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Remembering the 1992 Trade Deadline

Ah, who can forget 1992? The Boutros Boutros-Ghali Era begins at the United Nations. Lisa Simpson captivates a nation with her uncanny knack for picking football games. Johnny Carson retires, giving Jay Leno the chance to host The Tonight Show for some unspecified period of time. And Brett Favre makes his first start for the Green Bay Packers, leading to a career that will end around the same time that Jay Leno stops hosting The Tonight Show.

Meanwhile, baseball teams still found the time to trade with one another! Here are some of the highlights from those deals…

  • The fun started on July 21, when the Braves traded Juan Berenguer to the Royals for a real-live Cy Young Award winner, Mark Davis. Just three years removed from the award-winning performance (1.85 ERA, 44 saves, 92 strikeouts in 92.2 innings), Davis was floundering with Kansas City, posting a 7.18 ERA with 28 walks and 19 strikeouts in 36.2 innings. He didn't do much better in Atlanta, with a 7.02 ERA after the deal. The Braves won the NL West anyway.
  • On July 30, the Toronto Blue Jays solidified their bullpen by acquiring Mark Eichhorn, who'd begun his career in Toronto, from the California Angels for Rob Ducey and Greg Myers. Both Ducey and Myers went on to long careers with many teams, while Eichhorn was merely adequate for the Jays- a 4.35 ERA after the deal, compared to a 2.38 mark prior to it. His two scoreless postseason innings, however, helped Toronto capture its first World Series.
  • On August 27, a day after Fernando Tatis and Chris Truby signed their first professional contracts, the New York Mets traded David Cone to the Blue Jays for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson. Why the Mets thought it a good idea to deal a 29-year-old Cone is hard to fathom- Cone would go on to rack up 114 of his 194 wins after this trade. Thompson, alas, never figured out the strike zone. And while Kent became one of the best to ever play his position, he did most of his damage after the Mets traded him to land Carlos Baerga (who did most of his damage prior to arriving in New York).
  • On the penultimate day one can acquire a player to be added to the postseason roster (a fancy way of saying "August 30"), the Braves traded Sean Ross and Nate Minchey to the Red Sox for Jeff Reardon. Though he was 36 years old, Reardon still had something left in the tank. He pitched to a 1.15 ERA in Atlanta, then added three scoreless innings and a save during the NLCS. He faltered in the World Series, however, blowing the save in Game 2 on a home run by Ed Sprague.
  • The biggest trade of the 1992 season came on August 31, when Oakland shipped Jose Canseco to the Texas Rangers for a huge package: Jeff Russell, Ruben Sierra, Bobby Witt and cash. Canseco was finished being one of the best players in the game- he'd posted a career OPS+ of 139 before the trade, but 124 after it, even though he was just 28 at the time of the deal. Meanwhile, the bounty proved to provide little in the way of production. Russell was quickly shipped to Boston, Sierra's post-trade career OPS+ dropoff was even steeper, from 118 to 92, and Witt's control got better, but his strikeout rate collapsed, leaving him with a career 4.57 ERA before the trade, 5.07 ERA after the trade. Even the inflation rate rendered the cash from 1992 progressively worth less over the remainder of the decade.

Remembering the 1991 Trade Deadline

Ah, who can forget 1991? A little start-up network named Comedy Central was born, while the Warsaw Pact was officially dissolved. Youngsters Jeff Bagwell and Chuck Knoblauch, NL and AL Rookie of the Year, respectively, served notice that they'd be forces for years to come. And Cubs' shortstop Starlin Castro celebrated his first birthday.

Meanwhile, the hot stove produced some interesting moments as well. Let's think back to the time we furiously refreshed using our 300 baud modems…

