Off Base
Biggest Trades in Dodgers History, 1972 to 1979

May 28, 2008

Taking a break from watching Andruw Jones' screen test for the Total Gym, I thought I'd get to part two in this series.

In part one, I explained that with Ross Newhan's great Dodgers-worst-trades piece in April as my inspiration, I put together a list of what I think are the most significant trades in club history; good, bad or indifferent. And to restate, it's Los Angeles Dodgers history only and trades only. Free agent moves are not included.

Continuing where we left off, on December 2, 1971, the same day as the Tommy John for Richie Allen trade, a very busy Al Campanis sent Doyle Alexander, Bob O'Brien, Sergio Robles and Royle Stillman to Baltimore for Frank Robinson and ex-Dodger Pete Richert.

Alexander had started 12 games as a 20 year old Dodger pitcher in 1971, and eventually became a pretty solid guy, winning 194 games, with well over 3000 innings in a 19-year career. Beside the deal for Robinson, Alexander is famous for another rather significant trade. It's an easy trivia question, so give don't give yourself too much credit if you know it, but do if you can name any of the other interesting players Alexander was traded with and for over the years. Answer below.

Robinson had hit 479 of his 586 home runs before landing in L.A. at age 36, and managed 19 homers, 59 RBIs and a .251 average his one year as a Dodger. But as with Allen the year before, it was exciting having him in blue for any length of time, and his being available after one season led to another important trade.

November 28, 1972: Campanis sent Robinson, Bill Singer, Mike Strahler, Billy Grabarkewitz and Bobby Valentine to the California Angels for Andy Messersmith and ex-Dodger Ken McMullen.

McMullen had had some good seasons in Washington after being part of the Claude Osteen for Frank Howard trade (see part one ) in 1964, and was coming off an up year in Anaheim (21 homers, 68 RBIs and 160 games), but did not match that success in L.A. the second time around.

Messersmith, known as the Baron, was something else indeed. He won 14 games in 1973, pitching 250 innings, with an ERA of 2.70, and was runner-up to Mike Marshall in the Cy Young balloting the next season.

In 1974, Messersmith finished 20-6, with an ERA of 2.59 in 293 innings. He followed up in '75 by tossing 321 innings, completing 19 of his 40 starts, going 19-14 with a 2.29. Dodgers get the best of this trade.

December 5, 1973: Willie Davis to Montreal for Mike Marshall. Painful at the time, it turned out a winner for Los Angeles. Davis played 14 years in center for the Dodgers, and was arguably for much of that time, their best player.

The Three Dog stands sixth in franchise history, that's L.A. and Brooklyn, in games played; he's third in at bats, sixth in runs, and third in hits, with 2091, behind only Zach Wheat and Pee Wee Reese. Davis lists fourth in total bases, sixth in doubles, second in triples, ninth in RBIs, third in stolen bases, fourth in extra base hits, and even ranks second in sacrifice flies.

The travails of Mike Marshall have been well chronicled here and elsewhere, so we'll spare you the whole story. Let's just say that without him, there would have been no World Series for the Dodgers to lose to Oakland in 1974.

Marshall finished two spots behind Steve Garvey for the NL MVP that season, and with his remarkable year out of the bullpen, took home the Cy Young Award. We're talking 15 wins in 106 games, the latter still standing as a major league record. He finished 83 games, saved 21, pitched 208 innings, with 143 strikeouts and a 2.42 ERA.

Marshall also relieved in 13 consecutive games in 1974, which would still be a major league record today, if not for the shameful managing of Bobby Valentine in 1986, who for no good reason, literally handed his Texas Rangers hurler Dale Mohorcic a share of it. Dale Mohorcic, of all people.

December 6, 1973. Claude Osteen and Dave Culpepper to the Astros for Jim Wynn. Osteen had just concluded a run of 11 consecutive seasons with well over 200 innings pitched, and 10 straight with double-figure victories, nine of them with the Dodgers. The operative word there being "concluded." Getting Wynn from Houston climaxed a pretty good 24 hours worth of Winter Meetings work for Campanis, and was key in bringing a pennant to Los Angeles.

