Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Trades From The Distant Past - Part 1 Stallard for Lewis

While Mets fans debate whether the Mets should be buyers or sellers at this year's trade deadline, I thought I'd begin a series of posts that take a look at some past Mets trades that were considered "major" at the time, but unfortunately, like most Mets trades, didn't help much, if at all. Let's start by going back to the early years when the Mets were trying to build a winner with little or no help from the farm system. We're talking mid-'60's and at that time, Bill Mazer was New York's Sports Talk King on 66 WNBC. So, with no Baseball America, Baseball Weekly or internet to tout prospects, Mazer, who had broadcast International League Games in Buffalo, was always a knowledgeable source about players coming up from the Minors.

Please note that I'm not looking up exact dates or statistics. This is all pure recollection from years gone by.

Back in 1964, the Mets had a very old outfield. The farm system hadn't produced anybody yet and people like Frank Thomas, Duke Snider, Joe Christopher, and a cast of unknowns were playing there. What the Mets did have as trade bait was a bunch of starting pitchers who had terrible records but seemed to come up with the occasional outstanding game that made other teams think that with some support, they could be pretty decent. One of those pitchers was Tracy Stallard who was rescued from the Red Sox scrap heap and who, if I recall, had a record something like 6-17 for the Mets, but 3 or 4 of the wins were excellent performances. So the Mets traded Stallard (who Mazer didn't like because he criticized Joe Christopher's fielding when it cost him a game and Mazer liked Joe Christopher, at least as a person, if not a ballplayer, although Joe did bat over .300 as a regular for the Mets one year) to St. Louis for a top prospect named Johnny Lewis.

Lewis was one of those 5-tool outfielders who could hit the ball hard, had good speed, and a great arm. His stats at AAA were not outstanding, but they were good, he was still young, and he certainly looked like a ballplayer. At the time, Bill Mazer called this a great trade for the Mets. Lewis will be remembered as a Met for one thing and one thing only, that he beat Jim Maloney with a HR in extra innings when Maloney was pitching a no-hitter. Other than that, he was a big disappointment and wound up back in the minor leagues, before rejoining the Cardinals organization as a coach. Stallard, I think, had one pretty good year for the Cardinals before hurting his arm.
And the Mets continued to look for outfielders. Next, Billy Cowan and Don Bosch.


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