Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Worst Trades of the 1960s + Trivia Contest

TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Greg Frediani of Napa, CA, who correctly answered the trivia question and then was selected in a random drawing. He correctly identified pitchers Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres, and infielder Jim Gilliam as the four Los Angeles Dodgers we were looking for who played for the club in 1966 but also played for the club when it was in Brooklyn. He receives a Starbucks Gift Card for his efforts. John Roseboro also played in 35 games for the Brooklyn club in 1957. This week is a new week and a new Trivia Contest. The Prize this week again is a Starbucks Gift Card. 

TRIVIA QUESTION:  In the 1960s Rocky Colavito was involved in eight different transactions. He was twice released, once signed as a free agent, once sold to a team and four times he was traded in the decade. Which was the ONLY team to purchase the slugger during the 1960s?

There were five players who played on the 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers pennant winning club, who also played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. They were pitchers Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres and infielder Jim Gilliam. John Roseboro also played in 35 games for the 1957 Brooklyn club.

Every year during the Winter Meetings a number of key players change 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. Here are some of those hopes which did not pan out in the 1960s.

Everyone knows about the two worst trades perhaps which sent Lou Brock from the Cubs to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio and of course the Frank Robinson trade which sent F. Robby from the Reds to the Orioles for essentially Milt Pappas. There were others including the trade which basically sent Mike Cuellar from Houston to the Orioles for Curt Blefry. 

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. He was traded to the Dodgers the following season and while coming back at 13-10 in 1969, was soon 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 if 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.

TRIVIA CONTEST; After reading this column you can enter the weekly trivia contest for a chance to win a Starbucks Gift Card. Enter via the following email. Send 1) your answer to the trivia question at the top of the column, 2) your name, address and email so where we know where to send the card if you win 3) any comment you have on the column. One winner will be selected at random each week based on correct answers with the odds being based on the number of correct entries.  Please cut and paste or enter the following email into your email system.
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  1. How did you miss the Cubs' fleecing of the Phillies in the 1966 Fergie Jenkins trade? :)

    1. I also left out my fav trade; Matty Alou for Joe Gibbon, but those will be upcoming in a future column about poor 60s trades. thanx

  2. Yes I did leave that one out but the column was getting too long to mention others, but I will do another in upcoming weeks to revisit the other bad trades of the 60s. Thanx bob