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Looking Back at a Strange Trade

September 25, 2011

In these waning days of the season, I have not been posting as frequently as I’d like. I haven’t been able to watch the games with the same intensity I watched earlier in the year. This isn’t because of some disappointment leading to me not caring, there is no loss of love or anything in that respect, I simply have been terribly busy with work and with the A’s playing meaningless baseball, I can’t really afford to do the leave it on the DVR and don’t talk to anyone and watch it at midnight sort of deal. I’ve been listening on the radio to the games, have enjoyed them as I always do – Ken Korach I still think you are the best, but I haven’t been posting as much as I normally would or would like to so for that I apologize. Yesterday the A’s led by Guillermo Moscoso fell the Angels 4-2 at Angels Stadium (which I still want to call Anaheim Stadium), and I am so busy that despite Anaheim being about 40 minutes away I will be unable to attend any of these games including today’s. I have always felt that my analysis of roster management, and longer-term construction strategy is far better than my analysis of in-game strategy so perhaps the blog has not suffered as a result, but to all my readers please expect more frequent postings throughout the winter as I will look back on the season, look to the future, look back in time and so on to help those long cold baseball-less winters (though having moved to Southern California cold may no longer be a winter issue for me…) Thanks for reading and my apologies for a lack of Live Blogs in September and a lack of recaps too as of late. Go A’s!

With all that said, all season long I have waited for September 25th to write this post. Having known I’d do it for so long I don’t know why I didn’t write it earlier but alas I did not. The reason I’ve looked forward to it, is that today stands out to me as the sixteenth anniversary of a curious trade between the A’s and the New York Yankees.

On September 25th, 1995 the Oakland A’s sent LHP Rick Honeycutt to the New York Yankees in exchange for an undisclosed amount of cash. The Yankees were 74-65 and a half game ahead of the California Angels looking to clinch the first ever wild card spot in the American League. Their lefty-specialist for most of the season was Steve Howe and on the 24th in a game at Yankee Stadium against the Tigers, and had just allowed three hits (including two home runs to Tony Clark and Danny Bautista) to the three hitters he faced in the eighth inning. The Yankees being the Yankees needed an upgrade and sought out Rick Honeycutt.

I don’t know what particular series of events led this to be so firmly implanted in my mind, but the Yankees who were desperate to reenter the playoffs after a fourteen year absence (in reality they likely would’ve made the playoffs in 1994 however) wanted to make sure with six games left they didn’t leave anything to chance. Honeycutt had a great year (using 1995 metrics) for the somewhat abysmal A’s (they’d finish 67-77 in the shortened season) going 5-1 in his 49 relief appearances with a 2.42 ERA. Using today’s metrics we see an FIP of 4.29 and note his piddling 4.2 K/9 that all amassed to a 0.3 WAR year in the Green and Gold but back then 5-1 with a 2.42 ERA? Can’t go wrong there so Yanks GM Gene Michael snatched him up.

The Yankees made the most of him, using him in half their remaining games (he would be ineligible for the playoffs where against a lefty-laden Mariners lineup he may very well have come in handy) with those three appearances totaling one lone inning during which he allowed one walk, and one home run to have a 27.00 ERA and equally unfavorable 19.10 ERA and did enough damage to nearly erase all his work in Oakland earning -0.2 WAR. The Yankees would win the wild card in spite of Rick Honeycutt and I’d like to think the A’s used that money at the blackjack table in Las Vegas the next spring when they opened their season in Las Vegas. If they did, it’d appear as if they lost…

A largely similar version of this was posted today on Athletics Nation as my regular Sunday front-page story there. If you do not read Athletics Nation I heartily recommend it as the #1 stop for A’s fans to meet up online and talk about their team. 

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