Saturday, July 30, 2005

Trades From The Distant Past - Donn Clendenon

One of the few Mets' trades that actually worked out for both teams was the one that brought Donn Clendenon from Montreal on June 15, 1969. Clendenon had actually been traded to Houston after being drafted from Pittsburgh by the Expos, but refused to report. So, he was still with the first-year expansion team when the Mets saw him as a nice platoon first baseman who'd split time with Ed Kranepool and provide both a productive bat and a veteran clubhouse presence.

On the June 15th trade deadline, the Mets swapped 3rd baseman Kevin Collins, who was a pretty good young hitter, and a trio of minor league pitchers to Montreal for Clendenon, who proved to be a key piece of the puzzle that turned into the Miracle Mets. Donn was also MVP of the 1969 World Series, so unquestionably the trade was a great one for the Mets. But although Collins never panned out, one of the three young pitchers included in the deal was Steve Renko, who became one of Montreal's most dependable starters for several years, so Montreal had to be happy with their end of the deal.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Trades From The Distant Past - Part 6 A Trade That Never Was

It was late 1966 and the Winter Meetings had just ended. It was a Sunday night, and I'm not sure if I'd missed "Bill Mazer's Sports Extra" on Channel 5, or if that show hadn't been created yet. In any case, I put on the 11 o'clock news on WNBC-4 to hear if there was any Mets news.

The designated reader of sports news that night was Pat Hernon, who was better known as a weatherman, although he was kind of a utility man at Channel 4, hosting some community shows, St. Patrick's Day specials, and who knows what else. I don't know if Hernon was a sports fan, but he was no sports expert.

At the tail end of his report, he stated "At the Winter Meetings today, the Mets acquired Eddie Bressoud and Mickey Stanley". For whom or what, he didn't say, but since they were on 2 different teams, there had to be 2 separate deals. Bressoud, I thought, was a shortstop who could hit a little, hopefully, the Mets didn't give up too much, but Stanley was a very highly regarded defensive centerfielder in the Tiger organization, who (post-Billy Cowan and pre-Don Bosch) might be the long-term answer to the Mets' centerfield problems.

So, I knew that as soon as I got up the following day, I'd check the papers and/or listen to the radio to hear the WHOLE trades. It turned out that Bressoud was acquired for Joe Christopher, probably the Mets' best hitter at the time, but there wasn't a word about Stanley. Not in any paper. Not on any radio station. Not even that afternoon on Bill Mazer's show. Of course, as it turned out, the Mets never did get Stanley. Just where Pat Hernon got the information from, I will never know. But had the Mets really acquired Stanley, it would no doubt have changed the course of baseball history, since Stanley helped the Tigers to a World Championship in 1968, and furthermore, had the Mets gotten him, there would probably have been no Agee trade and who knows what would have happened in 1969.

But to this day, I wonder just what the trade was supposed to be, was there really talk of a trade, or did I just dream the whole thing ? (I don't think so). Does anyone else recall this ?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Trades From The Distant Past - Part 5 Amos Otis for Joe Foy

In 1969, the Mets were World Champions, but management saw that there were still holes to fill. So, that winter, knowing that one of their third basemen, Ed Charles was getting on in years, and the other, Wayne Garrett was a very weak hitter for a third baseman, the Mets set their sights on getting someone who could be their regular third baseman for the next few years.

They did have a valuable chip to trade. Amos Otis was a highly regarded young prospect who had been drafted by the Mets from the Red Sox organization and made it to AAA Jacksonville in no time at all, playing all over the field. The Mets wanted him to play third, but he didn't really have his heart in it, and as a result, didn't do much when given the chance. He was convinced that his best position was centerfield, but the Mets had just gotten a spectacular year from Tommie Agee, and decided to stick with him, rather than commit to a young player, especially when they were trying to defend their championship.

Joe Foy was a still-young third baseman who had been Kansas City's first choice in the expansion draft, and had a solid season for them. Foy was also from the Bronx, and the Mets figured he'd be a popular addition as well as a potent offensive force combining speed and power.

The Royals wouldn't do the deal even-up, so the Mets had to throw in one of their top pitching prospects, Bob Johnson. This trade turned out to be the most disastrous in Mets' history up to that point (though they would certainly make some worse ones in the future !). Foy didn't hit, couldn't field, had all kinds of personal problems and was dumped quickly, leaving a gap at third that the Mets would have to try to fill repeatedly. Otis, of course, became an all-star centerfielder for years with the Royals and Johnson even had a good year or two in the big leagues before fading.