If you didn't read Joe Posnanski's post about the Rule 5 draft that I linked to a few weeks back, here's the link again; it's quite interesting and has some correlation to the Buccos because much of the post is centered around Branch Rickey using the Pirates 25-man roster in the 1950s essentially for tryouts. The most interesting part of the post is about the former "Bonus Baby Clause":
In 1947, I think, the Rule 5 took on a whole new meaning because of something that was somewhat unrelated. That was the year that baseball instituted the Bonus Baby Clause. The rule stated that any amateur player who got a bonus more than a certain amount ($4,000 at first) had to be kept on the big league roster for the whole season (and, for a time, two whole seasons). The idea, at least on the surface, was to prevent the richest teams from buying up all the best amateur players. Some thought that the real idea was to discourage teams from giving big bonuses.So I looked at the 1952 season (which just so happened to be Dick Groat's first year as a Pirate), and saw that some guy named Tony Bartirome was given 386 plate appearances to put up a .538 OPS as a first baseman; that's an OPS+ of 48, which is unbelievably bad. It was Tony's first year and he was just 20 years-old, so one would think he fell under the baby bonus rule, but in fact he had played for the Hutchinson Elks of the Western Association in 1951 (though it was before the time of farm systems, Hutchinson was a Pittsburgh affiliate). So why did Tony get so many at bats at such a young age only to show that he was neither ready nor able to handle major league pitching? Surely they could find someone better to play first while letting the young Bartirome get more time in the minors.
Unfortunately these questions are left unanswered. As for Bartirome, the Pittsburgh native was drafted into the Army following the '52 season and only returned to baseball before the '55 season. He never would put up an OPS above .723 in the nine minor league seasons he played until he retired in 1963. Apparently, he makes his home in Bradenton, FL, so if you're down there trying to catch a few Bucco spring training games, keep an eye out for old Tony Bartirome.
As for links. Nothing is better than having an old cranky sports journalist start a blog, say something that make's the reader think the guy hasn't had their meds for the day, and then try to act like it never happened. That's exactly what happened to John Steigerwald (I'll let the Pensblog do the work for me). I can't stand this Steigy, he's been around way too long and his writing shows it. As for Ben taking drugs... um, I'm gonna stay away from that one.
In Pirate news, this is a pretty cool article about D.J. Carrasco, who will most likely end up as our long-man in the bullpen. And then Pittsburgh Lumber Co. has a nice post on the point of all of Huntington's trades (most important point, game changing talent rarely comes in trades). Pat from WHYGAVS is down in Bradenton catching a few games, follow him at his award winning site. FanGraphs takes a look at Kevin Hart; the title of the post says it all, but with the way McCutchen is pitching this spring, I would much rather see Hart work on his control at Indy to start the season with McCutchen actually throwing strikes for the big club, although there is no denying that Hart has better stuff than McCutchen.
BUCCOFans has it's weekly roundup of possible draft prospects. The more I hear about Bryce Harper, the more I hate him. I don't care if he is 17, he is a grade-A doucher. I don't want to root against a 17-year old kid, but he's making it awfully tough not to. We're still months from the draft, and although Drew Pomeranz and Deck McGuire are putting up some PlayStation type numbers, do keep two things in mind: they are probably facing some inferior talent as we've yet to reach conference play and college pitchers do not have a great success rate in the draft.
The Steelers have spent a whole lot of money this off-season; and though I'm not a big fan of the strategy, I don't have a Super Bowl ring while Kevin Colbert has a few. On a related note, I will be playing against a few of the guys tomorrow night, as the Steelers basketball team will be facing off against Shady Side Academy's finest, and by finest, I mean a group of dudes completely unfit for such things; they were supposed to play the varsity basketball team, but the basketball team is still in the state playoffs and will face off against North Catholic tomorrow evening. So that leaves an assistant baseball coach and a few other shmohawks out there to be dunked on by Ryan Mundy and Ike Taylor. I'll have an update tomorrow, including who was a real dick, and how many times the name Ben Roethlisberger was brought up,