1993: The Year September Trades Mattered

My colleague Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out, rightly, that September trades haven't amounted to much in the past decade. But there was a glorious summer-turned-fall for trades back in 1993. As Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands on the White House lawn, seemingly ending Middle Eastern conflict, Major League teams came together to help one another through the season's final month.

Sure, everyone knew that these relationships were as transitory as a momentary coupling with a beautiful stranger you meet on a cruise. But let's revisit the brief, sweet memories that resulted.

On September 1, the Chicago White Sox traded reliever Donn Pall to the Philadelphia Phillies for catcher Doug Lindsey. Though the Phillies held a 9.5 game lead over the Montreal Expos on September 1, a thin bullpen needed reinforcements. Pall certainly provided quality innings for Philadelphia, pitching to a 2.55 ERA over 17 2/3 innings. The hard-charging Expos managed to cut that lead to three games by season's end, foreshadowing further improvement the following season. Were Pall's innings the difference between winning and losing the division? Perhaps not, but they helped provide insurance for a closer-than-expected finish.

A week later, the Baltimore Orioles found themselves in a surprisingly strong position. Down six games in the AL East as September began, Baltimore had rallied to within a game of the first-place Blue Jays. Needing a hitter to help them with the stretch run, the Orioles sent minor leaguers Stanton Cameron and Terry Farrar to Pittsburgh for outfielder Lonnie Smith. For Smith, the chance to play left field and designated hitter on a contending team one last time helped spark him to a 139 OPS+ with Baltimore in 32 plate appearances. Though the Orioles faded, Lonnie Smith certainly didn't.

The significant dealing still wasn't finished, even when the month was more than half over. On September 17, the Texas Rangers trailed the AL West-leading White Sox by just 4.5 games. In an effort to bolster the team's offense, Texas traded minor leaguer Dave Gandolph to the Houston Astros for outfielder Chris James. The move paid dividends immediately, with James homering twice in his very first game with Texas. He went on to hit .355/.412/.677 in 34 plate appearances. Though Texas fell short of division title, James provided 0.7 WAR – an amazing total for someone on the active roster for a total of 15 days.

That same day, the Yankees, fading from the AL East race, decided to add another arm to a young, tiring starting rotation. Though the Phillies also had interest in Frank Tanana – after all, Donn Pall can't win pennants all by himself – the Yankees managed to snag Tanana from the crosstown Mets for reliever Kenny Greer. The once-great strikeout pitcher still knew how to get hitters out with junk at age 40. Though he failed to win his three starts with the Yankees, he pitched into the seventh inning all three times, posting a quality start in each outing. The Yankees failed to catch the Blue Jays, But Tanana's 19 2/3 innings of 3.20 ERA pitching certainly helped keep things close.

Will history repeat itself? Perhaps Chris Capuano will go across town to a contending Yankees team? Maybe the White Sox will send Jesse Crain to the Phillies? No matter how late it gets, don't assume the deals won't have an impact. After all, you'll never forget that night at sea, no matter how brief the interlude.

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14 Responses to 1993: The Year September Trades Mattered Leave a Reply

  1. chico65 4 years ago

    I can’t believe Frank Tanana was still pitching as recently as 1993

  2. Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

    Will history repeat itself?

    I don’t think the Jays are winning the WS this year.

    • Next_2_Normal 4 years ago

      Sure they are. It’s just the 2007 Blue Jays. Overbay, Roberts, McDonald and Hill. And, they’re wearing red and playing in the National League.

  3. Jesse Crain will be going nowhere.

  4. RonWashingtonISinsane 4 years ago

    Yankees rotation isn’t that strong.

  5. Bucs 4 years ago

    I’m not trying to be smart but would it be better to say the yanks have a lot of pitchers, not necessarily pitching?

  6. RonWashingtonISinsane 4 years ago

    You think NYY pitching is strong? There’s CC, then behind that you have projects and rejects. NYY’s bullpen is strong but so are the other three teams’. But please, throw Burnett and Colon out there in the playoffs. Texas, Boston and Detroit will love that.

  7. RonWashingtonISinsane 4 years ago

    Colon, Garcia and Nova? Please send them out there. They’ll get crushed.

  8. RonWashingtonISinsane 4 years ago

    Yeah.. Garcia, Colon and Nova have been unstoppable… Homer.

  9. RonWashingtonISinsane 4 years ago

    Yankees pitching on par with the Phillies? Hahahahahaha. You have CC, then two guys pitching over their heads, with three other guys fighting for two spots who have ERA’s of 4 .

  10. Jeffrey Kirkhoff 4 years ago

    There offense has been great… Pitching has been far short of great… Yanks are 9th in era and 12 in BAA… Most other playoff teams are ahead of them… Also nova has been so so for stretches and bartolo colon and Garcia are well past their primes and may not have anything left for the playoffs. The yankspitching has by no means been “on par” with the Phils pitching, Phils top 5 in all pitching categories leading more than a few… Yanks aren’t even in top ten in most.. While I agree capuano is prolly not helpful, don’t compare the Yankees pitching to superior pitching staffs

  11. RonWashingtonISinsane 4 years ago

    Over 4*

  12. RonWashingtonISinsane 4 years ago

    Agreed 100%.

  13. Vmmercan 4 years ago

    Yankees pitching is not anywhere near the Phillies. No contender’s rotation is. But the rotation has been average and has 5-6 legitimate starters, so adding another who cannot be a top of the rotation starter is a waste. With a top notch offense and a top bullpen, they may only need to keep the team in the game in the playoffs, and nothing this year has indicated they can’t do that.

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