Friday, April 27, 2012
10,000 days ago: the Gary Carter tradePosted by Chris Jaffe
10,000 days ago, the Mets made one of their most famous trades in their franchise history. Or, if you’d rather, 10,000 days ago the Expos made one of their least fondly remembered deals.
On Dec. 10, 1984—exactly 10,000 days ago—the Expos traded future Hall of Famer Gary Carter to the Mets. In exchange, Montreal received four players who collectively were not nearly as good as Carter.
The biggest name was Hubie Brooks. He’d been a quality Mets infielder for the past several years. Only 28 years old, he’d still have several more good seasons in front of him. Ultimately, his best seasons were in Canada. He’d be the most productive player Montreal received. So at least that part of the trade worked out for them.
The big hope for Montreal was a young phenom named Floyd Youmans. The next year, Youmans, despite being only 21 years old, would post a 2.45 ERA in 77 innings. In 1986, he went 13-12 in his first full season, a campaign that included several sterling performances. Then his arm went south. Three months after turning 25, he threw his last big league pitch.
The Expos also got a replacement for Carter in 24-year-old catcher Mike Fitzgerald. This part was a disaster. It’s hard enough to replace a legend at the same position when you’ve just been traded for him. It’s even harder when you hit .207 in 108 games, as Fitzgerald did in his first season in Montreal. He improved from there, but he was clearly no Carter.
Lastly, Montreal received 23-year-old centerfielder Herm Winningham. He had only one problem—he couldn’t hit.
As for Carter, he hit 32 homers with 100 RBIs in his first season in New York. In his second year, the Mets won a world title.
Looking back, you can see Montreal’s thought process. Carter would be a 31-year-old catcher in 1985. That’s an age guys start to get old and at a position they get old quick. As Branch Rickey said, it’s better to trade a man one year too early instead of one year too late. That’s what Montreal wanted to do. And really, that’s pretty much what they did. Carter had two good years in New York, but in his third season he batted .235 with 20 homers. Carter’s prime was almost entirely in Montreal.
The problem for Montreal was their haul disappointed. They got three young players and one veteran in his prime, and only the last one panned out as hoped.
You can easily see a scenario where it plays out differently. If Youmans’ arm stays healthy, this would be a great trade for Montreal. Winningham had been a pretty good player in the minors. At age 21, he batted .354 in Double-A and the next year in Triple-A he hit .281 with 23 stolen bases versus only five caught stealings. Even Fitzgerald was a legitimate prospect, batting .284 with moderate but legitimate power in Triple-A at age 22.
In fact, according to WAR the Expos won the trade. The foursome gave Montreal 15.3 WAR while Carter managed just 11.2 WAR for the Mets. Huh. I wouldn’t have guessed that.
Then again, it’s four on one. You have to figure three other guys given prominent roles on a team can manage to play slightly over replacement level between them. Or, to put it another way, if you trade Barry Bonds for 10 guys, you might “win” the trade, but only if you push other would-be starters to the bench, which minimizes the advantage. There’s a difference between a trade in isolation and it’s impact upon the team.
It’s a fun trade to play devil’s advocate for I suppose, but regardless, it happened 10,000 days ago.
Aside from that, many other baseball events celebrate their “day-versary” or anniversary today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim the list.
1,000 days since Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen hits three home runs in one game.
1,000 days since the A’s retire No. 24 for Rickey Henderson.
4,000 days since the Astros sign free agent Vinny Castilla.
5,000 days since the Cubs sign free agent Gary Gaetti.
5,000 days since Felipe Alou wins his 521st game as Expos skipper, passing up Buck Rodgers for most wins in the history of the Montreal franchise.
5,000 days since Tim Wakefield pitches a nine-inning complete game despite striking no one out. It’s the only time he ever does that.
8,000 days since Randy Johnson tosses a no-hitter, beating the Tigers 2-0. It’s the first no-hitter in Mariners franchise history. He walks six and fans eight.
9,000 days since Tim Belcher makes his big league debut.
9,000 days since Ron Gant makes his major league debut.
20,000 days since the last game of swingman extraordinaire Steve Gromek.
1887 Bob Caruthers, a 200-game winner and maybe the best-hitting pitcher of all-time, hits his only grand slam.
1891 Allen Sothoron, pitcher mentioned in one of the most famous story leads in history (“Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off”) is born.
