This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 29th, Pirates Trade For and Acquire Jack Wilson

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus four trades of note. Before we get into them, current Pirates outfielder Jack Suwinski turns 24 today.

The Trades

On this date in 2009, the Pirates traded away Jack Wilson, Ian Snell and Freddy Sanchez in two separate deals, bringing back six players total. The Pirates received four minor league pitchers, along with shortstop Ronny Cedeno and first baseman Jeff Clement. The deals didn’t particularly work out for any of the teams involved. The Pirates got nothing (except cash) from their four pitchers, losing two in the Rule 5 draft (Nathan Adcock and Brett Lorin). Tim Alderson (the return in the Sanchez deal) was traded away for a minor league veteran who never played for the Pirates, while the final player (Aaron Pribanic) was injured for a large majority of his time with the Pirates. Clement played 77 games with the Pirates and hit .193 with seven homers. Cedeno’s contributions far outweighed everyone else combined, with three seasons in Pittsburgh, in which he batted .254 with 15 homers and 91 RBIs.

The Pirates were trading Wilson on an expiring contract, so his time was nearing the end and he was making a large salary. Snell was in a different situation, struggling in the majors, but still had a normal salary and time left before free agency. Wilson ended up re-signing with Seattle and played two full seasons there, while Snell had a 5.12 ERA in 110.2 innings in Seattle, which ended up being his last stop in the majors. Sanchez was also on an expiring deal when he went to San Francisco, but just like Wilson, he re-signed with his new team. He had a .619 OPS in 2009 after the trade, but still signed with the Giants for three years, in what turned out to be a bad deal due to injuries that limited him to 171 games.

Nine years prior to trading away Jack Wilson, the Pirates traded for him, sending pitcher Jason Christiansen to the St Louis Cardinals in a straight up deal. This deal was one-sided for the Pirates, who got nine seasons and 1,159 games out of Wilson before the trade mentioned above. Wilson had 21.3 WAR for the Pirates, driven by outstanding defense. The Cardinals got just 29.1 innings and a 4.91 ERA from Christiansen, who was being used as the lefty specialist out of the pen. They traded him in the middle of 2002 for a pitcher named Kevin Joseph, who pitched just 11 big league innings.

On this date in 1916, the Pirates traded veteran second baseman Otto Knabe and catcher Art Wilson to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for veteran outfielder Frank Schulte and catcher William Fischer. Knabe was nearing the end of his career and was actually sent home by the Pirates prior to this trade because they thought that the veteran second baseman wasn’t in good enough shape to play everyday. He was once considered an All-Star caliber player, who could field his position and handle the bat well. Wilson was a 30-year-old backstop, in his first season with the Pirates, and ninth year overall. He had played in Chicago the two years prior, playing in the Federal League (a Major League at the time). He was hitting .258 in 53 games for Pittsburgh, throwing out 37% of base runners, which was below average for the day. The catcher coming back to the Pirates in the deal, Fischer, was the youngest player of the group at 25 years old. He was the opposite of Wilson that year, having success on defense, but he was hitting below .200, which was well below his .329 the previous season. The odd thing about these two being traded for each other was the fact they platooned behind the plate for the Chicago Federal League team the previous year. Schulte, just like Knabe, was a star nearing the end of his career. He was the 1911 MVP, when he had the first ever 20-20-20-20 season in Major League history, hitting 31 doubles, 21 triples, 21 homers and stealing 23 bases. Schulte was hitting .296 over 72 games at the time of the trade, but it was obvious he was slowing down.

After the deal, Knabe played out the season in Chicago, hitting .276/.327/.331 in 51 games, then finished his career in the minors the following year. Schulte hit .239 with no homers in 85 games for Pittsburgh, before they put him on waivers in June of 1917, where he was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies. Fischer played well after the deal, sticking with the Pirates through the end of the following year. Despite hitting .286 over 95 games that last season, the Pirates went with Walter Schmidt the next year as their starter. Fischer went to the minors, where he played off and on for the next ten years. Wilson stuck around the majors the longest of the group, playing until 1921. His time with Chicago wasn’t that good though, with a .206 average and a high error total over 117 games played. The Pirates got 2.5 WAR in the deal (all from Fischer), while the Cubs received 0.9 WAR from their return.

