Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Worst Winter Meeting Trades
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TRIVIA QUESTION:   When it comes to off season trades which worked for both teams, the Angel and Twins were involved in a deal which sent Dean Chance and Jackie Hernandez to the Twins for sluggers Jimmie Hall and Don Mincher and reliever Pete Cimino. Cimino had one good season for the Halo's before his career came to an end but was actually more famous for a feat he accomplished in high school. What was that feat?

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: The two 1960's second basemen who were on parallel careers, both were iron men of sorts, each playing in at least 160 games in a season - three times and who faced each other with significant results in a World Series -- were none other than Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates and Bobby Richardson of the Yankees. Two defensive wizards and compatible at the plate. Richardson having some better hitting years while Maz was the standout on defense. In the 1960 World Series they were among the most significant players. Richardson was named the Series MVP, a rarity for the team which lost the Series.

The past week or so during the Winter Meetings a number of key players changed hands as teams who feel they are close to the Playoffs and teams trying to rebuild, scurry to get that right player to put them over the top, or lay the foundation for future winners. The Meetings are always a time of excitement for baseball fans hoping their team will make just the right move, putting them in the next World Series. I thought we'd explore some of those hopes which did not pan out in the 1960s.

The 1967 Pirates could hit despite the fall off from the Lumber Company of 1966. The club still needed pitching and thought one great pitcher would put them over the top. They set their eyes on one of the all-time greats; Jim Bunning, a future HOFer. The Phillies needed youth, the Bucs needed a Horse and Bunning was coming off another amazing season with a 2.29 ERA and a 17-15 recording while leading the league with 40 starts, 302 innings and 253 strike outs. He also led the league in shutouts with six. The perfect fit.

In return the Pirates send starting pitcher Woody Fryman to the Phils in a multi-player deal which included future all-star second baseman, Don Money. It totally backfired for Pittsburgh, totally was a winner for Philadelphia.

Bunning had the worst year of his career in Pittsburgh in 1968, ending 4-14 with an 3.88 ERA, was traded to the Dodgers the following season and while coming back at 13-10 in 1969, was released. Fryman went onto pitch into the 1980s and won 141 games, Money (a four time all-star) had a 16 year career, batting .261 with 176 homers.

The 1964 Cleveland Indians finished fourth in the AL and needed some power to compete, so they went after a real slugger; Rocky Colavito. In what turned out to be a massive three team trade in January 1965, the Indians got Colavito from Kansas City. They gave up, to the White Sox, future stars Tommie Agee, Tommy John and slugging catcher John Romano.
Colavito did slug 56 homers and drive in 180 runs in the following two seasons but the club only improved to fifth place both years. What the Indians had hoped for didn't work. Evidently they figured they could finish in the second division with the Rock, they could finish in the second division without him. They shipped him to the White Sox for Jim King. Colavito never regained his form and hit 32 homers the rest of his career which ended at age 33 in 1968 with the Yankees.

Giving up Colavito proved to be a good thing but the return didn't improve the A's by much. The players they got, Mike Hershberger, Jim Landis and Fred Talbot were average players at best during their time in Kansas City.

A third trade involved a couple of minor league players and is the "who would have thunk it?" trade. The White Sox had a super minor leaguer who had been in their system for some time and he ended up in the Angels organization during the year of expansion. Joe Hicks was a pretty good slugger which the new Washington Senators liked. The Angels liked a young pitcher the Sens had signed by the name of Dean Chance. In December of 1960, they swapped the two players.

In two minor league seasons Chance went 22-12 with ERA's at 2.94 and 3.13. What the Angels saw in Chance and what the Senators saw in Hicks, only somebody in the stratosphere would know. Chance went on to become one of the best pitchers of the era. Twice he won 20 games and finished with 128 wins. Hicks came to bat only 455 times in his big league career, batting .221 with 12 homers. He was out of the big leagues by 1964 but continued to play in the minors through 1966. He did however hit 107 minor league homers over 11 seasons.

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