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Awe-Phil?: The History of Baseball Transactions in Philadelphia
2005-03-21 22:16
by Mike Carminati

Other entries in the Trade Series:

Mike: I’ll Take Manhattan: Baseball’s Most Lopsided Trades: Parts I, I (revised), II

A Quick One (Happy Mike)

Lee Even Stevens: Parts I, II—The Sexy Version

Cain and A-Rod—A Bling-Bling Rivalry: Parts I, II

Kansas City Blues: Part I

Baseball's Most Lopsided Trades—The Revenge of Glenn Davis

Studes: The Best and Worst Teams of the Trade

Smoltz for Alexander

On June 8, 1971, the Phils drafted a shortstop from Ohio University "with two bad knees and a dream of becoming a big-league ballplayer" in the second round, right ahead of a third baseman by the name of George Brett. That draft pick would eventually become the best transaction the Phils ever made as Mike Schmidt—he was the pick if you couldn't tell by the reference to the maudlin speech—became arguably the greatest third baseman ever to play the game.

In the offseason prior to the 1901 season, the Phils' twenty-five-year-old starting second baseman jumped to the Philadelphia franchise in the newly major American League. As the Phils fought to bar Nap Lajoie from playing in the state by the next season, AL president Ban Johnson had Lajoie sold to Cleveland where the locals dubbed their nine the Naps. Lajoie would play another 16 seasons in the AL and, of course, go into the Hall of Fame. This would be the worst transaction in the Phils' history.

That is the best and worst the Phils ever did in acquiring or losing talent. So what's in between?

First, here are the Phils' top 12 best transactions:

#1:

Date: June 8, 1971
Transaction: Drafted Mike Schmidt in the 2nd round of the 1971 amateur draft.
Pre Career WS Diff: 0
Post Career WS Diff: 467
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 0
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 0
WSAB Post Career Diff: 303
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 0

Michael Jack Schmidt, the greatest player in franchise history.

#2:

Date: Prior to 1948 season
Transaction: Signed Robin Roberts as an amateur free agent.
Pre Career WS Diff: 0
Post Career WS Diff: 339
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 12
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 0
WSAB Post Career Diff: 234
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 6

Signed out of Michigan State, Roberts started his pro career in Wilmington of the Inter-State League but after going 9-1 was promoted to the major-league club. He was 7-9 with a 3.19 ERA (24% better than the park-adjusted league average) in 20 starts for the Phils that year. After fourteen seasons and 234 wins, the Phils sold Roberts (1-10, 5.85 in 1961) to the Yankees, who subsequent released him. He would then win 37 games in the next three seasons in Baltimore.

#3:

Date: June 15, 1962
Transaction: Signed Ferguson Jenkins as an amateur free agent.
Pre Career WS Diff: 0
Post Career WS Diff: 323
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 0
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 0
WSAB Post Career Diff: 218
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 0

The third best transaction led to one of the worst. Jenkins would last just 14 2/3 innings in Philadelphia before getting traded to Leo Durocher's Cubs for whom he became a Hall of Fame starter, winning twenty games in his first full season in Chicago.

#4:

Date: Prior to 1960 season
Transaction: Signed Dick Allen as an amateur free agent.
Pre Career WS Diff: 0
Post Career WS Diff: 342
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 0
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 0
WSAB Post Career Diff: 210
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 0

Richie "Don't Call Me Dick" Allen played six full seasons in Philly before burning all his bridges and being was to the Cardinals. After burning through the Cards, Dodgers, and White Sox in five seasons, Dick "Don't Call Me Richie" Allen returned to Philly for two more years. Oddly, Allen was traded from the Sox to the Braves but preferred retirement to playing in Atlanta, who in turn traded him to the Phils. The Braves got Jim Essian from the Phils and then sent him to the Sox to complete the deal six months earlier for Allen. Essian was traded twice for Allen within six months and in reverse chronological order yet. Allen went AWOL late in 1976 after the Phils clinched the division and was let go after the season. All the burned bridges have served to keep Allen at arm's length from the Hall.