  • The Toronto Blue Jays got a jump on the trading season on June 27th by dealing Glenallen Hill, Mark Whiten and Denis Boucher to the Cleveland Indians for Tom Candiotti and Turner Ward. Candiotti had been a hard-luck pitcher with Cleveland- his 2.24 ERA had produced a 7-6 record- but his trade to a contender didn't help, as his 2.98 ERA in Toronto produced a 6-7 record. Just another lesson in the perils of won-loss record. Meanwhile, Hill and Whiten went on to similar careers-both bounced around the major leagues, hitting home runs. And Boucher, a Montreal native, eventually made a triumphant homecoming, pitching to a 1.91 ERA for the 1993 Expos.
  • On July 15th, the New York Mets, still in the race at 49-36, 4.5 games out of first, traded Ron Darling and Mike Thomas to the Expos for Tim Burke in an attempt to shore up their bullpen. Burke certainly did that, pitching 55.2 innings of 2.75 ERA baseball, but it didn't stop the Mets from a freefall that left them at 77-84 for the season. Darling, meanwhile, was a disaster in Montreal, posting a 7.41 ERA in three starts before being shipped just 16 days later to Oakland for Russell Cormier and Matt Grott. Back on American soil, Darling found his rhythm again, pitching to a 4.08 ERA over 75 innings for the Athletics.
  • Oil Can Boyd fared only a bit better than Darling, post-trade, after being dealt from the Expos to the Rangers on July 21 for Joey Eischen, Jonathan Hurst and Travis Buckley. Boyd had a 3.52 ERA in 120.1 innings with Montreal, but collapsed to a 6.68 ERA in what turned out to be the final 62 innings of his major league career for Bobby Valentine's Rangers. Not that Boyd was finished pitching, of course- he had several more seasons in independent league baseball, including a 3.83 ERA stint in 110.1 innings for the 2005 Brockton Rox of the Can-Am League, at age 45.
  • And in an indication of just how much the past 19 years has inflated the cost of deadline-deal closers, the Phillies traded Roger McDowell to the Dodgers for Mike Hartley and Braulio Castillo. Hartley was a veteran middle reliever, while Castillo was a fringe prospect at best. McDowell was just what the Dodgers needed, saving seven games and pitching to a 2.55 ERA in 42.1 innings. The Dodgers, however, finished one game behind Atlanta, meaning that a 93-69 season earned Los Angeles… nothing.

Remembering the 1995 Trade Deadline

It was a grand time for the game of baseball. Plenty of critics, in the wake of the 1994 strike, declared baseball dead. Such declarations now stand in the Hall of Wrong, right between those who said that Mark Twain was dead (the first time) and Graydon Carter's claiming the death of irony.

Things were all turned around on the buyers and sellers front, too. The biggest seller? The New York Mets. Big buyers ranged from Cincinnati to Seattle. Indeed, money can't buy everything. So without further ado, on to the precious trade memories…

  • For the low price of Frankie Rodriguez (not to be confused with K-Rod, of course) and a minor leaguer, the Red Sox acquired Rick Aguilera from the Twins on July 6. Aguilera was effective with the Red Sox, pitching to a 2.67 ERA and saving 20 games.
  • A day later, the Orioles responded, trading Kimera Bartee and Scott Klingenbeck to the Twins for Scott Erickson. The pitcher was no longer in ace form, but Erickson won nine games and pitched to a 3.89 ERA with Baltimore.
  • In the category of you win some, you lose some, the Phillies had a pair of roster moves that were noteworthy. On July 10th, the team released Norm Charlton. Mistake! Charlton went to Seattle, and managed a 1.51 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 47.2 dominant innings. However, on July 13th, the Phillies picked up Sid Fernandez, who had been released by the Orioles. El Sid had something left in the tank, to put it mildly, and he pitched to a 3.34 ERA in 11 starts, with 79 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings. 
  • The most ambitious trade of this deadline came on July 21 in an eight-player deal. Cincinnati traded Dave McCarty, Ricky Pickett, John Roper, Deion Sanders and Scott Service to San Francisco in exchange for Dave Burba, Darren Lewis and Mark Portugal. The trade worked out quite well for Cincinnati, with both Burba and Portugal pitching to ERAs under 4.00 while in the starting rotation. Lewis played his customary terrific defense, though his .588 OPS didn't overwhelm. But getting two frontline starting pitchers for a meager haul is a pretty sweet deal in any year.
  • Finally, how did the Mets-as-sellers do? Well, Bobby Bonilla, during his best season at age-32, went to Baltimore on July 28 in exchange for Damon Buford and Alex Ochoa, two outfielders who were never able to crack a starting lineup consistently. Three days later, the Mets sent Bret Saberhagen to Colorado for Juan Acevedo and Arnold Gooch. Neither pitcher had much success; Gooch failed to reach the major leagues and Saberhagen pitched to just a 6.28 ERA in 1995, then missed all of 1996 due to injury. In other words: nobody in this trade managed to have nearly the career of a Dave Burba.

Remembering the 1990 Trade Deadline

Ah, 1990. Times were very different then. Ken Griffey Jr. played for the Seattle Mariners. The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live were on the air. And Congress passed a bill in response to an unprecedented oil spill.