The Players

Mike Williams, closer for the Pirates from 1998 until 2003. He was a 14th round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies out of Virginia Tech in 1990. He went right into the closer role in the New York-Penn League, posting a 2.30 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 47 innings over 27 games, with 11 saves for Batavia. He became a starter in 1991 and dominated in High-A Clearwater of the Florida State League, posting a 1.74 ERA in 14 starts, with 76 strikeouts in 93.1 innings. He got promoted to Double-A Reading of the Eastern League that season and posted a 3.69 ERA in 102.1 innings. He compiled a 14-8 on the season and 127 strikeouts. Williams made three starts in Reading in 1992, and then spent the rest of the season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the International League, where he had a 9-1, 2.43 record in 92.2 innings. He struck out 71 batters in 108.1 innings that year between both stops. He finished the year in the majors with a 5.34 ERA in five starts. He pitched 28.2 innings for the Phillies and managed to strike out just five batters.

In 1993, Williams went 9-2, 2.87 in 97.1 innings at Triple-A,  and he had a 1-3, 5.29 record in the majors, making four starts and 13 relief appearances, throwing a total of 51 innings. The 1994 season saw a similar split, with 14 starts in Triple-A (5.79 ERA in 84 innings) and eight starts/four relief outings in the majors, where he went 2-4, 5.01 in 50.1 innings. The 1995 season was spent mostly in the majors, with just three starts in Triple-A. With the Phillies that season, he went 3-3, 3.29 in 87.2 innings, with eight starts and 25 relief appearances. He spent the 1996 season as a starting pitcher, going 6-14, 5.44 in 167 innings over 29 starts and three relief appearances. Williams signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in 1997, but he was released before appearing in a big league game. He signed with the Kansas City Royals six weeks later and appeared briefly in the majors with them in May and June, posting a 6.43 ERA in 14 innings.

After pitching just ten games in the majors in 1997, the Pirates signed Williams as a free agent that December. He didn’t become the team’s closer until his second year, but that first year he was a lights out reliever, posting a 1.94 ERA, with 59 strikeouts in 51 innings over 37 appearances (one start). Those results were a bit surprising, based not only on past MLB results, but he had a 5.59 ERA in 37 innings for Nashville of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League that year. Williams went 3-4, 5.09 in 58.1 innings over 50 appearances for the 1999 Pirates, finishing with 23 saves. Despite the poor overall results, he had 76 strikeouts (11.7 per nine innings). He was better the next year, with a 3-4, 3.50 record in 72 appearances, with 24 saves and 71 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched. With the 2001 Pirates, he went 2-4, 3.67 in 41.2 innings over 40 games, with 22 saves and 43 strikeouts.

On July 31, 2001, the Pirates traded Williams to the Houston Astros for pitcher Tony McKnight. Williams had a 4.03 ERA in 22.1 innings over 25 outings after the deal, but he was not used as a closer. Pittsburgh re-signed him in the off-season as a free agent, putting him back in the closer role, where he responded with an All-Star season. He pitched 59 times that year, finishing with a 2.93 ERA in 61.1 innings, putting up a team record 46 saves (which has since been surpassed). He made the 2002 All-Star team as well, although his stats were nowhere near the previous season and he got there because every team needed a representative. Williams had a 1-3 ,6.27 record in 37.1 innings, with 25 saves for the 2003 Pirates. Pittsburgh traded him to the Phillies on July 21, 2003 in exchange for minor league pitcher Frank Brooks. For Williams, his struggles continued in Philadelphia, and he never pitched in the majors again after the 2003 season. He had a 5.96 ERA in 25.2 innings over 28 appearances after the trade. In his 12 big league seasons, Williams went 32-54, 4.45 in 768.1 innings over 413 relief appearances and 55 starts. With the Pirates, he was 15-23, 3.78 in 321.2 innings. He ranks third in Pirates history in saves (140), trailing only Elroy Face and Kent Tekulve. He had just four saves outside of his time with Pittsburgh.

