This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 19th, Pirates Acquire A.J. Burnett

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date and one trade of note.

The Trade

On this date in 2012, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired pitcher A.J. Burnett from the New York Yankees for minor league outfielder Exicardo Cayones and minor league pitcher Diego Moreno. They were taking a bit of a chance here, acquiring a 35-year-old pitcher with an ERA over 5.00 in each of his previous two seasons, while giving up two decent lower level prospects. It turned out to be a great deal for the Pirates, who got two strong seasons from Burnett, who also came back for a third year as a free agent, which likely wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t with the team earlier. Burnett went 16-10, 3.51 in 202.2 innings in 2012, then helped the Pirates to the playoffs in 2013 by posting a 3.30 ERA over 30 starts. He left via free agency after the 2013 season, but returned in 2015 for his final big league season. Cayones never made the majors, while Moreno made four relief appearances in 2015 for the Yankees and another five for the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays.

The Players

Chris Stewart, catcher for the 2014-17 Pirates. He played a total of 12 seasons in the majors, playing for eight different teams. Stewart spent more time in Pittsburgh than anywhere else. He was acquired from the New York Yankees for minor league pitcher Kyle Haynes in December of 2013. In 192 games for the Pirates over four seasons, Stewart batted .250 with one home run and 36 RBIs. He average/OBP/OPS went down each year with the Pirates. He batted a career high .294 in his first season, then followed it up with a solid .289 average in 2015. That average dropped to .214 in 2016, then bottomed out at .183 in 2017, in a year where he had a .463 OPS. Between the Yankees and Pirates, he was on four straight playoff teams, though his only postseason appearance during that time consisted of two innings on defense and no plate appearances. He was a career .230 hitter in 457 games, with nine homers and 90 RBIs. Stewart was drafted out of Riverside Community College at 19 years old in the 12th round in 2001 by the Chicago White Sox. His big league time with Chicago consisted of six games and an 0-for-8 at the plate in 2006. He was traded to the Texas Rangers and played 17 big league game in 2007 before being released. Stewart signed with the Yankees and played one game in the majors in 2008, then spent all of 2009 in Triple-A. He actually signed a free agent deal with the White Sox after the 2008 season, only to get traded back to New York before the season. After spending 2009 in the minors, Stewart signed with the San Diego Padres for 2010 and played two big league games that year without getting an at-bat. He signed with the San Francisco Giants for 2011 and finally got his big break, playing 67 games. The Giants traded him back to the Yankees for a third stint and that one went much better than the first two times. He batted .241 in 55 games in 2012, then saw regular playing time in 2013, despite a .211 average. He set career highs with 109 games, 28 runs scored, four homers and 25 RBIs. That season led to his trade to the Pirates, though he was acquired much more for his defense than any possible offensive potential. Stewart hit two triples in his 12-year career and they both came during his worst season in Pittsburgh, just five weeks apart. After leaving the Pirates, he split the 2018 season between the Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks, playing just eight big league games, while spending half of the season in the minors.  He was playing in Triple-A for the Padres in 2019 when he decided to retire mid-season.

Joe “Home Run” Marshall, shortstop for the 1903 Pirates. He made his Major League debut with the 1903 Pirates as a September call-up. He had played in pro ball as early as 1897 and had spent the 1903 season playing in the Pacific National League for a team aptly named the San Francisco Pirates. That year for San Francisco his teammates hit a combined 22 homers, and that was a group of players that included nine other future or former MLB players. Marshall hit 25 home runs on his own that year, earning a look with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He joined the team on September 4th and played his first game three days later, He was a late game replacement in left field during his big league debut and he hit an RBI double in his first at-bat. In ten games, he hit .261 with two triples. He played three games at shortstop, a position manned most of the year by Honus Wagner.He also played three games in the outfield and one start at second base. Marshall’s home run feats had started two years prior to his big 1903 season. In 1901 he hit 15 homers as the player/manager for Spokane of the Pacific Northwest League. After his stint with the Pirates, Home Run returned to the minors in 1904 and hit ten homers in 83 games for the Boise Fruit Pickers, the only player with double figures in homers for the team. The following season he homered seven times for the Vancouver Veterans of the Northwestern League, a team that had just 16 total homers on the year. He spent the 1906 season with the St Louis Cardinals where he hit .158 over 33 games with no homers. It was his last season in the majors, finishing his big league career without hitting a home run in 125 plate appearances. Marshall played in the minors until 1913. During the 1911 season, playing for the Butte Miners of the Union Association, he led the team with 37 doubles, 17 triples and 12 homers. No one else on that team hit more than five homers that season. His minor league stats are far from complete, but he had 78 homers in the ten available years between 1897-1913, back when the big league home run record was 138 by Roger Connor, so the “Home Run” nickname was well earned.

When Marshall signed with the Pirates, the Los Angeles Daily Times ran a scouting report on him that said that he was just a slugger who likely won’t get much of a chance with the Pirates and probably won’t stick due to having a lot to learn still about the game. He could hit any pitch over the plate (high/low, fastball/off-speed), but he was a dead pull hitter from the right side and the papers believed that teams would shift their defense to take away hits from him. They also talked down the competition he was seeing compared to the league in California. He did well in his brief time with the Pirates, but it just ended up being a trial. He actually signed with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League the day before he got an offer to play for the Pirates, then the next day (August 26th), he decided to join the Pirates instead. His San Francisco team in the Pacific National League had disbanded days earlier, leaving him without a job at the end of the season. In December, the Pittsburgh Press announced that Marshall was in Boise for the off-season and may decide to stay there to play, which is exactly what happened in 1904. That was only after San Francisco of the PCL sold his contract to Boise, since they still had a claim to him after signing with the club prior to his time with the Pirates.

