Pirates' Trade History Is So-So in 20th Century

By Biertempfel, Rob | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 24, 2010 | Go to article overview

Pirates' Trade History Is So-So in 20th Century


Biertempfel, Rob, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


What was the Pirates' best trade of the 20th Century?

Was it when they swiped Andy Van Slyke, Mike LaValliere and Mike Dunne from the Cardinals? Bobby Bonilla from the White Sox? Brian Giles from the Indians?

How about when they fleeced the Indians and got ... Gene Woodling?

According to author Doug Decatur, the Pirates were involved in 18 of the top 200 most lopsided trades of the 20th Century. In 11 of those swaps, the Pirates got the worst end of the deal.

In his book "Traded," Decatur rates the 306 most lopsided trades from 1901 to 2000. He bases his rankings on "win shares" (a stat created by Bill James to determine how many wins a player contributes to his team) and the future value of the players involved.

The Pirates' two best trades were when they acquired Woodling and Giles. Those deals were ranked Nos. 65 and 66, respectively.

Woodling, an outfielder, played in just 21 games with the Pirates in 1947 before being dealt to the Yankees. To get Woodling, Pirates general manager Roy Hamey gave Cleveland catcher Al Lopez, who retired after playing just 61 games in 1947.

According to Decatur, the trade netted the Pirates 74 victories. Woodling went on to a 17-year career and six times earned votes for the American League MVP. Lopez went into the Hall of Fame in 1977 ... as a manager.

The Pirates robbed the Indians again 22 years later, when GM Cam Bonifay got Giles in exchange for lefty Ricardo Rincon. This deal netted the Pirates 74 wins.

"A decent everyday outfielder is always going to be worth more than a decent left-handed reliever," Decatur wrote. "This trade was lopsided from day one."

The Pirates' worst trade was sending Willie Randolph, Dock Ellis and Ken Brett to the Yankees in 1976 in exchange for Doc Medich. Decatur ranks it the 22nd-most lopsided deal, with the Yankees gaining 317 win shares.

Decatur already has begun mulling trades of the 21st Century. A top contender for the worst is the 2003 deal which sent Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton to the Cubs for Jose Hernandez, Bobby Hill and Matt Bruback. Chicago gained 147 win shares.

The Bucs' microbucks

The Pirates' Opening Day payroll should be around $40 million, which will rank among the half-dozen lowest in the majors.

The figure would have been even tinier if not for the additions of Akinori Iwamura (whose $4.85 million salary is tops on the team), Octavio Dotel ($3.25 million), Ryan Church ($1.5 million), Bobby Crosby ($1 million) and Brendan Donnelly ($1.35 million). Also, Zach Duke recently got to a $4.3 million contract, nearly doubling what he earned last season.

Having a minuscule payroll year after year is what got the Florida Marlins in trouble recently with MLB and the players' union. …

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