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February 18, 2008

You Could Look It Up

Topping the Twins, Part Deux

by Steven Goldman

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This week we conclude our Johan Santana-inspired look at Cy Young winners traded less than two seasons after winning their award, all part of placing the Santana trade in some kind of context. After last week's installment, I received a note from a reader (I seem to have misplaced it, so apologies, sir, for not recognizing you by name), saying that these trade capsules really ought to indicate if the Cy Young-er being dealt was felt to have the same kind of value that Santana does. It's a good point, and we'll endeavor to make note of that this time around. Once again, we're indulging in a speculative exercise here, one which has the benefit of hindsight in the case of the older trades, and the conceit of foresight in that of the Santana trade, a deal that has already been rated a loser for the Twins by many critics.

Cy Young going: 1977 AL winner Sparky Lyle, from the Yankees to the Rangers.
Date: November 10, 1978
The Yankees Acquired: LHPs Dave Righetti (20) and Paul Mirabella (25), RHP Mike Griffin (22), OFs Juan Beniquez (29) and Greg Jemison (24).
The Rangers Acquired: Lyle (34) plus LHPs Larry McCall (26) and Dave Rajsich (27), C Mike Heath (24), INF Domingo Ramos (21), and cash.
Acquired Yankees' Five-Year WARP, Post-Trade: 25.1 Acquired Rangers' Five-Year WARP, Post-Trade: 7.2

Right off the bat we have a test of whether the Cy Young being dealt had the same kind of cachet that Santana does. The answer here must be an unequivocal no. First, as is typically the case when relievers win the Cy Young award, although Lyle was quite good in 1977, he won the award only because the voters had to think a bit and couldn't agree on a candidate. He received nine first-place votes, but 19 other voters preferred someone else, with six first-place votes going to Jim Palmer, six going to Nolan Ryan, five going to Dennis Leonard, and one apiece going to Bill Campbell and Dave Goltz. Palmer was clearly the class of the league that year, but he already had three trophies in his pocket and was openly lobbying for a fourth. This apparently turned off some voters. Here is how BP's stats reflect on the candidates:


Name          Team    G  GS   IP     H9   BB9   SO9   HR9    ERA    RA+   VORP  SNLVAR/WXRL
Jim Palmer     BAL   39  39  319    7.4   2.8   5.5   0.7   2.91   1.48   88.7     9.8
Frank Tanana   CAL   31  31  241.1  7.5   2.3   7.7   0.7   2.54   1.67   76.6     8.1
Nolan Ryan     CAL   37  37  299    6.0   6.1  10.3   0.4   2.77   1.35   73.1     7.9
Bert Blyleven  TEX   30  30  234.2  6.9   2.7   7.0   0.8   2.72   1.47   64.5     7.2
Dennis Leonard KCA   38  37  292.2  7.6   2.4   7.5   0.6   3.04   1.26   64.3     7.3
Dave Goltz     MIN   39  39  303    8.4   2.7   5.5   0.7   3.36   1.18   57.9     6.7
Ron Guidry     NYA   31  25  210.2  7.4   2.8   7.5   0.5   2.82   1.46   57.6     6.1
D. Eckersley   CLE   33  33  247.1  7.8   2.0   7.0   1.1   3.53   1.25   52.9     5.9
Sparky Lyle    NYA   72   0  137    8.6   2.2   4.5   0.5   2.17   1.67   41.9     5.1
Bill Campbell  BOS   69   0  140    7.2   3.9   7.3   0.8   2.96   1.56   39.7     6.5

Whoops. When the calendar rolled over to 1978, Lyle's luster faded. The Yankees signed Goose Gossage before the season, making Lyle a middle man, a role in which he was neither happy nor particularly effective. Meanwhile, the 1977-1978 Rangers had one of the best starting rotations in team history, but they lacked a bullpen, so Lyle was a logical target. Still, they were doing the Yankees a favor in taking a disgruntled star off of their hands. As Graig Nettles memorably remarked at the time of the trade, Lyle "went from Cy Young to sayonara."
Did the Yankees get more for their Cy Young winner than the Twins got for Santana? It's difficult to say. Dave Righetti was the big get in the deal, someone who wound up being worth over 50 WARP in ten seasons as a starter and closer (with a peak of 9.0 WARP in 1986), but he was also the only notable get. If any single Twin acquired in the Santana deal emerges as an above-average player, the deals would essentially be even. Add in that the Yankees gave up a player of some long-term value in Mike Heath, and the burden on the Twins is lessened.
The Verdict: Looking good for the Twins.

