The Most Inexplicable Trade Ever?

The Vernon Wells trade elicits a wide variety of reactions, as best shown by the amazingly awesome word clouds created by Sam Miller, but if I were to use just one word to sum up the trade, it would probably be “inexplicable”. This isn’t one of those moves where there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the coin – this is the kind of deal where it is almost unanimous that the Blue Jays took the Angels to the cleaners. No matter how hard you squint to try to find positives in Wells’ game, it’s still just a complete head-scratcher that the Angels would agree to take on a contract that size for a player of his abilities. This deal got me thinking – when was the last time there was this kind of near-unanimous reaction to a trade? In short, is this the most inexplicable deal in recent history?

I polled our writing staff over the weekend for comparable “what on earth are they doing?” trades, and here were the three that I’d consider most inexplicable.

3. Cliff Lee for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and J.C. Ramirez

This one gets an asterisk due to the fact that, while a separate transaction, it was essentially part of a larger plan that included the Phillies acquiring Roy Halladay and signing him to a below market extension. Getting the best pitcher in baseball, and then getting him signed to a team-friendly contract on top of that, softened the blow of a deal that otherwise made no sense.

While Ruben Amaro‘s rationalization was that he couldn’t neglect his farm system after trading a crop of good prospects for Halladay, the majority opinion was that the prospects that the Phillies got back weren’t all that special to begin with, and that they would have been better off just stacking Halladay and Lee together. Of course, the Phillies ended up doing just that by signing Lee this winter, so Amaro’s decision will end up looking like a lapse in judgment that only cost his team one year of Lee’s services. The deal was weird, and not a good idea, but the actual cost of losing Lee for one season doesn’t begin to approach the cost that the Angels just absorbed by taking on Wells’ deal.

2. Bartolo Colon for Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Grady Sizemore.

While it’s easy to look back in hindsight on prospect-for-rental deals that didn’t work out all that well for the team surrendering young talents who turned out to be stars, this deal was nutty from the start. Colon was a good-not-great starter whose performance didn’t match his stuff, and the Expos were just 40-36 when they made the deal, seven games behind the first place Braves and six games behind the wild-card leading Diamondbacks. They had allowed more runs than they had scored and had won just 68 games the year before, so there weren’t a ton of reasons to expect the team to go on a tear and chase down the teams in front of them.

And yet, despite some long odds of making the playoffs and Colon’s impending free agency, Omar Minaya decided to surrender Phillips, Lee, and Sizemore to try and make a run at a post-season berth. Prior to the season, Baseball America had ranked Phillips as the 20th best prospect in the game, while Sizemore had been rated as the organization’s third best prospect, with Lee coming in 11th on the same list. But Lee was experiencing a breakout season, and on the 2003 version of the list, he ranked as the 30th best prospect in baseball. Phillips moved up to #7 on that list, by the way.

The Expos essentially surrendered two premium prospects and a highly thought of 19-year-old for three months of Colon’s pitching. In terms of deadline deals, it is the classic example of why teams need to do a cost-benefit analysis before deciding to just “go for it”. But there were extenuating circumstances, as the Expos were candidates for contraction and the future of the team was in doubt. While Minaya should have been more cautious with the organization’s future, there were legitimate doubts about whether the franchise would still exist by the time Phillips, Lee, and Sizemore were ready to contribute. While it was a bad deal for the Expos, there was at least some justification for the attempt to win now.

1. Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir.

Two years later, the Mets made an even more stunning deadline deal to acquire pitching help for the stretch run. Well, they tried to acquire pitching help, anyway. Instead, they ended up with Victor Zambrano, who could only be described as lousy. His numbers at the time the Mets traded for him – 6.75 BB/9, 7.66 K/9, 45.2% GB%, 5.42 xFIP. He fluked his way into a not-awful-but-still-not-great 4.37 ERA for half a season, but Zambrano was simply not a good pitcher.

He also wasn’t healthy. Due to a bum elbow, he would make just three starts for the Mets the rest of the season, throwing a grand total of 14 innings. For the right to have a bad pitcher sit on the disabled list, the Mets surrendered Scott Kazmir, their best prospect and one of the game’s best young arms at the time. Before the season, BA had rated him as the 12th best prospect in the game, and it promoted him to seventh on the same list the following year.

The reaction to the deal was almost total outrage from Mets fans and uniform glee from Rays fans, similar to what we’ve seen in Anaheim and Toronto over the weekend. But while the Mets sold Kazmir for pennies on the dollar, he was a pretty risky asset to begin with. Twenty-year-old pitching prospects have dramatically high attrition rates, and the Mets had reasons to be concerned that he wouldn’t live up to the hype.

Victor Wang’s research on prospect valuation in 2008 estimated that a top 10 pitching prospect was worth about $16 million in value, less than half of what a top 10 hitting prospect was worth. While they were surrendering a lot of potential with Kazmir, they were also moving an asset who had a high probability of producing little to no long term value. Even if we assume that Zambrano had no value himself, the loss of Kazmir only set the Mets back by an amount equivalent to about four months of Vernon Wells’ paycheck.

That’s why I’m forced to conclude that the deal the Angels made on Friday is the most inexplicable trade we’ve seen in recent history. This deal is worse than the Lee trade, worse than the Colon deal, and yes, even worse than the infamous Zambrano-Kazmir swap. The long term cost to the Angels franchise will be felt for years, and we may eventually look back at this deal as one of the worst trades of all time.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

226 Responses to “The Most Inexplicable Trade Ever?”

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  1. Lee says:

    “The Most Inexplicable Trade Ever?”

    Yep.

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  2. Cliff says:

    Inexplicable is too kind a word to use.

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  3. Renegade says:

    The Tex-Atlanta swap was pretty bad no? Anyways yeah this trade is horrible for the Angels. I still dont understand how AA got them to take on the entire contract.

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    • Seattleite says:

      In retrospect, yeah, that was pretty bad for the Braves. But I don’t think it was considered to be nearly as bad as these at the time it was made. Texeira was legitimately considered to be one of the best bats in the game (and they got him for a year and a half). In these trades there was almost no value (or negative value) moving in one direction.

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    • bsally says:

      Pretty bad but nowhere close. Saltalamacchia was the centerpiece and was never going to play ahead of McCann. I’ve never been a huge fan of Andrus-to be honest I’d be surprised if he’s ever more than a 3-3.5 win player. A wOBA under .300 is pretty terrible. And the Braves have better pitchers than Feliz in their system.

      Plus they got Teixeira for 1.5 years. They overpaid but given their organizational depth it’s nowhere near as bad a trade as this one.

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      • deadpool says:

        I think there’s a presumption that when JS had a hand in a deal that were the Braves trade prospects that there’s some greater foresight involved than other deals.

        Tex was the best player on the market at the time, bar none, and the Braves were only just in the process of being sold, so nobody knew that Liberty wouldn’t even try to re-sign him.

        I don’t know that they could have gotten Tex for less than they offered, and looking back you can see the Braves thought process pretty clearly. They had to give up X amount of value, and so they made it up with largely players they felt they could do without. If Escobar hadn’t imploded then his value would probably have stayed consistently as good as Andrus, McCann was blocking Salty and neither could really carry first base, Harrison was getting passed by other prospects on a monthly basis. Feliz is really the only blue chipper the Braves gave up that looked to have a future with the organization. While its true that the Braves might have gotten more value by making a series of more even trades, the only real hole in their lineup at the time was first base.

        Looking at the trade like that, the question you have to ask is whether they could have gotten Tex for less? I don’t think so, and they did a good job of minimizing the damage. There, explicable. You don’t have to agree with me, I’m just pointing out that there’s a logical argument behind the move.

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    • Rich Hudzinski says:

      Taking on the entire contract for a team that can absorb the hit is not a bad idea if you need a good outfielder. The bizarre and crazy part is mainly giving two solid reserve/starting players along with the financial burden, which the Angels can easily afford.

      The most that Toronto should have gotten for a team willing to free them of the biggest burden in their franchises history was Scott KAZMIR, or a Single A Right handed pitcher with an ERA just under 5.00, or a Single A hitter with a BA just above .200. Losing 41 HR’s from RIVERA & NAPOLI alone give Toronto the edge.

      On the positive side with WELLS, HUNTER, & BOURJOS, the Angels have the best defensive outfield in baseball. The 60-70 Home Runs they should hit ain’t bad either.

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      • Rose colored glasses says:

        Best OF defense in baseball? You’re kidding, right? You could make the case that they will be third best in their DIVISION behind Oakland and Seattle. That is, unless you are handing them out based on GG totals.

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      • Jason B says:

        “the Angels have the best defensive outfield in baseball.”

        False.

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      • quincy0191 says:

        @Rose:

        You could make a case for Texas too if they put Hamilton back in LF and play Borbon in center. Nelson Cruz is no slouch and Hamilton’s a good defensive LF. Those three were Texas’ best defensive players last year, with Hamilton trailing the other two at 6.8 UZR (but he was the best with 13.2 UZR/150).

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      • neo says:

        “the Angels have the best defensive outfield in baseball.”

        True.

        (coming from a NL man with no bias toward the angels or blue jays)

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      • Total Dominication says:

        The Yankees, Mariners, Red Sox and a number of other teams I too lazy to think of right now disagree.

