Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Most Lop-Sided Trades in Baseball History

At this early point in the season it must be becoming obvious to a number of GMs that they don’t have the horses to challenge for post season play. What about dealing one or two prospects for an established player that could help you?

They say some of the best trades are the ones you didn't make. Here are some of the trades GMs wish they hadn’t.

1910 – The Cleveland Naps trade outfielder Bris Lord to the Philadelphia Athletics for outfielder Joe Jackson. The Athletics played Jackson for a total of 10 games before they gave up on him. Lord was fine for a season and a half before he fell apart. As for Jackson, he became arguably the greatest pure hitter in baseball history...before tragedy would destroy his career in 1920.

1949 – The Philadelphia Athletics traded Nellie Fox to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Joe Tipton. Bad stuff for the A’s, future HOFer for a total scrub.

December 11, 1959 – The Kansas City Athletics trade outfielder Roger Maris, first baseman Kent Hadley, and infielder Joe DeMaestri to the New York Yankees for pitcher Don Larsen, outfielder Hank Bauer, first baseman/outfielder Norm Siebern, and utilityman Marv Throneberry.

For much of the ’50s and ’60s, the Athletics might as well have been a farm system team for the Yankees. However, the A’s thought they were making a good deal here. They were trading a young player who had put up some nice numbers, but wasn't projected to be a star, and would package him with a pair of busts. However, Maris would blossom into a star – winning the MVP Award in ’60 and ’61. As for what the A’s got, almost all were busts or aging players, only Siebern would do well.

1964 – The Chicago Cubs trade outfielder Lou Brock, pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz and outfielder Doug Clemens. Five of the players exchanged never amounted to anything, while Brock became one of the all time greats. He finished the last 16 years of his career with the Cards, winning two World Series, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1965 – The Cincinnati Reds traded Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles for Jack Baldschun, Milt Pappas, and Dick Simpson. This was a case of a great player getting traded, he was great before the trade, great after it. He helped the O’s win a World Series in his first season with the team, and another in ’70. The Reds may not have gotten equal value, but the ’70s were pretty good to them, so they probably didn't lose too much sleep over this one.

1966 – The Chicago Cubs trade pitchers Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Fergie Jenkins, and outfielders John Herrnstein and Adolfo Phillips. Jenkins was a talented young player who would be dominant for years, eventually winding up in the Hall of Fame. In return, the Phillies got two starters that were 35 and 37 years old and were clearly on the downsides of their careers. Jackson would be decent for three years in Philly rotation but Buhl would last just 137.1 innings and win 6 games in slightly over one year with the Phils. After Leo Durocher converted Fergie to a starter, he would win twenty games in six straight seasons.

1971 – The Houston Astros trade Joe Morgan, Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, and Denis Menke to the Cincinnati Reds for Tommy Helms, Lee May, and Jimmy Stewart. Judging by the stats, Morgan was a solid 2nd baseman for the Astros, but nothing out of this world. Then the season he got traded to the Reds he became one of the best players in baseball.

1971 – The San Francisco Giants trade George Foster for pitcher Vern Geishert and shortstop Frank Duffy. Geishert pitched in three games for the Angels in 1969 and never pitched in the Major Leagues again, and Duffy who was traded to the Indians later the same year. Foster went on to play 18 seasons with the Giants, Reds, Mets and White Sox. He hit 348 home runs with a .274 batting average. He played in 5 All-Star Games and was the 1976 All-Star Game MVP. He won one Silver Slugger Award, and was the 1977 National League Most Valuable Player and home run champion with 52. He also finished in the top 10 in MVP voting 3 other times.

1971 – The New York Mets trade pitchers Nolan Ryan, Don Rose, catcher Frank Estrada, and outfielder Leroy Stanton to the California Angels for shortstop Jim Fregosi. The Mets thought that Fregosi would be their answer to upgrade their infield. And they probably thought that they got away with a steal, including Ryan, a wild, but talented player, and a bunch of busts in the deal.