---

Cy Young going: 1972 AL and 1978 NL winner Gaylord Perry, from the Padres to the Rangers.
Date: February 15, 1980
The Padres Acquired: 1B Willie Montanez (32)
The Rangers Acquired: Perry (41), INF Tucker Ashford (25), minor league P Joe Carroll
Acquired Padres' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 2.7
Acquired Rangers' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 18.9

Spitball master Perry was 750 in baseball years when the Padres dealt him, which marks this as a significantly different proposition than the Santana swap. Though an All-Star in 1979, Perry was probably devalued a bit because his won-lost record slipped from 21-6 to 12-11, though in qualitative terms he was roughly the same pitcher-he was good but not great in both seasons.
Did the Padres get more for their Cy Young winner than the Twins got for Santana? No. They got nothing. If the Twins get anything at all…
The Verdict: Almost certainly a Twins win.

---

Cy Young going: Bruce Sutter, 1979 NL winner, from the Cubs to the Cardinals.
Date: December 9, 1980
The Cubs Acquired: 1B/OF Leon Durham (23), 3B Ken Reitz (30), 3B/OF W/Ty-Waller.shtml>Ty Waller (24)
Cardinals Acquired: Sutter (28)
Acquired Cubs' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 28.1
Acquired Cardinals' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 21.6

It's a shock that the much-derided Durham, who was a good hitter with defensive problems on the field, and personal problems off of it, more or less offsets Sutter in this deal. That's because as good as Sutter was as a Cardinal, he wasn't quite the pitcher the Cubs had given up. Sutter pitched an even 300 games as a Cub, striking out 494 batters in 493 1/3 innings. He was still very effective as a Cardinal, particularly in 1984, when he saved a then-astounding 45 games for a 7.72 WXRL, leading the National League, a season just slightly better than his best with the Cubs in 1977 (7.56 WXRL). Still, he was more of a contact pitcher, as his strikeouts fell off to 259 in 396 2/3 innings, or 5.9 per nine. Despite this, the Cardinals did get comparable value. In relief seasons of more than 100 innings, Sutter's 1984 Fair RA of 1.69 ranks as the 11th-best of all time, while his single-season peak in FRA in 1977 (1.64) is ninth overall.
Did the Cubs get more for their Cy Young winner than the Twins got for Santana? Sutter is a good test case, at least to the extent that a great closer is comparable to a great starter. At 28 in 1981, he was still in the prime of his career. For all the negatives, Durham had a career EqA of .288 and helped the Cubs to the 1984 division title once the team was smart enough to get him out of center field, a position that was over his head (at least the balls were). That still seems like very little for a future Hall of Famer. Reitz was a veteran throw-in of little offensive ability. Waller was a non-prospect.
The Verdict: The Twins have a good chance of doing better, though it will fall upon the pitchers and Carlos Gomez's glove-Gomez won't hit as well as Durham did, but he'll surely be a better outfielder.

---

Cy Young going: La Marr Hoyt, 1983 AL winner, from the White Sox to the Padres.
Date: December 6, 1984
The White Sox Acquired: LHP Tim Lollar (29), RHP Bill Long (25), SS Ozzie Guillen (21), 3B Luis Salazar (29)
The Padres Acquired: Hoyt (30) and minor league pitchers Kevin Kristan and Todd Simmons.
Acquired White Sox' Five-Year WARP, Post-Trade: 43.6
Acquired Padres' Five-Year WARP, Post-Trade: 3.4

If Hoyt's value was anything like Santana's, the Padres were taking harder drugs than Hoyt was. The voters had at least a half-dozen choices that were better. Hoyt outpolled Dan Quisenberry 116-81; Jack Morris, who was also very good, came in third, while Dave Stieb, who was better than either of them, didn't get a vote. Here's how BP's stats see it:


Name           Team    G  GS   IP     H9   BB9   SO9   HR9    ERA   RA+   VORP  SNLVAR/WXRL
Dave Stieb      TOR   36  36  278    7.2   3.0   6.1   0.7   3.04  1.37   68.9     7.2
Jack Morris     DET   37  37  293.2  7.9   2.5   7.1   0.9   3.34  1.24   61.4     6.4
Scott McGregor  BAL   36  36  260    9.4   1.6   3.0   0.8   3.18  1.28   58.0     6.5
Charlie Hough   TEX   34  33  252    7.8   3.4   5.4   0.8   3.18  1.31   57.9     6.1
Richard Dotson  CHA   35  35  240    7.8   4.0   5.1   0.7   3.23  1.34   57.2     6.4
Ron Guidry      NYA   31  31  250.1  8.3   2.2   5.6   0.9   3.42  1.25   52.9     5.6
Dan Quisenberry KCA   69   0  139    7.6   0.7   3.1   0.4   1.94  1.99   48.5     7.1
Rick Honeycutt  TEX   25  25  174.2  8.7   1.9   2.9   0.5   2.42  1.49   48.5     6.0
La Marr Hoyt    CHA   36  36  260.2  8.2   1.1   5.1   0.9   3.63  1.16   47.7     5.5

