Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Monday, December 13, 2021

How the Crew landed 2 HOFers in 1 trade

On Dec. 12, 1980 (41 years ago Sunday), Brewers general manager Harry Dalton sent Sixto Lezcano, Lary Sorensen, Dave LaPoint and David Green to the Cardinals for a future Hall of Fame catcher (Ted Simmons) and the next two American League Cy Young Award winners (future Hall of Fame closer Rollie Fingers and starting pitcher Pete Vuckovich) in a swap that sent Milwaukee on a path to its only American League pennant.

A Sports Illustrated headline the following March called it “The Trade That Made Milwaukee Famous.”

“In my book, that was the best trade we ever made,” said unofficial Brewers historian Mario Ziino, who worked in the club’s public relations department at the time. “When we landed those three guys, we were now major contenders.”

It almost didn’t happen….

The holdup was Green, a 21-year-old outfielder discovered by Poitevint in Nicaragua. Green was considered one of baseball’s best prospects at the time.

“It got so heated that Ray Poitevint and Ray Scarborough almost came to fisticuffs in a meeting,” Skibosh told the Cap Times. “Poitevint was saying, ‘David Green is the future of this organization,’ and Scarborough was saying, ‘Forget the future. We have a chance to get these guys; we want to win now.’

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 13, 2021 at 12:43 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brewers

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. JJ1986 Posted: December 13, 2021 at 07:14 AM (#6057139)
To my ear "Future Hall of Famer" makes it sounds like they picked up two young guys at the beginning of their career. Though really all players are "future" HoFers when they are active.
   2. Rally Posted: December 13, 2021 at 11:29 AM (#6057172)
Yeah. Like the Dodgers picking up future HOFer Albert Pujols for nothing last year.
   3. salvomania Posted: December 13, 2021 at 12:27 PM (#6057178)
According to Rollie Fingers's SABR bio, his dad, a pitcher in the Cardinals' system, had been a roommate of Stan Musial. So that's another Hall of Famer, once removed.
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 13, 2021 at 01:04 PM (#6057181)
The holdup was Green, a 21-year-old outfielder discovered by Poitevint in Nicaragua. Green was considered one of baseball’s best prospects at the time.


Wasn't there some dispute over Green's age? According to bb-ref Green turned 20 a mere eight days before the trade was made, so apparently people still aren't quite in agreement over how old he was.

Green was a classic tools goof, a great athlete with blazing speed who hit for a decent average, but without much power and poor K/W ratios. Despite his speed, he was not a good base stealer and was bad enough in the outfield that he was moved to first base while still in his early 20s.
   5. Rally Posted: December 13, 2021 at 01:05 PM (#6057182)
Who got the better of the trade? Milwaukee had obvious benefits in the first 2 years, getting 2 Cy Young awards (even if undeserved, the 2 pitchers certainly had value) and a solid catcher. None of them lasted long after 1982 though.

On the Cardinals’ side it gets trickier. Green and LaPoint contributed a bit with the Cardinals, and then were shipped off in the Jack Clark trade. Sorensen was part of a 3 way trade that brought Lonnie Smith to the Cards. And Lezcano, after one year in STL, was traded to the Padres with Garry Templeton for Ozzie Smith.

I think this goes down as a trade that helped both teams. If it was not done, both teams would have looked a lot different. And the odds are that everything that broke right in getting them to the 1982 world series would not all break right if you altered the timeline.
   6. Rally Posted: December 13, 2021 at 01:13 PM (#6057184)
Green did have some birthday corrections. He was a tools goof, but he wasn’t a bad outfielder. He was not moved to first because his outfield defense was bad. They just needed somebody to play first and had a bunch of other speedy outfielders.

George Hendrick was the obvious choice to move there, and they did so in 1983 after the Hernandez trade. But I think George really didn’t like playing first and they didn’t make him play there in 84. Andy Van Slyke also played first for that 84 team - I can assure you that choice was not made because Whitey thought Hendrick was a better outfielder than either of the younger players. Andy went on to win multiple gold gloves in center after that.
   7. Rally Posted: December 13, 2021 at 01:17 PM (#6057185)
Darin Erstad is another that comes to mind - played a lot of 1B very early in his career when he was a superior outfield defender.