Tommy Gregg, outfielder for the 1987-88 Pirates. He was drafted by Pittsburgh in the seventh round of the 1985 draft out of Wake Forest. It was the third time he was drafted, with the first two times being done by the Cleveland Indians in 1981 in the ninth round out of high school and 1984 out of Wake Forest in the 32nd round. Gregg hit well that first season with the Pirates, batting .313 with 43 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 16 steals, 49 walks and an .816 OPS in 72 games for Class-A Macon of the South Atlantic League. He jumped to Double-A Nashua of the Eastern League the next year and posted average numbers, batting .268 with 55 runs, 13 doubles, one homer, 29 RBIs and a .696 OPS in 126 games, causing the Pirates to repeat him at the level. He broke out in 1987 playing for Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League, hitting .371 with 99 runs, 22 doubles, nine triples, ten homers, 82 RBIs, 35 stolen bases, 84 walks and a .988 OPS in 133 games. Pittsburgh brought him up that September, giving him ten games off the bench. He went 2-for-8 at the plate and played all three outfield positions during his brief stay.

Gregg began 1988 at Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association, earning a promotion back to the majors at the beginning of July. He hit .200 in 14 games, two as a starter. He was sent back to the minors in early August, then on September 1st he was sent to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for veteran infielder Ken Oberkfell. Gregg was hitting .294 with a .767 OPS in 72 games with Buffalo at the time of the deal. He hit .345/.387/.448 in 11 games with the Braves that season. He split time between right field and first base and the bench in 1989, hitting .243 with 24 runs, eight doubles, six homers and 23 RBIs in 298 plate appearances over 102 games. In 1990, Gregg set a career high with 124 games played, though he saw more time off of the bench, resulting in just 261 plate appearances all season. He hit .264 with 13 doubles, five homers and 32 RBIs, putting up a .711 OPS. As a pinch-hitter that year he batted .353 with four homers and 17 RBIs in 59 plate appearances.  He struggled in a similar role in 1991 and saw his playing time drop down to 120 plate appearances over 72 games, though part of his season was spent recovering from a broken left hand that kept him out for six weeks. Gregg hit .187 with one homer and a .583 OPS that season overall, and he batted .231 with two RBIs as a pinch-hitter in 39 at-bats. Over the next six seasons his playing time was sporadic in the majors.

Gregg played 18 games for the Braves in 1992 and once again missed six full weeks with a hand injury, though that season he ended up spending more time with Triple-A Richmond of the International League. In his brief time with the Braves that year, he hit .263/.300/.421 in 20 plate appearances. His big league time in 1993 consisted of ten games for the Cincinnati Reds, in which he hit .167 in 12 at-bats. The rest of the year was spent in Triple-A (Indianapolis of the American Association). Gregg spent all of 1994 playing in Mexico, then returned to the majors with the Florida Marlins for 72 games in 1995, while also dominating in brief Triple-A time, putting up a 1.178 OPS in 34 games for Charlotte of the International League. For the Marlins that year, he hit .237 in 176 plate appearances, with 20 runs, five doubles, six homers and 20 RBIs. He played in Charlotte for the entire 1996 season and had an .837 OPS in 119 games. Gregg then finished his big league career with 13 games for the 1997 Braves, going 5-for-19 with two doubles and a walk. The rest of the year was spent in Richmond, where he had a .904 OPS in 115 games. He spent the 1998 season playing in Mexico before retiring. He played eight seasons in the majors, finishing with a .243 average, 86 runs, 41 doubles, 20 homers and 88 RBIs in 446 games.

Dave LaPoint, lefty pitcher for the 1988 Pirates. He was a tenth round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1977 out of high school in New York.  LaPoint was still 17 years old when he debuted in the short-season New York-Penn League in 1977. He posted a 4.70 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 69 innings for Newark. He was with Burlington of the Class-A Midwest League in 1978, where he had a 12-12, 4.02 record in 161 innings, with 134 strikeouts. He threw ten complete games in 23 starts The next year was spent with Stockton of the Class-A California League, where he went 12-10, 3.15 in 180 innings, with 208 strikeouts. That year he completed 11 of 25 starts, with three shutouts. He jumped to Triple-A Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League in 1980 and had a 2.81 ERA in 93 innings before debuting in the majors in September. Despite better results, his strikeout rate dropped from 10.4 per nine innings in 1979, down to a 6.2 rate in 1980. LaPoint had a 6.00 ERA in 15 innings with the 1980 Brewers, and he issued 13 walks, to go along with five strikeouts. Shortly after the season ended, he was dealt to the St Louis Cardinals in a seven-player trade that included Hall of Famers Ted Simmons and Rollie Fingers.

