This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: February 25th, The Tony Womack Trade and Four Obscure Players

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. 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 had 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. 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 and 32 strikeouts in 29.2 innings over seven starts and three relief appearances with State College of the short-season New York-Penn League after being drafted. In 2010, Irwin spent the season as a starter for Low-A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League. He had a 6-3, 3.35 record in 113 innings, with 111 strikeouts. He made 20 starts and three relief appearances that season. He split the 2011 season between High-A Bradenton of the Florida State League and Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League, combining for a 3.14 ERA in 140.2 innings. His work in High-A was much better than his time in Double-A, going 5-0, 2.03 in 53.1 innings over ten starts for Bradenton, before finishing the year 8-4, 3.81 in 87.1 innings with Altoona. The Pirates sent him to the Arizona Fall League after the season and he lasted just one relief appearance before being shut down with a forearm injury, which he re-injured early in 2012, though his missed time was minimal.

In 2012, Irwin spent most of the year back in Altoona, after allowing one run over five innings in a rehab start with Bradenton. He went 4-7, 2.93 in 104.1 innings with Altoona, then made it to Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League 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. Irwin gave up five runs (four earned) over 4.2 innings in his debut on April 14, 2013. He was injured shortly after returning to the minors, then in July he had minor surgery on his right elbow, which cost him the rest of the season. At the time, he had a pitched just three games all season, including two starts with Indianapolis in which he allowed one run over ten innings. The Pirates sent him to the AFL once again and he put up an 8.62 ERA over five starts. 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 pitching poorly for Indianapolis at the time, posting an 8.72 ERA in 21.2 innings. He was picked up by the Rangers eight days later and pitched his final big league game on July 8th. His start for Texas saw him allow three runs over four innings. Irwin had a 3.51 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 51.1 innings for Triple-A Round Rock of the Pacific Coast League that year. He started 2015 in Korea and ended the season back with the Rangers, seeing time in both Double-A (Frisco of the Texas League) and Round Rock again. 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 three years of fall/winter ball before he made his big league debut in May of 2009. He debuted in 2003 with Ogden of the short-season Pioneer League, where he hit .307 with 60 runs, 28 extra-base hits and 47 RBIs in 69 games. In 2004, Paul played for Columbus of the Low-A South Atlantic League, where he batted .265 in 126 games, with 69 runs, 26 doubles, nine homers and 72 RBIs. He played with Vero Beach of the High-A Florida State League during the entire 2005-06 seasons. In 2005, he hit .247 in 85 games, with 42 runs, 25 extra-base hits and 41 RBIs. He followed that up with a .285 average in 120 games, with 62 runs, 23 doubles, 13 homers and 49 RBIs. He stole 22 bases that year, but he was also caught 15 times. In the 2006-07 off-season, he played in the Hawaii Winter Baseball league, where he hit .213 with a .619 OPS in 32 games against other lower level prospects. Paul was with Jacksonville of the Double-A Southern League in 2007, where he batted .292 in 118 games, with 64 runs, 21 doubles, 11 homers, 50 RBIs and 17 steals. After the season, he went to the Arizona Fall League, and hit .248 in 27 games, with a .593 OPS.

In 2008, Paul played for Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. He hit .316 in 115 games, with 82 runs, 28 doubles, nine homers, 68 RBIs and 17 steals. Those numbers were just slightly above average for a team that plays in a hitter-friend park in a hitter-friendly league. He spent the winter playing in Mexico, where he hit .293 in 41 games, with a strong .879 OPS. The 2009 season began with the Dodgers new Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque of the PCL, but he was up in the majors for a short time early in the year. Paul played parts of three seasons with Los Angeles (2009-11), though it amounted to 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.  He had an .878 OPS in 31 games for Albuquerque that year, and he hit .214 with a homer in 16 plate appearances for the Dodgers. In 2010, he had a stint with the Dodgers 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 batted .231 in 44 games in the majors that year, with eight doubles, no homers, 11 RBIs and a .591 OPS.

Paul played seven early season games for the 2011 Dodgers, going 3-for-11 with three singles, before being designated for assignment. He was picked up by the Pirates off waivers from the Dodgers on April 26, 2011. In 121 games that season with Pittsburgh, he hit .254 with 30 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. He was released by the Pirates in November of 2011 and he was signed by the Washington Nationals. The Nationals let him go in July of 2012 without a big league appearance. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds and remained there through the end of the 2013 season. Paul hit .314 in 55 games in 2012, serving mostly in a bench role, with 96 plate appearances. He played 97 games in 2013 and hit .244 with 12 doubles, seven homers and 32 RBIs. 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 that August, hitting .100 in 20 at-bats. He signed with the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies, but he was 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 that year. 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 83 runs, 12 homers, 71 RBIs and a .679 OPS. 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. After going 10-3 in two years of college, while also playing some semi-pro ball, Dunn was signed by Pittsburgh out of the University of Alabama on August 11, 1952 for (reportedly) $25,000. He was brought right to the majors, where he threw a total of 5.1 innings in his three games, 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 that day. He returned to Alabama to finish his education after the 1952 season ended. Dunn pitched in the minors from 1953 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 Class-B 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 to Billings of the Class-C Pioneer League, where he won 14 games, while posting a 3.64 ERA in 204 innings. He would win 15 games the next season with Billings, while posting a 2.32 ERA in 202 innings. With Burlington of the Class-B Three-I League in 1956, he went 8-8, 3.28 in 137 innings. The 1957 season saw him move up a level, but even then he was three levels away with Des Moines of the Class-A Western League for just a short time. Most of the year was spent back in Burlington, where he had a 12-4, 2.43 record in 152 innings. In 1958, Dunn played for Pueblo of the Western League for most of the season, while also seeing brief time in Double-A with Fort Worth of the Texas League. He went 4-5, 4.66 in 116 innings over 44 appearances with Pueblo. In his final season of pro ball in 1959, he pitched ten games for Lancaster of the Class-A Eastern League. 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). He was previously credited with 1951 minor league stats, which belong to someone named William Dunn, but the two pitchers could be found pitching at the same time in different states during that summer, with Jim Dunn playing both college and semi-pro ball.

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 Class-A Western League, before finishing the year with the Marshalltown Ansons, a team in the Class-D Central Association, named after Hall of Famer Cap Anson who was born in the town. He had a 7.24 ERA in 46 innings with Des Moines, and he compiled an 8-6 record and 126 strikeouts in 120 innings for Marshalltown. His ERA isn’t available, but he’s credited with allowing 3.45 runs per nine innings. Slattery spent the entire 1915 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. He cut his runs per nine innings in half, dropping down to a 1.72 mark. 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 and 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 Slattery 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. It was said that he was too inexperienced at the time and needed another year of minor league ball, so the Pirates agreed to send him back to Marshalltown with the understanding that they had first shot at recalling him at the end of the season. Slattery returned to the Ansons that season and had an impressive 22-11, 2.14 record in 303 innings. In 1917, he moved up two levels to the Central League, where he split the season between two teams and had a 15-9 record, while throwing 214 innings. It was said in February of 1918 that he was acquired from the Pirates by Vernon of the Pacific Coast League, but Vernon sent him to Vancouver shortly after the season started, then he was serving in the military during WWI by the middle of May. After his discharge from the Army in May of 1919, he signed with Kansas City of the American Association, but a month later he was sold to Sioux City of the Western League. He pitched in the minors until 1921 without getting another shot at the majors, spending his last two seasons in Class-B ball with Beaumont of the Texas League (1920) and Jackson of the Central League (1921). He played semi-pro ball in 1922 before retiring. 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.