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Thread: 8TH DARKEST DAY: HOW NOT TO TRADE AN ICON

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    Director of Minor League Reports rico43's Avatar
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    8TH DARKEST DAY: HOW NOT TO TRADE AN ICON





    THE 10 WORST DAYS IN ATLANTA BRAVES HISTORY

    AUGUST 2, 1990
    No. 8: THE MURPHY DEAL: OR, HOW NOT TO TRADE AN ICON


    The timing was right to deal Atlanta Braves’ icon and two-time MVP Dale Murphy in December of 1989. But the spirit, especially that of general manager Bobby Cox, wasn’t – to the Braves’ long-lasting regret.

    The rebuilding of the Braves that began in the 1990 off-season, could have had a big push more than a year earlier had Cox pulled the trigger on any number of deals that were just sitting there, awaiting his approval. Actually, there were a half-dozen valid, confirmed offers just for the 32-year-old slugger, who in 1989 failed to be an all-star for the first time in seven seasons. His average fell 50 points and his homer total went from 44 to 24, but he was projected as still the prize catch of the Winter Baseball Meetings.

    He eluded them all.

    The alarming dropoff, in Cox’s mind, meant he need help, not a new Zip code. But his fatal flaw as a g.m. was a reluctance to pull the trigger, even when a deal was heavily in the Braves’ favor. Even thought previous p.r. disasters Len Barker and Ozzie Virgil were still fresh wounds, coming home from the 1988 Winter Meetings was particularly damming.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates offered shortstop Felix Fermin, a pitcher and a choice of outfielders R.J. Reynolds or Gary Redus for shortstop Andres Thomas. Cox would not do any deal that did not include promising outfielder Barry Bonds.

    The Expos were prepared to deal for either Thomas or Jeff Blauser, but Cox was adamant about receiving third baseman Tim Wallach in the swap.

    The Mets, however, were the team everybody expected to act. They did – offering outfielder Lenny Dykstra and versatile Howard Johnson for Murphy. Cox wanted four players, including infielder Keith Miller and pitcher David West. It was West, a young lefty, that was the deal breaker.

    “Why would I trade West before he’s even pitched a year in the big leagues?” asked an incredulous Mets manager, Davey Johnson. “In a year from now, you might receive a bundle for him alone. … We’re not going to give them a whole team.

    So Cox came home with Murphy still, to his surprise, with the Braves. The what ifs in this deal are heartbreaking: instead, Dykstra and Roger McDowell would instead by sent to the Phillies in midseason for Juan Samuel; "Nails" would go on to be a three-time all-star in Philly. HoJo would earn all-star status for the Mets in 1989 and 1991, finishing fifth in the MVP voting each year. He went to the Rockies as a free agent in 1994.

    David West? The “package” he would bring was on the Mets’ side – he, Rick Aguilera, Kevin Tapani, Jack Savage and Tim Drummond went to the Twins for Frank Viola before the 1990 season. West was 0-2 with a 7.40 ERA at the time of the deal, but would go on to play for 10 seasons.

    As the 1988 season approached, Murphy even asked the Braves that, should he be traded, that it be in spring training. He knew, at least, that the Braves had no interest in re-signing him as a free agent at year’s end. Instead, the deal with the Phillies went down very awkwardly a full 20 months later, on August 9, 1988.

    It was deal Murph could have vetoed, but it was time to go: the Braves received a spectacularly mediocre haul in pitcher Jeff Parrett and players to be named. They would wind up being outfielder Jim Vatcher, who had exactly four MLB RBIs when he changed teams, and minor league infielder Victor Rosario. Making matters worse was that the Braves included right-hander Tommy Greene in the deal. Greene would go on two have two huge seasons for the Phillies, including a 16-4 season in 1993 that was capped by a win over the Braves in the playoffs. Rosario would play only nine games for the Braves, while Vatcher was waived at the end of the season.

    While Parrett said all of the right things, he was 4-9 when he was traded and saw little action before he was released following the 1989 season.

