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Getting Out of a Hole

May 29, 2018

Reading the "Dick Stuart" thread (or what it has evolved into), I wonder about the trading philosophies of perennial losing teams, the 1950s/60s Pirates, Senators, Red Sox, Mets, KC A’s, Cubs, Astros, etc., who some of us seem to have grown up rooting for. We compete for "My Team Sucked the Most!" titles because, well, what ELSE do we have to take pride in, but I wonder if our simmering resentment of the trading policies isn’t just blaming the victim.  (My team, if you care, definitely sucked the most, as seen by the acronym "My Entire Team Sucks.")

These were all bad teams, in various Calcuttan holes, with many sub-standard players and often weak farm systems and sometimes little money to go around, so all they could do was trade a lot and hope it worked out, which it rarely did. But what is the optimal trade policy, other than "Get Lucky," for a weak organization?

Bill castigated his KC A’s for their high turnover rate, trading their Manny Jimenezes the instant they had a decent season, but of course we also blame our lousy teams for hanging on to their mediocrities too long, letting them go only after they no longer have any trade appeal to a potential trading partner. As an over-arching philosophy, is it better to favor trading your young potential stars as soon as other teams express interest in them, or hang onto to them like Wily Coyote clinging to a cliff-ledge with one fragile fingernail?

It’s no good to respond "It depends," although that’s a sensible answer, because "It depends" just signifies that no particular philosophy applies, and all that matters is results: if trading young potential stars works out, then it’s a good move, and if not, then not, which skirts the issue of trading philosophies, and puts us back on square one, "Get Lucky."

We can all remember trades that worked out well and trades that worked poorly of both kinds, sometimes with the same player. I’m not sure if Mets fans remember more bitterly the famous Nolan Ryan trade for Jim Fregosi or the less-famous previous non-trade of Ryan for Joe Torre, who might have had a few of his HoF-worthy years in Flushing Meadows, had the Mets not overvalued Ryan and rejected that deal. Is the Fregosi deal hated more because it netted them a washed-up former star who could no longer play at a star level or because they surrendered a young player on the cusp of stardom? Probably both, although we could justify dealing off a future HoFer if we’d gotten any sort of immediate value in return.

Tigers’ fans don’t, after all, detest the John-Smoltz-for-Doyle-Alexander deal because it netted them a pennant, which has real value whatever it cost them. A pennant is something. But is that trade a good model for the form that trading a future star should take? Let’s explore a few philosophical issues:

1)      Trading quantity for quality (or vice-versa): is it wiser for a building team to deal off several players for one player of higher quality?

2)      Does a building team want to trade youth for age, or the other way around?

3)      Does a building team want to fill specific positions where they’re weak or to acquire the best players they can even if that overloads them at particular positions?

4)      Is there any wisdom in favoring a particular type of player to acquire? That is, do you always want to acquire faster players rather than slower ones, or more versatile players rather than players who are fixed at one position, pitchers rather than hitters, etc. Do you want to focus exclusively on the left side of the defensive spectrum, and assume you can always pick up DHes and 1B/LFers, for example? Do you want to look for bargains in players coming off injuries or do you regard injured players with suspicion?

5)      Is trading in general wise? That is to say, all else equal, does a building team do better to trade cautiously and keep their big-league roster stable, promoting players from the minor leagues when they’re ready but otherwise avoiding the kind of churning Bill criticized the 1960 A’s for?

Again, "It depends" is no answer. Of course trades that work are good ones and trades that implode are not, but is there any principle that you would say works for a club in the rebuilding stage?  (Even if it sometimes backfires—"works" means "works in general" here, not "works money-back-guaranteed.")

In general, I’d say that

1)  "E pluribus unum" works better than many players being traded for one. Bad teams are looking to maximize their luck. If you trade several players for one better player, you’re heavily dependent on that one better player to work out. This one, I’d say, is easy to answer: good teams looking to become excellent teams want to trade several players for one. They’ve got very few roster spots available and they’re trying to pack in as much talent at one position as they can, so I’d say the opposite principle applies to bad teams: acquire a lot of players if you can, because if you get really lucky, you might fill up several roster spots that badly need filling.

