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Ten Lopsided Trades That Often Go Unnoticed

by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
February 12, 2007


For our Baseball Evolution Team Pages, we've tried to identify each franchise's best and worst trades.  But there have been many lopsided deals in the annals of baseball, and it's high time we underscore some of those head-scratcher trades that didn't make our team pages.  Here are ten skewed deals that tend to be overlooked in some way when the grading of the trading occurs.

November 14, 1895: The Philadelphia Phillies trade Billy Hamilton to the Boston Beaneaters for Billy Nash

Billy Nash was a fine 19th century third baseman, forgotten now by even the most meticulous of fans.  With the Beaneaters, Nash finished in his league's top ten in walks seven times, RBI six times, and fielding percentage four times.  He was considered the team's captain and a fine defensive third baseman.

Hamilton, however, had put together six phenomenal seasons with the Phillies, and had incredibly reached base 50% of the time from 1893-1895.  His 1894 season is among the greatest in the history of baseball, as he scored somewhere between 192-198 runs, depending upon who you ask.  Whatever, since no one else has scored more than 177 in a season.

Point being, I have no idea why Philadelphia would have consummated this swap of 29-year olds.  Hamilton may be the most underrated player of all time, seeing as how he wasn't elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame until 1961, somehow.  The trading of Hamilton for Nash is akin to trading Ty Cobb for Heinie Zimmerman in 1916.

As it turns out, both Nash and Hamilton were indeed in a decline, though Nash fell off a cliff while Hamilton remained one of the most productive hitters in baseball. 

December 11, 1917: The Philadelphia Phillies trade Pete Alexander to the Chicago Cubs for Mike Prendergast, Pickles Dillhoefer, and $55,000

And you thought your grandfather was just being colorful when he said the Phillies traded one of the greatest pitchers ever for Pickles.  Grover Cleveland Alexander actually spent the 1918 season fighting in World War I, but followed that up with two typically incredible seasons and then five more real good ones for the Cubs.  This would not be the last time the Cubs would swindle the Phillies in a trade...

December 12, 1933: The Philadelphia Athletics trade Lefty Grove, Max Bishop, and Rube Walberg to the Boston Red Sox for Bob Kline, Rabbit Warsler, and $125,000.

Anyone from Boston who visits Philadelphia should be really nice to the locals, because Philly has done more for Boston baseball franchises than Wally Berger and Theo Epstein combined.  Two years later, the A's sent Jimmie Foxx over to Boston for a similar medley of cash and underwhelming players.  At least Warsler had a fun name, despite the notion that all shortstops from that era were called 'rabbit.' 

October 26, 1934: The Washington Senators trade Joe Cronin to the Boston Red Sox for Lyn Lary and $225,000

So the Red Sox basically just went around buying every other AL team's star players during this period... and they still couldn't win a pennant.  That's curses for you, I suppose. 

Anyway, Cronin went on to drive in 737 runs for the Red Sox while poor Lyn Lary could only muster seven for the Senators.  One interesting tidbit is that Cronin had led those Senators to a pennant as a player/manager just two years earlier.

November 10, 1948: The Detroit Tigers trade Billy Pierce and $10,000 to the Chicago White Sox for Aaron Robinson

One year after this trade, the Tigers had to be all smiles.  The 34-year old Robinson had a great year, socking 13 homers and posting an OBP of .402.  Pierce went 7-15 with more walks allowed than strikeouts, and seemed like a wild, undersized pitcher who might never figure it out.

Pierce's manager, Paul Richards, replaced Pierce's curveball with a slider in 1951, and the rest is history.  

August 29, 1951: The New York Yankees trade Lew Burdette and $50,000 to the Boston Braves for Johnny Sain

I've mentioned this trade before.  Even though the deal turned out to be 'insain' for New York, the Yankees still managed to win pennants 12 of the 14 seasons after the trade.  So don't shed any tears for the Yankees, but do wonder whether they might have caught the Cleveland Indians in 1954 had Burdette still been on board.

November 27, 1951: The St. Louis Browns trade Sherm Lollar and two others for Jungle Jim Rivera and four others

Lollar's bat really took off after the trade, but he had always been one of the best ever at blocking bad pitches.  The real kicker is that Jungle Jim Rivera was the only player acquired in this deal who wasn't grossly detrimental to the team, and he was traded back to the Sox next July, where he became a fan favorite.  

June 13, 1976: The Atlanta Braves trade Darrell Evans and Marty Perez for Willie Montanez, Craig Robinson, and Mike Eden, and Jake Brown

In trades, quality often trumps quantity.  Montanez, one of the illustrious nine-teamers, actually performed pretty well for the Braves before being hot-potatoed around to a half dozen other teams. Evans, however, spent over seven seasons with the Giants, sometimes protecting Jack Clark in the lineup, and other times getting on base in front of him.

July 29, 1989: The Texas Rangers trade Sammy Sosa, Scott Fletcher, and Wilson Alvarez to the Chicago White Sox for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique

This trade is famous for two reasons: Sammy Sosa, obviously, and the White Sox' publicity stunt of retiring the 30-year old Baines' jersey number immediately afterwards (they still lost at least one fan partly because of it).  Lost in all of that is the fact that Wilson Alvarez was a big part of what turned the Sox from the Cubs of the American League to one of the winningest teams of the 1990's.     

November 13, 1996: The Cleveland Indians trade Jeff Kent, Julian Tavarez, Jose Vizcaino, and Joe Roa to the San Francisco Giants for Matt Williams and Trenidad Hubbard

Matt Williams spent just one Kingmanesque season with the Tribe, although he did come up big in their losing World Series bid.  Jeff Kent, conversely, became the franchise's best second baseman since Larry Doyle.

 

Again, this isn't an exhaustive list of lopsided trades.  Email us those you notice at submissions@baseballevolution.com

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