It’s always a topic throughout the course of the year when a former Pittsburgh Pirate is successful on another ball club, and it constantly makes Pirate fans jealous that they didn’t play that way with the Buccos. Some guys are terrible while playing for the Pirates, and when they find themselves on a new team, they make a big impact. Since 2006, there have been a fair amount of Pirates who have gone on to have big years or make big contributions to their new teams after leaving the Pirates. Here are the nine that I thought of:
There’s no question to say is Bautista the prime example of this. A lot of regular baseball fans aren’t even aware he was on the Pirates early in his career, because he was an average player when he was around here. He wasn’t awful, but wasn’t close to being half the hitter he is nowadays. Playing for the Blue Jays he’s been one of the elite powers in MLB the past few seasons. I don’t need to say much more, but his three All-Star appearances, two Silver Sluggers, along with finishing in the top five in MVP voting twice, will tell you all you need to know.
A lot of people remember McLouth from his days as a Pirate. He was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner while playing here before eventually getting traded to the Atlanta Braves in 2009. He was mediocre as a Brave, but played a huge role in the Baltimore Orioles playoff run a season ago. He batted lead off, and held down the fort in center field for a team that made the playoffs with the help of his bat.
Morgan was liked by Pirate fans when he played for them, but quickly became one of the most hated players when became a key contributor to the Milwaukee Brewers. He was traded out of Pittsburgh along with Sean Burnett for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan in 2009, and we know that Milledge was an absolute bust. Being one of the biggest hotheads in the league, Morgan has gotten into scraps and arguments over the years with different teams. He had some big hits in the 2011 playoffs for the Brewers, and was a vital player in their success. Luckily, he signed a deal with the Yokohama BayStars, a team in the Japanese Central League, so Pirate fans won’t have to watch Morgan play much anymore.
Vogelsong is one of the most forgettable Pirates over the past ten years. He was, surprisingly, with the Pirates for five years from 2001 through 2006, and was pretty bad when it came to pitching. Vogelsong left the Pirates in 2006, and went four seasons without throwing an inning in the major leagues. His first win in over four years came at PNC Park against the Pirates in April 2011. Since then, he’s been a very solid pitcher with the San Francisco Giants, posting 13 and 14 win seasons in 2011 and 2012.
Of the nine people on this list, Cruz is most likely going to be the least remembered Pirate to the majority of readers. He drove in a whopping five RBI in 2008 and 2009 combined, and was a backup to Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson at the middle infield positions. Nowadays, he isn’t anything great, but he is the starting shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into the 2013 season. He batted close to .300 in 78 games with them in 2012, and has the chance to become a decent everyday starting third baseman/shortstop at some point.
Burnett played two different stints with the Pirates, and was a good arm out the bullpen. In 2004, his rookie season, he was used as a starter and didn’t do too well. As a relief pitcher, Burnett did a good job in 2008 and 2009 when being used out of the pen. He was dealt to the Washington Nationals (as noted above) in 2009 and became a very good reliever for them. In three and a half seasons with the Nats, Burnett wasn’t any sort of All-Star, but he certainly did his job when it came to pitching out of the bullpen. Fans can’t really complain about losing Burnett, because Joel Hanrahan was brought over in return for him, but he got a decent contract for a relief pitcher this offseason, and will be playing with the Los Angeles Angels in 2013.
Moss was one of the key players in the three-team trade that sent Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles, and Jason Bay to Boston. It only seems right that Moss was the player the Bucs got in return while the other two teams got superstars. The Pirates didn’t get what they wanted out of Moss, and he got a couple other chances after being tallied up in the bust category for the Pirates. His days a Phillie didn’t go too swell, but he found a home last season in Oakland. In 84 games, Moss hit 21 home runs and batted over .290. He was one of the key pieces in the A’s amazing playoff push, and batted either third or fourth in the lineup throughout the majority of it.
Ciriaco is fairly recent, and was a Pirate in 2011. I wish they would have kept him longer, and not let him get away so easily. He’s a shortstop who was never really given a chance with our Buccos, and when he was, he batted over .300 in his limited 2011 action. For some reason, the Pirates non-tendered him in the 2011 offseason, which is when the Red Sox got him for a very small amount of money. He wasn’t necessarily a starter for them, but played amazingly well against the New York Yankees. When a team finally gave him half a season and 300 at-bats to see what he could do, he put together a sub .300 batting average, and impressed most Red Sox fans.
Here’s a pretty painful one to talk about. Ludwick spent a half season with the Pirates in 2011, and when he was acquired, fans were hoping he would help the team out when it came to making a playoff push. The Pirates were in the race at the time, but got absolutely nothing in return from him in his pathetic two months in the black and gold. He hit .232 in those two months, and really helped out with his two home runs and eleven RBI. [/sarcasm] Fans accepted it, and realized he was just another bust that the Pirates wasted their time picking up. The Reds picked him up after that season, and he went on to have an unbelievable year with Cincinnati, which is why a lot of Pirate fans can’t stand Ludwick. He gave the Pirates absolutely nothing while playing for them, but when going to our division rival the next season, he hit 26 home runs, along with collecting 80 RBI.
The nine guys listed are all different types of players. I’m not saying they’re all busts, but all of these guys are ones that once played for the Pirates, and after leaving the team they most likely underachieved for, lit it up with their next ball club(s). There are a couple guys I talked about, in McLouth, Burnett, and maybe Morgan, who were decent with the Pirates. The rest of them were scrubs with the Pirates, who got away for practically nothing, and went onto have great seasons with their future teams. I left a couple guys out, and obviously didn’t touch on Jason Bay, mainly because Pirate fans are well aware of how his days have gone. Xavier Nady, Freddy Sanchez, and Paul Maholm are among others who could have possibly been featured in this article, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned the players who some fans probably aren’t even aware were with the Pirates early in their career.
Am I missing anyone? I may have forgotten a player or two, so feel free to drop your comments and let me know if I forgot any shameful Pirates.