(Greetings. Today is Lost Sock Memorial Day. Lost socks are like lost pens. They're destined to be lost. Why fight it? Why be like my mom when I was a kid and actually BUY devices to keep the pairs of socks together? Let the socks run wild and roam free! But this is a card blog, not a sock blog. Time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 141st in a series):
Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez.
Seemed like an even swap at the time, right? Really good hitter for a really good pitcher.
But trading hitters for pitchers makes me squeamish. Maybe it's my fantasy baseball flashbacks coming back to haunt me, but giving up a hitter for a pitcher never seems like a good idea to me. Too much can happen to pitchers. All you need to do is go all the way back to, say, Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero to see that.
The Reds say they traded Hamilton because they had a surplus of outfielders and he was dealing with injuries at the time. The Reds had a feeling he might be injury-prone. Of course, Volquez was the one who ended up blowing out his elbow. And I had a feeling that something like that might happen.
But like a lot of these "feelings" I have, it is just suspicion. Not fact.
So I decided to look at some of the worst trades in baseball and see which ones involved surrendering a decent hitter for a pitcher. Did any other team trade someone who would end up hitting four home runs in a game?
This took me all of 15 minutes, so it's not comprehensive. But it gives you a little idea.
July 31, 1997: A's trade Mark McGwire to Cardinals for pitchers Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews and Blake Stein. Aside from Mathews, ever hear of any of the others?
Aug. 30, 1990: Red Sox trade Jeff Bagwell to the Astros for reliever Larry Andersen. Trading prospects is always tricky. But those deadline deals are filled with desperation.
Oct. 21, 1981: Yankees trade Willie McGee to the Cardinals for reliever Bob Sykes. I think every prospect in the Yankees organization in the early '80s was traded. I don't know how Don Mattingly managed to stay with the team.
Jan. 8, 2001: Royals trade Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis in a three-team deal to the A's for closer Roberto Hernandez. Hernandez did all right for K.C., but Damon would end up making history with the A's, and then the Red Sox, and then the Yankees.
June 15, 1964: Cubs trade Lou Brock and pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the Cardinals for pitcher Ernie Broglio, pitcher Bobby Shantz and outfielder/pinch-hitter Doug Clemens. The first "bad trade" I ever knew. Technically this doesn't fall under the hitter-for-pitcher heading as the Cubs did deal the Cardinals pitchers, too. But Brock emerged as the big name.
Dec. 9, 1965: Reds trade Frank Robinson to the Orioles for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson. Possibly the best example of "I'll show you!" after a trade.
I also looked at the other side, too. A bad trade, in which a team traded a pitcher away for a hitter:
Nov. 14, 2003: Giants trade pitchers Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser to the Twins for catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Possibly my most favorite trade ever. The Twins got THREE productive pitchers out of the Giants for one loud mouth. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!!!!
Nov. 19, 1993: Dodgers trade pitcher Pedro Martinez to the Expos for second baseman Delino DeShields. Karma's a bitch.
Jan. 10, 1991: Orioles trade pitchers Curt Schilling and Pete Harnisch, plus outfielder Steve Finley to the Astros for outfielder Glenn Davis. Wow, with all the fleecing the Astros did in the early '90s, how did they not make the World Series that decade?
Dec. 10, 1971: Mets trade pitchers Nolan Ryan and Don Rose, catcher Frank Estrada and outfielder Leroy Stanton to the Angels for shortstop Jim Fregosi. Not exactly "pitcher for hitter," but about as ugly a trade as you will find.
You could also lump the Seaver trade to the Reds in here, although the Mets DID get Pat Zachary.
I don't know if that proves anything, but it still seems to me that trading a hitter for a pitcher is a little too risky.
But, then, I'm not a GM. I think my fantasy baseball record backs that up.