The virtual 1969-76 Yankees, Red Sox, and Indians (Part 6:  1973-74)

Last week, the 1973 season saw the Red Sox and Yankees deliver good performances, but not as good as either anticipated. Meanwhile our Cleveland Indians surpassed both, striding forward with an impressive 92-win, second-place finish.

          Yankees:  Actual          Red Sox:  Actual           Indians:  Actual
 Year     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1969    80   81   5   562  587    87   75   3   743  736    62   99   6   573  717
 1970    93   69   2   680  612    87   75   3   786  722    76   86   5   649  675
 1971    82   80   4   648  641    85   77   3   691  667    60  102   6   543  747
 1972    79   76   4   557  527    85   70   2   640  620    72   84   5   472  519
 1973    80   82   4   641  610    89   73   2   738  647    71   91   6   680  826

          Yankees:  Virtual         Red Sox:  Virtual         Indians:  Virtual
 Year     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1969    80   81   5   594  617    85   77   4   775  781    68   93   6   576  658
 1970    95   67   2   677  599    89   73   3   781  706    82   80   4   706  680
 1971    87   75   3   662  611    84   78   4   690  673    73   89   5   657  748
 1972    82   73   3   590  545    89   66   1   627  579    82   74   4   558  534
 1973    86   76   4   709  630    89   73   3   721  633    92   70   2   740  679

With all three poised as contenders for 1974, what maneuvers will each undertake in preparation for the battle ahead?

The 1973-74 offseason: Actual deals we will make

Oct. 23, 1973: The Boston Red Sox traded outfielder Ben Oglivie to the Detroit Tigers for infielder Dick McAuliffe.

We like Oglivie, but he isn’t developing and we don’t have the room to really allow him to. The veteran McAuliffe can provide immediate help at second base.

Oct. 25, 1973: The Boston Red Sox released pitcher Bob Veale.

We’ve got younger arms coming along to compete for this veteran lefty’s bullpen spot.

Dec. 3, 1973: The New York Yankees drafted infielder Billy Parker from the California Angels in the 1973 Rule 5 draft.

This veteran handyman can compete for a bench role.

Dec. 6, 1973: The New York Yankees purchased infielder Jim Mason from the Texas Rangers.

Dec. 7, 1973: The New York Yankees purchased infielder-catcher Bill Sudakis from the Texas Rangers.

It isn’t clear why Texas GM Dan O’Brien was willing to surrender these useful commodities for straight cash, but we’re happy to comply with his wishes.

Dec. 11, 1973: The New York Yankees released outfielder Ron Swoboda.

He had a bad year in ’73, and finding no takers in the trade market, we’ll let Swoboda go.

March 23, 1974: The New York Yankees purchased outfielder-infielder Elliott Maddox from the Texas Rangers.

Another guy whom it’s peculiar to find available for just cash, but again, if the Rangers are selling, we’ll buy.

March 25, 1974: The Cleveland Indians purchased infielder Jack Heidemann from the Oakland Athletics.

The more marginal sort of talent more typically available for sale.

March 26, 1974: The Boston Red Sox released shortstop Luis Aparicio.

March 26, 1974: The Boston Red Sox released designated hitter Orlando Cepeda.

March 26, 1974: The Boston Red Sox released pitcher Bob Bolin.

March 26, 1974: The Cleveland Indians released pitcher Ray Lamb.

March 28, 1974: The Cleveland Indians released pitcher Mike Kekich.

March 28, 1974: The Boston Red Sox purchased catcher Bob Didier from the Detroit Tigers.

The rosters getting pruned. The only high-profile moves are the bidding of adios to Srs. Aparicio and Cepeda. Like the actual Red Sox, we just see better and younger alternatives available.

The 1973-74 offseason: Actual deals we will not make

Oct. 24, 1973: The Boston Red Sox traded pitcher Marty Pattin to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Dick Drago.

It is the case that the 30-year-old Pattin suffered a rough year in 1973, and his days as a full-time starter may be over. But even though Drago is two years younger, the exact same description applies to him. And even at his best, Drago has never been as good as Pattin at his best.

We don’t think the two-year difference in age is crucial at this point. We think Pattin not only has a better past, but still a better future than Drago.

Oct. 26, 1973: The Boston Red Sox traded outfielder Reggie Smith and pitcher Ken Tatum to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Rick Wise and outfielder Bernie Carbo.

Here was our assessment of this Blockbuster:

The all-around abundantly talented Smith had spent seven full seasons in Boston, knocking on the door of superstardom. Yet he’d never crossed that threshold, and worsening knee problems in 1972 and ’73 made it plain that his days as a center fielder were numbered. Thus [Boston GM] Dick O’Connell decided to accept this offer from the Cardinals of the solid workhorse Wise and the deluxe platoon hitter Carbo.