LaPoint played just three games (two starts) in the majors in 1981, posting a 4.22 ERA in 10.2 innings. The rest of the year was spent with Springfield of the Triple-A American Association, where he went 13-9, 3.19 in 172 innings, with 129 strikeouts. He then saw regular time in the majors in 1982 when the Cardinals won the World Series, making 21 starts and 21 relief appearances. He went 9-3, 3.42 in 152.2 innings. In the World Series against his former team, he allowed three earned runs over 8.1 innings. In 1983, he was a regular in the rotation for most of the season. LaPoint went 12-9, 3.95 in 191.1 innings, with 29 starts and eight relief appearances. His 1984 season was extremely similar, going 12-10, 3.96 in 193 innings, except that year he started all 33 of his games. He set a career high with 130 strikeouts that season. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants after the season, along with David Green, who was also part of the earlier trade with the Brewers. The Giants lost 100 games in 1985, so while LaPoint lowered his ERA to 3.57 in 206.2 innings, he finished the year with a 7-17 record. His 122 strikeouts were his second highest career total.

Right after the 1985 season ended, LaPoint was dealt to the Detroit Tigers in a six-player trade. He went 3-6, 5.72 in 67.2 innings before being dealt to the San Diego Padres in an even up deal for pitcher Mark Thurmond on July 9, 1986. LaPoint went 1-4, 4.26 in 61.1 innings with the Padres. Combined he was 4-10, 5.02 in 129 innings over 12 starts and 28 relief appearances. He was released in December and signed a free agent deal to return to the Cardinals for the 1987 season. He spent most of the early season in the minors, and pitched just 16 innings for St Louis before they dealt him to the Chicago White Sox in late July. After the deal, he went 6-3, 2.94 in 82.2 innings over 12 starts and two relief appearances. LaPoint was with the White Sox to begin the 1988 season and was pitching well, going 10-11, 3.40 in 161.1 innings over 25 starts. In early August, the Pirates sent pitcher Barry Jones to the White Sox in an even up exchange for LaPoint. He made eight starts for the Pirates, going 4-2, 2.77, with 52 innings pitched, giving him a career high 14 wins on the year. He also set a high with 213.1 innings.

LaPoint became a free agent at the end of the 1988 season and signed with the New York Yankees, spending two years there, before finishing his career with the 1991 Philadelphia Phillies. He went 13–19, 4.74 in 271.1 innings over 47 starts (and one relief appearance) with the Yankees. His results were much better in his second season, as he started off with a 5.62 ERA in 113.2 innings over 20 starts in 1989, then followed it up with a 4.11 ERA in 157.2 innings in 1990. Despite better results, his record stood at 7-10 that year, though the Yankees finished 67-95. He pitched just two big league games during his final season in the majors, giving up ten runs in five innings. He was released by the Phillies in late April and finished the year playing in Triple-A for the Brewers and Chicago Cubs. He pitched in Triple-A for the Minnesota Twins in 1993 and played briefly in independent ball in 1996, his last action in pro ball. He was the manager that year for Adirondack of the Northeast League. LaPoint had a career record of 80-86, 4.02 in 1,486.2 innings over 227 starts and 67 relief appearances during 12 seasons in the majors. He threw 11 complete games and had four shutouts.