2) This one, I’d say, is the equivalent of David Mamet’s Philosophy of Salesmanship, ABC, Always Be Closing: ABGY, Always Be Getting Younger.  Just as a matter of principle, your future is off in the far distance, so why acquire players who won’t be there to help you when you’ll need them to?  As with most of these questions, my ideal bad-club GM would establish this as a principle to check most deals: individual trades can happen despite any principle, but it would be clear that the proponents of a youth-for-age deal will be compelled to make a hell of a case, and will often lose their argument on principle.

3) This one, too, has a clear answer: a bad team is so far from succeeding that it cannot possibly know which positions will be open by the time they’re ready to make a move, so they should have no problem acquiring two third basemen or two catchers if such become available. Players always can be shifted to a different position, if need be, or traded, while contending teams need to fill particular holes, often temporary holes, that will allow them to surrender more talent for less talent—when this situation presents itself, take advantage of it.

4) This one is I think borne out by research I did on the relative value of pitchers to hitters: ALWAYS trade pitching to get hitting if the values seem even roughly equivalent. Pitchers have much shorter shelf-lives than hitters. If you have a young pitcher who has a few good games back to back and someone expresses interest in him? See which young hitters they have available to trade, and don’t leave the room or hang up the phone without making a deal.

And 5) this one is the most open to debate. I feel Bill’s pain regarding the 1960’s A’s, and I agree that Charlie O. was the loudest jackass in captivity for trading anyone who had a decent year, or month, or week, but the counter-argument goes like this: losing breeds losing. A good rationale for a high turnover rate is that keeping the same bunch of ambitious young players together for very long requires that they start winning. If they don’t, an air of animosity will enter the locker-room. Players will resent each other for causing the losses, and will remember all the blown saves a closer has, the errors a fielder has, the strikeouts a slugger has, IF the end result is a losing season.  You don’t want a team where players are pointing fingers at each other, but that’s only natural if you’ve got a sub-performing team. So I’d say that a high turnover rate is at least tolerable in under-performing teams.

The upshot is that all of these principles, put together with a gigantic dash of luck, probably won’t help—getting into a deep hole means that it will often take a lot of time to work your way out of it, and that usually means in MLB that what you’ll need most of all is a productive farm system, the only reliable way to produce a quantity of young players on the cheap. But that’s a given. Without a productive source of your own young players, well, buy me a flute and a gun that shoots, ‘cause you ain’t going nowhere. With such a source, however, you’re better off with general principles than simply relying on good luck.

This entire argument must be taken in retrospect, of course, because so much of contemporary trading concerns money, free-agency, no-trade contracts, and other factors that were negligible fifty or sixty years ago, so many of the principles described above apply more firmly to our boyhood teams than to current teams, though maybe we could adapt a few that would apply. Let me muse on the 1960s Mets for an illustration: I was just reading the SABR-bio of Joe Christopher, a nothing-special outfielder who had a fluke-season for the 1964 Mets. Basically, Bill described it as a Roberto-Clemente year, by a guy who was as far from Clemente as you can possibly imagine. Oddly enough, Christopher broke in with Clemente’s Pirates, and as I just learned, made his major league debut substituting for an injured Clemente, playing right field in the famous Harvey Haddix 12-inning no-hitter that ended with a Big Joe Adcock HR and a Big Cock-up on the bases. It was over Christopher’s head, in fact, that Big Joe’s HR left County Stadium, and there were those who maintained that if Clemente had been playing RF, he would have prevented it from leaving the park in the first place. (Clemente was exactly one inch taller, but that’s what the SABR-bio claims. Of course Clemente was also a gifted defender, which Christopher was not, so the height difference might not be the crucial factor.) Anyway, Christopher had a good season in 1964, and never really had another: 135+ OPS vs. roughly 80 OPS+.

