Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Contending Trading Partners

The trading deadline is a little more than a week away and the baseball world is buzzing with trade rumors. Usually trade deadline deals are between one team that is in contention and another team that is already thinking about next season. Occassionally, however, teams that are both in contention trade with each other because they have compatable needs. I wondered if this has ever led to players getting traded in-season and then facing their former team in the World Series. Here, then are the five occassions since 1980 where eventual World Series participants have transacted with each other during the course of the season:

August 23, 1998 - Yankees send Shea Morenz and Ray Ricken to Padres for Jim Bruske and Brad Kaufman

This one hardly counts because none of the players played an inning in the World Series and, in fact, only Jim Bruske even played in the major leagues that year (and he only threw a handful of innings for the Yankees).

June 10, 1984 - Padres sold Sid Monge to the Tigers

Once again, this was not an important trade to either team, as Monge did not appear in the post-season.

August 12, 1983 - Orioles sold Paul Mirabella to the Phillies

Similarly, Mirabella never appeared in the major leagues for the Phillies.

Ok, so those three were pretty worthless, but I've been saving the ones that actually mattered until the end.

March 21, 2004 - Red Sox trade Tony Womack to the Cardinals for Matt Duff

This trade occurred late in Spring Training and was basically a castoff of Womack by the Red Sox because he wasn't going to make their team. On the Cardinals, though, he became the everyday second baseman and leadoff hitter. He hit .307/.349/.385 with 26 stolen bases in the regular season and solidified the biggest question mark in the Cardinals lineup going into the season. The Red Sox did not regret his presence in the World Series, though, as Womack (and everyone else on the Cardinals) slumped against the Red Sox. His World Series line was .182/.250/.182.

Matt Duff never made it to the major leagues.

May 17, 1985 - Cardinals trade Lonnie Smith to the Royals for John Morris

Lonnie Smith had been one of the stars of the Cardinals team that won the World Series in 1982 and he played at a high level in 1983, as well. Then he mysteriously started to slide. Ok, it wasn't so mysterious, really: he had a drug problem that eventually landed him in front of a Pittsburgh grand jury testifying about drugs in baseball. Anyway, the Cardinals traded him across the state to Kansas City - whether they knew about the drug problem or they were just clearing space for phenom Vince Coleman is questionable.

Smith became a key player for the Royals the rest of the year. He put up a .257/.321/.366 line during the regular season for the Royals, but more importantly, he scorched the Cardinals to the tune of a .333/.400/.444 line in the World Series.

Whether the trade was meant to open up a spot for Vince Coleman or not, that was the result and Coleman won the Rookie of the Year award in the National League. However, while Smith was tearing up the Cardinals in the World Series, Coleman was watching from the sidelines after getting run over by the automatic tarp system in Busch Stadium. It is pretty safe to say that, while the Lonnie Smith trade didn't exactly come back to haunt them in the World Series, they weren't particularly happy to see him on the opposing team, either.

John Morris, by the way, did not make his major league debut until 1986.

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