Sometimes it just happens, with the configuration of the team around him, where a young player has to play there just to work his way into the lineup. Probably not an optimal choice by the teams in question, but playing first base as a young player does not mean that Erstad, Van Slyke, or Green were deficient as outfielders.
   8. tonywagner Posted: December 13, 2021 at 01:22 PM (#6057187)
Interesting that this "best trade ever" for the Brewers put them in the World Series just two seasons later -- where they lost in 7 games to the team they had traded with!

   9. tonywagner Posted: December 13, 2021 at 01:30 PM (#6057191)
Wasn't there some dispute over Green's age? According to bb-ref Green turned 20 a mere eight days before the trade was made, so apparently people still aren't quite in agreement over how old he was.

Age is mentioned in Green's SABR bio. Sounds reasonable that he is perhaps 1 year older than listed at B-Ref. A scout later claimed Green was ~6 years older than listed, but without much evidence.
   10. weiss-man Posted: December 13, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6057201)
The article mentions St. Louis beating Milwaukee in the 1982 World Series, but fails to note that Fingers was injured and missed the entire series (plus all of the next season). A healthy Fingers may have meant a Brewers title.
   11. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: December 13, 2021 at 02:12 PM (#6057205)
Today was not the first day that I forgot that Rollie Fingers was a Cardinal.
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: December 13, 2021 at 02:15 PM (#6057206)

Today was not the first day that I forgot that Rollie Fingers was a Cardinal.


He was a Cardinal from Dec. 8 to Dec. 12 in 1980. Those was among his more forgettable four days in baseball.

   13. Rally Posted: December 13, 2021 at 02:23 PM (#6057207)
#10, looking at the games Fingers might have made the difference in game 2. Through 6, they were tied 4-4. Bruce Sutter came in to get the last out of the 7th and finished the game. Cardinals scored a run in the 8th off Bob McClure.

Let’s say a healthy Fingers keeps it scoreless. Game would have been tied through 9, making it an endurance battle between the HOF closers. Call it a 50/50 shot at that point. The other games were not so close, don’t think having Rollie would have made a difference. But he might have changed game 2, and if he had the Brewers would have wrapped it up in 5 games.
   14. Tom Nawrocki Posted: December 13, 2021 at 02:28 PM (#6057209)
The article mentions St. Louis beating Milwaukee in the 1982 World Series, but fails to note that Fingers was injured and missed the entire series (plus all of the next season). A healthy Fingers may have meant a Brewers title.


Fingers was 34 when the trade was made, and 36 during the 1982 World Series. When you trade for a reliever that old with as much mileage on him as Fingers had, you gotta know you're rolling the dice.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: December 13, 2021 at 03:18 PM (#6057213)
Pretty solid rotation on the all-Nicaragua team with Dennis Martinez, Vicente Padilla, Albert Williams (6.3 WAR, 0.6 WAA) and Erasmo Ramirez and Loasaiga and JC Ramirez eating up the rest. The lineup needs a lot of help though with Green, Marvin Benard, Everth Cabrera and Cheslor Cuthbert (who had Nicaragua in that birthplace pool?) leading the way.
   16. Rally Posted: December 13, 2021 at 03:23 PM (#6057214)
Fingers certainly helped them get to the series though. 29 saves and a 2.60 ERA. Not a legendary year by any means, but a good year. The AL East could not have been any closer. They were tied with the Orioles through 161, and won the division on the final day, head to head.

Well, the season couldn’t have been closer, but that final game could have. Brewers won 10-2 as Robin Yount took Jim Palmer deep his first 2 AB and the Brewers piled on from there.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: December 13, 2021 at 03:25 PM (#6057216)
They were tied with the Orioles through 161, and won the division on the final day, head to head.


It was the final day, but it was Game 163. They also tied once during the regular season.
   18. Perry Posted: December 13, 2021 at 03:50 PM (#6057220)
Green's biggest issue was a serious alcohol problem.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: December 13, 2021 at 04:30 PM (#6057226)
Lezcano had an interesting career. I don't remember how much was injury and how much the sort of platooning that was more common in those days (and maybe again) but he was a pretty fabulous player in his early 20s. From 21-25 he had a 130 OPS+ with solid RF defense, 18 WAR, 8 WAA, 4.4 WAR/650 ... but only 2600 PA over those 5 seasons. He was average at 26 then traded. He was average again in the 81 strike year then a monster in 82 for the Padres with a 145 OPS+ and 6 WAR (still just 560 PA). The he completely fell apart in 83, was an excellent part-timer in 84, was an average part-timer in 85 and completely done at 31. The Cards

Anyway, as I recall it, he was the big get for the Cards. He was the player that Green was supposed to become. I assume LaPoint was also pretty well regarded -- only turning 21 at the time, he'd already made his ML debut and had put up good AAA numbers at 20 (and again at 21). Sorensen was an excellent young pitcher -- turning 25, he had 10 WAR over the 3 seasons before the trade ... although the numbers don't look nearly that good.