The question here: should the Mets have swapped him out for whatever they could get for their 28-year-old outfielder, on the principle that his value would never climb higher than in the winter of 1964-5?  They were able to deal him off after a bad 1965 to the Red Sox for Eddie Bressoud, a 34-year-old utility infielder, which is to say for not very much. Looking backwards, the answer is more than obvious—of course they would have been better off to trade Christopher sooner and for younger players, rather than later and for an older player as they did. (They also would have done well to have realize that Bressoud’s power numbers might have had something to do with playing in Fenway Park, and that his numbers might suffer when he came to play in Shea Stadium, but that’s a whole nother issue.) I suspect that they could have gotten some pretty good younger players in the 1964-5 winter from a team that needed a decent rightfielder. Who knows, the Astros, with the immortal Joe Gaines in RF, might have given up their 20-year-old second-base prospect (with a piddling 46 OPS+) or their 20-year-old IB-man/OF prospect (with a 78 OPS+) or, who knows, maybe both, in exchange for Christopher? (Eventual total: over 5000 MLB hits.)  I doubt the fledgling ‘Stros would have gone for that deal, but it doesn’t seem ludicrous on the face of it, and it sure makes more sense for the Mets than getting Ed Bressoud the next winter.

Or shall we take another look at the Nolan Ryan trade and non-trades? The thing that eats away at me about trading Ryan is that, according to principle #4 ("Always trade pitching for hitting") it’s a no-brainer, and it’s just bad luck that the Mets dealt him off for nobody special. This is a deal that I support in principle, detest it as much as I did and do and shall in practice, but thinking it over, my principal complaint is that the early Mets were so stubborn about hanging onto their young pitching as they were. I don’t mind that they finally did unload Ryan, after he’d lost some of his value, but how many of their other young pitchers did they refuse to deal on the grounds that they were THISCLOSE to superstardom? Supposedly, the Angels actually wanted Gary Gentry in the Fregosi deal but someone on the Mets (tell you who in a minute) insisted, No, you have to take Ryan or no deal. Other potential pitching stars—Steve Renko, Dick Selma, Dick Rusteck, Rob Gardner, Dennis Musgraves, Les Rohr, Don Shaw, Jim McAndrew, and several other young pitching stars you never heard of—were hoarded by the early Mets, most of them failing to have substantial big league careers. Even my buddy, Bill Wakefield, really shoulda gotten swapped out after his stellar 1964 for any decent young hitters anyone was willing to deal for him. (And Happy Birthday, Bill! He and Bob Dylan both turned 77 the other day.) I love young pitching, but sometimes your head has to assume control over your heart.

Anyway, this has now devolved into luck-of-the-draw bitching about my frustrated boyhood, but for one more thing: it has only recently occurred to me, on my re-reading of Ryan’s autobiography, THROWING HEAT (I propose that Noah Syndergaard should write one whose title transposes two letters: THOR-WING HEAT), Ryan writes skeptically about one of my heroes, Gil Hodges, whom Ryan claims mismanaged his early career and failed to appreciate Ryan’s potential. Apparently what really cheesed Ryan off was that Hodges was the Mets’ primary proponent of acquiring Jim Fregosi, at almost any cost, assessing Ryan as the cheapest cost the Mets would ever bear. That makes sense, since Hodges had managed in the AL during Fregosi’s early career, and had seen him playing an HOF-potential shortstop throughout the mid-1960s, but Ryan resented the hell out of Hodges’ somewhat sensible opinion.

The odd part, which I’d never realized before, was that if anyone was in a position to appreciate the young Ryan’s talents, it had to be Gil Hodges, who had been a teammate of Sandy Koufax’s from the beginning of his career, which as you know was all about wildness, and walks, and inconsistency, exactly as Ryan’s career had been up until that point. If anyone was in a position to assess Ryan’s potential, based on the model of Koufax’s career, and to preach patience, Gil Hodges had to be that man, yet he made the precise error in judgment that his managerial model, Walt Alston, restrained himself from making.  Hodges left the Dodgers, and soon left the National League, just as Koufax was starting to realize his fantastic potential, and he traded Ryan off just before he was able to realize his.

Playing alternate universe for a moment, the Koufaxian equivalent of the Nolan Ryan Trade would have been for the Dodgers, sick and tired of Koufax’s mediocrity by the winter of 1960 (36-40 in six seasons), to have decided to fill their hole at 2B by trading him off for the 32-year-old Nellie Fox. Like Fregosi, Fox would play another five seasons, but his best years were all behind him.

