Sosa Trade Bush
April 8 , 2000
BaseballSavvy.com will never be confused with U.S. News and World Report, and it's certainly not our intention to take sides. We'll leave politics to the pols, most of the time. But when a candidate drifts into foul territory, he's fair game.
Forget Bob Jones. George W. Bush's second guessing his trade of Sammy Sosa to the Chisox for Harold Baines crossed the line.
Look, W. was a good baseball owner, a solid citizen. He spoke out openly in support of Fay Vincent when it wasn't fashionable to do so. No small thing.
He was a force behind the development of the Ballpark at Arlington as well, and was instrumental in the rebuilding (rebuilding?) of the Texas club. (So, the Rangers are competing with Atlanta to see who can lose the most consecutive post-season games to the Yankees. Not his fault.)
Asked by a reporter during Campaign 2000's "spring training," to recall his greatest mistake, or regret, Bush said: "trading Sammy Sosa." Very funny, not. Quite satisfied with the response, the governor trotted it out again in a New Hampshire debate. Strike two.
Bush was simply trying to be clever while reminding everyone that he was once an interesting guy with a cool job. Owner of a Major League team looks great on a resume, political or otherwise. Impresses women, I suppose. He should've fouled off the pitch and waited for the next one.
But let's get something straight here. That was not a bad trade. Sammy Sosa for Harold Baines in 1989 was a steal -- for Texas.
20 year old Sosa had rung up four minor league seasons with a combined 32 homers and 187 RBIs. Deion Sanders numbers. In his first three seasons with the Sox after the trade, Sosa batted .203, .233 and .260, with a high of 15 homers, in 1990. He struck out 311 times in 1110 at bats and was a thoroughly pedestrian defensive player, committing 13 errors one year. It wasn't until 1993, with the Cubs, that Sammy began to really play some ball.
Baines meanwhile, is a perennial .300 hitter with power, who drives in runs in his sleep. He actually displayed a pretty decent glove in those days too. At 30, he was in the prime of his career.
Obviously, Sosa is a stud now. 1998 and 1999 will be remembered forever, but you don't pass on a trade because of what a guy might do ten years down the line. You just don't.
The truly bad trade came a year later, when the Rangers sent Baines to Oakland for pitchers Joe Bitker and Scott Chiamparino, who combined to win three big league games.
Bring that one up in a debate, why don't you. And stick to politics Governor.
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