Was the Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell trade a bad one for the Red Sox? If so, why? If not, why not?
I may disagree from all the experts, but I think that the Sox should’ve kept that Ruth fellow. Or at least, trade him for some prospects. At least they sold him at his highest price – no one will ever top 29 homers.
SF – meow!
Actually, Sam, this is a serious question. It gets to the root of our discussions in the below thread. The Andersen trade is bemoaned by just about everyone on Earth, because of how Bagwell’s career turned out. But the history of the deal shows that Lou Gorman made a good move: he just didn’t know his farm system well enough to trade something lesser than Bagwell. Gorman, it is commonly told, didn’t even know who Bagwell was, really. The Sox won the division and Andersen was a key component down the stretch. So in concept, trading a lower level minor leaguer for a proven major leaguer that ensured, contributed to a playoff spot (in the pre-wild card days) is a sound one.
Where this deal collides with the Ramirez/Sanchez/Beckett/Lowell deal is in assessing the front office’s awareness of it’s lower level assets. The big beef with the Bagwell trade was not the idea of it, but the execution, and the failure of Gorman to have tabs on his prospects as it’s biggest failure. Epstein, as far as I can tell, knows who his minor leaguers are from top to bottom, and has made decisions based on his best understanding of their potential based on field observations and scouts’ opinions. This doesn’t mean he won’t make errors in judgment, but at least the information at hand is stronger than in the past. There’s a world of difference between Gorman’s front office and Epstein’s, as far as I can tell and from what I have read.
Another trade that could be discussed:
Mike Boddicker for Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling. Boddicker was picked up by the Sox in 1988 at the deadline, and led them to 2 division crowns. But Anderson went on to be an all-star, and Schilling, well, he’s been far better over 16 years than Boddicker was for 33. Was that trade a “failure”, since the Sox gave up on Schilling and Anderson? Or was it a wildly successful trade, bringing the Red Sox a #2 starter who could eat innings behind Clemens? This trade is hardly ever discussed, but it was, even more clearly than the Bagwell deal, a trade of a Hall of Famer for a stopgap solution. But I would never undo this trade: without it the Sox probably wouldn’t have made the postseason in ’88 or ’90.
This stuff is complex, and also fun to discuss. I wasn’t just being catty.
I would undo the Boddicker trade. Brady Anderson was an acceptable loss, but Schilling was not. It’s great to have him back, but something tells me a Clemens-Schilling combo and then a Martinez-Schilling combo would have won many more World Series had Curt been with Boston from, say, 1990-present.
This assumes of course that the Sox would have gotten Martinez already having Schilling. No guarantee at all of that, considering Martinez was essentially the replacement for Clemens…
Ah, but Paul, you fall into the trap of the assumed result, that the context of everything around Schilling would have remained the same as it was with him gone – that never happens. Remember that Schilling was a relief pitcher for the Orioles and then for the Astros before being moved into the rotation in 92/93. There would have been no Clemens-Schilling 1/2 in that late 80s rotation, much less a Schilling/Martinez combo – do we even know if Schilling would have stayed in Boston? If Schilling had stuck around who knows what would have happened with Clemens and the Sox/Jays/Yanks. Delusions of Schilling and Martinez leading the Sox to titles is all fantasy.
Division crowns, back before the wild card, were the only way to the playoffs. I would never undo that trade.
But the result was very poor for those teams, swept out both times. The potential for Schilling to be a dominant force for the Red Sox in the mid 1990s is realistic enough for me. Clemens don’t forget was the guy who got Schilling going as far as work ethic and becoming an elite pitcher. Who’s to say working under the Rocket wouldn’t have accelerated Schilling’s timetable?
It’s all speculation. But I would trade two ALCS sweeps for the potential of a Clemens-Schilling rotation…
The worst trade by the Red Sox would be and still is Sparky Lyle. For several seasons after the trade, they had close runs at the pennant but blew close leads. They could have went to minimum, MINIMUM, 3 more World Series, and possibly won three more.
To keep this on a positive note, can you imagine where the Sox would be without the Slocumb for Lowell/Varitek trade?
That should be Lowe/Varitek. My mind is still on the previous post, apparently…
I’m sincerely curious: How do you know that Gormon was totally ignorant of his lower-level farm system? Is that well-established? And by whom?
I don’t know that for a fact. There’s long been a tale in Boston that Gorman basically looked at the minor league stats, picked a player on a list that had a decent average and not much power, and sent him to Houston. There’s also a component to the story (fable?) that Gorman never saw Bagwell play in person, not once. Even though he was in New Britain at the time, only 2 hours from Boston. Incidentally, New Britain (the old park – they replaced it 10 years ago) was famous for being a terrible hitters’ park, which is probably why Bagwell had no power numbers at the time of his trade. I will dig for the backup on this story, if indeed it is true.
Nick, here’s a long piece by Rob Neyer – the myths I cite don’t really come up specifically, though it’s very clear that Gorman didn’t know much about Bagwell at all. Still digging.
The Boddicker deal depends on whether you look at it with hindsight. Brady Anderson looked like a platoon type of player at the time, good glove, so so with the bat, good speed. Throw out his juiced years, and that is all he was. Schill really wasn’t looking like a future great at all. He showed talent, but was immature and undisciplined. I didn’t think it was a bad deal. Now the Bagwell trade…I hated it at the time, and it only got worse. Bagwell looked like a solid player for the future; I don’t think many thought he might be a hall of famer, but a good player for sure. To trade him for a rent-a-player was stupid. I didn’t think the Sox were all that good, the AL East was just down at that point, and just didn’t match up with Oakland at all.
Yeah, I agree, Tom. The Boddicker trade is certainly defensible. But knowing what we know — particularly the role Clemens had in kicking Schilling’s rear in gear, I’d take it back… (Anderson is the most egregious stats-only case for steroid use I’ve ever seen; good riddance to him). Bagwell for Andersen? Yeah, as Neyer’s article makes clear… A lot of people except Lou Gorman knew Bagwell was something special… *sigh*
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