Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Three Trades Both Teams Lost

Tonight, millions of sports fans around the country will sit down to enjoy Game 1 of this year's World Series between the Colorado Rockies of Jesus and the Everyone Hates Boston Red Sox. Given the disparity in the two teams' history, payroll, and fanbase, most of the focus during the telecast is going to be on the differences between the clubs.
But that focus overlooks the odd bond between the Rox and Sox: they have partnered in exactly three trades, all of which qualify as among the most pointless in major league history. We here at the GRBG are nothing if not completists, so we thought we'd break these dispensible trades down in unnecessary detail. Onward!

1) July 27, 2000: Colorado trades Rolando Arrojo, Rich Croushore, Mike Lansing, and cash to the Red Sox for Jeff Frye, Brian Rose, John Wasdin, and Jeff Taglienti (minors).
So the biggest name in that trade is . . . Rolando Arrojo, I guess? And that's really just because he was the Jose Contreras of his time, drawing a lot of interest when he came over to the States after defecting from Cuba. Let's briefly run down the post-trade feats of each player, shall we?

  • Rolando Arrojo: Immediately after the trade, started 13 games for the Sox, putting up an ERA of 5.05 while the Sox fell from 2.5 GB to 9 GB in a span of 6 weeks. Pitched two more seasons out of the bullpen and was out of baseball after 2002.
  • Rich Croushore: I have been a Red Sox fan all my life, and I have never heard of this pinwheel. Threw 4.2 innings for the Sox, and never played in the big leagues again. Last seen selling crop insurance outside of Alliance, Nebraska (maybe).
  • Mike Lansing: Put up an unfathomable line of .194 /.230/.223 for the rest of the '00 season. For the sabermetrically inclined, that works out to an OPS+ of 14, meaning he was 86% less valuable than the average major league hitter. Or, looked at another way, only 14% more effective at the plate than a cadaver would have been, with arguably less range than the cadaver in the field. Sox fans hated him at a near-Jack Clarkian level.
  • Jeff Frye: Actually played pretty well for Colorado after the trade, but was not re-signed, and was out of the majors after the '01 season. The major career event on his wikipedia page? "On August 31, 2001 at a game in the SkyDome, aphids were in the ballpark causing him to wear a mask on his face for the whole game." While that's an ignominious way to be remembered, it does make him smarter than Joba Chamberlain.
  • Brian Rose: One of the many, many failed Red Sox pitching prospects to come along between Clemens and Papelbon. Appeared in all of 12 games for Colorado.

  • John Wasdin: Still referred to by Red Sox fans as either "Way Back" Wasdin or "White Flag" Wasdin. Pictured at right in his Yomiuri Giants uniform. 'Nuff said.

2) December 19, 2001: Colorado trades Pokey Reese to the Red Sox for Scott Hatteberg.

Arguably the single most pointless trade in MLB history, as on December 21, 2001, just two days after the trade was made, both Reese and Hatteberg were released by their new employers.

Reese was released because the Red Sox belatedly realized that they did not want to risk going to arbitration with him. Hatteberg was released because . . . well, I don't know frankly. Still, when a trade results in an aggregate zero games played and 4 days of service time for its participants, it can pretty safely be characterized as dispensible, even if each player subsequently gained a measure of fame (Hatteberg for his portrayal in "Moneyball"; Reese for his status as mascot on the 2004 WS champion Red Sox).

3) March 30, 2005: Boston trades Byun-Hyung Kim and cash to the Rockies for Charles Johnson and Chris Narveson.

Ah yes, the day Theo took poor B-H Kim out back behind the barn for tea, sympathy, and a shotgun blast to the nape of the neck. Kim gets a bad rap for his late-season failings in Boston in '03; Grady Little pretty much wore Kim's arm down to a nub because he didn't trust any of his other relievers. Perhaps unsurpisingly, then, Kim was never an above-average pitcher in 2.5 years with Colorado.

Showing the increase in their internal efficiency under the Epstein regime, the Sox released Charles Johnson on the same day he was acquired, lowering the Reese record by two days. Narveson also never played for the Sox.

* * *

So there you have it: three trades, involving 12 players, that yielded a total of about 8 remarkably undistinguished seasons. If that history is any indication, this year's World Series will have the entertainment value of a Princeton-Georgetown football game, and possibly comparable ratings as well. Let's all pray these teams think of something else to do over the next 10 days other than play Pass the Trash.

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