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    • James C says:

      the Teixeira trade definitely came to mind. so did the Mariners Shin-Shoo Choo trade, Rangers Adrian Gonzalez/Chris Young trade, the Rangers John Danks trade, the Pirates Aramis Ramirez trade, the Blue Jays Michael Young trade, and the Giants Joe Nathan/Francisco Liriano trade. i also want to say the Dan Haren trade, but the Diamondbacks were lauded for that trade, at least at first.

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  4. Paytrick42 says:

    I am not as sure that we will look back on it like that, if only because some of the player for prospect deals have turned out shockingly badly… But in the category of trades judged using only what was known at the time… Well, Dave already nailed it. Holy bleep that was a bad trade.

    Something like -$50 million in expected value exchanged.

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    • Lee says:

      Yea, some deals look horrible in hindsight, and that’s sometimes a crapshoot, sometimes bad/good scouting, etc. It happens. This is just hilariously horrible and one sided, and everyone knows it as soon as it happened.

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  5. Steve says:

    The reaction to the deal was almost total outrage from Mets fans and uniform glee from Rays fans

    I disagree with this. The Rays had no fans in 2004.

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    • Sam says:

      “The reaction to the deal was almost total outrage from Mets fans and uniform glee from a Ray fan”

      Does that sound better?

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    • Jack Weiland says:

      What about that guy who always sat right behind home plate and yelled stuff all game, every game?

      Whatever happened to that guy? They stopped doing stories on him when the Rays started winning.

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      • SC2GG says:

        Maybe they actually had something else to talk about now.

        That guy especially loved Vernon Wells, too. I remember watching him on TV, and since the entire stadium was quiet as a ghost, he’d just be saying.. Verrrrrr-nonnnnn… Verrrrrr-nonnnnn… over and over again.

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      • Recalls the 'Heckler' says:

        I think I remember something that he was in the real estate development business (I think he wrote a small book or pamphlet about himself and heckling that I might have skimmed). Maybe he lost his shirt in the great condo/real estate crash and is no longer able to afford nice seats?

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      • Recalls the 'Heckler' says:

        Wikipedia says that in 2009 he was being sued for not paying on $9,000,000 of loans and that his residence was about to be foreclosed on….

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      • Jason B says:

        You found that guy on Wikipedia?! Damn EVERYONE has a page…

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      • joser says:

        Yeah, I was just thinking of that guy. It seems he picked one player from each team to be his focus: whenever the Mariners played in St Pete, you could hear “Ehhhhd…garrrrr!” echoing across the empty concrete.

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  6. rageon says:

    I think the Dodgers trading Piazza has to be up there, doesn’t it?

    And did anyone like the Diamondbacks side of the Haren trade? Haren was a great pitcher, but what they gave up was pretty over the top, even looking at it at the time.

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    • Steve says:

      True, but I think there is a difference between a “bad” trade and an “inexpliable” trade.

      The Haren trade was not inexplicable: they were dumping salary. Easy to explain, they just didn’t get enough.

      This trade just defies all logic from the Angels’ side.

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    • Joe R says:

      Angels won that trade, but I don’t think it was terrible for Arizona. Just poor.

      Nowhere near this faceplant the Angels just did.

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    • The Ancient Mariner says:

      Which Haren trade are you talking about? It sounds like you mean the deal in which they got him from Oakland, but that’s not how folks seem to be taking it.

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      • rageon says:

        Correct — Haren from Oakland to Arizon for CarGon, Anderson, Carter, Cunnginham, Eveland. I don’t have the exact rankings from various sources, but I believe the first 4 were all considered top 100 prospects at the time.

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      • Steve says:

        You’re right, re-reading that it’s clear you meant the Oakland/Ariz Haren trade. Sorry about that, misread.

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      • Lanidrac says:

        Haren’s been in a lot of lopsided trades. The one where he was part of the package Oakland got for Mark Mulder is generally considered Walt Jocketty’s worst trade as the Cardinals’ GM.

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      • Patrick says:

        I don’t see how you can qualify the Oakland/Arizona Dan Haren trade as “inexplicable”

        The Diamondbacks added a young All-Star, a front of the rotation starter to a young team coming off of a playoff berth.

        Though the teams he played for underachieved, Haren certainly pitched well while wearing a Diamondback uniform.


        Basically I’m saying that if a cheap young player that’s traded for continues to perform at an all star level, it’s nearly impossible to define the teams move as “inexplicable”


        If I’m a Diamondbacks fan I’d rue giving Eric Byrnes 30 million a lot more than I’d rue shipping out CarGo, Chris Carter, Carlos Quintin, or any of the other young talent they shipped out that offseason.

        The team had a glut of talented young OFers and they traded some away to acquire a young pitcher who pitched very well for them.

        That is not inexplicable.

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    • Seattleite says:

      The Dodgers got Gary Sheffield in the Piazza trade. For the three years after the trade, the WAR between the two players was shockingly close ~ 15.8 for Piazza and 15.7 for Sheffield.

      I think the Dodgers also took on salary with Bobby Bo and Charles Johnson (who was pretty good at that point in time as well), but I don’t remember how much and am not looking it up.

      As a Dodger fan, I still think it was a terrible trade, but I don’t think it’s close to the trades highlighted by Dave.

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      • Jack Weiland says:

        “and I am not looking it up”

        hahhaha I feel that. So much.

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      • rageon says:

        I remember thinking at the time that it was essentially Piazza for Johnson, with the Dodogers “signing” Sheffield at his salary. The reason I thoguht it was crazy at the time was that They sold it as Piazza for Johnson/Sheff, when they probably could have just taken Sheffield from the Marlins for nothing, as no one wanted him at the price he was being paid.

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    • AA says:

      The Dodgers trading Piazza was a bad trade for bad reasons (FOX wanted a TV deal), but at least the Dodgers got several years of Gary Sheffield’s prime out of it.

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  7. Boo Radley says:

    Do you mean inexplicable Trade Ever at the time of the trade or aftewards?

    I’ve always been a fan of the Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell trade myself.

    or, John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander.

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    • Steve says:

      Smoltz for Alexander was not inexplicable. The Tigers were renting an arm for the stretch run. It’s just that the prospect they gave up happened to hit paydirt. That happens sometimes. They were trading future value for present value. Not a good trade, but not inexplicable.

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      • Boo Radley says:

        At the time of the trade it made some sense, Dolye helped that team make it to the playoffs and went something like 10-1 or 11 – 1 I think. But the point of my question, was that looking at that trade now, how much more value did Atlanta get then Detriot. That trade, with perfect hindsight, is completely lopsided.

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      • bsally says:

        I don’t think that anyone is arguing that it WASN’T lopsided, but there is a clear reason why Detroit chose to make the trade that had at least some justification. This Wells deal is in a league of its own-for the life of me I can’t comprehend what the Angels are thinking here.

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    • Randy says:

      If I recall, the Anderson/Bagwell trade was because Lou Gorman (then GM) wanted to improve his bullpen for the playoffs, and they had a 3B at the time that looked to own the position for the near future (Boggs.) So they traded a solid chip with no home for a veteran rental. Bad, indeed, but not inexplicable.

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  8. Albert lang says:

    What about the Orioles shipping Pete Harnisch, Steve Finley and Curt Schilling for bad back Glenn Davis?

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    • Bill says:

      If we were talking about the worst trades made looking back this would apply, but (for the thousandth time) the article is about the most inexplicable trades. The O’s shipped three decent (but not great) prospects for one of the better hitting first basemen in the NL. The O’s were soon to move into a new ballpark and they were seeking to look at least half way competent while trying to build excitement in the team. It was a bad trade, but it was easily explainable. Davis hurt his back and Schill, Finley, and Harnish were all homeruns – it turned out poorly.

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      • Mark says:

        Actually, that Davis for Harnisch-Finley-Schilling was pretty inexplicable at the time. I was living in DC at the time, the Orioles had just come off a thrilling and unexpected pennant race in ’89, and this seemed like a classic overreach by the Orioles, trying to rush to greatness by making the classic mistake of thinking they were just “one player away” — while trading away 2 starters (Harnisch and Finely — Schilling was definitely the 3rd player in this deal). Davis was indeed a great hitter at the time, but into his 30′s, while the O’s had a very young team in the making. Turned out much worse than could have been expected, with Davis immediately getting hurt and not playing.

        So not inexplicable, but clearly a very very unwise move from the get-go. My favorite part is that Tom Boswell dubbed it the best trade in recent memory for the Orioles.

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  9. PTS says:

    They’re going to do an episode of CSI: SVU based on this trade.

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  10. But how about that Angels outfield D?

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  11. The Ancient Mariner says:

    Actually, thinking about it, in effect the Phillies only gave up the benefit of one *week* of Cliff Lee’s services — the week in which they lost in the postseason. Up to that point, they were pretty much where they would have been with him; the only might-have-been is how that series might have turned out with Cliff in the rotation.

    One other deal to mention that I thought was completely lunatic at the time was the 1990 August deadline deal in which the Red Sox gave up Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen. Yeah, so he had a 1.95 ERA at the time — he was still a middle reliever, he was something like a bazillion years old, and the Red Sox had a 6.5-game lead.