My point here, if I have one, is that Hodges may have relied more on his own personal feelings than on his professional judgment: he may have undervalued Ryan’s potential because he personally witnessed Koufax’s years of failure, and hadn’t witnessed personally so much of Koufax’s success. Instead, Hodges spent those years in the AL, managing the Senators and witnessing Jim Fregosi’s best seasons, when Fregosi was presumably beating the Senators’ ears in on a regular basis. (For some reason, I can’t find Fregosi’s actual stats vs. the Senators over his career —no idea what’s going on, but bbref doesn’t seem to feature those. My guess is someone stuck "Montreal" where "Washington" belongs alphabetically, and dropped "Washington" altogether. Oops. Anyone know who to contact at BBref to alert them to this screwup?)  In other words, Hodges had every reason in the world to want to nurture Ryan and to regard Fregosi with deep skepticism, and was a cool, patient, intensely rational, unemotional-type manager to boot, yet if we look at what transpired, we could evaluate it as an emotional, almost hysterical, over-reaction to what he himself experienced.  "Ryan will never get any better, just like Koufax!! Fregosi is a flipping perennial All-Star shortstop!!"

Better to have principles, and stick to them, if you ask me, than to fly by the seat of your pants.

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COMMENTS (30 Comments, most recent shown first)

Marc Schneider
I think there is also a difference between trading a young pitcher who is still a prospect, ie, has had no time in the majors and trading someone who has been around and has disappointed. Both Ryan and Schilling had been in the majors at least a couple of years and had not been consistent. The trick is knowing when struggles are just growing pains and when they indicate something more problematic. And it's not easy to know.

4:01 PM Jun 7th
The Orioles thought they needed a power hitter to replace Eddie Murray so they traded Steve Finley, Pete Harnisch, and Curt Schilling to the Astros for Glenn Davis. At the time, we all thought it was a great deal. The Orioles were on the verge of contending with Toronto and Glenn Davis moving out of the Astrodome and into Camden Yards! Think of the possibilities! He'll be the MVP! It didn't work out, of course. But that's hindsight. I see the Fregosi deal in the same light. It made sense at the time. Nolan Ryan was nobody special in 1970, just as Curt Schilling was nobody special in 1990.
8:40 PM Jun 5th
Steven Goldleaf
Mathias2's mention of Leroy Stanton made me look him up: he was actually quite the AAA superstar when he was folded into the deal. The really interesting thing is if you look at him side-by-side to John Milner in AAA that year. Both were good, but every thing Milner did, Stanton did a little more and a little better, Milner 19 HR, Stanton 23 HR, Milner 87 ribbies, Stanton 101 etc. But Stanton also had 4 years on Milner, and Milner had a substantially better MLB career. I have little doubt that if the Angels had asked for Milner instead of Stanton, the Mets would have done that deal in a heartbeat.
6:11 AM Jun 5th
Steven Goldleaf
Bruce--Matlack had a lifetime record of 0-3 at the time of the Ryan deal (not bad pitching, btw, but that was his W-L record). In other words, he was at the "hot prospect" stage at best, and every team needed at least 4 good strong starters, so you're applying hindsight with a trowel to imply that Ryan was unnecessary deadwood. What I'm (trying to) make the focus of this critique is the PRINCIPLE here: in some ways, it's not an awful deal in principle (they did trade a pitcher for a hitter) but in other ways, it is a classical "contending team" trade: they traded quantity for quality (supposedly), youth for age, position-specific hole-filling, and they traded Ryan coming off a not-so-good year. The Mets, as have been pointed out, were a contending team in 1971-2, not an awful team anymore by any stretch, so this discussion is irrelevant perhaps to my points here (as was my example of Ryan, who's been on my mind), except that they actually were a pretty mediocre contending team. Mostly, I find they were (and are) a clueless organization, doing dumb stuff (like neglecting to see Garrett as a competent 3b-solution to their 3b "problem" and so trading off half their good prospects to replace him) and so shooting themselves in the foot over and over because their feet itched sometimes.​
5:20 AM Jun 5th
Marc Schneider
There is a lot of luck involved in evaluating players so it's hard for me to be judgmental about trades that, in hindsight, did not work out. In their heyday, the Braves trades lots of young pitching "prospects" for players that would help them win now. Most of those prospects did not really pan out, with the exception of Adam Wainwright. The point is, regardless of Ryan's potential, there was no guarantee that he would not have hurt his arm or never harnessed his potential. It's easy to say now it was a terrible trade but I'm sure you can go through a litany of young pitchers with talent like Ryan's that never developed. I think the issue with the Mets, though, is whether they were a good enough team at the time o be making trades like that, even if Fregosi had still been a good player. I think the Mets, after 1969, grossly overrated how good they were. In fact, they were basically a .500 team (even in 1973 when they went to the World Series again.) Fregosi wasn't going to make them that much better even if he had still been a star.
3:22 PM Jun 4th
By the time of the Ryan trade, Jon Matlack was in the picture. I can't remember if he was on the team yet, or simply was a highly touted prospect. But at the time, he was believed to be a great young pitcher. That gave the Mets three great young pitchers aside from Ryan And Matlack would have had a great career if not for injuries. I believe he was hit in the face by a line drive at some point. So the Mets should be forgiven for thinking that Ryan was expendable. And perhaps Hodges' infrequent use of Ryan inadvertently spared his young arm and made his long career possible.
8:46 AM Jun 4th
Steven Goldleaf
Not a nitpick at all, Marc. Thanks for the correction. Relying on my Swiss cheese memory, of course.

