiner in Milwaukee as the high point of their career

Post-Pirate career: 8 games, 17 AB, .117 Avg. Released by Tampa Bay in 2004. Out of MLB. Court ordered to not touch any sausage products.

Raul Mondesi, OF: Namesake of this site! Signed as a free agent in 2004, appeared in 26 games before the infamous Mario Guerrero extortion threats started. These threats distracted Mondesi so much that he couldn't commit to the Pirates, so they let him go only a month into the season. Thankfully, once the Pirates let Mondesi go, he somehow was able to get his life in order in the span of nine days to sign with the Angels.
Post-Pirate career: He ticked off the Angels enough to cut him after playing in only 8 games. Atlanta took a chance in 2005, apparently ignorant to the fact that he just screwed over 2 MLB teams. He tomahawk chopped for 41 games, and his baseball tombstone was finalized. Out of MLB.

Ruben Mateo, OF: One-time prospect signed by the Pirates in 2004. 33 AB and a .242 average. Not to be confused with Ruben Rivera, the guy who stole and tried to sell Derek Jeter's glove. Post-Pirate career: Sold to Kansas City, hit .194 over 32 games, out of MLB.

Tike Redman, OF: Held down the 3-hole on opening day in 2005 because a computer program told Lloyd to do so. That was Lloyd McClendon by the way, not Lloyd Christmas.

That computer must have missed the fact that 3-hole hitters are not supposed to bat there because they happen to average 3 home runs per season. The Pirates are even cheap on software. Team chose not to re-sign after 2005. Likely the last Tike we'll see until we inevitably draft his son in a few years. Signed by Tigers, currently in AAA Toledo.

Turner Ward, OF: Example 1A of the hustling white guy that the Pirates have consistenly signed year after year. The fans love him, he runs into and through walls (in this case, literally)...and he hits .262 as a starter. Post-Pirate career: 42 games with the Diamondbacks and Phils. Out of MLB by 2001.

Warren Morris, OF: Hero of the College World Series with LSU, had a solid 1999 rookie season before totally falling apart by 2001. Pirate fans were unhappy. And when Pirate fans are unhappy, heads roll. Like on March 13, 2002. Because the fans are the most important.
Post-Pirate career: Minnesota, St. Louis, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland..101 games and out of MLB by 2003. Unfortunately, did not get the Pat Meares golden parachute. Out of MLB.

I thought I would comment on the Pirates 2005 opening day lineup (if you want to verify this, go to a la "Where are they now?"

1. Matt Lawton, RF - Out of MLB
2. Jack Wilson, SS- Starting SS, Pirates
3. Tike Redman, CF- AAA, Tigers
4. Jason Bay, LF- Starting OF, Pirates
5. Daryle Ward, 1B- Backup 1B, Nationals
6. Ty Wigginton, 3B- Starting 3B, Devil Rays
7. Jose Castillo, 2b- Starting 2B, Pirates
8. Benito Santiago, C- Out of MLB
9. Oliver Perez, SP - 2-10 for Pirates

Only one year later, and 4 of the 8 hitters are currently out of the big leagues, and the pitcher is on pace to lose more than 20 games. I'm shocked this lineup only scored 2 runs against Milwaukee that day. Ogden, Kevin and Dave, you've outdone yourselves. Excelsior.


Eric said...

I'm not even a Pirate fan and that's depressing.

Chet Steadman said...

That melted my brain. A very exhaustive list, though. Eric's right, it really depresses me...

Anonymous said...

A few things -

Armando Rios was later tainted by the BALCO scandal as a steroid user. He also set the precedent for Littlefield acquiring injured outfielders (hello Jody Gerut).

Benito Santiago was acquired from Kansas City for Leo Nunez. Nunez has appeared in the MLB (at 21 years old) and has some future as a reliever. Makes that transaction even merrier.

Woody Huyke made the comment about Chad Hermansen. Woody was a long tenured Pirate minor league manager (mostly in the Gulf Coast league).

Randall Simon was acquired from Detroit the fiurst time for three players. Kody Kirkland is still in the Detroit system, hitting homers and striking out at AA. Roberto Novoa, another player in the Simon trade, was traded to the Cubs and has appeared in the MLB as a reliever to varying effectiveness.

Warren Morris was an infielder - the forerunner to Bobby Hill (college-trained IF with a good batting eye and suspect defense).

Anonymous said...

i'm starting to wonder if i'll die before the pirates have a winning season again and i'm 15

Anonymous said...

Where's Adam Hyzdu?

Anonymous said...


If that craptacular list doesn't perfectly sum up the joy of being a Pirates fan, nothing does.

I am going to go puke now. Maybe if I'm lucky, my puke will start in left field on opening day.