It would be a trade that helped both teams. While Wise would uncharacteristically get hurt in 1974, he would return to his customary strong form in the following seasons. Carbo would deliver consistently well in his against-righties-only role, and both would be major contributors to the Red Sox’ championship in 1975. Smith, playing right field and first base, would give the Cardinals exactly the robust performance they were counting on from him, though his recurrent injury trouble would prompt St. Louis to trade him for too little in mid-1976.

Our Red Sox like both Wise and Carbo, and are thus tempted by this offer. But even with his injury problems, we just like Smith’s terrific bat a little bit more. We think we can relieve some of the stress on Smith’s knees by primarily deploying him at DH, and we look forward to more big years from him.

Nov. 3, 1973: The Cleveland Indinas traded pitcher Jerry Johnson to the Houston Astros for pitcher Cecil Upshaw.

We don’t have Johnson and don’t want Upshaw.

Dec. 7, 1973: The New York Yankees traded pitcher Lindy McDaniel to the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Lou Piniella and pitcher Ken Wright.

Our Yankees dumped McDaniel following the 1971 season (oops), so no Sweet Lou for us.

Dec. 7, 1973: The Boston Red Sox purchased pitcher Juan Marichal from the San Francisco Giants.

He’s been a great one, but our Red Sox just don’t see a spot for the 36-year-old Marichal on our staff.

Dec. 10, 1973: The Boston Red Sox sold infielder Buddy Hunter to the Kansas City Royals.

We’re ready to move him, but our Red Sox have a different deal in mind for Hunter.

Dec. 12, 1973: The Cleveland Indians traded outfielder Roger Freed to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Steve Blateric.

Our Indians found Freed quite useful in a utility role in 1973, and aren’t ready to part with him.

Feb. 12, 1974: The Cleveland Indians traded infielder Leo Cardenas to the Texas Rangers for catcher Ken Suarez.

We don’t have Cardenas, and don’t need Suarez.

March 19, 1974: In a three-club deal, the New York Yankees traded catcher Jerry Moses to the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Ed Farmer. The Tigers sent pitcher Jim Perry to the Cleveland Indians, and the Indians sent outfielder Walt Williams and pitcher Rick Sawyer to the Yankees.

Neither our Yankees nor our Indians have the players to make this exact deal, and we wouldn’t be particularly interested anyway.

March 26, 1974: The Boston Red Sox traded catcher Vic Correll to the Atlanta Braves for infielder-outfielder Chuck Goggin.

We’ll stick with Correll in a backup role.

The 1973-74 offseason: Deals we will invoke

Oct. 26, 1973: The New York Yankees released infielder Bernie Allen.

It’s the end of the line for this veteran.

Dec. 5, 1973: The Boston Red Sox traded infielder Buddy Hunter and cash to the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Bob Johnson.

Dec. 5, 1973: The Cleveland Indians traded outfielder Burnel Flowers to the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Luke Walker.

Actually during this week, the Pirates traded Johnson to the Indians for Flowers, and sold Walker to Detroit. Our Indians don’t want Johnson but do want Walker, and our Red Sox can make use of Johnson, so we’ll satisfy the Pirates’ desire to offload these journeymen.

Dec. 7, 1973: The New York Yankees sold catcher Hal King to the Cincinnati Reds.

With the switch-hitting Sudakis on hand, we won’t be needing another backup catcher who can bat from the left side.

Dec. 7, 1973: The Boston Red Sox traded pitchers John Curtis and Sonny Siebert to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Reggie Cleveland and infielder Terry Hughes.

The actual trade was Curtis, Lynn McGlothen, and Mike Garman for Cleveland, Hughes, and Diego Segui. We’ll scale it down, but the essence of the deal remains Curtis-for-Cleveland, one mid-grade innings-eater for another, with the motivation for both teams simply to achieve a better lefty-righty balance.

Dec., 1973: The Boston Red Sox traded pitcher Don Newhauser to the Cleveland Indians for infielder Eddie Leon.

Our Indians have other options for utility infielder, and our Red Sox get another element to attempt to plug the second base hole.

Jan., 1974: The New York Yankees signed pitcher Bob Veale as a free agent.

He’ll get a shot at a bullpen job.

March 21, 1974: The Cleveland Indians sold pitcher Ed Farmer to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Actually it was the Yankees selling Farmer to Philadelphia. He’s not making our Cleveland staff either.

March 28, 1974: The Boston Red Sox selected outfielder Leron Lee off waivers from the San Diego Padres.