Simmons was a very heavily used C turning 31. Vuckovich had a pretty similar track record to Sorensen but was 3 years older. Fingers was turning 34.

In short, I think we'd probably be calling the Brewers idiots if this happened today. What's interesting is how quickly the Cards moved on from that bonanza return -- as noted, LaPoint and Green were traded after 3 years in the Jack Clark deal (that worked out well); Sixto after one year in the Ozzie deal (that worked out well); Sorensen after one year in the Lonnie Smith deal (that worked out well). If you include the ancillary trades, the Cards did great; otherwise not so much.
   20. asinwreck Posted: December 14, 2021 at 09:15 AM (#6057303)
The two newspaper headlines I remember from that week were "John Lennon Slain" and "Herzog Can't Wait To Unwrap Packages."
   21. asinwreck Posted: December 14, 2021 at 09:16 AM (#6057304)
He was a Cardinal from Dec. 8 to Dec. 12 in 1980. Those was among his more forgettable four days in baseball.
His Red Sox stint was shorter!
   22. weiss-man Posted: December 14, 2021 at 10:10 AM (#6057310)
Mike Piazza: The Marlin week
   23. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 14, 2021 at 10:14 AM (#6057311)
He was a Cardinal from Dec. 8 to Dec. 12 in 1980. Those was among his more forgettable four days in baseball.
Right up there with his stint as a West Palm Beach Tropic.
   24. depletion Posted: December 15, 2021 at 11:05 PM (#6057542)
Green's biggest issue was a serious alcohol problem.

Whatever Green's alcohol problem was, it was probably a pet gecko compared to Lary Sorensen's Godzilla
   25. Howie Menckel Posted: December 15, 2021 at 11:25 PM (#6057545)
Fingers was 34 when the trade was made, and 36 during the 1982 World Series. When you trade for a reliever that old with as much mileage on him as Fingers had, you gotta know you're rolling the dice.


Fingers had tossed 1,442 innings thru the 1980 trade (and then 259 more).

MRivera's career IP total was 1,284.
Hoffman's career IP total was 1,089.
BrSutter's career IP total was 1,042.
   26. Howie Menckel Posted: December 15, 2021 at 11:38 PM (#6057546)
Behind The Music: The David Green SABR Bio

"Green's first hit came on September 26, against Pittsburgh’s Luis Tiant. It was his 14th game and his 16th at-bat."

"In spring training 1982, veteran Cardinals pitcher Jim Kaat said, “If you look at a group of horses standing around in a pasture, the thoroughbred sticks out. He looks like the thoroughbred.”

"In spring training 1984, Whitey Herzog moved him to first base, in part because he viewed George Hendrick as the best right fielder in the National League.,. At the start of camp, though, Bertha Casaya Green — the keeper of David’s scrapbook — passed away. This loss too may have worsened his alcohol problem."

"In a 1999 memoir, Herzog wrote that Green “might have been the most talented player of his generation. . .but [his] troubles with alcohol were a nightmare.”[44]

"Cocaine was the scourge of the era, afflicting several Cards. Though Green was sometimes tarred with that brush, the worst that is known publicly is his poor judgment in dating the daughter of Luis Martínez, a St. Louis man who acted as an interpreter for pitcher Joaquín Andújar in 1984. According to Lonnie Smith, Martínez (a convicted felon) was a cocaine dealer."

In January 1995, the former ballplayer made the papers again, in a way nobody would have wanted — a charge of involuntary manslaughter. While driving in the St. Louis suburb of Country Club Hills at 6:30 in the evening, Green collided with another car in an intersection. An elderly lady passenger in the other vehicle suffered a broken pelvis and died of a heart attack two hours later. The following August, he was convicted of driving while intoxicated."


   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 16, 2021 at 12:15 AM (#6057547)
Bertha Casaya Green — the keeper of David’s scrapbook
Is that a euphemism that I’m just not familiar with?
   28. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: December 16, 2021 at 01:14 PM (#6057581)
Bertha Casaya Green


I don't know why "the keeper of David's scrapbook" was used in this quote, but according to the full article Bertha Casaya Green was David Green's mother.

