This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: January 29th, Jason Schmidt and the Matty Alou Trade

Only one former Pirates player born on this date, but we have three trades of note.

The Trades

On this date in 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Matty Alou and pitcher George Brunet to the St Louis Cardinals in exchange for outfielder Vic Davalillo and pitcher Nelson Briles. Alou was the big piece in the deal. He hit .327 over five seasons with the Pirates, winning a batting title in 1966 and leading the league in doubles and hits in 1969. Brunet was a 35-year-old pitcher who had a 9-7, 4.21 record in 36 games in 1970. The Pirates acquired him mid-season that year from the Washington Senators. Briles was 27 and had a 61-54, 3.42 record in six seasons with the Cardinals, which included 19 wins in 1968. Davalillo was a 31-year-old outfielder, who hit .311 in limited at-bats with the Cardinals in 1970, his eighth season in the majors.

Davalillo played well for the Pirates. He hit .285 with 48 runs scored in 99 games in 1971, then followed it up with a .311 average in 117 games the next season. Briles went 36-28 over his three seasons with the Pirates, winning 14 games in both 1972 and 1973. Brunet made just seven relief appearances for the Cardinals in 1971, in what would be his last season in the majors. Alou hit .315 with a career high 74 RBIs in 1971, then followed it with a .314 average in 1972, before the Cardinals traded him away late in the season. Two years later he was released by the San Diego Padres, his fourth team in three years, which was the end of his Major League career. While Alou’s bat would have looked good in Pittsburgh for two more seasons, the Pirates won the 1971 World Series and Briles threw a shutout in game five, so the trade worked out well. The Pirates also got some trade value out of Briles after the 1973 season, while they were able to get cash in a deal for Davalillo in 1973.

On this date, in 1932, the Pirates traded pitcher Bob Osborn and catcher Eddie Phillips to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association in exchange for 23-year-old pitcher Bill Swift. This trade worked out great for the Pirates, as they gave up a pitcher in Osborn, who at age 28, had only 27 Major League wins and 4.32 ERA. Phillips was a 30-year-old catcher, who had played parts of three seasons in the majors and never hit higher than .235 any year. Swift was in his fourth minor league season in 1930 and had just posted a 16-7, 4.54 record while playing in a high-offense league. He immediately became a fixture in the Pirates rotation and would go on to pitch 305 games over eight seasons in a Pittsburgh uniform. He had a 91-79 record for the Pirates, winning at least 14 games in a season four times. Osborn never played in the majors again, while Phillips played parts of three more seasons, getting into a combined 135 games for three different teams.

On this date in 1949 the Pirates purchased pitcher Murry Dickson from the St Louis Cardinals for $125,000. He was 32 years old at the time and was coming off of a 12-16, 4.14 record in 42 games, 29 of them as a starter. In 1946 he had a 15-6, 2.88 record in 47 games, 19 as a starter. The Pirates were getting a workhorse starter, who put in 231.2 innings in 1947 and 252.1 innings in 1948. For the Pirates he would play five seasons, throwing over 200 innings each year, averaging 243 per season. In 1951 he won 20 games for a team that finished 64-90, and that was despite leading the league in hits allowed. earned runs and home runs allowed. Overall he had a 66-85, 3.83 record with Pittsburgh, although his won/loss record was hurt by playing for some very bad teams over those years. During his time in Pittsburgh, the team’s record was 201 games below the .500 mark. Prior to the 1954 season, the Pirates received much of their initial investment back, getting $70,000 from the Philadelphia Phillies, along with two players who never played for the Pirates. They would get even more money back when both players were sold to the minors, along with pitcher Ed Wolfe, who was sold to clear roster space for the second player coming back in the deal.

The Player

Jason Schmidt, pitcher for the 1996-2001 Pirates. The Pirates acquired Schmidt from the Atlanta Braves, along with two other players, in exchange for Denny Neagle on August 28, 1996. Schmidt had a 5-6, 6.45 record in 22 games over two seasons prior to the trade. After the trade he made six starts that season for the Pirates, going 2-2, 4.06 in 37.2 innings. He stayed in the rotation to begin the 1997 season, and over the next three years (1997-99) he made a combined total of 98 starts, posting a 34-34 record. His best ERA during that stretch came during the 1998 season (4.07 in 214.1 innings), though that was the only year that he had a losing record (11-14). Schmidt went 10-9, 4.60 during the Freak Show season in 1997, then he was 13-11, 4.19 in 212.2 innings in 1999. He made just 11 starts in 2000 before a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery put him out for the season. He returned in 2001 and went 6-6, 4.61 in 14 starts before he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in a four-player deal on July 30, 2001. During his time in Pittsburgh, he went 44-47, 4.39 in 799.2 innings over 129 starts.

Schmidt saw an instant turnaround while playing for a much better team. After the deal, he finished the 2001 season by going 7-1, 3.39 in 11 starts. He was 13-8, 3.45 in 29 starts in 2002, then had a career year in 2003. Schmidt went 17-5 with a league leading 2.34 ERA. He made his first All-Star team and finished second in the National League Cy Young voting. The 2004 season was another solid performance, which included his second All-Star appearance and a fourth place finish in the Cy Young voting. Schmidt was 18-7, 3.20 that year in a career high 225 innings. He would go 78-37 in six years with the Giants before signing a 3 year/ $46,000,000 contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on December 6, 2006. He would make just ten career starts after signing that deal, six during the first half of 2007 and four more during a two-week stretch in the middle of the 2009 season. He missed most of that time due to a 2007 shoulder injury, but he kept suffering setbacks during minor league rehab outings. Schmidt actually made nine minor league starts in 2008 without pitching in a big league game. He also made one rehab start in 2007 and he pitched 44.1 innings over eight minor league games in 2009. He retired after 2009 with a 130-96, 3.96 career record. Schmidt was an eighth round draft pick of the Braves in 1991 out of Kelso HS in Washington.