This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 25th, Tony Womack Trade

One trade of note and four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. We start with the transaction.

The Trade

On this date in 1999 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded second baseman Tony Womack to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor leaguer Paul Weichard and a player to be named later. Exactly six months later, the Diamondbacks sent pitcher Jason Boyd to the Pirates to complete the trade. Womack was drafted by the Pirates in 1991 and had spent parts/all of five seasons in the majors. He led the National League in stolen bases each of his two full seasons (60 in 1997 and 58 in 1998) and was named to the All-Star team in 1997. His first year in Arizona he won his third straight stolen base title, stealing a career high 72 bases while scoring 111 runs. The next year he led the league with 14 triples and he stole 45 bases, while also scoring 95 runs. In 2001 he helped the Diamondbacks to their only World Series title. Weichard was just 19 at the time, having never played above rookie ball and he didn’t make far for the Pirates, playing in the system until 2002. He topped out at Double-A, playing one game there his last season in the organization. Boyd was in the majors, but he pitched just four games for the Pirates before he was lost on waivers. This trade didn’t work out as bad as most people think. Womack put up solid numbers at the plate for a stretch, but he put up just 2.4 WAR in his entire career, and 2.1 after he left the Pirates. That was partially due to below average defense. In the 2004 season alone, after he already left the Diamondbacks and became a free agent, he had 3.3 WAR for the St Louis Cardinals. That means that he had -0.9 WAR for his other 12 seasons combined.

The Players

Phil Irwin, pitcher for the 2013 Pirates. His big league career consisted of two starts, one for the 2013 Pirates and one for the 2014 Texas Rangers. Irwin gave up five runs (four earned) over 4.2 innings in his big league debut on April 14, 2013. His start for Texas saw him allow three runs over four innings. His pro career lasted from 2009 until 2015 and included a stop in Korea during his final season. Irwin was a 21st round draft pick of the Pirates out of the University of Mississippi in 2009. He had a 2.12 ERA in 29.2 innings with State College of the New York-Penn League after being drafted. In 2010, Irwin spent the season as a starter for Low-A West Virginia. He had a 3.35 ERA in 113 innings, with 111 strikeouts. He split the 2011 season between High-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona, putting up a 3.14 ERA in 140.2 innings, though his work in High-A was much better than his time in Altoona. The Pirates sent him to the Arizona Fall League after the season and he lasted just one relief appearance before being shut down. In 2012, Irwin spent most of the year back in Double-A, though he ended up making it to Triple-A for four starts and a 2.57 ERA. He was up with the Pirates for one day in 2013, just long enough to make his MLB debut. In early July, he had minor surgery on his right elbow, which cost him the rest of the season. The Pirates sent him to the AFL once again and he put up an 8.62 ERA as a starter. Irwin was up with the Pirates for one day (May 6th) in 2014 without appearing in a game, before being designated for assignment 16 days later. He was picked up by the Rangers eight days later and pitched his final big league game on July 8th. He started 2015 in Korea and ended the season back with the Rangers. He became a free agent after the season and never played again.

Xavier Paul, outfielder for the 2011 Pirates. He began his pro career as a fourth round draft pick of the Dodgers in the 2003 amateur draft. He was selected at 18 years old out of Slidell HS in Louisiana, the only draft pick ever from that school. It took him six full seasons in the minors, plus two years of fall ball and one year of winter ball, before he made his big league debut in May of 2009. Paul played parts of three seasons with Los Angeles (2009-11), hitting .233 in 62 total games. He lasted just 11 games that first season, all of them in May. He suffered a staph infection, then injured his ankle on a rehab assignment, which caused him to miss the rest of the season.  In 2010, he had a stint from late April until the end of May, then returned for a month-long stint in July. Both times he got playing time while Manny Ramirez was out injured, but Paul was injured late in the year and didn’t return. He played seven early season games for the 2011 Dodgers before being designated for assignment. He was picked up by the Pirates off waivers from the Dodgers on April 26, 2011 and in 121 games that season with Pittsburgh, he hit .254 with 20 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. He was released in November and signed by the Washington Nationals. The Nationals let him go in July without a big league appearance. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds and remained there through the end of the 2013 season. Paul hit .264 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 152 games for the Reds. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles in 2014 and spent the season in the minors, before being released in August. He immediately signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks and played his final 14 big league games, hitting .100 in 20 at-bats. He signed with the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies, then got released during Spring Training and didn’t play that season. He spent 2016 in Mexico, then signed with the Texas Rangers in 2017, though he played just nine minor league games. In 2018, he played his final pro games, briefly playing independent ball for Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League. Paul played a total of 349 games over six seasons in the big leagues, batting .250 with 12 homers. Despite 16 steals in a partial season with the Pirates, he finished with 23 stolen bases in the majors.