Even if the Padres weren't aware of Hoyt's drug problem at the time of the deal, they should have been a bit nervous about the stocky guy with the high homer rate and declining strikeout numbers. In the end, it's difficult to say which undid Hoyt first, the drugs or a bad shoulder. The former ended his term with the Padres, while the latter, combined with a 1988 prison sentence for drug possession, ended his career.
Did the White Sox get more for their Cy Young winner than the Twins got for Santana? The Pale Hose got one player of long-term value, Ozzie Guillen. Guillen never could hit, but he was a terrific fielder up until his 1992 knee injury. In exchange, the Padres received the legal bills incurred when they tried to terminate Hoyt's contract following his first arrest. You have to rate that a win no matter what, though it's in no way analogous to the Santana deal.
The Verdict: If Gomez can field in center as well as his speed suggests and if he can be an average hitter, call it a win for the Twins. Still, getting Hoyt off your team-priceless.

---

Cy Young going: Steve Bedrosian, 1987 NL Winner, from the Phillies to the Giants.
Date: June 18, 1989
The Phillies Acquired: LHPs Terry Mulholland (26) and Dennis Cook (26), 3B Charlie Hayes (24)
The Giants Acquired: Bedrosian (31), OF Rick Parker (26)
Acquired Phillies' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 31.5
Acquired Giants' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 4.8

Once again, the voters couldn't get together on a starter, so a reliever won it. Nine first-place votes went to Bedrock, but Rick Sutcliffe, Rick Reuschel, Orel Hershiser, and Dwight Gooden split the 15 other votes, making the final tally one of the closest ever, with the closer edging Sutcliffe and Reuschel 57-55-54. Once again, let's see if we're really talking about a legit Cy Young, or a guy who just happened to win the award in a tight ballot:


Name           Team    G  GS   IP     H9   BB9   SO9   HR9    ERA   RA+   VORP  SNLVAR/WXRL
Bob Welch       LAN   35  35  251.2  7.3   3.1   7.0   0.8   3.22  1.33   60.3     8.2
Mike Scott      HOU   36  36  247.2  7.2   2.9   8.5   0.8   3.23  1.31   57.6     8.2
Orel Hershiser  LAN   37  35  264.2  8.4   2.5   6.5   0.6   3.06  1.25   57.0     7.5
Nolan Ryan      HOU   34  34  211.2  6.6   3.7  11.5   0.6   2.76  1.40   54.4     7.4
Rick Reuschel   PIT   25  25  177    8.3   1.8   4.1   0.6   2.75  1.43   47.0     5.7
Rick Sutcliffe  CHN   34  34  237.1  8.5   4.0   6.6   0.9   3.68  1.17   44.2     5.5
Dwight Gooden   NYN   25  25  179.2  8.1   2.7   7.4   0.6   3.21  1.29   40.9     5.6
Tim Burke       MON   55   0   91    6.3   1.7   5.7   0.3   1.19  2.59   37.4     6.2
Greg Mathews    SLN   32  32  197.2  8.4   3.2   4.9   0.8   3.73  1.15   35.7     5.4
Steve Bedrosian PHI   65   0   89    8.0   2.8   7.5   1.1   2.83  1.48   23.5     5.8

As a teenaged stathead, I used to get into near brawls with my schoolmates over Nolan Ryan's Cy Young candidacy. Ryan led the NL in strikeouts and ERA, which in my opinion transcended his 8-16 won-lost record. The Astros, after all, didn't hit. Unfortunately, your average playground adolescent hadn't heard of run support, so I needed to keep a goodly supply of tissues on hand to soak up the bloody noses.

Bedrosian helped the Giants get to the 1989 World Series, but he hung around the Barbary Coast for only one more mediocre season before departing as a free agent. Meanwhile, the Phillies received three players who hung around for years, though none of them was particularly good.
Did the Phillies get more for their Cy Young winner than the Twins got for Santana? Probably. Mulholland was a solid starter for a few years, and Hayes was a good fielder for a while. Cook pitched decently for the Phillies, though they flipped him quickly.
The Verdict: The Twins could do better, but they probably won't.