1896 Hall of fame second baseman Rogers Hornsby is born.
1897 Veteran pitcher Adonis Terry appears in his final game.
1903 Christy Mathewson surrenders the only grand slam of his career. Frank Bonner hits it, whoever he is.
1909 For the third consecutive day, the Browns lose to the White Sox by a score of 1-0.
1916 Hall of Fame outfielder Enos Slaughter is born.
1918 Brooklyn finally wins, improving its record on the season to 1-9. They beat the crosstown rival Giants, who were 9-0 until this game.
1918 The Phillies win, putting their all-time franchise record at 118 games over .500 (2,510-2,366). That’s the franchise peak.
1926 Walter Johnson becomes the last pitcher to win 400 games. His record: 400-258.
1926 17-year-old Mel Ott makes his big league debut.
1926 Tigers manager Ty Cobb puts himself in the lineup for the first time in the two-week old season. He collects three hits and makes a sensational catch.
1929 Dodger relief pitcher Clise Dudley becomes the first person to homer on the first pitch he sees in the big leagues.
1930 Hall of Fame hitter Harry Heilmann belts his 500th double.
1930 Despite playing all game, White Sox first baseman Bud Clancy records zero putouts and zero assists in a game against the Browns.
1931 Lou Gehrig, for the only time in his career, steals three bases in one game.
1933 Chuck Klein, Hall of Famer, gets his 1,000th hit. It’s taken him just 683 games.
1939 The White Sox select hurler Eddie Smith off waivers from the A’s. With the Sox, Smith will become one of the hardest-luck, most run-support-deprived pitchers of all-time.
1940 Lou Boudreau hits his first career home run. It leads off the game against Detroit’s 18-year-old phenom Hal Newhouser. It’s also the first homer Newhouser has allowed in the big leagues. Boudreau will have only one other leadoff dinger in his career. He later hits his second career homer off Newhouser. It’s one of only five multi-home run games for Boudreau.
1941 Bucky Walters records his 100th win, giving him a record of 100-81.
1943 In a great pitchers’ duel, the A’s top the Senators, 2-1 in 16 innings. All the game’s runs score in the final frame. Philadelphia’s Jesse Flores goes 15.2 innings and ends with a Game Score of 100. Early Wynn lasts “only” 13 innings and leaves with a Game Score of 98. It’s the highest Game Score of the Hall of Famer’s career. Wynn’s line: 13 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, and 4 K.
1943 Tommy Byrne, pitcher for the early Casey Stengel Yankee teams, makes his big league debut.
1943 The Braves trade aging catcher Ernie Lombardi to the Giants.
1944 Hal Newhouser has the best Game Score of his career: 93. His line: 12 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, and 5 K. It’s a complete-game win as the Tigers top the White Sox, 2-0.
1944 Boston Brave Jim Tobin tosses a no-hitter. Only 1,984 are in attendance to see it.
1945 The Giants release fiery pitcher Johnny Allen.
1945 Legend has it that on this day MLB leaders issue a report claiming that integration is a bad idea. All copies of it are supposedly destroyed, hence explaining the “legend has it” start to this entry.
1947 It’s Babe Ruth Day in baseball. 58,339 assemble in Yankee Stadium to honor the ailing slugger.
1955 An 81-year-old Honus Wagner watches as Pittsburgh unveils a statue of him in Sceneley Park outside Forbes Field.
1957 Cub pitcher Moe Drabowsky is hit by a pitch and hams it up really bad after it. Teammate Dick Drott runs out to the plate with a wheelchair to take Belinsky to first. Not surprisingly, the umpire ejects Drott.
1957 Willie Upshaw, Blue Jays first baseman, is born.
1962 Jim Bunning, a pitcher who plunked 160 batters (the 13th most all-time), is himself hit by a pitch. It’s the only time this happens to Bunning.
1963 For the only time in his career, Frank Robinson reaches first base via catcher’s interference. Then he scores what turns out to be the game’s only run in Cincinnati's 1-0 win over Houston.
1965 The Mets sign free agent Yogi Berra.
1965 The Mets complain about the air conditioning in the Astrodome, alleging it blows cold air toward home when the visitors are up and never when Houston bats.
1965 Matty Alou belts a walk-off home in a 14-13 Giants win over the Phillies. It’s just his 11th career homer, but his third career walk-off shot.
1968 Baltimore’s Tom Phoebus tosses a no-hitter for a 6-0 win over the Red Sox. Brooks Robinson makes a great catch to rob Boston shortstop Rico Petrocelli in the eighth inning.