Erv Dusak, outfielder for the 1951-52 Pirates. He originally signed with the St Louis Cardinals in 1938, though prior to the 1946 season he had played just 18 Major League games, partially due to time missed during the war. He was 17 years old in 1938, playing Class-D ball for the first of three straight seasons. Dusak had impressive results during that time, hitting .351 with 63 runs, 22 doubles, 18 homers, 63 RBIs, 50 walks and a 1.132 OPS in 67 games during his first year with Monett of the Arkansas-Missouri League. That was followed by a .309 average and 37 extra-base hits in 134 games in 1939 during his first of two seasons with Albany of the Georgia-Florida League. Dusak then put up a .335 average with 56 extra-base hits in 141 games in 1940. The next year saw him play for three different minor league teams, while also making his MLB debut in September. A majority of the year was spent with Mobile of the Class-B Southeastern League, where he hit .336 with 13 doubles and 18 homers in 81 games. He also played 51 games for Rochester of the Double-A International League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. While there he hit .304 with 11 extra-base hits and 33 RBIs. His other time was four games with Houston of the Class-A Texas League. He batted .143/.250/.143 in six games with the Cardinals.

In 1942, Dusak played eight April games with St Louis, then returned for four September games. He batted .185 in 27 at-bats, with three doubles, three RBIs and three walks. The rest of the year was spent with Rochester, where he hit .296 in 122 games, with 79 runs, 19 doubles, 16 homers, 57 RBIs and an .858 OPS. The next three years were spent in the military during WWII. He returned to pro ball in 1946 and went right to the majors for three years. From 1946 until 1948, he played at least 100 games each season for the Cardinals, although his average slipped to near .200 during the last year. He hit .240 with 38 runs, nine doubles, nine homers and 42 RBIs in 100 games in 1946, seeing most of his time in left field. In 1947, he hit .284 with 56 runs, seven doubles, six homers, 28 RBIs and 50 walks in 111 games, splitting his time between all three outfield spots. It was a one-year peak for him, though he set career highs with 114 games played and 60 runs scored in 1948. That year he batted .209 with doubles, six homers, 19 RBIs and 49 walks, resulting in a .625 OPS that was 131 points lower than the previous season.

Dusak spent all but one game of the 1949 season back in Rochester, then was buried at the end of the Cardinals bench the next year. With almost no prior mound experience during his pro career, he began pitching in July and would make two late season starts, finishing 0-2, 3.72 in 36.1 innings, while getting just 12 plate appearances over the entire season. On May 17, 1951, the Pirates sent shortstop Stan Rojek to the Cardinals to get Dusak and Rocky Nelson. Dusak was being used as a mop-up pitcher exclusively in 1951 until he reached Pittsburgh. The Pirates used him almost everywhere, albeit with little playing time. He played 21 games, seeing time at six different positions, including three games on the mound, one as a starter. He did well in his limited at-bats, hitting .308 with an .819 OPS. On the mound, he allowed ten runs in 6.2 innings. Dusak was with the Pirates for the first two months of 1952, only seeing limited action in the outfield. He was batting .222 with a homer and three RBIs in 29 plate appearances over 20 games. He went to the minors in June and remained there for the next three years before retiring. He played for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League for the rest of 1952 and the start of 1953. From mid-1953 through the end of 1954, he played for New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association, where he occasionally pitched, but spent more time in the field, playing second base, third base and outfield. While in Pittsburgh over two season, he played 41 games, hitting .273 with two homers in 71 plate appearances. In his career he batted .243 in 413 games, with 24 homers, 106 RBIs and 168 runs scored. He was 0-3, 5.33 in 54 innings as a pitcher.

George Cutshaw, second baseman for the Pirates from 1918 until 1921. Cutshaw played college ball at Notre Dame, then spent four years in the minors and six seasons with the Brooklyn Robins, before joining the Pirates in a big trade that involved two future Hall of Famers. In 1908 he debuted in pro ball with Bloomington of the Class-B Three-I League at 21 years old. The next year was split between Bloomington, where he hit .287 with 16 doubles and 14 triples in 97 games, and Oakland of the Double-A Pacific Coast League (highest level of the minors at the time), where he batted .228 with eight doubles and a triple in 66 games. The next two seasons were spent in Oakland, where the extended schedules of the PCL allowed him to play 429 games total during those year. Cutshaw batted just .222 with 27 extra-base hits in 223 games in 1910, but showed a better average and slightly more power in 1911, with a .261 average and 34 extra-base hits in 206 games. Despite the low averages, he debuted in the majors during the deadball era with a strong .280 average in 102 games for the 1912 Brooklyn Dodgers/Superbas (both names were used at that time). Cutshaw had 41 runs, 14 doubles, four triples, 28 RBIs, 16 steals and a .683 OPS that was 27 points below league average.

