Downfall of the Fam-A-Lee – Part 3

Going alphabetically down the list of 1979 Pirates that were acquired via trade brings us to Mike Easler.
The Trade
On 3/15/79 the Pirates sent cash, career minor leaguer George Hill and career minor leaguer Martin Rivas to the Red Sox for Easler.
The Background
Long before he was known as “Hit Man” or at least long before he was known to me as that, Easler was a 14th round draft pick of the Astros in 1969. He was traded a few times. First to the Cardinals in 1975 for Mike Barlow. Then to the Angels in 1976 for minor leaguer Ron Farkas (perhaps a distant relative of Scott Farkas). In 1977 the Pirates acquired him from the Halos for another career minor leaguer, Randy Sealy. Following the 1978 season the Red Sox acquired Easler from the Pirates for cash. A few months later, the Bucs got him right back.
Despite some impressive minor league batting averages (.302 in 1977, .352 in 1976 and .313 in 1975 – all in AAA), Easler had amassed just 57 ML at bats heading in 1979. He turned 28 before the 1979 season began. George Hill was a late round selection by the Pirates in the 1977 draft out of Virginia Tech. He is listed at The Baseball Cube as an outfielder. I can find no information on Martin Rivas.
The Data
The win share data is, quite obviously, one sided. Easler spent all of 1979 with the Pirates. He was mostly used as a pinch hitter, as 44 of his 54 ABs came in that role. He is credited with 2 win shares in 1979, 22 in 1980, 9 in 1981, 14 in 1982 and 11 in 1983. Then he was traded back to the Red Sox for John Tudor. Hill and Rivas never appeared in the Majors.
The Analysis
The conclusion is obvious – this was a great trade for Pittsburgh. Easler wasn’t much a contributor in 1979. He got a total of three plate appearances in the post-season and just the 54 regular season at bats. But he played a big part in the coming seasons, making the NL All-Star team in 1981, and was traded for a good pitcher in Tudor.

Author: Randy Linville

Randy is currently living and thriving in suburban Dayton, OH with his wife and two kids. He was raised in Cincinnati, OH and attended Anderson High School. He went to Miami University (Ohio) and received a degree in Paper Science Engineering from MU. He is a devout Christian and a pop culture buff. He coaches his son’s baseball and basketball teams and his daughters softball and basketball teams. Randy has been a Pirates fan since the late 1970s and has fond memories of the 1979 World Series team. He began blogging for Most Valuable Network in 5/2004 after stumbling across a help-wanted sign for a Pirates blogger. He wrote for Pittsburgh Lumber Co. until the site merged with Pirates Prospects in 2/2011.

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  • http://mvn.com/mlb-pirates Cory Humes

    I just got my ’79 WS collector’s edition DVD set from eBay. Bucs and O’s are tied at one game apiece right now. I feel good about this one, though. I think we’ll pull it out.

  • Randy Linville

    Agree with you 100%. Horrible drafts were a big part of the team’s failures in the 1980s. I’ll get to that point in a few more posts.

  • Arnold Rothstein

    Just an opinion, but as someone who lived through the era, I’ve always thought the biggest single cause of the downfall of the 1960′s-1970′s Pirates was a decision for the farm system to emphasize “speed and defense” over hitting at the time the team moved onto the artificial turf at Three Rivers. The team produced great hitters for two decades, but that abruptly ended with Parker, Zisk and Armas in the mid-70′s, and by the early 80′s the team was desperate for hitters and entered the Hendrick/Kemp/Tenace/Lezcano/Otis era. When the farm system coughed up Bonds and Bonilla in 1986, the teams fortunes started upward again.