---

Cy Young going: Frank Viola, 1988 AL winner, from the Twins to the Mets. Sound familiar?
Date: July 31, 1989
The Twins Acquired: LHP David West (24), RHPs Rick Aguilera (27), Kevin Tapani (25), Tim Drummond (24), and Jack Savage (25)
The Mets Acquired: Viola (29)
Acquired Twins' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 56.6
Acquired Mets' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 16.5

This may be the best comp for the Santana trade. In both cases, the Twins swapped their southpaw ace to the Mets for a bundle of players. Viola was just 29 and his 1987-88 ERA was 2.77. In this case the Twins did very well, thanks to the long-term value of Tapani and Aguilera. One key difference is that Aguilera was already a five-year veteran. Though he'd had some arm problems and resultant inconsistency, the Twins had a reasonable certainty that they were getting something out of the deal; in contrast, the more recent trade is far more speculative. Fortunately, they rolled up sevens on Tapani as well, and the deal paid off in contributing significantly to the Twins' 1991 championship. The Mets got something out of the deal as well, a 10.0 WARP season from Viola in 1990. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to avert the decline of the team, and Viola was allowed to leave as a free agent after the 1991 season.
Did the Twins of 1989 get more for their Cy Young winner than the Twins of 2008 got for Santana? They probably did, yes. Chances are they won't hit twice in the current deal.
The Verdict: The old Twins win.

On to the lighting round...

Cy Young going: Jack McDowell, 1993 AL winner, from the White Sox to the Yankees.
Date: December 14, 1994
The White Sox Acquired: OF Lyle Mouton (26), minor league LHP Keith Heberling
The Yankees Acquired: McDowell (29)
Acquired White Sox' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 5.5
Acquired Yankees' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 7.0

The White Sox were dealing a player in his option year who had been subject to a very heavy workload. He was well-regarded, but wasn't Santana.
Did the White Sox get more for their Cy Young winner than the Twins got for Santana? Almost certainly not; McDowell was largely given away.
The Verdict: Should be the Twins.

Cy Young going: David Cone, 1994 AL Winner, from the Royals to the Blue Jays.
Date: April 6, 1995
The Royals Acquired: 3B Chris Stynes (22), SS Tony Medrano (20), RHP David Sinnes (24)
The Blue Jays Acquired: Cone (32)
Acquired Royals' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 0.1
Acquired Blue Jays' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 6.1

Less than two years after the death of Ewing Kauffman, the Royals woke up one morning and realized that they were a small-market franchise. They quickly divested themselves of Cone, a highly coveted pitcher who bordered on the Santana class at times.
Did the Royals get more for their Cy Young winner than the Twins got for Santana? You don't even need hindsight (or hindscent) to smell a dump; Stynes was not a highly-regarded prospect at the time, and he was the best thing the Royals received in the deal. In the minors he was an extreme contact hitter who could smack singles all day long but didn't walk or hit for power. Unfortunately, with the exception of his excellent 2000 season, his ability to hit for average only made sporadic appearances in the majors. Typical for the Royals of this period, they never gave Stynes a chance before dealing him.
The Verdict: The Twins will get more value than the Royals did about two games into the major league career of any of the players they acquired.

Cy Young going: 1998 AL winner Roger Clemens, from the Blue Jays to the Yankees
Date: February 18, 1999
The Blue Jays Acquired: LHPs Graeme Lloyd (32) and David Wells (36), INF Homer Bush (26)
The Yankees Acquired: Clemens (36)
Acquired Blue Jays' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 28.6
Acquired Yankees' Five-Year WARP, Post-trade: 34.8

Nobody died, but one day the Blue Jays woke up and decided that they were a small-market franchise (Toronto population: 2.5 million). They quickly divested themselves of the Rocket, juiced or virgin.
Did the Blue Jays get more for their Cy Young winner than the Twins got for Santana They made a very different kind of trade. The Yankees looked at Wells in camp that year and saw a fat, slovenly pitcher who wouldn't be able to get his arm past his gut on the mound. This was nothing new, exactly, but Wells had managed to pack a few extra pounds on a frame that had seemed to have reached its capacity sometime before. He pitched surprisingly well for the Jays, and no one ever again made the mistake of conflating Wells' condition with his pitching ability. Lloyd and Bush also had their moments.
The Verdict: The Twins will be shockingly hard-pressed to get more value out of their trade than the Jays did out of this ostensible dump.

Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Steven's other articles. You can contact Steven by clicking here

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