Off Base
Biggest Trades in Dodgers History, 1958 to 1972

May 11, 2008

Los Angeles Dodgers history, that is, and this is part one in an occasional series.

Inspired by a great Ross Newhan piece about the worst trades in Dodgers history, I thought what the bleep, why not take it a step further. The result is a look at the significant trades of the Los Angeles era; good, bad and indifferent.

It's trades only, mind you. A chronicling of free agency is an entirely different animal, which perhaps we'll tackle some other time. Besides, do you really want another dredging up of Stanhouse, Goltz and Honeycutt (the latter two known in BS circles as "Honeygoltz)?

Let's go chronologically, and start with the Dodgers acquisition of Wally Moon, in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, for Gino Cimoli, on December 4, 1958. Not to be confused with Dolph Camilli, who had some great years with the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1930s and 40s, Cimoli had a nice little career, without particularly distinguishing himself, and after leaving L.A., played for six teams over his final eight seasons.

You know all about Wally Moon and the famous "Moon shots" story, so we'll spare you, but suffice it to say, the man had an immediate impact, serving as a key contributor to the Dodgers run to the championship in 1959. Moon sported a batting average of .302 that first year, with an on base percentage of .394, 76 extra base hits and 74 RBIs.

Following up with solid seasons in 1960 and 1961, Moon was a member of the Dodgers World Championship teams of 1963 and 1965 as well. So, shall we say "thumbs up" on the Moon trade? Yeah, I think so. And an auspicious start to the club's 50-year history in Los Angeles.

December 4, 1964. Frank Howard, with Phil Ortega, Pete Richert, Ken McMullen and Dick Nen, for Claude Osteen, John Kennedy and cash. Essentially Howard for Osteen, many in L.A. were skeptical of this one, which had the Dodgers dealing their primary power man and 1960 Rookie of the Year, for a guy who had won 15 games the season before the trade, a cog in the wheel of what was an American League team of legendarily bad proportions.

Well things change now, don't they? Osteen became a rotation mainstay, serving the Dodgers with distinction for the next nine years, winning 15 games twice, 16 twice, 17 games another time, and 20 twice more. ERAs in the high twos and low threes in seven of his nine seasons on the club.

Osteen pitched a five-hit shutout of the Minnesota Twins in Game Three of the 1965 World Series, and recorded a lifetime Series ERA of 0.86. Yes, Mr. Howard had some monster years in D.C., but this deal goes down in history as serious win for Los Angeles. And it's not close.

December 1, 1966: Described perfectly by Newhan: "In a spiteful move involving Maury Wills' protest over the absence of payment involving a team trip to Japan, Walter O'Malley ordered his shortstop and team captain traded to Pittsburgh for Bob Bailey (.227 in two seasons in L.A.) and Gene Michael (.202 in his only L.A. season)."

A misguided trade, but to be fair, Bailey did develop into a good player, with some very solid seasons as a Montreal Expo. All I can say about Michael, on the other hand, is that never in baseball history was a sarcastic nickname ever more apt than was the "Stick" label pasted on that guy.

November 29, 1966: Tommy Davis and Derrell Griffith to the Mets for Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman. A semi-blockbuster, and the proverbial "year too early, rather than a year too late" for Buzzie Bavasi and the Dodgers.

Tommy D. is remembered locally for his 1962 and '63 league leading batting averages of .346 and .326 to this day, to say nothing of his team record 153 RBIs in '62, but had been out of the lineup throughout 1965, and played in but 100 games in 1966.

As it turned out, 1963 was Davis' last All-Star year, but he continued to hit in or around .300 for rest of his career, finishing at .294 lifetime in 18 seasons.

Ron Hunt averaged .263 during his one season in blue, but disappointed big-time in the hit by pitch department. A meager 10 HBPs for the longtime leader in lifetime plunks, which turned out to be his career low as a starting player. For comparison, Hunt was hit 50 times as an Expo in 1971. Slacker.

Hickman boasted a .163 average in 65 games his lone year as a Dodger, and will forever be remembered by those in the know, as the man whose single in the 1970 All-Star Game sent Pete Rose crashing into the ever-so-grateful Ray Fosse. Consider yourself a baseball god if you can name the player who moved Rose into scoring position with a single, to set Hickman up for the game-winner (see Trivia below). Advantage, Mets.

