Most are probably very confused by the title of this post. Two random dates in December over 42 years apart. How could these dates possibly be related by any means? Maybe it has to do with the NFL or NCAA Football since they are December dates? And if you thought this, you would be incorrect. These are two dates that will forever live in infamy in Cincinnati Red’s history. These are the dates of the two worst transactions made in club history.
The Reds were a very good team in the 1960s. They even played in the World Series in 1961, though they were defeated in 5 games by perhaps the greatest team in baseball history, the 1961 New York Yankees. Their best player was a man by the name of Frank Robinson. Robinson was an immediate impact player for the Cincinnati boys, taking home the Rookie of the Year Award in 1956. He also won the MVP Award in 1961, leading the Reds to the Pennant and a World Series loss to the Bronx Bombers. Though he did not repeat as the MVP in 1962, he did bat .342, with 39 HRs, and 136 RBIs. The man also fielded exceptionally well, taking home the Gold Glove in 1958 (Right Fielder). In his time in Cincy, he made 6 All Star teams and was one of the most recognizable and well liked players in all of baseball. Sadly, in 1964, the Reds came up one game short of capturing the Pennant. The owner of the Reds at the time, Bill DeWitt, had big plans of relocating the franchise, and started selling off key components of the team. So following the 1965 MLB season, Bill DeWitt executed, what many refer to as the worst trade of the century. He gave the Baltimore Orioles Frank Robinson, in exchange for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun, along with outfielder Dick Simpson.
Frank Robinson went on to make an immediate impact in Baltimore, capturing both the MVP and the Triple Crown (in his first season, 1966) He also led the O’s to their first World Series in franchise history (1966). In addition, the Orioles enjoyed their best 3 year stretch in franchise history between 1969 and 1971, winning 3 consecutive pennants. They even defeated Robinson’s former team, the Cincinnati Reds, in the 1970 World Series.
So how about the other gentlemen that were a part of this trade? Well Milt Pappas spent 3 years in Cincinnati. And though he had a 16 win season in 1967, his ERA was always well over 4, and he had a very rough relationship with Red’s legend, Joe Nuxhall. A definite no-no in Cincinnati. At least he got a shoutout in the classic movie, “Bull Durham,” by Susan Sarandon. Susan’s character said, “Bad trades are a part of baseball, I mean who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God’s sake?” Jack Baldschun was another pitcher included in the deal. Baldschun spent 2 years in Cincy and had an ERA of 5.49 in 1966, and an ERA of 4.15 in 1967. He won one game, and had 5 losses. Then the last guy included in this horrific transaction was outfielder Dick Simpson. In his two short years in Cincinnati, Simpson played in a combined 136 games. He batted .238 in 1966, and .259 in 1967. At least the guy hit 5 HRs and had 20 RBIs in his two-year stay right? Totals that probably equaled a month’s production for Frank Robinson.
All in all this has to be one of the five worst trades in MLB history. Frank Robinson is one of the greatest players of all time. The Reds let him go as he was entering the real prime of his career. DeWitt thought that Frank was an “old 30.” Boy was he wrong. Fortunately for Cincinnati, guys like Bench and Rose were ready to make an impact. Cincinnati was saved by the Big Red Machine. Thank god for Bob Howsam right (Red’s GM from 1967-1977)?
I am sure many of you have figured out what happened on this date in Red’s history. But for those of you who have not, this was the day the Reds wheeled and dealed Josh Hamilton to the Texas Rangers for Edinson Volquez and the little guy, Daniel Ray Herrera. Though Hamilton’s stint in Cincinnati was short-lived and quite injury prone, the impact was big nonetheless. In 90 games in Cincinnati, he hit .292 with 19 HRs and 47 RBIs. Not to mention he put on a spectacular exhibition in the outfield and won over the city that was skeptical of the pickup from Day 1 due to his rough past. Now we do not know if an incident happened behind the scenes that led to the Reds sending the man that they had taken a chance on in the previous year’s Rule 5 draft, but either way, Hamilton was headed out west to Texas.
Josh is currently having the best season of his 4 year MLB career. He is batting .359, with 26 HRs and 80 RBIs. Not to mention he has a ridiculous slugging percentage of .629 (leads the AL). The kid is definitely a major MVP candidate. And his team is leading the AL West. He really had a very strong first 2 years in Texas as well. So his production has been unquestioned and will continue. So who did the Reds get out of this deal?
First of all Edinson Volquez. Volquez actually was a very pleasant surprise for the Reds in 2008. He was the ace of the staff and made an All Star appearance. Sadly since 08, his production has been mediocre at best. In 2009, he only was able to start 9 games due to injuries. So he went 4 and 2 with a 4.35 ERA. He also got a very late start in 2010 due to the same injury. And since his return, he has been able to start 6 games, winning 3, and losing 1. His ERA has been a little shaky though at 4.25, and he has had issues with walking too many batters (21 walks in 29.2 innings thus far). So with Volquez, the jury is really still out. Who knows what would have happened without the major injuries? I do know though, that he has had some off field issues with confirmed steroid use as well. Can Volquez salvage the deal?
The other player included in this deal was the MLB’s former smallest guy, standing at 5 foot 6 inches tall, relief pitcher, Daniel Ray Herrera. Herrera has been somewhat solid when given the opportunity for the Reds. Currently he is in the Minor Leagues, but in his 3 years, he has thrown some solid innings for the big team. After a horrendous 2008 campaign, he calmed down to become one of the Red’s go to bullpen guys in 2009. He made 70 appearances, and had an ERA of 3.06. He has been in the minors since the end of June and his 36 appearances with the Reds before being sent down were not the greatest. He had an ERA of 3.91, but really struggled in June. His chances of getting back up to the big team as a mainstay are slim to none this year.
So there you have it. But the thing you have to realize about this most recent transaction. A key issue on the 2010 version of the Cincinnati Reds has been a lack of production from the plate by Reds’ outfielders. Well Josh Hamilton I think could have helped out this issue a little bit. Volquez has hardly played this year and Herrera is down in the Minors..
So which trade was a worse deal for Cincinnati in your eyes? Or is it hard to say at this time?
I do know these are two dates that not too many Reds fans are proud of.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.