As to riceman--I would hope that Gil Hodges, who had the advantage of playing literally right next to Sandy Koufax for seven seasons, moslyt ineffective ones for Koufax, would be a fount of insight into the young Nolan Ryan, and be able to offer support to him, and specific suggestions, and encouragement, and to be able to recognize the ungodly potential Ryan had, better than anyone else on the planet this side of Norm Sherry. It's not important that I (and a generation of Mets fans) were dismayed to watch the Fregosi deal blow up in our faces, but Hodges (according to Ryan) really pushed for that deal to be made. The way he tells it, if Hodges had opposed the Fregosi trade with anything like the force with which he demanded it, the Mets would have held on to Ryan for at least a few more seasons. When Hodges had Ryan, he yanked him in and out of the rotation, in and out of the bullpen, essentially showed him a lot of tough love, and finally Ryan just wanted out of NY. The city itself seemed a very unfriendly place to him (I can tell you that it doesn't have to be), and Gil was a midwesterner who got to love living in Brooklyn, so he might have helped Ryan personally as well as professionally, but there just wasn't much love between the two, which is a shame.
6:03 PM May 31st
Marc Schneider
A semantic nitpick here (sorry): When the Tigers traded Smoltz for Alexander, they did not win the pennant, they won the division title and lost to the Twins in the ALCS. I suppose you could regard a division title as the pennant, but my view is that the pennant involves going to the World Series. So, I would argue that if the Tigers actually had won the pennant and gone to the World Series, you could justify the trade. (World Series appearances, even losing ones, are, to me, valuable.) Winning the division would not (in hindsight, of course, since they didn't know they would lose).
2:31 PM May 31st
....footnote to that Seaver trade, a little funny:
Pat Zachry was the pitcher that the Mets got in that trade, but there was a different pitcher who (per what I remember hearing/reading at the time) was assumed to be the centerpiece of any deal, sort of like how Clint Frazier of the Yanks is presumed to be the first part of the trade that is assumed the Yanks will be making for some stud pitcher. (It usually starts with "Clint Frazier and....")

It was a pitcher we never hear about any more, Rawly Eastwick. In the time leading up to the trade it became funny -- we used to joke about who the Reds would be sending to the Mets, "Tom Seaver for Rawly Eastwick and....." and it didn't matter who else you would say, because "Rawly Eastwick" sounded so funny that it sounded ridiculous no matter who else you said. It was even better than Dooley Womack. Anyway it wound up not being Eastwick, don't know why not, and he got traded elsewhere.
2:09 PM May 31st
Never trade for anyone over thirty!
1:43 PM May 31st
"That young pitcher whose name escaped you" had one very distinctive and memorable thing. (although maybe just to me) :-)

He was tall, but for some reason adopted a pitching motion that made him seem about Eddie Gaedel's size, sort of crouching down while he wound up and threw. Evidently he felt it was the best way for him to throw, and I gotta believe he knew better than I did :-) ....but it sure wasn't obvious how it helped him or how it didn't help the hitter if the pitcher made himself seem 3'7" rather than 6'5".