    I’ve always liked Bill James’ comment on this one that following winter: “You never know exactly how good a young player will be, but with some luck (for Bagwell) Lou Gorman will hear about the Bagwell trade until the day he dies. It could be one of those deals, like Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio, Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi and Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, that haunts the man who made it.” (That was the winter James projected Bagwell to hit .318 the coming year, higher than he projected Tony Gwynn or anyone else in the NL.)

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    • emmm says:

      The Bagwell/Anderson was already mentioned above smart guy.

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      • Bill says:

        Yes, but AM made it interesting and cited actual analysis of the trade. Boo provided no reason for his choice.

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      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        I know–it’s because I took so long writing, his comment went up while mine was in process. Most of us aren’t as perfect as you, alas.

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      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        And thanks, Bill. (Speaking of timing . . .)

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      • emmm says:

        Really bill you needed analysis of the trade to help decide if it was a good one? honestly what else do you need to hear except Bagwell for Larry Anderson? Good grief. and if it took you 7 minutes to type that up fine, I find that hard to believe that is correct. You simply didn’t read it above. lazy.

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      • Bill says:

        No, I didn’t need analysis of the Bagwell trade to know it was bad, but AM’s story from James was interesting and, in my opinion (and I would suspect others), makes the comment worthwhile. I liked it.

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      • emmm says:

        Bill = Ancient Mariner fan boy.

        Enjoy swinging from his nutz./

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      • Not David says:

        I always enjoy a clear act of douchebaggery to liven up a comments section.

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    • Nik says:

      Good point on Lee. Especially since Lee wasnt great against the Giants either. Team of destiny and whatnot.

      But yet again, if the Phils missed the playoffs by a game, the Lee trade would look much worse right now.

      Phils didnt get enough for Lee based on his value at that time, pure and simple, regardless of the eventual outcomes.

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      • Mark says:

        It’s worse than that on Lee — can’t say for sure of course, and as Nik points out he didn’t pitch well against the Giants in the WS, but not a really improbably counterfactual to say trading Lee cost the Phillies the World Series. Hard to compare that to the treasure the Angels have just given up, but if I were a Phils fan I’d be wondering that for the rest of my life.

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      • Azmanz says:

        Phils probably wouldn’t have gotten Oswalt if they had Lee and Halladay, and Oswalt was the only pitcher not to lose a game he started vs. the Giants (his loss came in relief)

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    • Jeff in So. Indiana says:

      Bagwell would’ve been a first-ballot HOFer if he had the Red Sox fanbase and saber-heads pushing him. Heck, they got Jim Rice in.

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      • Momus says:

        Jim Rice had an spectacular, Albert-Pujols-like, peak in 1977, 1978, 1979. His numbers were so good that even if he was as ham-fisted as Manny Ramirez in the field, he would still have to be considered one of the best players in baseball.

        During those years Rice averaged .320/.376/.596 with 41hr, 154 OPS+ and provided 17 WAR in three seasons.

        And then that was it. He never put up a season like those again. He was still a decent player, and had a few more very good seasons (esp. 1983, 1986) sprinkled in but it was mostly injuries and good but not great years.

        Perhaps the most telling stats for Rice are that while he produced 17 WAR in those three seasons he only produced 24.5 WAR in the rest of his 16 year career. Almost half of his career WAR value was in those 3 great years – the other 13 years he was a very average player.

        So while the Red Sox fan base certainly had a role in getting Jim Rice in the Hall I think it’s (very) safe to say the ‘saber-heads’ wanted nothing to do with pushing his HOF case.

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  12. Matt says:

    Looking back, as an Expos fan, I’m so glad we did that Colon deal. The hatred for Washington when the move first happened would have been much harder to deal with had they had Lee, Phillips, and Sizemore to help them out.

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  13. Brian says:

    7/31/2007 – San Francisco Giants traded Matt Morris to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Rajai Davis and Steve MacFarland.

    Matt Morris was clearly finished as an effective starting pitcher yet the Pirates paid all of $3 million he was owned for the remainder of 2007 and also took on the entire $9.5 million he was owed in 2008. He started 11 games for the Pirates at the end of 2007 and was released after 4 starts in 2008. In total the Pirates paid $12.5 million for 16 horrific appearances and gave up Rajai Davis for the privilege to do so.

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    • Rey22 says:

      That was pretty inexplicable, but a year and a half $13M mistake hurts way less than a 4 year $86M one.

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    • Steve says:

      Yes, I think this is a good one. The Pirates trading for Matt Morris was completely inexplicable. Maybe even more so than the Wells trade.

      The magnitude was not as bad, but at least the Angels might compete during the time that they will be paying Wells. The Pirates were just flushing money down a toilet.

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      • NBarnes says:

        I have to agree here. While the absolute value of the WTF was much lower, I have to say that I find the Pirates acquiring Morris to have far less rationale than the Angels acquiring Wells.

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    • erich says:

      ding ding ding i think we’ve got a worthy contender. there was simply no rationale for this move.

      production. while the wells money is probably better spent, the Angels are, in theory, a contending team with an OF need. Wells does solve that. the last place Pirates had no business acquiring a fourth starter, Morris, and agreeing to eat his salary. these two deals might produce some of the uglier WAR/dollar spent in the last decade, however, the impact on each franchise measured by opportunity cost might be far worse for the Bucs.

      think about it. not only was morris not making a bad team better 10 mil at a time, everyone knew that the money was almost certainly better spent in the draft. remember, a month later they drafted moskos–because he was cheap–passing on weiters, porcello, heyward for money reasons, plain and simple. even if you whiff on that pick…isn’t the draft where you want to be making those kinds of mistakes rather than deals for 10 mil/year 4th starters?

      the other thing that didn’t make sense was that the Pirates gave up a prospect. even if rajai davis never panned out, a bad team paying ALL the player’s salary AND giving up a prospect at the deadline? Huh? did they think that Matt Morris sells seats?

      there was no case for this move. truly inexplicable.

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    • matt w says:

      If you think of it as the Pirates trading Davis and Macfarland for Morris and the cluestick it took to get Dave Littlefield fired, the trade doesn’t look half bad.

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  14. Rey22 says:

    I think everyone’s disbelief when the trade was being first reported sums up their thoughts. Everyone was like, Toronto could kick in $50M and it would still be a pretty bad deal. They kicked in zero.

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  15. Detroit Michael says:

    You’ve convinced me that this is the most inexplicable recent MLB trade?

    Is it the most inexplicable transaction? I think the Barry Zito signing gives it competition. However, it seems to me that the knowledge about how to more accurately value a player is more widespread, that the Angels’ front office today should be expected to avoid extreme mistakes more than the Giants’ front office a few years ago when they signed Zito.

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  16. Dave I says:

    As Frank Costanza said to Steinbrenner: “What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?!?!”

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  17. Pat says:

    Mark Teixeira to Anaheim for Casey Kotchman and a minor leaguer who’s name is escaping me right now was a pretty pathetic deal. Kotchman might have had a little upside at that time, but Tex was pretty much the best bat on the market and Atlanta just gave him away. They would have been better off with the picks.

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    • TK says:

      Defenses for this trade:

      1. They were absolutely going to lose Tex and had no chance at the playoffs.
      2. They tried to get more for him, but no one was biting. It’s not like they took this deal instead of a better one.

      And while it doesn’t make up for losing Feliz and Andrus, the minor leaguer (Stephen Marek) at least looks like he’ll be in the Braves’ bullpen this year.

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    • AA says:

      Kotchman was much more highly thought of then, was a year removed from a very good season that would have probably been a just-below-elite (think Mark Grace) season had he not taken a Russell Martin pick off heater off his helmet. His OBP was down that year, but he was on a bit of a streak, hitting some home runs and keeping up a .300 avg. Marek was thought of as an upside guy with some heat.

      Given that the Braves had no chance to resign Teixiera, it was actually a good deal for them.

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    • Steve says:

      I don’t know, right after that trade, both Theo and Jack Z acquired Kotchman. Therefore, Kotchman must be an awesomely undervalued asset tand it is automatically a genius move upon acquiring him. QED.

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    • SomeBravesFan says:

      I’m pretty sure there was a lack of quality free agent first basemen (after Texeira) for the following year. The Braves got, at the least, a very solid glove to play the position after Tex left, which couldn’t have been gotten with the picks.

      We didn’t have anyone in the system either.

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  18. TwinsVet says:

    AJ for Nathan-Liriano wasn’t a bad one. But it’s another of those “for prospect” deals. Trade enough big-league talent for prospects, and these are bound to happen.

    What makes this deal so “inexplicable” is that minor leaguers were NOT included. “Prospective” talent wasn’t being dealt, wherein GM’s can say, “Oops, didn’t realize what we had I guess”. It’s pretty obvious to everyone the talent Anaheim gave up and acquired, and the price tags are clear. This deal is quantifiable in the present in all the ways that other candidate “inexplicable deals” are not.

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    • Azmanz says:

      Don’t forget Boof.

      I think the worst part is Piershitski didn’t even get offered arbitration (I think he was non-tendered) at the end of the year.

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      • Patrick says:

        Yeah, he was non-tendered at the end of the 2004 season.

        Though AJ had a solid season, posting a .272/.319/.410 line with 11 home runs and 77 RBI, he was non-tendered at the age of 27.

        This was because Giants pitchers took issue with AJ’s attitude. allegedly he refused to go over pre-game scouting reports with Brett Tomko because he was in the middle of a card game.