June 11, 1969: Wills comes back to the Dodgers, along with Manny Mota, in a deal sending Ron Fairly and Paul Popovich to Canada. Maury bats .297, .270 and .281 in his final three seasons as a regular shortstop, and adds 69 steals to bring his franchise record to 490. Mota, of course, was the all-time leader in pinch hits, with 150, until Lenny Harris came along in 2001. He hit .318 as a Dodger, rising to the occasion with a .375 average in five postseason series. L.A. gets the nod here.

October 5, 1970: Ted Sizemore and Bob Stinson to St. Louis for Richie Allen. We could write a book on the stories and accomplishments of Mr. Allen, but, well, we're lazy. So let's just say the Cards had their reasons, the man could really hit, and it was a big deal for the Dodgers to trade for him. A really big deal. A huge deal.

Sizemore had been yet another Rookie of the Year for the Dodgers in 1969, and followed up with a .300 season in 1970, but this was Richie Allen we were talking here. So Al Campanis made it happen.

Allen did everything that could have been expected while here, playing in 155 games, batting .295, with an on base percentage of .395, 23 homers, 90 RBIs, and representing the Dodgers in the Midseason Classic.

The Allen trade was an obvious winner for Los Angeles, but not just because of what happened between the lines during the calendar year. Stay tuned for that.

February 10, 1971: Straight trade, Andy Kosco to the Milwaukee Brewers for Al Downing. Kosco's claim to fame, such as it is, was leading the Dodgers in homers with 19 and RBIs with 74 in 1969. Just fyi, Wes Parker, with his 68 RBIs, was the only other Dodger to drive in as much as 60 that season.

After five straight double-figure win seasons for the Yankees from 1963 to '67, including a strikeout title and an All-Star team selection, Downing's next three seasons were a bit off the mark. Bad for him, good for the Dodgers, who were the beneficiaries of the little lefty's career season in 1971.

Personal highs with 20 wins, 36 starts, 12 complete games, five shutouts and 262 innings, along with an ERA of 2.68. Downing finished third in the NL Cy Young voting and 10th in the MVP race, as the Dodgers just missed in the West, losing out to San Francisco by a game on the last day of the season.

Downing won 26 games over his last five seasons in L.A. and for his career, and served up, well, you know. Whatever, the Dodgers get the nod in this trade by a landslide.

December 2, 1971: In what turned out to be about as good an example of the good-trade-for-both-teams as can possibly be, the Dodgers sent Richie Allen to the Chicago White Sox for Tommy John and Steve Huntz. Little did any of the participants know.

Richie promptly changed his named to "Dick," and proceeded to win the American League MVP Award, raking it for .308, with 37 homers and 113 RBIs.

Tommy John is and was so much more than the man who gave his name to a breakthrough surgical procedure. So much more. He'd been a productive White Sox pitcher for years before coming to Los Angeles, and won consistently, primarily with the Yankees, for 11 more upon his departure.

John became a big-picture Dodger in 1973, posting a 16-7 record and 3.10 ERA, as the Dodgers fought for the division late into the season with the Big Red Machine. T.J. began the 1974 season on fire, going 13-3, with a 2.59 ERA, before succumbing to what was at the time a forearm injury from which no player had ever recovered, or ever really attempted to.

That the team managed to win the pennant anyway is a testament to Walter Alston's leadership, plus, quite obviously, Don Sutton, Steve Garvey, Andy Messersmith, Mike Marshall, Jimmy Wynn and company.

Out all of 1975, John came back strong, winning 10 games for L.A. in 1976, 20 the next year, and 17 the year after that, helping his club to back-to-back pennants in '77 and '78, while notching three w's in the postseason.

Allen meanwhile, had one more full year of productivity, and was out of baseball by 1977, at the age of 35. Like I said, a good trade for both teams, but T.J. and Campanis take the prize for this one, thank you very much.

OK, that's it for part one. To be alerted when part two is posted, click here

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Trivia Answer: Yep, it was Billy Grabarkewitz. The one-year wonder, who batted .236 lifetime with 28 homers, played in 156 games in 1970, with 92 runs, 17 homers, 84 RBIs, a .289 average and an on base percentage of .399...

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….

 

 

 

 

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