BTW, sure I can imagine how it helped: I'm guessing it enabled extra force from the 'push-off' with his legs.
And anyway, he did have a decent career.
(Pat Zachry)
1:02 PM May 31st
As long as we're talking about stupid trades made by the Mets, let's not forget Tom Seaver for Stevie Henderson and that young pitcher whose name escapes me at the moment.
12:20 PM May 31st
Maris: ;-)
5:54 AM May 31st
PG: It's almost worth making mistakes if it winds up getting me compared to something about Mays. :-)​
7:32 PM May 30th
Steven Goldleaf
Yes, Bruce, the Mets had recently won a World's Championship (I'm sure you remember that event) and I was thinking more of their mindset at the beginning of Ryan's career, when they were still a struggling club looking to improve themselves--I got distracted, like that "Slowly I turned, step by step" routine where a word sets off a melodramatic rant. In my case, that word is "Nolan Ryan."

I've often made the case that if they'd understood Wayne Garrett's virtues (OBP, a little pop, ok fielding) they wouldn't have done most of the stupid things they did, and would have won another World's Championship or three.
4:50 PM May 30th
Interesting article. One of your best. One nitpick: When the Mets traded Ryan for Fregosi, they were a GOOD TEAM looking to fill a perceived hole in their lineup. The Angels were a mediocre team stuck behind Minnesota and Oakland. The player who was most undervalued in that transaction was Wayne Garrett, a decent third baseman who the Mets saw as a weak player because of his low batting average. They actually had bigger holes to fill than at third base.
4:20 PM May 30th
I guess I'm in the minority, but I understand the Ryan-Fregosi trade. Hindsight of course is 20-20, but Ryan's numbers through 1971 were not exactly stellar. In 5 years he had an ERA worse than league, struck out nearly 9 batters per 9 innings but walked over 6. He couldn't hold a runner to save his life and he was the worst fielding pitcher in the league. And over the 5 years he showed NO improvement. It was all Ks, walks, stolen bases and errors. Yes he was 24, but his youth was all he had. His pitching style was such that he looked like he could flame out at any moment.

Fregosi had been the best SS in baseball for most of the last decade. The Mets had an excellent fielding SS in Harrelson, but they desperately needed a 3B, unless you wanted 150 games of 34-year old Bob Aspromonte. Yes Jim was turning 30 and coming off his worst year, but maybe he had 3-4 years left of good ball, he'd have an easier job playing 3B, and all the Mets had to do is give up their wild spot-starter for the best SS in baseball? And we can still throw out Seaver, Koosman, and Gentry, and with Tug and Frisella in the bullpen. Of course you make that deal.

1:14 PM May 30th
Maris, I remember a Harvey Kuenn quote in some book, don't remember which one at all:

Harvey saw Willie Mays get a hit while lying on his back after having just encountered a brushback or knockdown pitch. Willie was obviously able to track the flight of the pitch, get his bat out from under himself or whatever, and swing and hit the ball into fair territory. Harvey's take: "I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or shit."
11:00 AM May 30th
Steven: Yes, sorry -- I guess I made 2 mistakes there!
I would have sworn you meant "undervalued" there, and about which years I looked at, what happened was I looked to see which years Fregosi was on the Angels, wasn't thinking, and ignored any years before where it said "CAL," which made me ignore "LAA." Don't know whether to laugh, shake my head, or worse....
10:44 AM May 30th
I'd add one more along the lines of trading youth for age. Don't trade for Right end of the defensive spectrum. It wasn't actually a trade, but the Phillies lost Scott Rolen to free agency and signed Jim Thome not long thereafter. Why is that bad? What happens when you get another guy who can only play 1st base? (Ryan Howard). If you get 2 great players who can play 3d base, you can shift one to 1st. If you get 2 great hitters who can play 1st base, you'd better be in the AL where one can DH.​
9:19 AM May 30th
Steven Goldleaf
Thanks, mathias2--I got over the Ryan-Fregosi deal a decade or so ago, around the time I stopped rooting for the Mets entirely, except for the occasional acid flashback. I still watch their games, but I don't care if they win or lose any more.

