The Pirates go into 1925 as a team that has repeatedly fallen a little short. They won 85-90 games, in a 154-game schedule, for four straight years, but finished second or third each time. In 1922 and 1924, they had a rough first half, then a big second half that wasn’t quite enough.
After the 1924 season, they made one big move to change their fortunes: a blockbuster trade with the Cubs on October 27. They exchanged left-hander Wilbur Cooper, first baseman Charlie Grimm and second baseman Rabbit Maranville for right-hander Vic Aldridge, second baseman George Grantham and first base prospect Al Niehaus.
The trade hasn’t gone over well with Pirate fans. Cooper was the team’s ace starter and Maranville, although not much of a hitter, was a popular player. None of the players the Bucs have acquired are stars.
Aldridge reached the majors to stay at age 28 in 1922. For three years he’s been a mainstay for pretty good Chicago teams, serving as their number two starter after Pete Alexander the first two years and their top starter in the third. He’s gone 47-36, 3.50, and averaged nearly 240 innings per year.
The left-handed hitting Grantham debuted with the Cubs briefly in 1922, then served as their regular second baseman in 1923-24. He led all NL batters in strikeouts with 92 and 63 in those years, but he’s also been an above-average hitter, posting a 294/370/431 line in his time with Chicago. He picked up the nickname “Boots” by virtue of his error totals; he committed 55 in 1923 and 44 in 1924, easily leading the league at his position.
Niehaus, a right-handed hitter who’s nearly 26, has yet to play in the majors. In 1923 he batted .364 with Bradenton in the class C Florida State League. Last year he hit .366 with Chattanooga in the class A Southern Association.
The Pirates’ infield will, of course, have Pie Traynor at third and Glenn Wright at short. Grantham will play first, considering his defensive problems at second. Eddie Moore, after playing in the outfield last year, will move to second. Niehaus will be on the team and could play some at first. The utility infielders will be 35-year-old Jewel Ens and ten-year veteran Johnny Rawlings.
Max Carey returns in center and budding star Kiki Cuyler will play right. Both Carson Bigbee and Clyde Barnhart are available to play left. Johnny Gooch and Earl Smith will split the catching duties. Rookie Roy Spencer will be the third catcher. He hit .316 with Birmingham of the Southern Association.
The primary pitchers, apart from Aldridge, will be Lee Meadows, Ray Kremer, Emil Yde and Johnny Morrison. Babe Adams, who’ll turn 43 in May, is still with the team and should pitch more than he did in 1924. The remaining pitchers are three rookies. Bud Culloton has pitched the last two years for Norfolk of the Class C and B Virginia League. Lefty Don Songer went 22-15 last year with Oklahoma City of the class A Western League, then got into four September games with the Pirates. Lou Koupal went 22-10 in 1924 with Omaha of the Western League.