Readings: A Baseball Winter, Chapters 1-9

As noted in these pages last week, I recently purchased A Baseball Winter: The Off-Season Life of the Summer Game, a day-by-day account — edited by Terry Pluto and Jeffrey Neuman — of the 1984-85 offseason of five clubs: the New York Mets, the California Angels, the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Cleveland Indians.

As also noted, the book is written in a very compact, diary-like* format, which makes for an urgency, a feeling of being present, that’s very pleasant.

*Diary-esque? Diary-y? Is there an adjectival form of diary?

Here are some note on what I’ve read.

Free agency was still a newish concept in 1984-85, and it’s clear from this text that a number of teams didn’t understand particularly well the level of risk associated with signing players — and particularly pitchers — to long-term contracts.

Consider some examples:

• Atlanta, led enthusiastically by owner Ted Turner, signed 32-year-old reliever Bruce Sutter to a six-year, $6.75 million deal — or, $1.125 million per year. A marginal win cost about $330 thousand in 1985, meaning $1 million ought to have bought ca. three wins above replacement. Sutter’s signing came after a precipitous drop in his strikeout rates, from the high-20% area in 1977-79 to about 16% in 1983-84. He would have had to produce roughly 20 wins to earn his contract. In fact, he produced 0.2 of them — wins, that is. His WPA over that same span was -3.79.

• Baltimore signed a 33-year-old Fred Lynn to a five-year, $6.8 million deal. He was worth about 10 wins after that — or, about half of what he was paid for.

• Baltimore also signed 30-year-old relief pitcher Don Aase to a four-year, $2.4 million deal — this, after he missed all of 1984 and about half of 1984.

• Almost every notable player on the California Angels had a no-trade clause.

Players That Were Supposed to Be Good
Atlanta didn’t want to include outfielder Brad Komminsk in a trade for Jim Rice.

The Cleve
Cleveland’s average home attendance in 1984 was miserable — about 9,000 per game.

Cashen In
Mets GM Frank Cashen traded for both catcher Gary Carter and third baseman Howard Johnson in the 1984-85 offseason, sending away rather little in return.

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I believe that the adjectival form of “diary” is “diarrhea.”

Also: you’re reading a 25-year-old version of MLBtraderumors.


actually, “diarrhea” is a noun. the adjective ought to be “diarrheal,” though “diarrheic” is also acceptable.

(tip of the hat for beating me to it, though, yirmiyahu.)


What’s brown and lives in the attic?

The diarrhea of Anne Frank.

Well-Beered Englishman
Well-Beered Englishman

This is so bad but so good.