My main point here was to see if I could identify sound trading principles, by which I mean that if a team could adopt the principles I put forth here (or others) AS PRINCIPLES, whether that could actually help them get out of deep holes. That is, if a bad team is tempted to deal off their All-Star second-base man for a slightly older left fielder, would they be helped by reminding themselves "No, wait, this violates Goldleaf's Sacred Principle #2, Always Be Getting Younger--let's discuss this one a little further!"? My gut feeling is that teams usually override such principles, saying to themselves, "Hey, this is TOMMY FREAKIN' DAVIS we're picking up here, this is no time to recite stupid principles--we have a chance to pick up a former batting champ!" etc.

Now, occasionally overriding a principle isn't a terrible mistake, but I think just having principles, and being forced to argue passionately why overriding them this one time makes some sense, is a good thing. I'm far from sure that my own list is completely valid, or complete, or anything of the sort. But if you could devise such a list, and show how violating it is more often an error than not, I think your bad team might be saved from a serious blunder or two every so often.

7:27 AM May 30th
Not to make you feel worse about the Ryan-Fregosi deal, but the Mets tossed in Leroy Stanton, who actually had more remaining value than Fregosi, so the Mets would have lost this deal even if they hadn't included Ryan.

5:49 AM May 30th
Steven Goldleaf
Looks like maybe you thought that Hodges began managing Washington in '65, Maris? But he actually started 40 games into 1963, when Fregosi put up a .937 OPS in 79 plate appearances, and in 1964 he went .821 in 74 PA, basically two monster years for a shortstop, then followed with a .915 OPS in 78 PA in 1965. That must have made an impression on Hodges, but even if Fregosi had just hit his normal numbers against the Senators, that was enough to impress anyone.
5:44 AM May 30th
Steven Goldleaf
Also Hodges managed the Senators for 4 and 3/4ths seasons, not 3, and Fregosi had multiple strong seasons where he killed the Senators.
3:37 AM May 30th
Steven Goldleaf
If you mean here, "...the less-famous previous non-trade of Ryan for Joe Torre, who might have had a few of his HoF-worthy years in Flushing Meadows, had the Mets not overvalued Ryan and rejected that deal," I mean "overvalued." They thought they weren't getting enough back (in Torre) to pull that deal so they backed off. It was a little more complicated than that, actually, since they were asked to throw Amos Otis into the Torre deal and they couldn't see letting both young stars go in one deal, preferring to deal them off for nothing in separate deals. But at first they definitely were skittish about letting Ryan go. Do you remember the beer commercials about the "Ten Minute Head"? You know, "they came from places like Van Meter Iowa..."? They knew they had a potential Feller or Koufax on their hands, which makes Gil's part in dumping him so odd. He should have known better than anyone.​
2:34 AM May 30th
Looking at Fregosi vs. the Senators in the 3 years that Hodges was there:
He hit extremely well against them the first year, so-so the second year, poorly the third year. although in that third year, he had a few good games.

BTW your keyboard hit a snag in one of the places where you were talking about Ryan and the Mets -- it typed "overvalued" when you meant "under."
1:38 AM May 30th
My goodness gracious. :-)
I guess they think Montreal begins with W.
1:27 AM May 30th
Steven Goldleaf
From the numbers I'd say you're right. Shoulda thought of that. Funny way of alphabetizing "Montreal" though.
1:22 AM May 30th
(.....wonder if games against the Seattle Pilots are included in "vs. Milwaukee Brewers"; I'd guess they are, even though it seems the Brewers avoid having anything to do with their Seattle ancestor.)​
12:35 AM May 30th
(I think we should assume that Fregosi's stats vs. the Senators are included in what's shown against "Texas Rangers.")
9:35 PM May 29th
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