#5:

Date: June 6, 1978
Transaction: Drafted Ryne Sandberg in the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft.
Pre Career WS Diff: 0
Post Career WS Diff: 346
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 0
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 0
WSAB Post Career Diff: 199
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 0

See Jenkins above—it hurts too much for me to talk about.

#6:

Date: Prior to the 1945 season
Transaction: Signed Richie Ashburn as an amateur free agent.
Pre Career WS Diff: 0
Post Career WS Diff: 329
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 0
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 0
WSAB Post Career Diff: 183
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 0

Another Hall of Fame signing. Whitey at least spent the bulk of his playing career (12 years) and his entire broadcasting career in Philly.

#7:

Date: June 14, 1934
Transaction: Purchased Bucky Walters from the Boston Red Sox.
Pre Career WS Diff: 7
Post Career WS Diff: 251
Pre Year WS Diff: 2
Post Year WS Diff: 5
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 0
WSAB Post Career Diff: 166
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 0

Walters had been a third baseman for three and one-half seasons in Boston with both the Braves and the Red Sox, before being sold to the Phils. After one more half-season as a third sacker, Walters converted to the mound in 1935. He would go on to win twenty games three times, but for the Reds—Yes, he was in another bad Phils trade as well.

#8:

Date: February 25, 1972
Transaction: Traded Rick Wise to the Cardinals for Steve Carlton.
Pre Career WS Diff: 12
Post Career WS Diff: 176
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 20
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 10
WSAB Post Career Diff: 141
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 20

Carlton had the temerity to request an addition ten grand from Gussie Busch after winning twenty games in 1971. The Cards traded him for Rick Wise, who was also arguing money with the Phils, and the rest is history.

#9:

Date: December 27, 1966
Transaction: Signed Toby Harrah as an amateur free agent..
Pre Career WS Diff: 0
Post Career WS Diff: 287
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 0
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 0
WSAB Post Career Diff: 138
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 0

Less than a year later, Harrah would be drafted from the Phils in the minor league draft. He would end up playing 17 seasons for mostly the Senators/Rangers and the Indians.

#10:

Date: April 2, 1992
Transaction: Traded Jason Grimsley to Houston for Curt Schilling.
Pre Career WS Diff: 6
Post Career WS Diff: 172
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 17
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 0
WSAB Post Career Diff: 134
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 11

The Phils acquired the would-be closer Schilling and put him in the rotation, where he would become their anchor until he whined his way out of town and into two World Series rings. Grimsley was another in a long line of failed pitching prospects.

#11:

Date: June 3, 1993
Transaction: Drafted Scott Rolen in the 2nd round of the 1993 amateur draft.
Pre Career WS Diff: 0
Post Career WS Diff: 214
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 0
WSAB Pre Career Diff: 0
WSAB Post Career Diff: 132
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 0

Rolen was supposed to be the next Schmidt until Bill "Jabba" Conlin labeled him a cancer and helped force a trade with St. Louis.

#12:

Date: November 18, 1997:
Transaction: Traded Kevin Stocker to Tampa Bay for Bobby Abreu.
Pre Career WS Diff: -46
Post Career WS Diff: 179
Pre Year WS Diff: 0
Post Year WS Diff: 21
WSAB Pre Career Diff: -4
WSAB Post Career Diff: 126
WSAB Pre Yr Diff: 0
WSAB Post Yr Diff: 16

Bobby Abreu has always been underrated. He was dissed twice that day, first by the Astros who left him unprotected in the expansion draft and then by the D-Rays who traded him for a mediocre middle infielder.

Next we'll look at the worst transactions.

Comments
2005-03-22 12:00:53
1.   Eric Enders
I've always found it amusing that the two most serious challenges to baseball's reserve clause were both made because a player was seeking the right to NOT play for the Phillies. (Nap Lajoie in 1901 and Curt Flood in 1969.)
2005-03-22 12:44:07
2.   Mike Carminati
Davy Force, Monte Ward, and Danny Gardella might take exception to being omitted: http://mikesrants.baseballtoaster.com/archives/007476.html

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