We’re all familiar with the list of regrettable trades our favorite team has made, no matter who you root for. In case you feel the need to get some scabs ripped off of past injuries, Ross Newhan has a list of the five worst trades in Dodger history. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Pedro-for-Delino tops the list, as it should. There’s also “lots of 80s young pitchers for no one good” at #2, “Maury Wills to Pittsburgh” at #3, and “FOX sells Piazza to Florida”at #5. All well and good. Can’t argue these. This article sort of writes itself.
Oh, I missed #4, you say?
No.4 – It is hard to overlook the 1998 trade that cost the club Paul Konerko for Jeff Shaw or the April 4 deal in 2004 that brought the destructive Milton Bradley for Franklin Gutierrez, who has since fulfilled his promise in the Cleveland outfield, but Paul DePodesta may have compounded Bradley’s eventual chemistry implosion four months later when he traded Paul Lo Duca, Guillermo Mota and Juan Encarnacion to Florida for Brad Penny, Hee-Seop Choi and Bill Murphy, the Dodgers never regaining the roll they had been on at the time.
I’m not even sure where to begin with this one. Let’s go in order!
1. “Franklin Gutierrez has since fufilled his promise in the Cleveland outfield.” Well, that’s true. But only if his “promise” was to generate an 89 OPS+ over parts of 4 big league seasons, with a seasonal high of 271 at-bats. He’s only 25, so he may yet turn out to be something. But let’s not go giving him MVP votes quite yet, shall we?
2. “Paul DePodesta may have compounded Bradley’s eventual chemistry implosion four months later…” What exactly is Newhan trying to say here? Hey, far be it from me to defend Milton Bradley. In fact, feel free to take a quick look back at one of my favorite posts on this blog, from last September, after he blew out his knee arguing with an umpire. If you’ll notice, that post contains a near-exhaustive list of all of his public incidents up to that point. None of them contains any problems with Brad Penny, Hee-Seop Choi, or Billy Murphy. How does this trade cause Bradley to start freaking out? Is Newhan really suggesting that the absence of Dr. Paul LoDuca’s honorary master’s degree in Chemistry really the reason that Bradley never behaved? Really?
3. Oh right – there’s the fact that the trade which dumped an overrated steroid-using catcher for a young ace who’s started two All-Star games in a row somehow makes a list of bad trades. I’ll admit it came as a shock, because LoDuca was popular; and I’ll admit that DePodesta did screw up royally by not having another deal in place to acquire a catcher. But does anyone besides Bill Plashke (and his opinion doesn’t really count, because he’s Bill Plashke) really still think this deal was a bad idea? Brad Penny’s the ace of the staff, and Paul LoDuca’s been exiled to Platoon-ville, DC. SportshubLA did a good review of how well this trade turned out for the Dodgers a few weeks ago, if you’re interested in the exact details.
Sorry, Ross. You couldn’t be more off-base on this one.
And I’ve actually gotten way off-topic here; I didn’t even intend to have this post be about Newhan’s article. Everyone’s got their own opinions on trades that have been made, but what’s really juicy is when you hear about trades that could have, but didn’t, happen years after the fact. Like this nugget from former GM Fred Claire, from an interview he did today with MLBtraderumors.com – and yes, this is what’s going to make you cry:
MLBTR: Could you tell us about the biggest trade you seriously considered but ultimately did not make?
Claire: I think a “near” trade that comes to mind quickly is a deal in my final year (1998 ) as the GM of the Dodgers where I felt we were going to be able to acquire Randy Johnson from the Mariners with Hideo Nomo as part of the package. I believe the Seattle front office was willing to do the deal but that Mariner ownership stepped in and stopped the trade in the final stages. I could be wrong because you never know exactly what is happening in the other front office but I had the feeling this deal was a real possibility.
Fantastic. I almost wish I didn’t know that. Johnson was traded on July 31, 1998 to Houston, while Nomo ended up being traded on June 4, 1998 along with Brad Clontz for the immortal Greg McMichael and Dave Mlicki. Hey, those guys are almost as good as Randy Johnson, right? It’s not like he won the next… four… Cy… Youngs… in… a…. ROW… right?