1969 Harmon Killebrew nails his 400th home run.
1969 Montreal signs aging reliever Roy Face.
1969 Sal Bando enjoys maybe the greatest game of his career. He’s 3-for-4 with two homers, a walk, three runs, and a personal-high seven RBIs. The A’s trash the Pilots, 13-5.
1970 Washington trades Ken McMullen to the Angels for Aurelio Rodriguez and Rick Reichardt.
1971 After just 13 games with his new team, Curt Flood jumps the Senators, ending his big league career.
1971 It’s home run No. 600 for Hank Aaron.
1972 Don Zimmer manages his first big league game.
1973 Joe Morgan reaches base for the 41st consecutive game, his all-time personal best streak.
1973 Steve Busby no-hits the Tigers. 3-0. It’s the first no-hitter in Royals history.
1974 Frank Catalanotto, infielder, is born.
1974 Mike Schmidt hits the first of two career inside-the-park home runs.
1975 Chris Carpenter, ace pitcher, is born.
1975 Glenn Beckert, one-time second baseman for the Cubs, plays in his final game.
1977 The A’s trade Mike Torrez to the Yankees for Dock Ellis and two other players.
1981 A’s manager Billy Martin catches opposing manager Maury Wills trying to pull a fast one in Seattle’s Kingdome. The batter’s box is seven feet long instead of six feet, it’s specified length. Wills had the grounds crew add a foot to help his pitchers take advantage of Oakland’s breaking pitches.
1983 Nolan Ryan breaks Walter Johnson’s long-held strikeout record of 3,508 Ks. Steve Carlton will later pass Ryan briefly, but then the Ryan Express will blow past Carlton and keep on chugging for many more years.
1984 Houston releases J.R. Richard.
1985 Don Sutton allows a personal high 17 base runners en route to tying a personal worst Game Score of 6. Sutton’s line: 4.2 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 5 BB, and 3 K.
1985 For the third time in a week Jim Rice grounds into two double plays in one game.
1987 Don Baylor gets his 2,000th career hit.
1988 Scott McGregor, who went 20-8 for the 1980 Orioles, appears in his final game.
1990 Orel Hershiser undergoes surgery on his pitching shoulder and will be done for the year.
1990 Pittsburgh’s Wally Backman becomes the first NL player in 15 years to get six hits in a nine-inning game.
1992 Harlond Clift, former hard-hitting Browns third baseman, dies.
1993 Pirates knuckler Tim Wakefield has a monster start, lasting 10 innings and walking 10 in a 172-pitch performance. Even back then, 172 pitches got people’s attention. Despite that, he only fans one batter. It’s the last time the Pirates have had a pitcher last more than nine innings.
1994 Bobby Thigpen, formerly the single-season save leader, appears in his last game.
1994 Minnesota’s Scott Erickson tosses a no-hitter, beating the Brewers, 6-0.
1996 Barry Bonds belts his 300th home run, becoming the fourth member of the 300/300 club, alongside Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, and his father Bobby Bonds.
1999 Rickey Henderson steals his 1,300th base.
2000 Bobby Abreu receives a walk-off walk from Byung-Hyung Kim. Philadelphia 5, Arizona 4.
2000 Jose Valentin hits for the cycle and ends the day with five RBIs.
2001 Chipper Jones goes 5-for-5 in exactly five plate appearances, the only time he does it. He gets three singles, a double, and a homer.
2002 Carlos Delgado gets his 1,000th hit in his 1,013th game.
2002 Derek Lowe becomes the first Red Sox to toss a no-hitter in Fenway Park in 37 years when he beats Tampa Bay, 10-0.
2003 Alex Rodriguez has his third career 5-for-5 game.
2003 According to WPA, Allen Levrault has the best relief stint in Marlins history: 0.555 WPA. His line: 4 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, and 3 K.
2003 Kevin Millwood tosses a no-hitter for a 1-0 Phillies win over the Giants. He walks three and fans 10.
2004 Chad Moeller hits for the cycle.
2005 Jose Mesa joins the 300-save club.
2005 Mark Grudzielanek hits for the cycle.
2006 Tampa prospect Delmon Young is suspended indefinitely by the International League after throwing his bat, which hit the replacement umpire in the chest. (It’s a replacement umpire because minor league umps are striking.)
2008 The Pirates release Matt Morris.
2009 Dexter Fowler steals five bases in one game for the Padres as they top the Rockies, 12-7.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.