But even if that all seems familiar, the trade deadline of 1990 certainly won't. The action came later in the season, with most of the biggest trades actually taking place in August. Let's meet at the corner of Transaction Avenue and Memory Lane…

  • The Boston Red Sox, keen on acquiring a first baseman, grabbed Mike Marshall from the Mets on July 27 for three minor leaguers, headlined by Greg Hansell. Marshall was actually pretty effective for Boston, with a .464 slugging percentage in 117 plate appearances, though he was near the end of his career.
  • An August 3 deal between the Braves and Phillies had hidden implications. The immediate deal? Dale Murphy for Jeff Parrett. Both teams also included players to be named later. Atlanta got Jim Vatcher and Victor Rosario. Philadelphia got Tommy Greene, who posted a 3.66 ERA from 1991-93 and and pitched a no-hitter in 1991.
  • In a Doyle Alexander-for-John Smoltz-like trade, the Pirates acquired Zane Smith from the Expos for Willie Greene, Scott Ruskin and a player to be named later. At first, the deal seemed one-sided, as Smith went 6-2 with a 1.30 ERA for Pittsburgh as the Pirates won the NL East. However, the PTBNL turned out to be… Moises Alou.
  • The Athletics, en route to a World Series appearance, made a pair of interesting moves just before postseason rosters could be set. On August 29, they acquired Harold Baines from the Texas Rangers for Joe Bitker and Scott Chiamparino. The same day, they traded top prospect Felix Jose, Stan Royer and Daryl Green to the Cardinals for Willie McGee. The move froze McGee's National League batting average at .335- he'd go on to win the batting title in absentia. Good thing, too- his .274 mark with Oakland brought his season line down to .324, meaning under today's rules, which combine NL and AL totals, he'd have finished behind Eddie Murray (.330), Dave Magadan (.328) and Lenny Dykstra (.325).
  • And the Houston Astros, on August 31, made a blockbuster move, trading longtime second baseman Bill Doran to the eventual World Champion Cincinnati Reds for Terry McGriff, Keith Kaiser and Butch Henry. Oh, and also, they made a throwaway trade, dealing reliever Larry Andersen to the Boston Red Sox for so-so prospect Jeff Bagwell.

Remembering the 2000 Trade Deadline

Ah, times were different back in 2000. Bush and Gore were locked in a closely-contested race. Reality television was the exception, not the rule. And What Women Want taught us that Mel Gibson would be best remembered for capturing Helen Hunt's heart.

Meanwhile, let's climb into the Wayback Machine (though I believe Sherman has already called shotgun) and look at some of the biggest trade deadline hits from the year 2000…

  • The first deal of significance near the non-waiver trade deadline came on July 12, when the Yankees acquired Denny Neagle (and Mike Frank) for Jackson Melian, Drew Henson, Brian Reith and Ed Yarnall. The Yankees didn't lose much, since Henson's production never approached his hype. Neagle, however, was actually nearing the end of a good career, and posted just a 5.81 ERA after coming to New York.
  • Little-discussed, however, is one of the most impressive trade-deadline pickups of all time. On July 21, the Yankees dealt the forgettable Ben Ford and Oswaldo Mairena to the Cubs for Glenallen Hill. For Hill, the deal provided the last, best jolt of power in a home run-packed career. He hit .333/.378/.735 (!) with 16 home runs in 143 at-bats for the Yankees. It is hard to imagine a better example of acquiring an impact bat. Hill, who last played in 2001, publicly admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs late in his career.
  • The most important trade of that time took place on July 26, 2000, when the Phillies traded Curt Schilling to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla. Padilla was the most productive of the bunch, with a pair of 14-win seasons, while Travis Lee, the centerpiece, hit just .258/.343/.402 in Philadelphia. Schilling, meanwhile, still had 111 of his 216 career victories ahead of him. He posted a 22-6 record in 2001, a 23-7 record in 2002, and had a successful Red Sox career after the trade.
  • Probably the biggest surprise of the players acquired at this time was Melvin Mora, traded with three other players by the Mets to the Orioles for Mike Bordick. The Mets wanted a shortstop and Bordick had a reputation as a strong defender. He posted a .260/.321/.385 mark with the Mets in 2000 and Mora went on to hit 158 home runs for the Orioles through 2009.
  • The Indians dealt a 25-year-old Richie Sexson, along with Kane Davis, Paul Rigdon and a player to be named later to the Brewers for three pitchers to shore up their pitching staff: Jason Bere, Bob Wickman and Steve Woodard. Of the three, only Wickman posted a reasonable ERA, and the Charlie Manuel-led Indians finished five games behind the Jerry Manuel-led White Sox. Sexson, meanwhile, hit 45 home runs in two of the next three seasons. And adding insult to injury, the player to be named later turned out to be Marco Scutaro.
  • In my favorite trade of the 2000 deadline, the Cardinals sent minor league slugger Jose Leon to the Orioles for first baseman Will Clark. All Clark did was hit .345/.426/.655 with the Cardinals, leading them into the NLCS. He then retired- the textbook case of going out on top.