Jim Dunn, pitcher for the 1952 Pirates. He pitched just three games in the majors, all in relief for the 1952 Pirates. He played in the minors in 1951 at age 20, but was later signed by Pittsburgh out of the University of Alabama on August 11, 1952 and brought right to the majors, where he threw a total of 5.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks. He debuted on August 26th and pitched his final big league game 17 days later. He also pitched an exhibition game against the Washington Senators on September 8th and took the loss after walking four straight batters to force in two runs, in a game that ended in a 3-0 score. He walked eight batters in 3.2 innings. After the 1952 season ended, he returned to Alabama to finish his education. Dunn pitched in the minors from 1951 until 1959, playing in the Pirates system through the end of the 1955 season when he was lost to the Cleveland Indians in the November minor league draft. During spring training of 1953 Dunn started for the Pirates as they played an exhibition game against a Cuban All-Star team in Havana. He took the loss, allowing five first-inning runs in a game that ended 13-10. He was a late cut from the roster that year and was never able to come close to making the majors again. The Pirates believed that they would lose him to the Army, as he went to take his physical just a few days before he was assigned to the minors on April 11th. However, he ended up pitching a full season for Burlington-Graham of the Carolina League, where he had a 5-9, 4.59 record in 147 innings, splitting his time between starting and relief. Dunn dropped down a level in 1954 and won 14 games, while posting a 3.64 ERA in 204 innings for Billings of the Pioneer League. He would win 15 games the next season and once again top the 200-inning mark. He went by the nickname “Red” during his time with the Pirates and went by Bill during his time in college (his name was James William Dunn).

Phil Slattery, pitcher for the 1915 Pirates. Just like Dunn, Slattery’s entire big league career consisted of three games pitched with the Pirates. He began his pro career in 1914, pitching for two different minor league teams. He began the year with Des Moines of the Western League, before finishing the year with the Marshalltown Ansons, a team named after Hall of Famer Cap Anson who was born in the town. In 1915, Slattery spent the entire minor league season playing for Marshalltown, where he won 21 games and pitched 320 innings. He totaled 312 strikeouts according to league records (which credited him with 23 wins), including a game with 19 strikeouts. He also had a streak of five straight games with double-digit strikeouts, which didn’t include the 19-strikeout game. The Pirates purchased his contract for $1,500 on August 20th. Scout Chick Fraser saw him pitch and was impressed, then Slattery threw a one-hitter in his next start, which helped solidify the signing. He joined the Pirates on September 5th and was used three times in relief during a ten-day stretch (September 16-25). He pitched a total of eight innings, allowing five hits, one walk, two hit batters but no runs. On September 22nd he threw five shutout innings against the Brooklyn Robins after starter Wilbur Cooper was pulled prior to the fifth inning with a 4-0 score in favor of Brooklyn. The Pirates let him leave for home on September 27th when they went on their final road trip, which was likely done to save travel costs over the last six days of the season. He went to Spring Training with the Pirates in March of 1916 as one of five lefties, which is more than most teams carried back then. He had a rough spring opener on the 16th, allowing all four runs in a loss to the team of younger players in camp. Eleven days later, he tossed four shutout innings against the same players. The Pirates ended up cutting him on April 9th, three days before Opening Day. Slattery returned to the Ansons that season and had an impressive 22-11 2.14 record in 303 innings, but was not picked up by a Major League team. He pitched in the minors until 1921 without getting another shot at the majors. Only two players in the history of the Pirates franchise pitched more innings without allowing a run, Morrie Critchley (9 IP), who played for the team in 1882 while they were in the American Association, and Timothy Jones (10 IP), who pitched for the 1977 Pirates. Honus Wagner pitched 8.1 innings with the Pirates without allowing an earned run, but he gave up five runs total.

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