Best Recent Trade Deadline Swaps

ALSO: EX-MET JOHN VALENTIN SAYS MADDUX WAS TOUGHEST OF BRAVES' TRIO

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Pregame Pepper

Did You Know?

The pitching matchup of Nathan Eovaldi (Red Sox) and Jameson Taillon (Yankees) last Saturday was a rare pairing of pitchers who both had two Tommy John surgeries . . .

Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins have signed Andy Pettitte’s son . . .

The feeling persists that San Diego didn’t surrender that much in acquiring All-Star Adam Frazier from the Pittsburgh Pirates . . .

Ken Griffey, Jr. won the first Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game, in 1998, and two more later in his career . . .

Fellow Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson, the master of twisted syntax, once said of a struggling hitter, “He wants to do so good so bad.”

Leading Off

Best Recent Trade Deadline Trades

By John Supowitz

As we're just days away from the trade deadline, teams are going to make a push to improve their clubs for their playoff run. Some trades that have come at this ;late date have made a massive impact and set the course for years. Here are a couple of trades before August 1st that were very successful:

  • The Philadelphia Phillies send Curt Schilling to the Arizona Diamondbacks for prospects in 2000.

The fairly new Diamondbacks decided to send off four prospects to Philadelphia. A couple of those prospects would have some success for the Phillies, including Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla, but Arizona would be the clear winners of this deal.

With Randy Johnson and Schilling atop the rotation, Arizona would go on to beat the heavily-favored three-peated New York Yankees with a dramatic walk-off base-hit by Luis Gonzalez

  • The Oakland Athletics send Matt Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals for prospects in 2009.

Holliday's stint in Oakland would be short-lived, as he was acquired in the previous off-season from Colorado and played just 93 games for A's.

The prospect the Athletics would get in return made a little mark in the majors, but Holliday would become a beloved player in St. Louis, including four All-Star appearances and a World Series title. 

  • The San Diego Padres trade Fred McGriff to the Atlanta Braves for prospects in 1993.

The Crime Dog would be coming off his first All-Star appearance and a Silver Slugger Award award the previous season when the Padres would ship him off the Braves.

None of the prospects in return would make an impact in San Diego, but McGriff would be a three-time All-Star and help Atlanta catch a World Series title in 1995.

  • Red Sox acquire Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek from the Mariners for Heathcliff Slocumb in 1997.

This trade would take some time to pan out, but for the Red Sox, it really did. 

Boston would send its closer, who had 5.79 ERA at the time, to Seattle, where he would play a little better after the trade, then spend one more year there.

Lowe would be a two-time All-Star and 20-game winner for Boston while Varitek would become captain of the Red Sox during his 15 seasons. Both would play important roles in Boston's future success.

  • The Cincinnati Reds trade Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals for prospects in 2015. 

The Royals were on a quest to return to the World Series after losing to the Giants the previous year.

Kansas City knew it was Cueto’s walk year but pulled the trigger anyway. He did not pitch well for Kaycee during the regular season but threw a complete game in the World Series to help the Royals win the title.

John Supowitz is a graduate with a Master's degree in Sports Journalism from Quinnipiac University. He is a baseball writer for Prime Time Sports Talk and a Game Operations Producer for the Colorado Rockies AA affiliate Hartford Yard Goats. Reach him at johnsupowitz@gmail.com.

Cleaning Up

John Valentin Says Greg Maddux Was Toughest Of Atlanta’s Cooperstown Troika

By Dan Schlossberg

David Cone, who pitched for both New York teams, lends his name to an annual golf tournament, sports memorabilia auction, and dinner held at the Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, NJ. Founded 30 years ago by blind sportscaster Ed Lucas, the event raises money for handicapped people who have also lost their sight.

This year’s festivities featured more than 30 sports celebrities, including Darryl Strawberry, Willie Randolph, and umpire Al Clark.

But my favorite encounter of the night occurred around the cocktail table, when I stumbled into a conversation with John Valentin, who spent 11 years in the big leagues as a hard-hitting infielder.

A former Seton Hall standout whose college teammates included Craig Biggio and Mo Vaughn, Valentin hit .279 with 124 homers in a career that spanned the years 1992-2002.

In 1995, his best season, the shortstop-third baseman hit 27 home runs and stole 20 bases for Boston, earning him a ninth-place finish in the voting for American League Most Valuable Player.

But it was his last season, 2002, that interested me most. He spent that year with the New York Mets, enabling him to have frequent encounters with Atlanta’s Hall of Fame pitching legends Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.

The only trio of teammates from the same rotation who spent a decade together en route to Cooperstown, they put dents in the batting averages of many big-league stars.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to ask Valentin which one he found toughest to hit.

“Smoltz had great stuff and could blow you away,” he said, “while Glavine pitched you outside, then went further outside, and even further outside.

“But Maddux could put the ball anywhere he wanted. He had the best control I ever saw.”

The statistics back the former infielder’s analysis. Maddux won 355 games, more than any living pitcher, and Glavine posted 305, thanks to five 20-win seasons. Smoltz was the only pitcher with more than 200 wins and 150 saves.

Maddux, Glavine, and their long-time Atlanta manager, Bobby Cox, reached Cooperstown in 2014 while Smoltz, now an MLB Network regular, was enshrined a year later. Smoltz, Cox, and pitching coach Leo Mazzone (who also belongs in Cooperstown) were the only men to wear Atlanta uniforms throughout the team’s record 14-year streak of division titles.

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is weekend editor of Here’s The Pitch and contributor to forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Ball Nine, and more. His e.mail is ballauthor@gmail.com

Timeless Trivia

Assuming a bad outcome, the Dodgers cancelled Trevor Bauer’s Aug. 19 bobblehead night and removed all of his merchandise from team stores . . .

Before Oakland traded him to Miami, promising pitcher Jesus Luzardo broke his pinkie playing video games . . .

Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis was the last to end segregated seating policies — after Satchel Paige threatened not to play in a heavily-advertised 1941 exhibition game . . .

What a comedown for Matt Williams, who has gone from manager of the Washington Nationals to manager of the Kia Tigers in South Korea . . .

Reggie Jackson once needed shoulder surgery after sustaining an injury while pitching batting practice . . .

Even with Joey Gallo in pinstripes, the inability of the Yankees to beat the Red Sox this year will keep them out of the playoffs.


Know Your Editors

HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [bchrom831@gmail.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [nymfan97@gmail.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [ballauthor@gmail.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.

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