The Toy Cannon took over for Davis in center and proceeded to hit .271, with 32 homers, 104 runs, a career high 108 RBIs, and a fifth place finish in the MVP voting. As with other acquisitions cited in the column, this one good deal led to another, even better one.

November 17, 1975: Wynn, with Lee Lacy, Tom Paciorek and Jerry Royster to Atlanta for Dusty Baker and Ed Goodson. While Lacy, Paciorek and Royster all went on to fine careers, none mattered as much to their teams as Baker did to the Dodgers. And Lacy was traded back to L.A. seven months later.

Baker was one of those guys who took a year to adjust, struggling to a .242, with four homers and 39 RBIs in 1976, but for the next eight seasons was a fixture in left field for the Dodgers. Along with Roy Cey, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith, Baker hit 30 home runs in 1977, which at the time had not been accomplished by any foursome in baseball history.

He played in four postseasons with L.A ('77, '78, '81 and '83) and with his team missed out on two more the final day of the season (including a one-game playoff loss to Houston in 1980). Postseason career numbers, all with the Dodgers, include a .282 average, five homers and 21 RBIs.

While here Baker was an All-Star twice, a two-time top ten MVP finisher, won a Gold Glove, two Silver Sluggers, and with his grand slam in game two, a National League Championship Series MVP in 1977.

May 2, 1975: Another steal for Campanis. Downright larceny, actually. Geoff Zahn and Eddie Solomon to the Cubs for Burt Hooton. Happy won 97 Dodger games over the next seven seasons, was 18-7 right out of the gate in 1975, and a Cy runner-up in '78, when he went 19-10, with a 2.71. He was an All-Star and NLCS MVP in 1981, and tossed 20 shutouts as a Dodger. Starting 11 October games for the club, Hooton won five of them, while recording an ERA of 3.17, in seven postseason series.

June 15, 1976: Joe Ferguson, Bob Detherage and Fred Tisdale to St. Louis for Reggie Smith. Fergie was a valuable Dodger both before and after this deal, but getting Smith was another coup for Los Angeles; a trade they simply had to make. Smith was a full-time producer just two of his five seasons in L.A., but they were two pennant winning seasons.

In '77, Reggie hit .307, with 32 homers and 87 RBIs, following up with .295, 29 and 93. He was a Clemente-like right fielder, a leader on and off the field (and in the stands), and a member of the 1981 World Championship Dodgers club.

April 7, 1979: Advantage Dodgers. Ya think? Rick Rhoden to the Bucs for Jerry Reuss. In 1980, '81, '83 and '85, Reuss had four difference-making seasons in Los Angeles, the latter three resulting in postseason appearances for the club. He was an 18-game winner twice for L.A., and a key rotation man for much of his eight years here.

Most prominent among Reuss' achievements in blue was his World Series Game Five victory over Ron Guidry and the New York Yankees. With Lou Pinella singling home Reggie Jackson in the second, the Yanks led 1-0 all afternoon, until back-to-back homers by Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager turned things around in the seventh. Reuss got the final six outs, the Dodgers won 2-1, and took the Series with a 9-2 win three days later at Yankee Stadium.

Talkback: A couple of trades have been omitted to spur discussion. What are they? Talkback

To be alerted when part three is posted, please click here.

Trivia Answer: In a 1987 run for the American League East, the Detroit Tigers sought Alexander from the Atlanta Braves, who were kind enough to oblige. The Braves take? John Smoltz. During his career, Alexander was traded with and for these guys, among others: Frank Robinson, Pete Richert, Ellie Hendricks, Ken Holtzman, Grant Jackson, Rudy May, Tippy Martinez, Scott McGregor, Rick Dempsey, Larvell Blanks, Pepe Frias, John Montefusco and Andy McGaffigan…

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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