Thursday, October 28, 2010

Feature: The Rape of the Red Sox?

The series of trades between the Red Sox and Yankees in the late 1910's/early 1920's is often vilified in Boston. The Red Sox traded several important parts of their club to the Yankees, who helped the Yankees become a force in the 1920's. Many of the players Boston received were perceived to be inferior to those sent to the Yankees. But, is that necessarily true? Let's examine each of the major trades and the players changing sides, and assign a winner of each trade.

DECEMBER 18, 1918
Yankees receive: Dutch Leonard, Ernie Shore, Duffy Lewis

Dutch Leonard never played a game with the Yankees and was sold to the Detroit Tigers. WAR = 0.0

Ernie Shore was at the end of his career, despite only being 27. He only pitched in 34 total games in two years with New York, posting ERA's north of 4.00. WAR = -1.0

Duffy Lewis had a little bit of power but was never again the same kind of player that he was in Boston. WAR = -0.5

TOTAL WAR = -1.5

Red Sox receive: Ray Caldwell, Frank Gilhooley, Slim Love, Roxy Walters, $15,000.00

Ray Caldwell went 7-4 with a 3.96 ERA and was released. WAR = -2.9

Frank Gilhooley spent one season in Boston and never did much of anything. WAR = -0.3

Slim Love never played for Boston and was traded to Detroit with two other players for Ossie Vitt, who was never much of a player in Boston either. WAR = 0.0 (Vitt WAR = 2.2, but will not be considered as part of this analysis because other players were traded along with Love for Vitt)

Roxy Walters played for Boston for five years as a backup catcher. WAR = -2.8

TOTAL WAR = -6.0

Winner: Yankees. Boston got more seasons out of Walters and Vitt, who was a product of a trade for Love, but those seasons were not really productive. None of the players involved in this trade were particularly impressive after the trade.

JULY 29, 1919
Yankees receive: Carl Mays

Carl Mays won 20 games each of the next two full seasons for New York. Later, he would be infamous for killing Ben Chapman with a pitch. WAR = 15.2

TOTAL WAR = 15.2

Red Sox receive: Bob McGraw, Allen Russell, $40,000.00

Bob McGraw was terrible for Boston and ended up back in New York the following year anyway. WAR = -1.2

Allen Russell won 10 games the rest of the 1919 season which is the best showing of any of the players involved in the trade that year, and he was a slightly above-average pitcher for a couple of more years. WAR = 5.1


Winner: Yankees. Russell had the best transition immediately after the trade, but Mays is borderline HOF-worthy and showed why during his tenure with the Yankees.

JANUARY 3, 1920
Yankees receive: Babe Ruth

Do I really need to say anything? WAR = 149.6

TOTAL WAR = 149.6

Red Sox receive: $100,000.00


Winner: Yankees. Sure, $100K was a lot of money back then, but Babe Ruth is quite possibly the greatest player to have ever played.

DECEMBER 15, 1920
Yankees receive: Waite Hoyt, Wally Schang, Mike McNally, Harry Harper

Waite Hoyt is in the Hall of Fame. Mostly for what he did in the 1920's with the Yankees. WAR = 31.0

Wally Schang's best years were behind him, but he was still a solid offensive catcher and should be in the Hall of Fame. He played five years for the Yankees. WAR = 10.2

Harry Harper only pitched in eight games for the Yankees. WAR = 0.9

Mike McNally was a utility infielder. WAR = 0.9

TOTAL WAR = 43.0

Red Sox receive: Del Pratt, Muddy Ruel, Hank Thormahlen, Sammy Vick

Del Pratt was a very good player for two years for the Red Sox. He was the team's best player in 1921 with 102 RBI, a .324 batting average, and he almost never struck out. Not bad for a second-baseman. WAR = 5.9

Muddy Ruel never did much for Boston in two years with the team. WAR = 1.1

Hank Thormahlen pitched poorly and was out of the major leagues for a few years before resurfacing in Brooklyn. WAR = 0.3

Sammy Vick did nothing in 44 games with Boston. WAR = -0.5


Winner: Yankees. Pratt was a good player and was later traded for Howard Ehmke and Babe Herman, but the Yankees got a Hall of Famer at the beginning of his prime.