        The White Sox then signed him for around 2.25 Million, and their pitchers certainly were never hampered by AJ’s demeanor, as the 2005 White Sox pitching staff carried the team to the World Series Title.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        llegedly he refused to go over pre-game scouting reports with Brett Tomko because he was in the middle of a card game.

        I’m gonna side with AJ on this one …

        [1] That’s one of those things that could just as easily be Brett Tomko’s fault.

        [2] It is Brett Tomko. You don’t end a card game for Brett Tomko. Tim Lincecum, yes. Brett Tomko, no.

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      • hecubot says:

        AJ was non-tendered because he kneed the head trainer in the nads.

        He was a total fuckwad and that’s why they cut him loose.

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  19. Scott Gianelli says:

    Even though the deal turned out even worse for the Rangers than I had thought, I was initially astonished by the Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka trade. I couldn’t think of an alternate universe in which Eaton was even as good as Young, much less sufficiently better to justify the salary difference plus throwing in a very talented (if underachieving at the time) young first baseman for a relief pitcher.

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    • Tom says:

      I was thinking of this one too. For some reason the Rangers decided to get the older, more expensive and worse starting pitcher (Eaton vs. Chris Young) and also threw in Adrian Gonzalez (although he had done nothing in the majors had a 338/399/561 line in AAA the season before the trade).

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  20. JayT says:

    I’d have to say the Giants trading Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan for one awful year of A.J. Pierzynski would have to be toward the top of this list. Nathan was one of the top Closers for years and Liriano is now one of the best starters in the league. All told the players the Twins got have produced 32.6 WAR compared to the 1.6 WAR Pierzynski gave the Giants in 2004.

    And this isn’t a hindsight kind of thing. I don’t remember anyone liking that trade for the Giants.

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    • SteveM says:

      Agreed; at the time, it was a horrible trade, and retrospectively, those who panned it were right.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Graham says:

        Meh. Of course it was a legendarily-bad deal in hindsight, but not even close to the Wells deal at the time it was made. Nathan was coming off his first great year out of the pen after health issues ruined his career as a starter — but the Giants had a pretty strong bullpen and weren’t desperate for a closer at that point. Bonser was a AAAA starter. Liriano, meanwhile, was still in the low minors and was dealt because the Giants thought he was a major health risk (which they were right about, though hopefully he’s put that behind him at this point). On the other side of the ledger, Pierzynski was as consistent as you could possibly hope for to that point in his career, giving the impression of a certain level of guaranteed value. And he still had a pretty good rep, before his clubhouse issues with Tomko and other Giants started to sway things.

        As a Giants fan, I remember thinking this seemed a little steep at the time, but it was certainly not anything that I imagined would be as bad as it was. I even recall going to Spring Training after the deal was completed and hearing a lot of fans pumped about the Pierzynski acquisition.

        (In other words — this deal isn’t even remotely close to the Wells deal in terms of ‘at the time stupidity.’)

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      • Josh says:

        If that trade never happened, the Giants rotation today would be fronted by Lincecum, Liriano, and Cain. Not too bad.

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  21. Dave S says:

    Ivan DeJesus for Larry Bowa (…and Ryne Sandberg)

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  22. AsFanDFW says:

    I think we are all missing the point of this deal from the Angles side. They traded for a name. Most of the people on this site or mlbtraderumors know more about advanced stats, salaries, etc. than the average fan in Los Angeles. That fan will go to the game and see two power hitting, speedy Gold Glove outfielders on display. We all know that Hunter and Wells are fairly average, but those Gold Gloves and 30 homer potential fill the seats.

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    • Jack Weiland says:

      Yeah. Right. Ya know what else fills the seats?

      Winning.

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      • cubsfan says:

        The Angels will WIN in 2011, just not the remainder of Wells’ contract because of the financial constraints the team just put themselves in. I agree with AsFanDFW, most fans don’t use sabremetrics in evaluation of FA signings or trades. Sad to say to most posting here, baseball’s a business and business is all about marketing.

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      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        cubsfan: at this point, you’d be hard-pressed to put the Angels ahead of Oakland, let alone Texas; one is left wondering whether the M’s get enough of a swing in their luck to put LAAofA all the way into the cellar.

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    • Jack Weiland says:

      Also, dude, the Angels were 5th in attendance last year. They’re hardly in need of a headline splash to jumpstart attendance.

      I appreciate you trying to make some sense of this, but there really isn’t any.

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    • jakec says:

      Even taking your point for what it is worth, the deal still is horrible. If for no other reason than it is hard to believe Toronto wouldn’t have kicked in money eventually if that was what the negotiation came down to.

      Even assuming they were desperate for a name hitter, there had to be another overpaid hitter out there that the Angels could have targeted. How about Beltran? Or Ibanez? Soriano?

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    • AA says:

      The Angels already fill the seats and have since 2002. There is no real need for this.

      A better, cheaper move to simply “fill seats” would be to bring back Vlad.

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      • Jason B says:

        Or, they could purchase 10,000 tickets per game – EVERY SINGLE LAST DAMN HOME GAME – and give ‘em to the Boys and Girls club or whoever, and still spend less than they did on Wells:

        10,000 tix x $20 per ticket x 81 home dates = $16,200,000.

        Holy god in heaven what a woefully bad trade…

        +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Petegk says:

    The great thing about baseball is you never know how good or bad a trade was until the season is over. Vernon Wells may have been just what the Angels needed if he is healthy and productive. Some of the other big name signings this off season could have down or injury-plagued seasons in 2011. You just never know. So why all of the harsh criticism from Angel fans about the Vernon Wells deal? Let’s wait and see what happens. It could turn out to be a stellar year for the Angels.

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    • cubsfan says:

      Yep. Signing individuals to long term contracts doesn’t always pan out, either. Alfonso Soriano, anyone?

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    • Bill says:

      Well, tell you what then, I have a powerball ticket. Trade me your car for it. You never know if that’s a good trade or a bad trade until the numbers are drawn. This powerball ticket could be just what you need if it hits. Your car could blow up tomorrow. You just never know. So why would anyone knock this trade? They should wait and see what happens. It could turn out to be a stellar year for you.

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    • Matt says:

      Even if it does turn out perfect for the Angels and Wells becomes the player he was when he signed the extension the point is the Angels shouldn’t of had to take on his whole contract without getting anything in return. And on top of that give up two established players. If they liked Wells that much I’m sure they could’ve talked Toronto into either paying for a portion of his salary, or give up a prospect or two to take the contract off their hands. Instead they got neither and had to give up guys in return.

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  24. Sy says:

    On 12/15/1900 the Reds acquired a then retired Amos Rusie. Rusie “retired” after 1898 over a contract dispute. He unretired after the trade and went 0-1 for the 1901 Reds. Since this was his 10th season he qualified for the HOF. In exchange the Reds traded a 19yo Christy Mathewson, whom they had drafted from the Giants organization earlier that month. At the end of his career Mathewson was traded back to the Reds where he won the only game he pitched.

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    • Ryan says:

      Matthewson had a career k/9 of 4.71…couldn’t have been that good.

      Hell, he didn’t even win a single Cy Young Award.

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    • Pseudoscience says:

      +1.

      That trade pissed me off at the time, and still makes me angry just to think of.

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    • TerryMc says:

      There’s also the little sale of a player that the Red Sox did to get some cash. 125 grand for a pitcher/outfielder. Pretty sure it was unpopular at the time in 1920 something.

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  25. SteveM says:

    I wouldn’t use the word “inexplicable”. It’s quite easily explained; the Angels $hat the proverbial bed. “Stupid”, “idiotic”, “indefensible” all apply, but “inexplicable” not so much.
    Wells is not a terrible player, just VASTLY overpaid. Any of us can explain the deal, we just can’t defend it.

    Reviewing trades with hindsight is always unfair, but particularly when prospects are involved. I ask the question, “AT THE TIME did the deal make any sense?” Smoltz for Alexander? Sure. Colon for the core of the Expos future? Given the dubious nature of les Expps, I suppose, and the three prospects were just that, prospects. Colon’s limited abilities cause the bigger problem. Zambrano for Kazmir? Even at the time, it was patently absurd. Zambrano was a known commodity; a poor fat injured pitcher. Kazmir was the crown jewel of the Mets future, and like the Expos’ pieces exchanged for Colon, he would and should have brought MUCH MUCH MUCH more in trade AT THE TIME. To me, the Mets’ gakking up Kazmir for, really, nothing, was the worst trade in recent history.

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    • Jack Weiland says:

      +1

      That one was outrageous at the time and still is. The fact that the Mets didn’t even get a passably good pitcher in return AND EVERYONE KNEW IT AT THE TIME makes that one way, way worse.

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    • B N says:

      I will admit, that trade was downright funny. They traded Kazmir for a pitcher who was worse AT THE TIME. That’s the greatest part. If the Mets wanted rotation help, they could have just called up Kazmir. But instead, they traded him for a rental who was unlikely to pitch better than him? (head scratch)

      Sometimes, you can at least explain these things by positional need- but it was a straight up swap of pitchers. Even over the balance of that season, I’d rather have tried my luck with Kazmir.