Actually it was Cleveland claiming Lee, but our Red Sox have a spot for him instead. Lee isn’t a good fielder, but he’s still just 26, and hit up a storm a couple of years ago.

March, 1974: The Cleveland Indians purchased pitcher Gary Ryerson from the California Angels.

March, 1974: The Cleveland Indians sold pitcher Steve Dunning to the Texas Rangers.

March, 1974: The Cleveland Indians sold pitcher Mike Garman to the St. Louis Cardinals.

March, 1974: The New York Yankees sold pitcher Tom Buskey to the Detroit Tigers.

March, 1974: The New York Yankees sold pitcher Vicente Romo to the San Diego Padres.

And the pitching staffs get tidied up for Opening Day.

The 1974 season: Actual deals we will make

May 5, 1974: The New York Yankees purchased infielder Fernando Gonzalez from the Kansas City Royals.

He’s got a bit of pop in his bat.

June 1, 1974: The Cleveland Indians traded infielder Jack Heidemann to the St. Louis Cardinals for infielders Ed Crosby and Luis Alvarado.

Why not convert one garden-variety utility infielder into two garden-variety utility infielders?

June 5, 1974: The Cleveland Indians purchased first baseman-outfielder Joe Lis from the Minnesota Twins.

He doesn’t offer much defensive value, but this guy can hit.

June 15, 1974: The New York Yankees purchased pitcher Rudy May from the California Angels.

He’s slumped his way into Angels’ manager Bobby Winkles’s doghouse, but May is not yet 30 years old and has pitched quite well in the past. He’s definitely worth a chance.

June 17, 1974: The Cleveland Indians released pitcher Ken Sanders.

He was terrific down the stretch in ’73, but this year, um, not so good.

July 8, 1974: The New York Yankees purchased infielder Sandy Alomar from the California Angels.

His days as a regular are through, but the slick-fielding Alomar can still provide value off the bench. We’ll help the slumping Angels clean house.

July 17, 1974: The Cleveland Indians purchased first baseman-outfielder Tom McCraw from the California Angels.

And our Indians will claim this piece of Angel inventory.

Aug. 17, 1974: The Cleveland Indians purchased first baseman-outfielder Rico Carty from the Cafeteros de Cordoba of the Mexican League.

If ever a guy seemed born to be a designated hitter, it would be Carty, a phenomenal batsman and brutal defender. But when finally getting the opportunity to DH with Texas in 1973, the 33-year-old Carty was nagged by injuries and failed badly.

But banished to the Mexican League for ’74, he’s hitting .354, and like the actual Indians, we figure, what the heck?

Sep. 1, 1974: The Boston Red Sox purchased catcher-first baseman Tim McCarver from the St. Louis Cardinals.

A helpful veteran bat to beef up the bench for the stretch run.

The 1974 season: Actual deals we will not make

April 26, 1974: The Cleveland Indians traded first baseman Chris Chambliss and pitchers Dick Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw to the New York Yankees for pitchers Fritz Peterson, Steve Kline, Fred Beene, and Tom Buskey.

What can one say? What we’ve said is this:

The Yankees would never have become quite the juggernaut they were in the late 1950s and early 1960s without the kind assistance of the Kansas City Athletics, tossing them regular trade lollipops. Similarly, George Steinbrenner’s first great Yankee team owed a debt of gratitude to the incompetence of Cleveland Indians’ management, both in this deal and the Graig Nettles laugher.

Suffice to say our Indians aren’t so helpful. Our Yankees have already acquired Chambliss anyway, but paid a fair price.

May 22, 1974: The Cleveland Indians traded pitcher Steve Blateric to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Johnny Jeter.

We wouldn’t mind having Jeter, but we don’t have Blateric.

Sep. 7, 1974: The Boston Red Sox purchased first baseman Deron Johnson from the Milwaukee Brewers.

Much as we’ve always been intrigued by the idea of big Deron wearing the home whites at Fenway Park, at this point he’s 36 years old and hitting .175. We think that’s an idea whose time has come and gone.

Sep. 9, 1974: The New York Yankees purchased outfielder Alex Johnson from the Texas Rangers.

Nor are our Yankees much tempted by this offer. Though this Johnson fields like a DH, he really doesn’t hit like one.

The 1974 season: Deals we will invoke

May 5, 1974: The New York Yankees sold infielder Frank Baker to the Baltimore Orioles.

We’re trying Fernando Gonzalez in this utility spot.

May 7, 1974: The Cleveland Indians traded catcher Duke Sims to the Texas Rangers for pitcher Larry Gura and cash.

Actually it was the Yankees making this deal with Texas. Our Indians have loved Sims, but he’s getting near the end and the strike-throwing young lefty Gura is a nice return.