Cutshaw played 147 games for Brooklyn in 1913, and he hit .267 with 23 doubles, 13 triples, 80 RBIs, 39 steals and 72 runs scored. His .701 OPS was his highest mark with Brooklyn and it was 22 points above league average. That performance earned him mild MVP support, finishing 22nd in the voting. He saw the slightest drop across the board in 1914 in 153 games, hitting .257 with 22 doubles, 12 triples, 34 steals, 78 RBIs and 69 runs scored. However, he went from seven homers down to two, and drew fewer walks, leading to a .644 OPS. He played 154 games the next season and saw another small drop in production, watching his OPS drop down to .602 in 1915. He hit .246 that year, with 68 runs, 18 doubles, nine triples, no homers, 62 RBIs and 28 steals, though he was caught 23 times. His production stayed about the same in 1916, again playing 154 games. He hit .260 with 27 extra-base hits, 27 steals and 58 runs scored, to go with his .612 OPS. The league OPS was only .632 at the time, as the deadball era was peaking at this time. In his final season in Brooklyn (then called the Robins), he batted .259 in 135 games, with 42 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 49 RBIs and 22 steals. His .639 OPS was six points above league average.

On January 9, 1918, the Pirates sent infielder Chuck Ward and pitchers, Burleigh Grimes and Al Mamaux to the Robins in exchange for Cutshaw and outfielder Casey Stengel. Cutshaw was a .260 hitter, with 360 RBIs and 350 runs scored in 845 games while with Brooklyn.  He hit .285 with 56 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 25 steals and 68 RBIs during that first season with the Pirates. His .721 OPS was a new career high that he would eventually top. In 1919, he batted .242 with 49 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 51 RBIs and 36 steals in 139 games and posted a .980 fielding percentage at second base, which broke the Major League record set in 1896 by Hall of Famer Bid McPhee, who is one of the best fielders at any position in baseball history. Cutshaw held that mark until it was broken in 1925 by Sparky Adams, who would eventually join the Pirates as part of the return in the awful Kiki Cuyler deal.

In 1920, Cutshaw hit .252 in 131 games, with 24 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs, 17 steals and 56 runs scored. He had a breakout year in 1921, hitting .340 in 98 games, with 46 runs, 22 extra-base hits, 53 RBIs and 14 steals, though he missed some time in August due to a bad spike. His .776 OPS that year was easily the best of his career. Despite the strong hitting, the Pirates decided to part ways with the 35-year-old second baseman in the off-season, sending him to the Detroit Tigers for the cost of a waiver pickup. In his four seasons with Pittsburgh, he batted .275 with 103 extra-base hits, 219 RBIs and 204 runs scored in 494 games. Cutshaw almost retired before the 1921 season, then asked to be released following the year, figuring a change in scenery would be good for him. The Pirates saw the emergence of Cotton Tierney during the 1921 season and he had a huge year as their everyday second baseman in 1922, making Cutshaw expendable.  Cutshaw had one decent season in Detroit, hitting .267 with 57 runs, 24 extra-base hits and 61 RBIs in 132 games in 1922. That earned him mild MVP support for the second time in his career, finishing 26th in the voting. His numbers tailed off in 1923, when he hit just .224/.279/.259 in 45 games, which ended up being his last season in the big leagues. He played another three years in the minors before retiring from pro baseball, playing 90 games total over that time for Seattle of the Pacific Coast League. Cutshaw was a slick fielding second baseman, leading the National League five times in putouts, four times in assists and twice in fielding percentage during his career. As a batter, he hit .265 in 1,516 big league games, with 195 doubles, 89 triples, 25 homers, 271 steals, 653 RBIs and 629 runs scored. His first nine career home runs were inside-the-park homers.

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