This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: January 29th, Jason Schmidt and Three Noteworthy Trades

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 134.1 innings over 36 games in 1970. The Pirates acquired him mid-season that year from the Washington Senators. Briles was 27 years old, and he 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, which was his eighth season in the majors.

Davalillo played well for the Pirates, hitting .285/.312/.383, with 48 runs scored, 33 RBIs and ten steals in 99 games in 1971. He then followed it up with a .318 average in 117 games the next season, with 60 runs, 28 RBIs and a .780 OPS. He was sold to the Oakland A’s, after seeing minimal playing time during the first half of the 1973 season. Briles went 36-28, 2.98 in 550.1 innings 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 end of being his last season in the majors. Alou hit .315 in 1971, with a career high 74 RBIs. He 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 of the series, so the trade worked out well for both teams. The Pirates also got some trade value out of Briles after the 1973 season, while they were able to get cash in the Davalillo deal.

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 never hitting higher than .235 any year. Swift was in his fourth minor league season in 1930. He had just posted a 16-7, 4.54 record in 204 innings while playing in a high-offense league. He averaged over 200 innings during his four minor league seasons. He immediately became a fixture in the Pirates rotation, where he would go on to pitch 305 games over eight seasons in a Pittsburgh uniform. He had a 91-79, 3.57 record in 1,555 innings 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 in the majors, getting into a combined 135 games for three different teams, making this deal a clear positive for the Pirates.

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, coming off of a 12-16, 4.14 record in 252.1 innings over 42 games (29 starts). In 1946, he had a 15-6, 2.88 record in 231.2 innings over 47 games, 19 as a starter. He would play five seasons for the Pirates, throwing over 200 innings each year, while averaging 243 innings per season. He won 20 games in 1951 for a team that finished 64-90, and that win total was despite leading the league in hits allowed, earned runs and home runs allowed, though his high workload had some part to do with those totals. Overall he had a 66-85, 3.83 record in 1,216.1 innings 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, to go along with even more cash received for pitcher Ed Wolfe, who was sold to clear roster space for the second player coming back in the deal. While Dickson was still effective enough that he could have helped the 1954-55 Pirates, the Pirates had a combined record of 113-195 those years, so they still would have been awful even with him around.

The Player

Jason Schmidt, pitcher for the 1996-2001 Pirates. He was an eighth round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 1991 out of Kelso HS in Washington. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League at 18 years old in 1991, where he went 3-4, 2.38 with 44 strikeouts in 45.1 innings over 11 starts. Schmidt made 11 starts for Pulaski of the short-season Appalachian League in 1992, while also making another seven starts that year with Macon of the Low-A South Atlantic League. He managed to post identical 4.01 ERAs with both teams, throwing a total of 83 innings, with 89 strikeouts. Schmidt spent the entire 1993 season with Durham of the High-A Carolina League. That season he went 7-11, 4.94 in 22 starts, with 110 strikeouts in 116.1 innings. He went to Greenville of the Double-A Southern League in 1994, where he posted an 8-7, 3.65 record in 24 starts, with 131 strikeouts in 140.2 innings. Schmidt ranked as the 42nd best prospect in baseball going into 1995 by Baseball America. He didn’t disappoint that year, going 8-6, 2.25, with 95 strikeouts in 116 innings over 19 starts with Triple-A Richmond of the International League. That led to time with the Braves, where he had a 2-2, 5.76 record in 25 innings over two starts and seven relief outings. The Braves won the World Series that year. he was eligible for the postseason, but he did not play.

The Pirates acquired Schmidt from the Braves, along with two other players, in exchange for Denny Neagle on August 28, 1996. Schmidt had a 3-4, 6.75 record in 58.2 innings over 13 games (11 starts) for the 1996 Braves prior to the trade, while also putting up a 2.83 ERA over 47.2 innings in the minors (mostly Richmond) that season. He made six starts that season for the Pirates, going 2-2, 4.06 in 37.2 innings. He stayed in the big league rotation to begin the 1997 season. Over a three-year stretch (1997-99), he made a combined total of 98 starts for the Pirates. Schmidt went 10-9, 4.60 during the Freak Show season in 1997, striking out 136 batters over 187.2 innings in 32 starts. His ERA dropped to 4.07 in 214.1 innings in 1998, though it came with an 11-14 record in his 33 starts. He struck out 158 batters that year, which was his high with the Pirates, though he would surpass that mark five years in a row after leaving Pittsburgh. Schmidt went 13-11, 4.19 in 212.2 innings over 33 starts in 1999, finishing with 148 strikeouts. He made just 11 starts in 2000 before a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery put him out for the season. At the time, he was 2-5, 5.40 in 63.1 innings. He returned in 2001 after four rehab starts, going 6-6, 4.61, with 77 strikeouts over 84 innings in 14 starts. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants in a four-player deal on July 30, 2001. While the Pirates were only giving up two months of service from Schmidt before he reached free agency, they got almost nothing in return from Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong. Schmidt re-signed with the Giants as a free agent, where he had a huge run over the next five seasons. 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 in San Francisco. After the deal, he finished the 2001 season by going 7-1, 3.39 in 66.1 innings over 11 starts. He was 13-8, 3.45 in 29 starts in 2002, with 196 strikeouts in 185.1 innings. He finished seventh in the league in strikeouts that year. That set a new personal best, but he would top that number in each of the next two seasons, starting with a career year in 2003. Schmidt went 17-5 with a league leading 2.34 ERA that year, putting up 208 strikeouts in 207.2 innings. He failed to record a shutout with Atlanta or Pittsburgh, but he had nine shutouts with the Giants, including two in 2002, and three more in both 2003 and 2004. He made his first All-Star team in 2003, finished second in the National League Cy Young voting, while also receiving mild MVP support for the only time in his career, finishing 22nd in the 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, while also setting a personal high with 251 strikeouts, which ranked third in the league. Schmidt led the league in shutouts during both the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The 2005 season was a bit of a down year, but he still did enough to post a winning record, going 12-7, 4.40 in 172 innings over 29 starts, with 165 strikeouts. In his final season with the Giants, Schmidt went 11-9, 3.59 in 32 starts, with 180 strikeouts in 213.1 innings.

Schmidt had a 78-37, 3.36 record in 1,069.2 innings over 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, then 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. He went 1-4, 6.31 in 25.2 innings in 2007. 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. In his four starts for the Dodgers in 2009, he went 2-2, 5.60 in 17.2 innings. He retired after the 2009 season with a 130-96, 3.96 career record in 1,996.1 innings over 14 seasons. He made 314 career starts, with 20 complete games and nine shutouts. He finished with 1,758 strikeouts.