DECEMBER 20, 1921
Yankees receive: Bullet Joe Bush, Sad Sam Jones, Everett Scott

Bullet Joe Bush won 26, 19, and 17 games in three years with the Yankees. WAR = 11.5

Sad Sam Jones was a 21 game winner one year and a 21 game loser another year. He was slightly above average for three years in New York and slightly below average for two years. WAR = 6.5

Everett Scott was never much with the bat, but was a fantastic defensive shortstop. WAR = 0.1

TOTAL WAR = 18.1

Red Sox receive: Roger Peckinpaugh, Rip Collins, Bill Piercy, Jack Quinn, $100,000.00

Roger Peckinpaugh was immediately traded to Washington for Joe Dugan and Frank O'Rourke. Dugan only played part of one season for Boston and was later traded, see below. O'Rourke did not do much. WAR = 0.0.

Because Peckinpaugh was traded alone, I will consider Joe Dugan and Frank O'Rourke in this analysis. Dugan WAR = 0.3, O'Rourke WAR = 0.2

Rip Collins won 14 games for a bad Boston team, but lead the league in walks and wild pitches. WAR = 2.7

Bill Piercy won 16 games over the next three years with a decent ERA in one of them. WAR = 0.8

Jack Quinn was a consistently good pitcher for the next three years on bad teams. WAR = 11.6

TOTAL WAR = 15.6

Winner: Yankees. Quinn was a good pickup and for once the Red Sox had the most valuable individual player in the trade, but he did not make up for the loss of Bush AND Jones. If they had held onto Peckinpaugh, this would look to be in Boston's favor.

JULY 23, 1922
Yankees receive: Joe Dugan, Elmer Smith

Nope, the Red Sox did not even hold on to Joe Dugan for very long. Not really a good player, due to inability to take a walk, but he hit for a reasonable average, without any power and was steady for several years. WAR = 5.4

Elmer Smith did nothing in 31 at bats. WAR = 1.2


Red Sox receive: Chick Fewster, Elmer Miller, Johnny Mitchell, Lefty O'Doul, $50,000.00

Chick Fewster was your run-of-the-mill utility infielder. WAR = -1.0

Elmer Miller was a terrible backup outfielder for 44 games. WAR = -1.0

Johnny Mitchell was basically Chick Fewster. WAR = -1.0

The Yankees did not know what they had in Lefty O'Doul who later became a big-time slugger. He was just a pitcher for the Yankees when he was traded. Of course the Red Sox did not know either and also tried him as a pitcher where he was terrible and banished to the minors where he would later be drafted away and become the slugger he was capable of being. WAR = -1.5

TOTAL WAR = -4.5

Winner: Yankees. The Yankees did not get anyone terribly impressive, but Boston got some spare parts and O'Doul who they did not know what to do with. If he had been turned into a position player while with Boston, this one may have turned out differently.

JANUARY 3, 1923
Yankees receive: George Pipgras, Harvey Hendrick

George Pipgras was a big winner for the Yankees later on in the decade and never actually played for the Red Sox. WAR = 8.8

Harvey Hendrick was only a part-time player. WAR = -0.3


Red Sox receive: Al DeVormer, cash

Al DeVormer was a part-time catcher with no bat. WAR = -0.4

TOTAL WAR = -0.4

Winner: Yankees. Yeesh, even the minor deals turn out incredibly one-sided with Pipgras being a 20 game winner later on and DeVormer doing basically nothing.

JANUARY 30, 1923
Yankees receive: Herb Pennock

Pennock turned out to be a HOFer and the ace of the Yankees staff for the remainder of the decade. WAR = 29.2

Red Sox receive: Norm McMillan, George Murray, Camp Skinner, $50,000.00

Norm McMillan played regularly at three infield positions the next year, but was not much of a hitter. WAR = -1.2

George Murray walked too many hitters and had high ERAs each of the two years he played in Boston. WAR = -1.0

Camp Skinner played seven uninspiring games and was out of baseball. WAR = -0.2

TOTAL WAR = -3.4

Winner: Yankees. No question.



Overall Winner: Yankees. The Yankees received HOFers Babe Ruth, Waite Hoyt, and Herb Pennock and gave away only a couple of players who were any good at all. Del Pratt, Allen Russell, and Jack Quinn were the "highlights" of these deals for the Red Sox. Not much to say other than, these were overall terrible deals for the Red Sox. It is interesting that the trade involving Quinn could have swung in Boston's favor had they not immediately traded Peckinpaugh. That's the only trade that could be argued as a decent trade for both teams though. The Red Sox received $360,000.00 in those trades, which I think basically shows what these deals were really about. The Red Sox could have undone most of it though with one trade. The Yankees wanted to trade for Boston's first-baseman Phil Todt, and offered a first-baseman of their own, but Boston said no after the rash of bad trades earlier. The player the Yankees offered was Lou Gehrig.

Now, I'm depressed.

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