June 5, 1974: The Cleveland Indians traded outfielder Roger Freed to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Johnny Jeter.

We didn’t accept Cincinnati’s offer of Steve Blateric for Freed last winter, but we’ve just acquired Joe Lis, and he can fill Freed’s role. We’re assuming the Reds traded Blateric to the White Sox for Jeter (given that the White Sox would actually make that swap in the spring of ’74), and now we’ll allow them to have Freed. We’ll put Jeter in triple-A as injury insurance.

June 15, 1974: The New York Yankees traded cash and a player to be named later to the San Diego Padres for pitcher Steve Arlin. (On June 21, 1974, the Yankees sent pitcher Brent Strom to the Padres, completing the deal.)

Actually it was Cleveland making a Strom-for-Arlin deal this month. Since our Yankees have Strom, they’ll do it. Arlin has fallen on hard times, but was quite promising a few years ago.

July 8, 1974: The New York Yankees sold second baseman Horace Clarke to the San Diego Padres.

He’s had a nice run for us, but Clarke is now 34 and showing it, and we’ll replace him with Alomar.

July 17, 1974: The Cleveland Indians sold outfielder Richie Scheinblum to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Scheinblum’s always been a streaky hitter, but his slump this year is a whopper and we’ve run out of patience.

Aug. 3, 1974: The Boston Red Sox signed first baseman Jim Hickman as a free agent.

Hickman’s recently become available, released by the Cardinals despite not hitting badly. Andy Kosco’s slumping, so we’ll replace him with Hickman and see what happens.

Sep. 12, 1974: The Cleveland Indians traded outfielder Rusty Torres and cash to the California Angels for designated hitter Frank Robinson.

The actual deal included backup catcher Ken Suarez along with Torres. We’re sure he wasn’t a crucial factor. Like the actual Indians, we’ll eagerly allow the great Robinson to finish his playing career with us, and do more than that.

1974 season results

Yankees

We know we were a better team than our 86-76 record indicated in 1973, and we haven’t undertaken major moves in the offseason. We’ve invested cash to upgrade the bench, importing Mason, Sudakis, and Maddox from Texas.

1974 New York Yankees     Won 80    Lost 82    Finished 3rd

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
   1B   C. Chambliss*   25  127 467  47 119  20   3   6  52  28  48 .255 .295 .349 .644   86
 2B-SS  J. Mason*       23  125 363  35  91  14   6   4  33  29  71 .251 .299 .355 .654   89
   SS   R. Metzger#     26  136 515  60 133  19   8   0  32  27  66 .258 .284 .326 .610   76
   3B   B. Bell         22  116 423  52 112  15   1   7  48  35  28 .265 .318 .355 .673   95
 RF-CF  B. Murcer*      28  156 606  70 166  25   4  10  90  57  59 .274 .331 .378 .709  105
 CF-RF  E. Maddox       26  113 385  53 117  22   2   2  39  57  40 .304 .390 .387 .777  126
   LF   R. White#       30  136 473  69 130  19   8   7  45  67  44 .275 .362 .393 .755  119
   C    T. Munson       27  144 517  65 135  19   2  13  62  44  66 .261 .315 .381 .696  101
   DH   R. Blomberg*    25   90 264  40  82  11   2  10  50  29  33 .311 .375 .481 .856  147

 OF-1B  J. Briggs*      30  102 332  45  84  18   5  11  48  41  60 .253 .333 .437 .770  122
   2B   S. Alomar#      30   68 251  33  68   7   0   1  24  13  22 .271 .301 .311 .612   78
   UT   B. Sudakis#     28   71 207  21  47   6   0   6  33  19  39 .227 .286 .343 .629   82
 OF-1B  O. Velez        23   70 167  27  40   6   1   7  25  41  63 .240 .388 .413 .801  132
 D-1-C  J. Ellis        25   64 191  24  55   9   2   4  28  13  20 .288 .332 .419 .751  116
   UT   D. Cater        34   56 126  14  32   6   0   3  20  10  13 .254 .314 .373 .687   98
 3B-2B  F. Gonzalez     24   51 121  11  26   5   1   1   7   7   7 .215 .254 .298 .551   59
   2B   H. Clarke#      34   38  77   5  17   1   0   0   2   6   7 .221 .271 .234 .504   47
 3B-2B  B. Parker       32   26  45   6  11   2   0   1   7   3  11 .244 .306 .356 .662   91
   SS   F. Baker*       27    5   6   1   1   0   0   0   0   1   1 .167 .286 .167 .452   34

        Others                    8   1   1   0   0   0   0   0   1 .125 .125 .125 .250  -27

        Total                  5544 679 1467 224 45  93 645 527 699 .265 .324 .372 .696  101