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  26. PRRT says:

    great comment here:

    Down Goes Brown:
    Love how the Wells trade includes a Napoli physical, as if Jays would walk away. Doctor: “He has no legs.” Jays: “Yeah, we’re OK with that.”

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  27. cubsfan says:

    The Mariners acquisition of Bedard for prospects was just as “inexplicable” considering how anemic their offensive production was last year.

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    • The Ancient Mariner says:

      Since Bedard wasn’t acquired for prospects just last year, that’s a *non sequitur*. And no, it wasn’t inexplicable, it was a classic result of win-now thinking; Bavasi thought he had a shot at ’08, and didn’t think he had a future beyond that if he didn’t pull it off, and given those two things, it looked like a worthwhile short-term move. Of course, he was wrong about the first one, but he was sure right about the second one . . .

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      • Nano says:

        Really you are defending that trade? I don’t remember anyone defending that trade when it happened (maybe some O’s fans), in fact, I remember it being panned by most M’s fans as horrific. I guess you can try and make is sound better now, but getting Bedard in and of it self wasn’t horrible, but they gave up way to much value to get him.

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      • cubsfan says:

        If that’s the case, then Reagins has “Basavi” syndrome…because this trade reeks of the win-now category.

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      • philosofool says:

        I don’t think he’s defending the trade, @Nano. But he is explaining it: it was a mortgage the future move from a GM who vastly over-estimated the team that he put together.

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      • Randle says:

        Right, and doesn’t that sound what the Angels just did, but instead of mortgaging the future with players, they used money.

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      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        No, Nano, I’m not defending it (it made me sick to my stomach, literally), merely showing that it is explicable as the result of a particular type of bad process, if an extreme example thereof.

        Randle, no it doesn’t, because a fully healthy Bedard would have been a huge improvement to *that year’s* Mariner rotation; for someone not willing to trust Adam Jones to contribute, that would have looked like a substantial boost to the ’08 team’s chances of winning. Here, it’s inexplicable that the Angels would think that this deal is actually an $18 million improvement for 2011.

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    • ThundaPC says:

      The Mariners aquired Erik Bedard in trade during the 2007 off-season. The 2008 Mariners scored only 671 runs and only won 61 games. That’s still more than they scored in 2009 when they only scored 640 runs….and won 85 games. Scoring runs wasn’t the problem.

      But that’s another story.

      Mariner fan reaction to the trade was decidedly mixed at the time. It was “we gave up too much” vs. “this guy is awesome.” The idea for trading for Bedard makes sense but there were two problems:

      1) The team gave up far too much (as mentioned).
      2) The team was not in position where this kind of trade puts them over the top.

      The simplistic logic that Bavasi and co. used was that they won 88 games even with Horacio Ramirez and Jeff Weaver as back-end starters to their rotation. He figured that if you replace HoRam and Jeff Weaver with Carlos Silva and Erik Bedard we should be able to win +90 games. Don’t tell us how silly this logic is….we already know.

      Nevertheless, that’s still more logic than what has come out of Tony Reagins mouth for trading for Vernon Wells. He basically tells us that the team is “tolerating” the contract and that a 4-year commitment is more attractive than 6 or 7 years irregardless of player quality….although he probably believes that Vernon Wells will be just as good as Crawford or Beltre.

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  28. JWTP says:

    This trade brings all new meaning to the term “toxic assets”.

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  29. Petegk says:

    Reviewing trades with hindsight is not unfair. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. If the Angels finish 2nd or 3rd in both the next two seasons, then yes, stupid trade. But if they win the division and beyond, the fans will begin to appreciate the move and forget they ever said it was a dumb trade to begin with. It’s all about evaluating the return on the investment. In the end, it was either a good investment or a bad. I admit there is a strong possibility of the latter. But lets see how things go. No one can argue that this move isnt a make or break for Reagins. If the season is less than successful, I think he is gone.

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    • The Ancient Mariner says:

      Not true, because it’s obvious in the present that the Angels could have driven a much harder bargain than this for Wells. Given that they had decided to trade for him, they could have gotten a much better deal, and apparently saw no reason to; *that* is what makes it inexplicable.

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    • Azmanz says:

      Was the Giants signing of Barry Zito a stupid deal? Yes.
      Did they win the WS? Yes.
      Are the 2 mutually exclusive? No.

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  30. DrBGiantsfan says:

    The reaction on this site is way more over-the-top than the trade was. Yes, I was surprised by the trade. Yes, the Angels will now be paying a lot of money for an above average player.

    The Angels wanted to be rid of Napoli and Rivera as much as Toronto wanted to be rid of Wells contract. The trade solves two problems for the Angels, breaking up the logjam at DH and finding a LF. They were willing to pay more $$$ for a shorter contract than what they could have gotten for a comparable player on the open market. The contract was an albatross for the Blue Jays, it won’t be for the Angels who are willing to run with higher payrolls.

    Toronto was a bad defensive team before the trade, they are much worse now. The only benefit they are getting is unloading the contract, which is a good thing for them. Napoli can hit, but he can’t play any position in the field. Yes, I know the problems with CERA, but Napoli’s was consistently>5 and all the other Angels’ catchers were<4. Obviously Scioscia and the Angels coaching staff thought there was something to it. More than a full run per game is a heckuva lot to make up for at the plate. Rumor has it that Napoli couldn't remember pitch sequences in pitcher/catcher meetings much to the dismay of the coaches and I'm sure the pitchers too.

    In summary, it's a good trade for the Blue Jays only because they get out of a salary that was crippling for them. It is a decent trade for the Angels because they can handle the salary.

    -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jim says:

      If the Angels wanted to get rid of Napoli THAT badly, they could have non-tendered him. Silly argument.

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    • Eric says:

      Just because you have a dollar, you don’t trade it for a nickel.

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    • cubsfan says:

      Totally agree. Everything has to be looked at in context. Wells is way overpaid but the Angels can afford that, while the Jays could not. And also as Eric below states, everyone thinks that because Wells is overpaid (not his fault by the way), they somehow think he’s “the nickel”, that he stinks or something. That’s an overreaction as well. People on this site seem to not live in reality. If someone overpays for your services, you mean to tell me you wouldn’t take it. Oh, you want to pay me a higher salary for the job I do–nope don’t need that. Like the contract is Wells fault.

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      • Jason B says:

        *No one* that I’ve seen is blaming Wells for his obscene salary. *Everyone* would gladly do the same if given the opportunity. That’s a total non-starter. Try again.

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    • Jason B says:

      “It is a decent trade for the Angels because they can handle the salary.”

      Ummm…no. All manner of no.

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      • cubsfan says:

        Try again Jason B? Wasn’t JP Riccardi the one who gave Wells the contract he currently has. The same Riccardi who’s a disciple of Billy Beane, sabremetrics guru and promoter of websites like this. Websites like this one make those GMs who use sabremetrics in their GM philosophy appear to be smarter than the rest of the crowd. Yet, on its face the contract was a STUPID move, so STUPID that everyone’s blasting the Angels for acquiring it. So, we have a sabremetrics disciple awarding a player one of the worst contracts ever. Then, we have Mr. Cameron lowering Wells’ value on the basis on the contract. Then, he blasts repeatedly the team who’s now traded for him. If all this isn’t ironic, I don’t know what is? Hardly, a non-starter.

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      • Jason B says:

        “So, we have a sabremetrics disciple awarding a player one of the worst contracts ever.”

        …and then a GM inexplicably came along and acquired that contract, which you plainly state is one of the worst ever, AND gave up useful assets to acquire it.

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      • Not David says:

        What exactly is your argument in that jumbled mess? It appears that all you’re doing is grinding an axe without getting to an actual point.

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      • cubsfan says:

        Ok Not David and Jason B, here’s my point. Jason B is saying no one is blaming Wells for his contract. But when you get around to it, they really are. Their equating his personal production with the value of his contract to state how stupid the Angels are for trading for him. Then, they’re stating, as dave cameron did, how he justify his contract, knowing quite well there’s no way he possibly could. Thereby, dooming the guy to some kind of failure before he plays one inning with the Angels. It’s like an employer coming to you as an employee saying “well, we thought we paid fair value for you, but boy did we misstep. So, to continue to prove your worth to this organization, here’s what results we expect from you.” And this was awarded to you by an employer that should’ve know better that to give that salary. JP Riccardi looked at as the sabremetrics guy and to most you respond on this, those guys are the smartest ones in the room. So, I agree DrBGiantsFan, we he talks fan overreaction with this trade. I just different conclusions about why I agree.

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      • TerryMc says:

        Pretty sure any team could have picked up Wells with a waiver claim at the end of last season if they wanted to eat the entire remainder of the contract. With that in mind…could the Angels have received any value for the pieces they gave away? If ‘yes’ then the trade is a fail right at the start as for no reason they paid to much (and don’t even thin for one second the Jays would have pulled back Wells from waivers if a claim was made).

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      • TerryMc says:

        Also note that I’m not saying Wells is a worthless player. He most definitely isn’t, but when you can buy a Coke for under a dollar it is a horrible transaction to spend 86 dollars for one.

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      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        No, Ricciardi didn’t award that contract. The owner did. Ricciardi didn’t do a good job as the Jays’ GM, but that one isn’t his process.

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      • Jack Weiland says:

        No one is blaming Wells PERSONALLY for the amount of money he makes. But his salary is part of his overall package as an asset. And, unfortunately for the Angels, that counts.

