Pirates send Ritchie to Chisox

By John Manuel
December 13, 2001

BOSTON–At his first Winter Meetings as a general manager, Dave Littlefield continued the makeover of the Pirates.

Saying he wanted quality and quantity, Littlefield traded righthander Todd Ritchie and minor league catcher Lee Evans to the White Sox for a trio of righthanders–Josh Fogg, Sean Lowe and Kip Wells.

Ritchie, the most prominent player in the deal, lost his first six decisions in 2001 before staging a turnaround, which included a one-hit shutout on Littlefield’s first day as GM. Ritchie, 30, finished the season 11-14, 4.49 and profiles as the White Sox’ No. 2 starter.

“(Our scouts) have had him as a guy who is on the verge of becoming one of the elite pitchers in the game,” White Sox GM Kenny Williams said. “With our club and the offense we expect to be capable of having, we project him to be a 15-18 game winner and slot right in behind Mark Buehrle in our rotation.

“It’s always tough to give up young players you signed and developed, especially for me having been farm director. You get to know these guys. The upside for Wells is obvious. Dave and his people pursued him as the primary guy in this deal, and that was the only way to get something done.”

Wells, a 1998 first-round pick out of Baylor, had a streaky 2001 season, finishing 10-11, 4.79 in 133 1/3 innings for the White Sox. The 24-year-old gave up 145 hits and 61 walks while striking out 99 and features a mid-90s fastball.

Lowe, 30, was another key for Pittsburgh, having gone 9-4, 3.61 with three saves in 127 innings. His versatility–he made 11 starts and 34 relief appearances for Chicago–attracted Littlefield.

“Wells got to the big leagues in a hurry and has good power stuff,”

Littlefield said. “We certainly don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but he has lots of upside. He was already a middle-of-the-rotation guy and time will tell whether or not he can move to the front.

“Lowe can close, he can start and he can help our bullpen a lot. We’re going to have a young staff, so it will be nice to have a guy who can help us in a variety of roles.”

Fogg, pitching in the Puerto Rican League this winter, had an 11-game

September callup to Chicago and posted a 2.03 ERA in 13 1/3 innings, striking out 17 and walking just three. A sinker/slider pitcher, Fogg has started as a minor leaguer but was an All-America closer at Florida in 1998.

He went 4-7, 4.79 with four saves in a split role for Triple-A Charlotte in 2001. The trade came on Fogg’s 25th birthday.

“We had good reports on him. He’s a strike-thrower,” Littlefield said. “We think there’s more upside to him. He has good command of his breaking ball and could pitch as a starter or reliever for us.”

Evans, 24, was the Pirates’ No. 29 prospect last year and has plus tools including good power, excellent speed and good catch-and-throw skills. His bat has been the slowest tool to come around, however. The switch-hitter batted .248-11-48 in 428 at-bats at Double-A Altoona, stealing 12 bases. He drew 37 walks and struck out 116 times.

To make room for the players on their 40-man roster, the Pirates designated righthander Jose Silva for assignment.