        * Bats left
        # Bats both

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        P. Dobson       32   39  39  12  19  15   0 281 282 111  96   23   75  157 3.07  116
        D. Medich       25   38  38  17  19  15   0 280 275 122 112   24   91  154 3.60   99
        F. Peterson*    32   35  27   3   9  12   1 161 196  94  76   16   38   59 4.25   84
        R. May*         29   17  15   8   8   4   0 114  75  36  29    5   48   90 2.29  156
        M. Stottlemyre  32   16  15   6   6   7   0 113 119  54  45    7   37   40 3.58  100
        S. Kline        26   22  14   1   5   8   0  97  94  58  48   11   35   25 4.45   80
        S. McDowell*    31   13   7   0   1   6   0  48  42  27  25    6   41   33 4.69   76

        D. Segui        36   58   0   0   5   7  14 108 102  52  44    7   50   77 3.67   98
        F. Beene        31   42   0   0   4   3   5  91  85  55  47    9   30   50 4.65   77
        B. Veale*       38   29   0   0   1   1   3  28  25  19  18    2   19   32 5.79   62
        D. Pagan        24   20   4   1   1   2   0  65  67  40  38    2   36   51 5.26   68
        L. Clemons*     26   14   0   0   1   0   0  30  35  23  17    2   12   17 5.10   70
        S. Arlin        28   11   3   0   1   2   0  29  36  22  19    0   15   15 5.90   61

        Others                    0   0   0   0   0   7   7   4   3    0    5    5 3.86   93

        Total                   162  48  80  82 23 1452 1440 717 617 114  532  805 3.82   94

        * Throws left

Our pitching suffers a big blow, as longtime ace Mel Stottlemyre is felled with an arm injury that will prove to be a career-ender. Fellow right-handers Pat Dobson and Doc Medich step forward with strong workhorse performances, and the mid-season addition May is terrific, but the staff has a lot of issues, in particular a weak bullpen.

Our offense doesn’t encounter that much trouble, but it’s less potent than last year as well. Bobby Murcer and Chris Chambliss are both slump-ridden, and Buddy Bell misses seven weeks with knee injuries. The only pleasant surprise is Maddox, who blossoms so nicely that he takes over the regular center field job, bumping Murcer to right and Johnny Briggs into a utility role.

It’s a distinctly disappointing year. We finish in third, but well out of contention, and our 80-82 record is the worst by a Yankee team since 1967.

Red Sox

Reconfiguring our defense, we’re installing sophomore Rick Burleson as the first-string shortstop, moving incumbent Juan Beniquez to center field, where he will compete with Rick Miller. Reggie Smith is set to be our primary DH.

At second base, we’ll try a platoon of Dick McAuliffe and Eddie Leon.

1974 Boston Red Sox     Won 98    Lost 64    Finished 1st

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
   1B   C. Cooper*      24  121 414  57 114  24   1   8  43  32  74 .275 .324 .396 .720  100
   2B   E. Leon         27   85 213  22  45   6   1   2  17  16  44 .211 .257 .277 .534   49
   SS   R. Burleson     23  137 459  45 131  26   0   5  53  25  41 .285 .319 .375 .693   93
   3B   R. Petrocelli   31  129 454  55 121  23   1  15  76  48  74 .267 .336 .421 .757  110
 RF-CF  D. Evans        22  133 463  63 130  19   8  10  70  38  77 .281 .331 .421 .752  109
   CF   R. Miller*      26  140 390  58 101  12   3   6  33  50  62 .259 .339 .351 .690   93
 LF-1B  C. Yastrzemski* 34  148 515  96 155  25   2  15  79 104  48 .301 .414 .445 .859  140
   C    V. Correll      28   82 253  29  59  19   1   6  36  21  47 .233 .299 .387 .687   91
 DH-RF  R. Smith#       29  143 517  90 163  27   5  30 100  57  70 .315 .378 .561 .939  160

   OF   J. Beniquez     24  106 389  62 104  14   3   5  33  25  61 .267 .307 .357 .665   85
 2B-3B  D. McAuliffe*   34  100 272  33  57  13   1   5  24  39  40 .210 .307 .320 .627   75
   IF   M. Guerrero     24   93 284  19  70   6   2   0  23  13  22 .246 .280 .282 .561   57
 LF-DH  L. Lee*         26   79 232  22  57  14   1   4  25  15  41 .246 .290 .366 .657   83
   C    C. Fisk         26   52 187  37  56  12   1  11  26  24  23 .299 .380 .551 .930  157
 DH-1B  A. Kosco        32   54 134  16  30   6   0   4  18  11  20 .224 .277 .358 .635   76
   C    B. Didier#      25   44 110   8  20   4   0   1   6  11  12 .182 .276 .245 .521   47
   UT   T. Hughes       25   51  96   7  20   3   0   2   7   7  21 .208 .271 .302 .573   60
 DH-LF  J. Rice         21   24  67   6  18   2   1   1  13   4  12 .269 .307 .373 .680   89
   C    T. McCarver*    32   11  28   3   7   1   0   0   1   4   1 .250 .324 .286 .609   72
   DH   J. Hickman      37    3   9   0   2   0   0   0   0   1   1 .222 .300 .222 .522   48