        If they could “easily” afford that contract why did they back out on Crawford and Beltre?? They could have had those players for CASH ONLY, and here they’re paying more money per year and gave up two useful assets in the process. THAT is why it doesn’t make any sense.

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      • cubsfan says:

        They couldn’t afford the contract for Crawford because the Red Sox made it impossible for any team to afford Crawford. People using the same logic to rip the Angels by justify the Crawford contract. They are saying that the Red Sox will get Crawford for the first three years of good production out of that contract and from years 4-8 who cares if Crawford’s production goes down. So, my question to all is: IF the Red Sox wanted Crawford during the best years of his production why did they sign him to an eight year contract? Why not a 5 or 6 yr deal? And how do we know how the negotiations went with Boras for Beltre? We don’t know. Just because someone can be easily afforded doesn’t mean they can be easily gained. If that’s the case, why did the Cubs get Greinke instead of Garza? They’re a big market team. They can easily afford him, right? Again, my basic argument for overreaction still stands. Wells’ value to the Angels is what’s at stake here. It’s funny TerryMc, how in one breath your stating that your not judging the value of Wells and then referring to Wells as worthless by stating that he’s worth less than “a dollar.” Your words, not mine. And AncientMariner, if Riccardi had nothing to do with the signing, why is he no longer GM in Toronto???

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  31. DavidCEisen says:

    As a Phillies fan I want to point out that we got a lot more for Lee than we got for Shilling. The Rolen trade was pretty shitty too. Polonco turned out better than expected, but Rolen was one of the 10 best players in baseball. Both of these trades are explainable only in that both players wanted nothing to do with the Phillies.

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    • erich says:

      I don’t know about that…
      Padilla produced 9 WAR in a Phils uniform
      Figueroa–1 WAR over 1 year
      Travis Lee–roughly 3 WAR over 2 years
      Omar Daal–roughly 2 WAR over 1.5 years

      Of course, hardly a “haul” but who knows if there is a major leaguer in the Lee deal let alone 10 WAR.

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    • SteveM says:

      “…both players wanted nothing to do with the Phillies.”
      Those were the days!

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  32. What about the more recent Kazmir trade? That one also involved the Angels, and was also pretty damn odd. It was pretty clear at that point he wasn’t rebounding or becoming better, yet they still took a flier on him for a pretty steep price.

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    • AA says:

      The Kazmir deal was insurance against Lackey leaving. If the Angels had resigned Lackey, there is a good chance they could have turned Kazmir’s nice run with them after the trade into another trade of Kazmir.

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  33. Petegk says:

    You’re right with the Kazmir thing. Could have been good if there was a rebound to top form. But there wasnt. So evaluating that investment, “Bad Investment”. And like I said earlier, if we have another bad investment here with Wells, i think the Angles will be looking for a new GM.

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    • SteveM says:

      If I were the Angels owner, and saw my GM spend my money like this, and giving up SOME value for the privilege, I’d be interviewing his replacement candidates RIGHT NOW.

      Sure, the Angles have deep pockets, relative to the average team, but their resources are finite… heck, even the skankees resources are finite…ish.

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  34. Dave says:

    I would like to point out (not to defend) that in Montreal in those years it was the last efforts to keep the team in the city. Everyone kind of knew that they would leave but we were living with hope that maybe a World Series championship would change that. And I remember waking up one morning and seing on the front page of the paper a picture of Bartolo Colon who will now play for the Expos. They did sign Cliff Floyd later that month to try and make the playoff.

    And to be frank, I could not care less that Phillips, Sizemore and Lee would not be playing for the Washington nationals… At least I enjoyed three months of Colon the first and only big name acquisition by the Expos that I could remember.

    To be clear, it was a stupid trade but given the circumstance…

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    • Big Jgke says:

      Yeah the trade was awful, but at the time there was a fairly strong sentiment that the Expos were going to be contracted anyways. They were already being run, essentially, by MLB and playing a barnstorming schedule. In the end, if that deal serves to make the Washington Nationals worse, I’m cool with that as a part of the karmic payback for stealing Les Expos.

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  35. brian says:

    Casey Blake for Carlos Santana?

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    • Nivarsity says:

      Terrible deal, definitely, but Blake is useful and Santana hadn’t really broken out as a prospect yet. I don’t think it qualifies as inexplicable.

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  36. Brian says:

    Dan Haren for Joe Saunders?

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  37. Jay says:

    What you fail to understand is Vernon Wells is a GAMER. He always gives 110 PER CENT. That is sure to rub off on the younger players. And while he may have lost a step or two in the outfield, he’ll make up for it with his CRAFTY VETERAN-NESS, or should I say VETERANOSITY. Also he is a GREAT CLUBHOUSE GUY. lAlong with Torii Hunter, he’ll make sure they PLAY THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY. Statistics (DAMN LIES) say he is worth 3 wins and is declining, but his INTANGIBLES will tell you he’s a 7 win player, and his LEADERSHIP qualities are only getting better. MIKE SCOSCIA is already making room in his trophy case for all the hardware this trade will guarantee.

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  38. bsf says:

    The Bedard trade has not been referenced enough. It was a steal, everyone thought the Orioles made out like bandits, and that opinion has only been reinforced over time. In the moment, in the present, and looking ahead to the future, a complete What-are-they-doing? moment for the Mariners.

    You’re being way to harsh on the Wells trade. Money is important, but talent is also important, and no matter how ridiculous the contract, Vernon Wells is the best player in this trade, and should provide protection for Morales than anyone else available to the Angles this year besides Adam Dunn (including Crawford or Werth). He’s likely got a few years of above-average production in him, and if the trade doesn’t compromise the Angels’ ability to retain and add players (and it might not, as they are a large-market team, and it is only a 4-year commitment), then sure it is a desperate move, but is it really a bad one?

    They don’t have that much minor league depth, and they didn’t dig into that, and they improved their team for the next four years.
    This doesn’t take anything away from the genius of the move from the Blue Jays’ angle, but I have trouble imagining this as doing anything other than helping the Angels remain in contention in the shallow West next year.

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    • Steven Ellingson says:

      I hate this argument. Yes, talent is the most important thing, but it can be BOUGHT! with MONEY!

      They could have gotten a much better player, for similar money, or a similar player for much less money.

      Or they could have taken their lumps this year (they probably will anyway), and use that money next year to (same as above).

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      • bsf says:

        They could buy a similar player, because none were still available to be bought. The deal happened in time, subject to earlier misses by the Angels. Given the options available, they found a way to improve their offense. I’m not saying they had a good offseason, I’m saying that the trade should at least be partially considered on its own merits. Some teams need to take on salary to get players. Maybe agents don’t like working with the Angels. Everyone’s dollar is not worth the same amount. They got a player who will probably bat fifth for them for the next several years, in exchange for two players who were unable to fill that role. I don’t think its a good trade, but I do think it is just an extreme example of a routine big-market strategy.

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      • B N says:

        @”They could buy a similar player, because none were still available to be bought.”

        While there was no similar player, there was…. (drum roll) the already mentioned Adam Dunn! Grab Dunn for a bit more than he got paid, plug him into DH, and throw Abreu in the OF for another season. That way, you get a better hitter in the line up, a slight decrease in corner outfield defense, and have another $30m to spend over the next 4 years.

        To instead give up surplus value in Napoli and grab Wells? Craziness. If your offseason plan fails, you wait it out and try to grab a deal during the season- typically for a half year rental. You do not commit yourself to a declining OF for 4 years at $86m. This hurts them for not just this year but for the next 3 years afterward. I’m pretty sure with this signing, they’re probably out of the race on guys like Pujols, Fielder, etc. Personally, I’d sure as heck rather give a guy like Fielder or Dunn that money than Wells.

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    • Jono411 says:

      “Vernon Wells is the best player in this trade”…really?

      I’d say Mike Napoli is the best player in this trade. he’s a better hitter (higher obp and slg over their careers) and he plays a more premium position. sure he’s probably a -10 fielder there, but wells at best is a -5 fielder in cf. furthermore, wells is 3 years older so much more likely to be on the decline now.

      oh yea, and the angels have no catcher now except for jeff mathis, of the career .199 average and -0.8 WAR. if anything, the angels actually made themselves worse for 2011 with this trade.

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      • nickjadenbaque says:

        The Angels have three catchers AFTER the trade: Conger, Wilson, and Mathis. Too many catchers = Napoli is less desirable and not worth his money. They wanted Nap gone & put him on waivers last season–no one claimed him.

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      • Jono411 says:

        well, mathis has shown he’s not an mlb-caliber catcher. wilson’s never shown that he’s capable of being anything more than a back-up. i’ll give you conger – very good prospect, could potentially be a solid starting catcher for them this year. best case scenario, though, is that he equals napoli for this coming season. also, they could’ve used rivera in lf instead of wells, which would only be a ~1.5 win difference. so best case scenario is they improve by 1.5 wins, worst-case is conger is nothing more than a replacement level player this year and they end up being worse by ~1.5 wins.

        also, i don’t believe for a second that they put napoli on waivers and nobody claimed him. please show me a link/evidence because i’m pretty sure you just made that up.