Wow there were a lot of troubled ballplayers in these trades: David Green, Larry Sorensen, Jack Clark, Garry Templeton.

Though speaking of Garry Templeton, I always thought his declining production in San Diego was a function of some issues with substance abuse (rumored in St. Louis), but from his SABR bio he was to all accounts a model teammate for those years, struggling more because of knee injuries than anything else. All in all, it's a good story of redemption:

Garry Templeton's Ladies Day Eruption
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: December 19, 2021 at 10:09 AM (#6057975)
A part of this trade was Whiney Herzog trying to establish dominance in the locker room, after Vern Rapp lost the locker room to a much stronger personality and important player Ted Simmons, Whiney felt the need to show that he was number one, and was going to trade either Hernandez or Simmons to prove the point. Whiney had a fetish about catcher defense, and wanted his pet Porter (who in his mind was the purer player because he was a Christian and not a druggie like the long haired Simba, and whiney couldn't have someone in the locker room that was clearly smarter than him..) to take over the job (remember, whiney is the guy who thought it might make sense to move Hernandez to the outfield... his evaluation of talent and people was not always the best)

This trade happened simply as a power move in the front office of the Cardinals. Whiney accidently got two relievers and now had to give up one. He really didn't care what he got back in this trade.
   30. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: December 19, 2021 at 12:17 PM (#6057982)
This trade happened simply as a power move in the front office of the Cardinals. Whiney accidently got two relievers and now had to give up one. He really didn't care what he got back in this trade.

I mean, it seems to have worked out OK for them.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: December 19, 2021 at 12:30 PM (#6057984)
It worked out, but it wasn't a master plan by a brilliant strategist, it was "oops I have too many toys, need to get rid of one and send a message to the players that I'm the boss".

It's funny that Whiney Herzog is so beloved in St Louis despite the fact that the only Cardinals team to finish in last place since 1918 was a hand picked team he built and had the third highest payroll in the NL that year, yet he complains that the organization wouldn't fund him, is more revered than someone like TLR who inherited a team with a losing record and won a division in his first season (vs Whiney who had a inherited a team with a winning record)

The reverence for Whiney in St Louis is disproportionate to what he actually accomplished.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogWhite Sox bolster rotation with Clevinger
(5 - 1:02pm, Nov 28)
Last: Barry`s_Lazy_Boy

NewsblogOT - World Cup Thread
(299 - 12:59pm, Nov 28)
Last: jmurph

Newsblog2023 CONTEMPORARY BASEBALL ERA BALLOT
(105 - 12:58pm, Nov 28)
Last: DL from MN

NewsblogPittsburgh Pirates, 1B Carlos Santana agree on 1-year, $6.7M deal
(12 - 12:58pm, Nov 28)
Last: RoyalsRetro (AG#1F)

NewsblogThe Argument Against Oneil Cruz | RotoGraphs Fantasy Baseball
(9 - 12:29pm, Nov 28)
Last: Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful

Newsblog2022-23 NBA Kick-Off Thread
(559 - 12:16pm, Nov 28)
Last: spivey

NewsblogWhy MLB needs to fix its interminable slog of an offseason
(3 - 12:07pm, Nov 28)
Last: cookiedabookie

NewsblogRed Sox Rumors: Boston 'High On The List' For Star Free Agent
(15 - 3:33am, Nov 28)
Last: Raymondus

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 2022 Ballot
(6 - 10:19pm, Nov 27)
Last: DL from MN

NewsblogPhillies' Bryce Harper undergoes Tommy John surgery, mid-May return possible, per report - CBSSports.com
(9 - 9:57pm, Nov 27)
Last: Nasty Nate

NewsblogAngels acquire Hunter Renfroe, send 3 pitchers to Brewers
(16 - 9:13pm, Nov 27)
Last: amityusa0106

NewsblogOT - November* 2022 College Football thread
(378 - 7:33pm, Nov 27)
Last: DCA

NewsblogPirates infield evolution: Why GM Ben Cherington’s job is only halfway done - The Athletic
(14 - 6:45pm, Nov 27)
Last: cookiedabookie

NewsblogBlue Jays' Alek Manoah calls Yankees ace ‘worst cheater’ in MLB history
(4 - 11:13pm, Nov 26)
Last: Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network)

NewsblogOT Soccer Thread - European Leages Return
(765 - 6:35pm, Nov 26)
Last: Mefisto

Page rendered in 0.3507 seconds
45 querie(s) executed