        Others                   55   6  21   2   2   2  11   7   8 .382 .453 .6001.053  192

        Total                  5541 734 1481 258 33 132 694 552 799 .267 .331 .397 .728  103

        * Bats left
        # Bats both

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        L. Tiant        33   38  38  25  23  12   0 311 281 106 101   21   82  176 2.92  133
        B. Lee*         27   38  37  16  18  14   0 282 320 123 110   25   67   95 3.51  111
        L. McGlothen    24   31  31   8  17  11   0 237 215  80  73   16   70  142 2.77  140
        R. Moret*       24   33  21   7   9   8   2 151 137  68  62   13   69   98 3.70  105
        R. Cleveland    26   27  18   5   8   7   0 126 139  67  59   14   40   60 4.21   92
        M. Pattin       31   25  11   2   5   6   0 117 121  54  53   12   28   50 4.08   95

        S. Lyle*        29   66   0   0  10   2  21 114  95  30  23    8   42   87 1.82  214
        B. Johnson      31   25   2   0   4   2   0  53  56  24  22    5   23   25 3.74  104
        C. Skok*        26   22   2   0   3   2   0  40  39  17  15    4   15   30 3.38  115

        Others                    2   1   1   0   0  24  25  13  11    2   10   14 4.13   94

        Total                   162  64  98  64 23 1455 1428 582 529 120  446  777 3.27  119

        * Throws left

We encounter a catastrophic injury, as star catcher Carlton Fisk blows out a knee in late June and is lost for the season. Backup Vic Correll fills in and holds his own, but he’s no Fisk.

And second base remains a problem, as neither McAuliffe nor Leon does well.

But this Boston team has more than enough talent to overcome those obstacles. Smith delivers his best season yet, and the 34-year-old Carl Yastrzemski is excellent again as well. Rico Petrocelli, Dwight Evans, and Cecil Cooper all swing solid supporting-cast bats, and Burleson is just fine.

But our core strength is clearly the pitching, which is brilliant, the best staff in the league by a wide margin. Ace Luis Tiant is superb, and he’s more than ably backed up by southpaw Bill Lee and by young righty Lynn McGlothen, blossoming in his third season. Fireman Sparky Lyle delivers a terrific year as well.

We win the division going away, convincingly surpassing the defending champ Orioles, capturing our second title in three years.

Indians

We’ve made few alterations to the roster that made such a strong showing in 1973. The only significant change is in right field, where we’ll give power-hitting rookie Charlie Spikes the opportunity as the regular, bumping Oscar Gamble to left. We’re also giving youngsters Milt Wilcox and Gary Ryerson opportunities in our bullpen, joining the veterans Ken Sanders and Tom Hilgendorf.

1974 Cleveland Indians     Won 71    Lost 91    Finished 6th

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
   1B   G. Scott        30  158 604  72 168  36   2  18  80  59  90 .278 .342 .434 .776  124
   2B   D. Nelson       30   99 356  47  86  10   1   3  26  25  55 .242 .289 .301 .589   71
   SS   F. Duffy        27  150 494  52 115  16   0   7  40  27  58 .233 .265 .308 .573   66
   3B   G. Nettles*     29  155 566  69 140  21   1  21  71  60  78 .247 .318 .399 .717  107
   RF   C. Spikes       23  155 568  60 154  23   1  22  78  34 100 .271 .319 .431 .750  116
 CF-LF  G. Hendrick     24  139 495  62 138  23   1  19  65  33  73 .279 .322 .444 .767  120
   LF   J. Lowenstein*  27   93 254  30  62   7   1   4  22  26  44 .244 .310 .327 .637   85
   C    D. Duncan       28  136 425  42  85  10   1  16  44  42  91 .200 .272 .341 .613   77
 DH-LF  O. Gamble*      24  135 454  71 132  16   4  19  57  48  51 .291 .363 .469 .833  140

