"If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have made the trade. But if I knew what I know now, I wouldn't have voted for Richard Nixon." - Hank Peters, Baltimore Orioles general manager, on trading for Reggie Jackson and losing him to free agency
With the advantage of hindsight like Peters wished he'd had, it's been determined that the Expos and Yankees made the worst trades of 1989.Each team got taken twice in deals that really meant something. That's ignoring the meaningless swaps, like Felix Fermin for Jay Bell, or Rick Rhoden for a bunch of no-hope minor leaguers, and skipping the deals that seem fairly even, like the Dodgers' sending Mariano Duncan and Tim Leary to Cincinnati for Kal Daniels and Lenny Harris.
That leaves the trades in which there was a clear winner. And here they are:
- March 1989: Pirates get lefty Neal Heaton from the Expos in exchange for minor-league lefty Brett Gideon. Heaton was 6-7 with a 3.05 ERA last season and is 9-2 with a 2.99 ERA this year, while Gideon has pitched a grand total of one inning so far for the Expos, in which he gave up two hits and walked four. A steal for the Pirates.
- May 1989: Expos get Mark Langston for Brian Holman, Gene Harris and Randy Johnson. Langston won 12 games for the Expos, then fled to California. All-Star Johnson is 7-3 with 3.80 ERA this season; Holman is 8-5, 4.27; they are both starters. Harris is a mop-up guy. The Mariners committed larceny on this deal.
- June 1989: Pay close attention here. First, the Padres send Randy Ready and John Kruk to Phils for Chris James. Then, in December, they trade James, Sandy Alomar and Carlos Baerga to the Indians for Joe Carter. Net result: Padres lose five players, get Carter. Ready's hitting .299 for the Phils, Kruk .271. James is hitting .294 for the Indians, Alomar .299, Baerga .223. Carter's hitting .232 for the Padres with 12 homers and 55 RBIs, but the three guys he got swapped for have produced 73 RBIs. Throw in Kruk and Ready, and that's 115 RBIs. The Padres got taken.
- June 1989: Mets trade Len Dykstra and Roger McDowell to Phils for Juan Samuel. Then, in December, they trade Samuel to the Dodgers for Alejandro Pena and Mike Marshall. Let's throw Samuel out of this equation and call it Pena-Marshall for Dykstra-McDowell. Pena has been lousy so far, 1-2 with a 4.99 ERA and one save, and Marshall has hit .253 with 6 HRs and 25 RBIs while whining about wanting to be traded. McDowell has 13 saves but a 6.17 ERA, while Dykstra is leading the majors in hitting at .384. For Dykstra's sake alone, the Phils win this one.
- July 1989: Padres dump pitchers Walt Terrell and Fred Toliver on Yankees for third baseman Mike Pagliarulo and pitcher Don Schulze. Terrell was released by New York and is now clinging to a job with the Pirates, Schulze and Toliver have disappeared, and Pagliarulo is a starter in San Diego. Advantage: Padres.
December 1989: Yankees send catcher Don Slaught to Pirates for pitchers Jeff Robinson and Willie Smith. Smith isn't on the Yankee roster, Robinson is 1-5 with a 5.29 ERA. Slaught is hitting .382 platooning with Mike Lavalliere. Once again, the Yanks blundered.
HURTING HURST: Padres' lefty Bruce Hurst (St. George) is bewildered about his recent ineffectiveness. He has averaged 16 wins a year for the past three seasons and was 15-11 with a 2.89 ERA last year, but he's 4-7 with a 4.62 ERA this season. He has totaled only 51/3 innings his last two starts, and has a 6.11 ERA in his last nine starts.
So what's the problem? "He's just not himself," Padre pitching coach Pat Dobson said. "I don't know what's going on in there. I don't think anybody does. Here's a guy who makes a lot of money and is very proud of himself, but he gets down on himself very easily. He's just lost his confidence. Everything's eating away at him right now."
Hurst says: "If I knew all the answers, I'd give them to you. But you're asking me questions I don't have the answers to. I just can't throw strikes. It's pretty evident."
SHORT STUFF: Hurst (St. George) is among the nominees for this year's Clemente award, for the player who best represents the game of baseball on and off the field. Dale Murphy won in 1988, and Pete Rose - Mr. Example - won in 1976 . . . The name of Jack Morris (BYU) has come up in rumors involving the trade of Kirk Gibson back to the Tigers, but don't bet on it. Detroit would be nuts to gamble on Gibson's chronic gimpiness and unreasonably large salary.
Minnesota's Rick Aguilera (BYU) blew his third save opportunity of the season Wednesday by giving up a game-winning three-run homer to Boston's Dwight Evans. Aguilera has converted 21 of 24 save chances . . . USA Today reported that Murphy hit the longest July 4 homer, measured at 451 feet.
Cleveland's Cory Snyder (BYU) was in the top 10 in the AL in both RBIs (19) and total bases (59) for June. Snyder is second in the majors in outfield assists with nine . . . Murphy again made the NL bottom 10 list in batting average, this time for the week of June 25-July 1, at .063 (1 for 16).