Miguel Batista, pitcher for the 1992 Pirates. He signed as an amateur free agent in 1988 with the Montreal Expos at 17 years old out of the Dominican Republic. He was selected by the Pirates in the December 1991 Rule 5 draft. During the 1991 season, Batista went 11-5, 4.04 in 23 starts and 133.2 innings in A-ball. For the Pirates he made his Major League debut in relief of Doug Drabek during a 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in the fifth game of the season. Batista pitched the last two innings of the game, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks. Just 12 days later, without making another appearance, the Pirates sent him back to the Expos.His next appearance in the majors was with the 1996 Florida Marlins for nine relief appearances. Batista was taken off of waivers by the Chicago Cubs and he went 0-5, 5.70 in six starts and five relief appearances in 1997. After the season, he was traded back to his original team. He spent his first full season in the majors with the 1998 Expos, ten years after he originally signed with the team. Batista made 13 starts and 43 relief appearances, pitching a total of 135 innings. He had a 3.80 ERA, though he was much better as a starter, with a 3.03 mark. He assumed the same swing-man role in 1999, going 8-7, 4.88 in 134.2 innings. Batista split the 2000 season between the Expos and Kansas City Royals and struggled in both places, then he went to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and not only had his best ERA, he also helped them win the World Series. He went 11-8, 3.36 in 139.1 innings over 18 starts and 30 relief appearances. He was put into the starting rotation during the 2002-03 seasons in Arizona and he went 18-18 during that stretch, while averaging just over 190 innings pitched per season. Batista moved on to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004 and struggled in the starting role, then got moved to the closer role and pitched slightly better. He had a 4.80 ERA in 198.2 innings in 2004, followed by a 4.10 ERA and 31 saves in 2005. He ended up back in Arizona in 2006 as a starter and threw a career high 206.1 innings, though it came with a 4.58 ERA.

Batista then signed with the Seattle Mariners, where he spent three very different seasons. He was a starter in 2007, split the 2008 season between starting and relieving, then spent all of 2009 in relief. While there he went 27-29, 4.84 in 379.1 innings, making 52 starts and 81 relief appearances. Batista pitched in relief for four different teams during the 2010-12 seasons, starting with the Washington Nationals, before moving on to the St Louis Cardinals (2011), New York Mets (2011-12) and Atlanta Braves (2012). That was the end of his big league career, but he spent 2013 in the minors with the Toronto Blue Jays and he played winter ball in the Dominican until the 2014-15 off-season. He pitched for 11 teams over 18 big league seasons. Batista had a career record of 102-115, 4.48 in 658 games, 248 as a starter. His entire career stretched 27 seasons and he pitched approximately 3,000 innings. Stats from his first two seasons in the Dominican Summer League are unavailable, but he had 2,953 innings from 1990-2015

Chris Zachary, pitcher for the 1973 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the expansion Houston Colt .45’s at 18 years old and was in the majors as a teenager in 1963 before he ever played a minor league game. He pitched 22 games that rookie season, seven as a starter, going 2-2, 4.89 in 57 innings. The next four seasons were split between Triple-A and the majors with Houston. He did well in 1964, going 16-6, 3.20 in 194 innings at Triple-A, but his only big league appearance on October 1st resulted in five runs over four innings. Zachary was even better in the minors in 1965, going 17-8, 2.93 in 212 innings. That earned him two late season starts and two relief appearances. Despite two seasons of success at Triple-A, he was still back there in 1966 for most of the season and things didn’t go as well. He had a 4.14 ERA in 163 innings, which was actually worse than the ERA he put up in 55 innings (3.44) with the Astros (team name changed in 1965). Zachary struggled in 1967, posting a 1-6, 5.70 record in 36.1 innings with the Astros. That was followed by spending all of 1968 in the minors. After the 1968 season, the expansion Kansas City Royals purchased his contract, six months before their first game in franchise history. Zachary spent most of the next two years in the minors, during which time the Royals used him just eight times in 1969 and not at all in 1970. He was traded him to the St Louis Cardinals on July 1, 1970. He spent 1971 in the majors with the Cardinals, going 3-10, 5.32 in 89.2 innings. He made 12 starts and 11 relief appearances. Zachary then went 1-1, 1.41 in 25 games for the DetroitTigers in 1972 after joining them in a December 1971 trade. Just prior to the start of the 1973 season, the Pirates traded catcher Charlie Sands to the Tigers in exchange for Zachary. He would spend most of the season in Triple-A, going 14-7, 3.18 in 25 starts. He pitched six September games for the Pirates, all in relief, posting a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings. After the season the Pirates traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Pete Koegel, a minor league catcher with 62 games of big league experience. Zachary spent the 1974 season at Triple-A, before he retired as a player at 30 years old. In nine big league seasons, he went 10-29, 4.57 in 321.1 innings, making 4 starts and 68 relief appearances.