   2B   J. Brohamer*    24   76 210  20  57   7   1   1  18  17  15 .271 .326 .329 .655   90
   CF   R. Torres#      25  108 150  17  28   2   0   3  10  13  24 .187 .243 .260 .503   46
   IF   E. Crosby*      25   55 127  14  27   5   0   0   7   9  16 .213 .257 .252 .509   48
   LF   T. McCraw*      33   45 112  15  34   8   0   3  15   5  11 .304 .333 .455 .789  127
   C    R. Dempsey      24   43 109   9  26   3   0   2  11   8   7 .239 .286 .321 .607   76
   DH   R. Scheinblum#  31   46 109   8  19   2   0   0   5   9  10 .174 .237 .193 .430   26
 DH-LF  R. Carty        34   33  91   5  33   5   0   1  15   5   9 .363 .396 .451 .846  145
   2B   D. Kuiper*      24   24  77  14  26   4   0   0   7   5   8 .338 .386 .390 .775  125
   OF   T. Smith*       25   32  69   7  13   3   1   1   4   3  13 .188 .227 .304 .531   53
   DH   F. Robinson     38   15  50   6  10   1   1   2   5  10  10 .200 .328 .380 .708  105
   DH   R. Freed        28   15  45   4  10   2   0   2   6   8  15 .222 .340 .400 .740  114
   DH   J. Lis          27   19  36   5   7   1   0   2   5   5  10 .194 .293 .389 .682   96
   C    D. Sims*        33    5  15   1   2   1   0   0   2   1   5 .133 .188 .200 .388   12
   SS   J. Heidemann    24   12  11   2   1   0   0   0   0   0   2 .091 .091 .091 .182  -47

        Others                   36   7  10   1   0   0   2   3   9 .278 .325 .306 .631   84

        Total                  5463 639 1383 207 15 146 595 455 804 .253 .310 .377 .686   98

        * Bats left
        # Bats both

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        G. Perry        35   37  37  28  20  14   0 322 230  98  90   25   99  216 2.52  144
        J. Colborn      28   33  31  10  10  14   0 224 227 106 101   28   61   86 4.06   89
        S. Bahnsen      29   38  35  10  11  17   0 216 220 127 109   19  111  103 4.54   80
        D. Tidrow       27   37  29   5  10  14   1 210 230 120  99   18   67  107 4.24   86
        L. Gura*        26   21  13   5   7   6   2 114 106  38  32    8   23   54 2.53  144
        L. Walker*      30   28   9   0   5   5   0  92  96  56  49    9   54   52 4.79   76

        M. Wilcox       24   41   2   1   2   5   5  71  74  42  37   10   24   33 4.69   77
        T. Hilgendorf*  32   39   0   0   2   5   4  53  65  30  30    7   19   24 5.09   71
        G. Ryerson*     26   35   2   0   3   7   1  99 116  62  50    6   37   52 4.55   80
        K. Sanders      32    9   0   0   0   2   1  11  21  12  12    5    5    4 9.82   37

        Others                    4   1   1   2   0  35  38  23  20    3   25   19 5.14   71

        Total                   162  60  71  91 14 1447 1423 714 629 138  525  750 3.91   93

        * Throws left

Things don’t go nearly as expected. Spikes does well, but overall the offense performs sluggishly. Though we again lead the league in home runs, it’s a one-dimensional attack, and slumps particularly afflict Scheinblum, Dave Duncan, and John Lowenstein. Over the season’s final weeks, newcomers McCraw, Carty, and rookie Duane Kuiper liven things up, but it’s too little, too late.

And the offensive disappointment is nothing compared to that regarding our pitching staff. Ace Gaylord Perry is brilliant, and new arrival Larry Gura does splendidly, but they sorely lack for company. Neither Jim Colborn nor Stan Bahnsen comes close to repeating his 1973 form, and our bullpen provides no help whatsoever.

We careen to a 21-game slide from the ’73 finish, and tumble all the way back to last place. What a disaster. The first African-American manager in the history of major league baseball is going to have his work cut out for him.

          Yankees:  Actual          Red Sox:  Actual           Indians:  Actual
 Year     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1969    80   81   5   562  587    87   75   3   743  736    62   99   6   573  717
 1970    93   69   2   680  612    87   75   3   786  722    76   86   5   649  675
 1971    82   80   4   648  641    85   77   3   691  667    60  102   6   543  747
 1972    79   76   4   557  527    85   70   2   640  620    72   84   5   472  519
 1973    80   82   4   641  610    89   73   2   738  647    71   91   6   680  826
 1974    89   73   2   671  623    84   78   3   696  661    77   85   4   662  694

          Yankees:  Virtual         Red Sox:  Virtual         Indians:  Virtual
 Year     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1969    80   81   5   594  617    85   77   4   775  781    68   93   6   576  658
 1970    95   67   2   677  599    89   73   3   781  706    82   80   4   706  680
 1971    87   75   3   662  611    84   78   4   690  673    73   89   5   657  748
 1972    82   73   3   590  545    89   66   1   627  579    82   74   4   558  534
 1973    86   76   4   709  630    89   73   3   721  633    92   70   2   740  679
 1974    80   82   3   679  717    98   64   1   734  582    71   91   6   639  714

Next time

Can either our Yankees or Indians turn it around, and pose a threat to our dynasty-threatening Red Sox?