1982 – The Chicago Cubs trade Ivan DeJesus to the Philadelphia Phillies for Larry Bowa and second baseman Ryne Sandberg. Brought into replace the aging Larry Bowa, DeJesus lasted just three mediocre seasons in Philly before flaming out with the Cardinals. Bowa did nicely in Chicago until he finished his career in New York. The real steal for the Cubs here was Sandberg, the future Hall of Famer.

1982 – In a six player deal, the San Diego Padres trade shortstop Ozzie Smith to the St. Louis Cardinals for shortstop Garry Templeton. Seeking an offensive upgrade at short, the Padres swapped Smith, who remained the quality player that he had been and would be throughout his career, for Templeton.

1987 – The Detroit Tigers trade pitcher John Smoltz to the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Doyle Alexander. Alexander was brought in to help the Tigers make a run at the American League Pennant. (They would fall short by one game.) Alexander would have one more good year before he tanked. Smoltz, a Detroit native who wished he could stay and play for the home team, would make the majors the next year and would begin his Hall of Fame worthy career.

1989 – The Montreal Expos trade pitchers Randy Johnson, Gene Harris, and Brian Holman to the Seattle Mariners for pitchers Mark Langston and Mike Campbell. The Expos got robbed. This deal wouldn't have been a good one even if Langston, who was a pretty good pitcher, had remained in Montreal. Campbell, he would never play for the Expos. And in return, they gave up on a control-plagued Randy Johnson, who would blossom into a Hall of Fame pitcher, and on Holman, who was a good pitcher in his short time in baseball. Had the Expos kept Johnson, they would have had one of the best one-two punches with Johnson and Pedro Martinez.

1990 – The Red Sox deal hometown third-base prospect Jeff Bagwell to Houston in exchange for Larry Andersen, a veteran reliever who they felt would shore up a sagging bullpen as they stretched for the playoffs. The Sox did make the playoffs, with Andersen pitching well in September, but they were swept out of the ALCS by Oakland. Andersen swiftly moved on to San Diego in the offseason as a free agent, having pitched a total of 15 games and 22 innings for the Sox. Bagwell won the NL Rookie of the Year in ’91, and went on to become one of the finest all-around players of his generation. After a switch to first base, Bagwell wins an MVP in ’94. A career .305 hitter, he drove in 100 or more runs six times, won two Gold Gloves, played four different seasons without missing a game and was a 30 homer-30 steal man twice.

1993 – The Los Angeles Dodgers trade pitcher Pedro Martinez to the Montreal Expos for Delino DeShields. A trade brought on by necessity. Pedro would dominate the National League and was a part of that magical 1994 Expos team that would have won the World Series before he became a part of the Red Sox. DeShields wasn’t even a top second baseman, and Pedro was already on the winning track after his rookie year. Dumb.

1997 – The Oakland Athletics trade first baseman Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers T.J. Matthews, Blake Stein, and Eric Ludwick. This was highway robbery. Oakland, seeking to get McGwire’s deal off the books while at the same time obtaining young starting pitching, saw this deal as a way to help improve their rotation dramatically. Oh how wrong they were. Of the three, only Matthews would work out, and even he was mediocre, his best season coming in 1999 (9-5 with a 3.81 ERA). McGwire would energize the Cardinals, giving them a force in the lineup to go along with Jim Edmonds and Edgar Renteria.

1998 – The Houston Astros trade pitchers Freddy Garcia, John Halama and infielder Carlos Guillen to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Randy Johnson. Halama and Guillen were average players, but Garcia became an ace for the Mariners for many years, before he got sent to the White Sox. As for Johnson, Johnson became the ace of the greatest Astros team in history, but he would leave for a big money contract with the Diamondbacks.

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

Great post, Will! There's a lot of great information here for all ball fans. Many thanks for sharing it.