Sometimes a dig through a dime box or scroll through COMC store or ebay listings tells a story. A player collection forsaken, team collection being broken up, or set build aborted. I'm guessing the latter would explain the origin of the cards in this post. These parallels all come from the same seller, as well as a few other Pirates left behind that I already had.
This post is as much about the shiny, foil goodness of 2004 Leaf Certified Materials as it is about just how mind-numbingly bad the Pirates were in the mid 2000's. This set is from 2004, and features two rookies in the Pirate team set. None of these players are in organized baseball in the United States. The Pirates sure knew how to pick 'em.
And in true Pirate fashion, proceeded to implode. He jumped to a 5.42 ERA in 2005. His fastball lost miles like they were going out of style, he demoted himself to the minors in 2009 before a trade to Seattle ended his time in Pittsburgh. The Mariners, stuck with his $4M salary, pitched him in the majors in 2010, and he would make 5 atrocious AAA starts for the Dodgers in 2011, but has been out of baseball since then.
And of course we can't forget Jose Castillo. Castillo jumped from AA to the majors as a 23 year old in 2004. He put up a respectable .256/.298/.368 line his rookie year with strong defense. He continued improving in '05, showing flashes of above average power and spectacular defense. But weak on base skills and questions over his work ethic moved him to the bench in 2007. He spent 2008 between the Astros and Giants, and has since spent time between Japan and Mexico. He put up excellent numbers in the Mexican League in 2012 and 2013 thus far, but at 32 I'd imagine it's doubtful he gets another crack at the majors.
But hey, look! Shiny cards!