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      • hk says:

        nickjadenbaque,

        If they wanted Nap gone, why didn’t they non-tender him? Or, put another way, why did they offer him arbitration guaranteeing that they would have to pay him somewhere between $5.3M (their offer) and $6.1M (his offer)?

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    • SteveM says:

      Wells could have been had in a waiver claim.

      Case closed your honor.

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  39. cubsfan says:

    Ancient Mariner…are you comparing the Angels to the Mariners? Really? You fail to realize the Angels still have a LOT of weapons…with Morales coming back, Hunter’s still a good player (declining defensively but a good player) and SP for Angels, while not the As SP, is comparable to what the Rangers have. LAA will not be cellar-dwellers. Leave that to the Mariners.

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    • Nano says:

      The Ms should be better than last if only because it would be hard to win only 61 games again. I have no idea how the Angels will hold up, but I’d guess they win more games than the Ms do in 2011. Going forwad the Ms have some decent to above average prospects and the Angels have Trout plus some other pretty decent prospects. So all in all, both of these teams probably will be competing for the cellar, neither is good enough to compete with Texas.

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    • AA says:

      Um, I really don’t see how people can argue that the Angels have anything but an elite starting rotation. Weaver, Haren and Santana are all guys who have the ability to win a Cy Young. Piniero is a third starter pitching in the 4th slot, and Kazmir is a pretty good guy to have in the 5th spot. Their rotation is clearly better than the Rangers and also better than the A’s.

      As for Hunter, PM actually still rated him as excellent in CF up through 2009. UZR has been down on him, but that kind of noise means something is wrong. That said, the main issue with Hunter appeared to be a declining arm, which often seemed to be related to poor throw positioning. When he was moved to RF, he started making very strong throws again, as he started taking the time to plant his feet. Either way, UZR started liking him again. And, of course, he isn’t as good as Bourjous, so why not move him?

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      • nickjadenbaque says:

        Angels’ starting pitching > Texas starting pitching. In a big way. I don’t see Texas winning a second year in a row. Keep in mind that after one dynamite month last season, they remained a .500 game winner for the rest of the season. And that was with Lee and Guerrero. Their plan is to simply make Holland a regular starter–you know, the guy who walked 4 IN A FREAKING ROW during the World Series. I’d say Oakland is much more threatening than Texas right now.

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  40. The Beest says:

    I had the same thought at first, but this ain`t fantasy baseball, and WAR and sabremetrics means little to the Angels, apparently. It really depends on whether you think Wells will regress to his injury prone 07-09 or his 03-06 before his injuries .

    If you look at the contracts coming off the book in 11 and 12, the Angels have only the Wells contract+couple of RP commitment, about 25 m, which is actually close to the jays 17m. As long as they don`t shrink the budget, it`s not a financial burden to them.

    Also, they didnt lose any prospects, but 11 m off the books (or as the jays called it cash going back to paid for Wells contract)

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    • Jason B says:

      “It really depends on whether you think Wells will regress to his injury prone 07-09 or his 03-06 before his injuries.”

      Yes, people often jump back to their pre-injury levels of five-eight (EIGHT!) years ago. That seems likely. They should also get Moises Alou, who should be well rested and due to return to pre-injury form any year now.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason B says:

        Actually the last part I said completely tongue-in-cheek, but I think I would readily sign busted-up and broken-down Alou to like 1 yr/$2M rather than be saddled with Wells’ albatross of a contract for four.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steven Ellingson says:

      It IS a burden! If they had so much money to blow, they should have signed a better player! Or two similar players!

      This (and other arguments like it) boil down to “money doesn’t matter, players do” and make it seem like the Angels have an unlimeted payroll. This is completely idiotic.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  41. gradygradychase says:

    “The deal was weird, and not a good idea, but the actual cost of losing Lee for one season doesn’t begin to approach the cost that the Angels just absorbed by taking on Wells’ deal.”

    The Phillies lost out their 33rd overall pick in upcoming June draft, where they could get Zack MacPhee or Noe Ramirez or Levi Michael or whoever, those who could easily become the #1 prospect in their deplated farm system.

    I’m not going to say that the fact favors Lee’s trade over the Wells’ in this contention, but it should also be considered.

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  42. Mick S says:

    The guy whose name I have already forgotten for Shin Soo Choo.

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    • AA says:

      Ben Broussard and a PTBNL (Shawn Nottingham).

      Maybe they thought Prince John would approve?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JayAre says:

      Then there was Asdrubal Cabrerra for Eduardo Perez that same year

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • joser says:

        That was all part of Bavasi’s “Give everybody whose name I can’t pronounce to Cleveland” strategy, which together with the “Give money to empty bats” and “Give everybody to Baltimore for a torn labrum” formed his Desolation Triptych, the body of work for which he’ll always be known.

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  43. Oakland Dan says:

    December 2004, Mulder for Barton, Haren and Calero? Yeah, I guess not as inexplicable, though I remember pretty much everyone knowing this wasn’t going to work out for the Cards. I suppose Mulder maybe looked like he still MIGHT be okay at the time, but I actually remember people saying that Haren was just about ready to start out-pitching Mulder right away. Mulder wasn’t even worth Haren, and you throw in Barton and Kiko Calero? Yikes.

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  44. AA says:

    The reason this trade is bad is partially because it is borne out of the Angels’ irrational dislike of Mike Napoli. The guy is a right handed, Brian McCann slightly lite and they have absolutely no time for him. Even in a down year, especially for patience, last year, Napoli was still one of their biggest power threats. His defense is not the greatest (like McCann), but it doesn’t appear unacceptable. Mathis has clearly shown that he is nowhere near talented enough a hitter to belong in anything but a back up role. I almost think the Angels would be better off with a catching duo of Wilson and Conger than Mathis being involved. Unless they think Conger’s bat is ready to replace Napoli’s, this is mind boggling.

    As for the people who still look at CERA, both Joe Saunders and John Lackey did better with Napoli over full seasons than with Mathis.

    I do get that the Angels needed to and wanted to get rid of Juan Rivera, but why not package him, Mathis and some C prospect for the same deal?

    As for Wells, I’m kind of ambivalent on this one. His total committed salary is less than they were going to spend on Crawford (I’m not comparing the two) and he does have value. If he can put up a few more 4 win seasons, he will at least bring equal value to his contract. Putting his glove in LF probably means plus defense going forward. It also, however, means he needs to hit more. I do think he can match Cameron’s .364 wOBA for at least 2 years going forward, so he should have value for that time. Further is anyone’s best guess.

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    • Faithdies says:

      I’m still confused WHY the Angels hate Napoli so much. Can somebody from Cali speak to this. Is he a terrible clubhouse guy or something? Being on the East Coast I can only see highlights and some numbers but it always appeared that Napoli was the far superior offensive choice and his defense wasn’t Posada level terrible.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • nickjadenbaque says:

        Terrible clutch hitter, low BA, can’t throw runners out, doesn’t do his homework. And we have three other catchers which makes him kind of expendable and an unneeded cost. Not defending the deal but I see the motivation behind it.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        I have some friends who are Angels fans. They don’t like Napoli. Say he is a punk and not very smart. There was one story I saw yesterday that he couldn’t remember pitch sequences in pitcher/catcher meetings. Clearly the Angels saw Napoli as an unacceptable negative on defense.

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      • hk says:

        nickjadenbaque and DrBGiantsfan, if the Angels felt this way about Napoli, why did they offer him arbitration when they knew that doing so would cost them at least $5.3M?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  45. GZ says:

    Jim Edmonds for Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy?

    A 4-5 win CFer in his prime for a junkballer coming off an 18-7 season with a 4.8 fip and a fringe top 100 prospect. Yes Edmonds was on the cusp of FA, so this doesn’t go down as an all-time bad trade, but it was still pretty dang bad.

    Also, Garza for the farm is an underrated awful trade considering the Cubs have no hope.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  46. Pepe says:

    This trade is not that lopsided: If the Mariners had found a way to get Jon Danks for Jose Lopez last offseason… that would have been a steal.

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  47. adohaj says:

    I hope Wells rattles off a string of mvp seasons and everyone will eat their words

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  48. Tim thousand says:

    That tex/sd agonz/c young deal was far more terrible than the kazmir deal. Take in big salary (eaton) give up rising bargains, including a top overall pick with great character (agonz). This deal should have gotten jon Daniels fired. And love the ripping of minaya, who was for years totally overrated by all the pc “hire the minority” writers. . Based on his budget busting dealings, I bet he can’t balance a check book. He has his place in history with “too great to ever manage in the minors” randolph. Losers!

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  49. Max G says:

    In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, inexplicable is defined as: “incapable of being explained, interpreted, or accounted for.”

    The Wells trade most definitely qualifies as inexplicable. Whereas most of the trades being historically compared here have some type of logic, the Wells trade, from the perspective of the Angels is extremely lacking any kind of logical explanation.

    Many trades we look back on in hindsight and say, “oh what a lopsided, terrible trade that was.” However, in most cases, a degree of logic, although sometimes flawed, can be understood. Whether it be cutting payroll, selling prospects for a pennant-chasing rental player, or severing ties with a clubhouse cancer ( ahem, Manny ), even though there are many historical examples of lopsided, questionable deals, there is some explainable logic involved, even if it is disagreeable.