    Murphy, finished the year on an upbeat note, hitting .272 with the Phillies, and as a result received a two-year, $5 million deal to stay in Philly. But the Murphys never took a residence there. He stayed in spacious guest quarters at an airport hotel, and had his leased vehicle vandalized.

    But that’s not the worst of it...

    Murphy’s Atlanta homecoming, thanks to the randomness of the NL schedule, did not take place until June 4, 1991, with Tom Glavine on the mound. After showering their icon with gifts before the game, the Braves, well into their worst-to-first turnaround, won the game 9-6, but not before there was a bench-clearing brawl when Wally Ritchie hit Otis Nixon with a pitch. Thankfully, Murphy was already out of the game due to a double switch and in the locker room when things erupted.

    But when the teams met again in Philadelphia two weeks later, tempers were far from cooled. In the ninth inning of Glavine’s next outing against them, Phillies reliever Roger McDowell(!) drilled Nixon in the ninth inning. Glavine, in control of the game, still knew he had to retaliate against the Phillies’ first batter the following inning.

    Dale Murphy.

    In one of the most awkward sequences anyone ever saw in a MLB game, Glavine threw inside on four straight pitches – each of which was looping nothing ball – allowed Murphy to avoid being hit, but it wasn’t enough for Glavine to avoid being ejected.

    “Everybody felt awkward. Tommy and Bobby and me,” Murphy said. “But it was one of those baseball things, doing what you have to do.”





    Howard Johnson and Lenny Dykstra celebrate their being dealt to the Atlanta Braves on the eve of their historic playoff run. No, wait ...



    That would be THIS guy, Jeff Parrett.
    Last edited by rico43; 04-27-2016 at 10:48 PM.

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    It's OVER 5,000! striker42's Avatar
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    Tommy Greene being included in that deal was baffling. It would be like including Aaron Blair with Nick Markakis in a trade for spare parts.

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    Expects Yuge Games nsacpi's Avatar
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    Sentimentality carries a price.
    Last edited by nsacpi; 04-27-2016 at 10:20 AM.

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    A Chip Off the Old Rock Julio3000's Avatar
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    The Glavine story is a nice cherry on top of that **** sundae.

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    Anytime Now Frankie...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julio3000 View Post
    The Glavine story is a nice cherry on top of that **** sundae.
    Awesome work with these Rico.

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    I can't really get too upset about this one considering what happened just two years later, and for the next 15 seasons. Would the missed opportunities have won us that one extra game in the playoffs in '91, '92, or '93? Probably not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by striker42 View Post
    Tommy Greene being included in that deal was baffling. It would be like including Aaron Blair with Nick Markakis in a trade for spare parts.
    Or like trading Aaron Blair as an extra piece in a trade for Shelby Miller.

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    Danville Rookie
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    Here's a great video of Murph telling the story of when Glavine tried to bean him with a 40 mph changeup in '91.

    Last edited by FreemanFan; 04-27-2016 at 09:49 PM.

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    Great work, but the editor in me thinks the 1998 Winter Meetings you reference were actually held in 1988.

    Truly Cox's biggest blunder as GM. The Murphy trade was bad enough without the inclusion of Greene. You were a lot closer to this than those of us watching from a distance in the pre-internet era, but everything I've read is that the Mets' reluctance about not including West was the stumbling block. Funny thing is that I remember in Baseball America back around that time, every time West and Glavine pitched in the same league (not often), West was always ranked higher in the prospect rankings.

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    Awaiting a Promotion chipchildress's Avatar
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    great story rico. i had forgotten or blocked out a lot of that, although it's hard to complain with winning division titles forever and ever pretty much right after that.

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    if my thought dreams could be seen goldfly's Avatar
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    Nice post


    Got to meet him when I was a kid at spring training when he was with the Phillies.
    "If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin. It is a very great mistake to imagine that the object of loyalty is the authority and interest of one individual man, however dignified by the applause or enriched by the success of popular actions. Samuel Adams

    "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act" George Orwell

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