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Comments

  1. Jim G. said...

    Wow. To unceremoniously erase Piniella’s time as a Yankee was a little shocking, even for a non-Yankee-fan like me.

  2. John Agius said...

    Steve Treder said…
    Well, if you want to make an omelette, you’ve got to break some eggs!

    I hope we actually end up with an omlette.  The virtual Yankees were better mostly because they had John Briggs instead of the parade of Johnny Callison types, but Briggs career is about to fizzle out.

    I can’t understand the Piniella trade not happening.  Because McDaniel wasn’t there?  I don’t understand that one either, it’s not like the virtual Yankee bullpen was deep.  I don’t understand signing the aging Bobby Veale but selling Tom Buskey, a prospect who had a decent career for the rest of the 70’s.

    Broken eggs can make an omlette or a mess.  I’m not very optimistic.

  3. Steve Treder said...

    McDaniel isn’t there because he had a terrible year in 1971 at the age of 35, and our Yankees very sensibly concluded that he wasn’t worth hanging on to at that point.  It isn’t plausible to imagine foreseeing the rejuvenation McDaniel would enjoy in 1972 and especially 1973.

    And without McDaniel, there is no Piniella, because it isn’t plausible to imagine the Royals trading Piniella without receiving McDaniel in return.  Our 1973 Yankees don’t have a suitable replacement for McDaniel that the Royals would plausibly accept in trade for Piniella.

    And moreover, it isn’t logical for our Yankees to be targeting Piniella in the 1973-74 offseason. He’s a 30-year-old corner outfielder, average at best defensively, without speed or particular power, coming off a bad 1973 season.  Our Yankees have an outfield of White/Murcer/Briggs, and Blomberg and Ellis at DH.  What conceivable need would Piniella fill?  Why should we expend anything to acquire him?

    In real life, the Yankees’ McDaniel-for-Piniella trade worked out exceptionally well, as McDaniel did soon (finally) hit the end of the line and Piniella, limitations noted, would last for an exceptionally long time as a productive role player.  It isn’t plausible to imagine foreseeing that in 1973 (I sure didn’t at the time).

  4. Steve Treder said...

    “I don’t understand signing the aging Bobby Veale but selling Tom Buskey, a prospect who had a decent career for the rest of the 70’s.”

    Buskey in 1974 was a 27-year-old right-handed middle relief candidate.  He was no sort of serious prospect.

    Veale throws left-handed.  Our greater need in the bullpen was for a lefty, not another righty.

  5. John Agius said...

    Steve Treder said…

    In real life, the Yankees’ McDaniel-for-Piniella trade worked out exceptionally well…It isn’t plausible to imagine foreseeing that in 1973 (I sure didn’t at the time).

    I was 10 at the time and I probably would have agreed (I can’t remember).  I do remember absolutely hating the Murcer for Bonds trade a year later.  I hope you see things differently since that turned into Bonds for Rivers and Figueroa.  I aslo didnt like trading Doc Medich for some kid named Willie Randolph, but I was short-sighted back then.

  6. Steve Treder said...

    I was 15 at the time.  What I recall thinking is that it was a peculiar move on the part of both teams … for the Royals to give up their regular left fielder (even though Piniella had slumped in ‘73, he was their regular LF) for a 38-year-old reliever, and for the Yankees to surrender a guy who’d been so important in their bullpen in ‘73 for a player for whom they had no apparent need.

    As a Giants fan, I was decidedly unenthused about Bonds for Murcer.

  7. John C said...

    The Red Sox are going to be tough to beat in 1975. Their biggest problem is going to be finding enough at-bats for everyone once Jim Rice and Fred Lynn make the team in the spring. Or maybe they trade one of the veterans to get some help at second base.

    McGlothen wasn’t as good in ‘75, but Pattin and Moret had much better seasons. Tiant and Lee were just a little better than league-average, but league-average with this offense might mean 20-plus wins.

    The real 1975 Red Sox also beat their pythag by seven games, so if we’re counting that, this version will probably top 100 wins. I think this exercise bears out a study that Bill James did after the 1981 season, where he pointed out that the Red Sox—by far—had produced the most talent from their farm system in that era. Problem was that the real Red Sox squandered it. This bunch isn’t.

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