    The Wells trade, though, lacks any logic. Even a cursory evaluation of his stats reveals all kinds of question marks that are bolded by his age and inconsistency. To trade for a player like this, especially in light of the expected return vs the expense of the contract can only be described as insane.

    This would be similar to paying Google-level stock prices for GM stock. Could GM’s stock rise if the Chevy Volt is a hit? Sure. Is the rate of return expected to be as valuable as a top-tier performer like Google? When hell freezes over while pigs are flapping their wings, and bigfoot is seen everywhere, and all that happens at the same time.

    That equals the likelihood of Wells being able to provide even 75% of the value of his contract, even in the best case scenario of him magically staying healthy and consistently performing at his peak while well into his 30s. That’s the Wells deal in a nutshell, and why it is such an outrageously head-scratchingly stupid move by their GM. There is zero, absolutely zero ways this deal can help the Angels.

    Oh, and hey, watch out kids if A.Anthopolous comes to your door with a suitcase full of snake oil for sale.

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  50. Mark says:

    The heretofore (as far as I can tell) factor that should keep Kazmir-for-Zambrano at #1 is that there was absolutely not a goddamned reason why the Mets should have thought they needed to make any trade right then. They were about 2 games over .500 and 6 games out of first, and part of a bunch of teams within 3-5 games of the wild card, but they misread those facts into thinking they were in a playoff race. Never mind that even if they wanted to believe they had a shot that season that Kazmir probably gave them a better shot at winning games THAT SEASON that Zambrano — they were delusional to be thinking they had a shot to begin with.

    And this wasn’t the only trade they made at the deadline — they traded a projected back-end starter (Matt Peterson), a high-OBP catch (Justin Huber), and Ty Wigginton for Kris Benson. Huber and peterson didn’t amount to anything, but that doesn’t forgive their logic for dealing them for a guy they could have had (and did have) as a free agent at the end of the season. (In fairness, they traded Wigginton to make room for David Wright, but they could have kept him as a bench player instead.)

    Wells at least might make the Angels better at a time when a couple of marginal wins actually make a difference.

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  51. Nick says:

    I’m still waiting for an update that says the initial reports were wrong and that the Blue Jays sent ~$10M-$20M along with Wells.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  52. BaconMan says:

    Inexplicable is the right word. But a lifetime achievement award for Bill Bavasi, you will not be remebered fondly…
    1. Bedard trade 2. Choo for Broussard 3. Asrubal Cabrera for Eduardo Perez
    4. Carlos Guillen for Ramon Santiago
    This isn’t even taking his free agent decisions into account(Sexson, Beltre, Washburn, Silva. Excuse me while I expel the blood vomit from my tender insides

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  53. Anon says:

    The Santana trade was pretty awful. Twins got NOTHING for him.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  54. Joey B says:

    Two more-

    Slocumb for Tek and Lowe. Not just that Boston got a couple of decent prospects, but Slocumb was getting shelled. He was 0-5, with a 5.79 ERA, an incredible Whip of 1.971, and a 36/34 K/W ratio. Who was the guy that decided they needed Slocumb for the stretch run?

    The second, though not a trae, is ARod signing for $300M. Forget about all the other negatives, who were they bidding against? 4 months later, Detroit extended MCab for 8/$152M. Not the same thing, but who was going to offer ARod more than maybe $22M per for 7 years? Especially given the bad blood between ARod and the RS? I don’t think anyone has ever been extended past age 39, and the NYY went three years past that.

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  55. greenfrog says:

    The Jays trading Esteban Loaiza for Michael Young in 2000 isn’t necessarily the most inexplicable of deals, but it is certainly one of the most painful for Toronto fans. In fact, north of the border, the former is generally known simply as L____ (or he who shall not be named), so as to ease the pain typically induced among Jays fans when they happen to think about the trade.

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    • Jesse says:

      Boomer Wells for Mike Sirotka eclipses this one easily.

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      • greenfrog says:

        Wells’ ERA+ after the trade was typically just over 100. He definitely had a good late career for someone in his late 30s and early 40s. But Michael Young was a great infielder for about a decade. He was named to six consecutive All-Star teams from 2004 to 2009. I think Young was the bigger loss.

        But yeah, Sirotka-for-Wells pretty much sucked, too.

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  56. AK707 says:

    I wonder if this opens up a opportunity to unload Rowand onto the Angels. He’s not as good, but you only pay him half as much.

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  57. Mike says:

    I love that ‘homeless’ is one of the words in the word spread.

    ‘Tony Reagins homeless after Arte Moreno demands Vernon Wells’ contract come out of Reagins paycheck’.

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  58. vilhelm says:

    The most inexplicable, worst trade ever was the Krivsky trade of two position regulars, Kearns and Lopez, for a couple of nondescript relief pitchers and assorted trash.

    All were/turned into duds, and it’s the worst trade ever.

    get why – does regulars under team control for relief pitchers ring a bell

    explain that

    even though Krivsky STILL won the trade

    That was only because Kearns and Lopez had to start monumentally sucking from that point on in order to reset the planet’s spin to the correct axis.

    They sacrificed their careers to save the planet..

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  59. psychUMP says:

    George Foster to the Reds for Frank Duffy(!)and Vern Geishert(?) The Giants had Chris Speier at shortstop so this makes no sense to me. But then again they also traded away Garry Maddox,Gaylord Perry(another head scratcher),Bobby Bonds and sold Dave Kingman and not to mention Steve Stone,Larry Herndon,Dan Gladden,and Mike Caldwell,just think if the Reds hadn’t given up him during the 1977 season!

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  60. pft says:

    Danny Cater for Sparky Lyle. Ouch.

    Heathcliff Slocumb for Jason Caritek and Derrek Lowe.

    But nothing compares with Vernon Wells and his 86 million dollar contract for Napoli and Rivera. Heck, picking up Venron Wells contract on waivers would be a bad move. 86 million over 4 years is more than Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre will make over 4 years.

    Wells had a decent year last year, but that was entirely due to his home performance, and there was something wacky about the way balls were flying out of the park in Toronto last year. On the road he was as bad as ever.

    What next, signing Scott Kazmir to a 6 year extension with 23 million AAV?

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  61. Jesse says:

    Surely the Angels could’ve dumped Napoli for SOMETHING else. Or non-tendered him. And after that, Reagins could’ve taken $80.75 mill (Wells minus Rivera), spread it out over ONE more year, added a quasi-reachable-but-basically-team-controllable 6th year option…boom, you’ve got yourself Adrian Beltre. A better baseball player. While keeping an asset in Napoli for another trade.

    Inexplicable.

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  62. Pseudoscience says:

    The Braves trade of Millwood for a catcher (within the division, no less) was another real head scratcher.

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  63. I haven’t read the comments yet so maybe this point has been brought up, but I think it’s WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too early to call this one of the worst trades of all-time. It’s perfectly okay to start the discussion of “Most inexplicable trade of all-time”, because of how ridiculous it is on its face, but there are lots of bad awful trades that were at least defensible at the time they were made, even if they were only partially defensible.

    As a Tiger fan, two that come to mind are:

    Trading Ramon Santiago and minor-league SS Juan Gonzalez to Seattle for Carlos Guillen.

    Trading Ugueth Urbina and Ramon Martinez to Philadelphia for Placido Polanco.

    Two ridiculously awful trades for Seattle and Philly. Both trades are probably worse for those teams than this one will ever be for L.A. Both trades have a seat at the “Worst trade of all-time” table. Also two trades that have no place at the “Most inexplicable trade ever” table. I think they’re two different concepts, and for now it is way early to start predicting this to be one of the worst trades ever. However, it’s certainly one of the most immediately ridiculous ones.

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    • The Ancient Mariner says:

      “It’s perfectly okay to start the discussion of ‘Most inexplicable trade of all-time,’ because of how ridiculous it is on its face, but there are lots of bad awful trades that were at least defensible at the time they were made, even if they were only partially defensible.”

      Which, not so coincidentally, is exactly what Dave did in this post. So there you go.

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  64. bpdelia says:

    I find it amazing that no one has mentioned ANY of tyje completely inexplicable yankees trades of the 80′s. Believe me none of us thought acquiring Ken Phelps made any sense at the time and the trade just looked worse and worse as it got further away. But at the time that was immediately a head scratcher. Trading Rickey away for basically nothing just to get rid of him fast also made ZERO sense at the time. Sometimes its easy to forget that henderson was actually amazingly good for the NYY. You’d think he stunk up the joint. . . but he “loafed” for a fly ball and had to be traded IMMEDIATELY for next to nothing.

    ENded up being, Jay HOwell, Stan Javier, Jose Rijo and Rickey Henderson for LUis Polonia nad Eric Plunk when all was said and done.

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  65. kevinM says:

    Kazmir for Zambrano has to be the craziest trade ever. I remember when I first heard the words “Kazmir traded for Zambrano”, I wondered why the Cubs would trade Carlos Zambrano? It never entered my mind that the Mets would actually trade their top young prospect for VICTOR Zambrano. I still shake my head over that disaster.

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  66. Gman1269 says:

    This trade is more inexplicable than any you have mentioned!

    Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles for P Milt Pappas, P Jack Baldschun, and OF Dicky Simpson.

    Bill Dewitt, Reds GM, traded Robinson b/c he was an old 30.

    Case closed.

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