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Post Info TOPIC: Revisiting the New York/Kansas City "Pipeline"
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VP of Operations

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Date: Jun 2, 2011
Revisiting the New York/Kansas City "Pipeline"
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By way of a re-introduction...

A discussion in another thread this week has finally caused me to re-post a piece I wrote several years ago, about the New York-Kansas City "Pipeline."

During a period of time back in the 1950's, the Athletics were accused of sending their best players to New York, because of a "sweatheart deal" between the clubs' ownership groups.

The reason this comes up now is because of a side conversation elsewhere, concerning the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, and all the players Boston sold/traded to New York between 1919 and the mid-'20's.

I have always believed that, if any series of deals could be called a "pipeline," it was that one, and I will write up something on that later.

For me, the original New York/Kansas City Pipeline thread I wrote is one of my favorites.  It originally came out of a discussion several years ago.

I had adapted a "devil's advocate" position, but soon found that there was much more nuance to this legend than I had originally thought.

I have since touched up my original thread a little, and added a bit more info on the principles in the Roger Maris trade, perhaps the modern equivalent to the Ruth deal, as a lynchpin in this series of transactions.

If the Maris trade is the "lynchpin," however, it is very weak by comparison.  Maris, for all the hooplah about his consecutive MVP seasons, lasted just four years (plus a half-season in '63) as an impact player in New York.

By 1962, however, the top player the A's received in the deal -- Norm Siebern -- had surpassed Maris.  And when the A's traded Siebern to Baltimore following the '63 season, they netted Jim Gentile.

In his one Kansas City season, Diamond Jim posted 28 homers and 71 RBIs, compared to the 26/71 numbers Maris put up for the Yankees in his last solid season.

While, yes, it was injuries that derailed Maris' career, it is no different than any other deal in which one side gets less than they bargained for, because of that very same reason.

Just look to the more recent blockbuster deal the Mariners made with Baltimore, in which they sent promising center field prospect Adam Jones, reliever George Sherrill and others to the O's, in exchange for star lefthander Erik Bedard.

For two seasons, that trade has been considered a dud for the M's, largely because of Bedard's stints on the DL.  The Mariners are starting to recoup some of that lost promise this year, but the injuries really turned it into a major loss.

Baseball history is dotted with those types of deals.  You just never know what is going to happen in any trade.  Or, free agent signing, for that matter.

Another thought that will come up several times is what consitutes a team's best players, and whether a team's best player can automatically be equated with another club's best, or the league's best.

For several years, the Mariners' best player was center fielder Rupe Jones.  He was good, and he was popular in Seattle.  But, does that mean he was worth as much elsewhere?  Not really.

What's "best" in Seattle might just be "good" elsewhere.  But lingering on "our best players," does no good, in determining the true value of the various exchanges the A's and Yankees made.

Most of the players the Yankees acquired were "parts," regardless of what they had meant to the A's.  Their value was relative to their surroundings.  Bob Cerv was an All-Star in K.C., but by the time he was shipped back to New York -- already in decline -- he was an aging "part."

And, far worse than the trades themselves, was what the Kansas City mismanagement team did with the often very good ballplayers they received.

How would you, in the early 1960's, like to have had a core group of players that included first baseman Deron Johnson, second baseman Jerry Lumpe, third baseman Woodie Held, and outfielders Norm Siebern and Russ Snyder?

Kansas City had 'em all...and dumped every one of 'em.  And they got all of them from New York.

Read on.  While I feel the "Pipeline" has been mischaracterized over the years, it's a fascinating bit of baseball history.



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Where it all began...

The A's management, led by new owner Arnold Johnson, who had bought the team and moved it from Philadelphia, was accused of being little more than stooges for the Yankees, a Minor League affiliate at the Major League level.

While the Yankees won pennant after pennant, the A's were their constant mirror reflections at the bottom of the Junior Circuit. When few would trade with the Bronx Bombers (it made little sense to deal with the team you were constantly trying to catch), the A's were willing participants.

Bill James has been among many to weigh in on the topic, adding his plaintive voice to those of his home state brethren. It is undeniable that such a cozy trade situation existed, as the clubs' ownership groups were close. What I feel, especially after looking at the end results -- the final score, so to speak -- much of the ado was about nothing.

Here's how the wikipedia entry describes it:

"During the Johnson ownership, general manager Parke Carroll invariably traded any good young Athletics players to the Yankees for aging veterans and cash. The cash was used to pay the bills, with the veterans perhaps having star appeal that could improve attendance.

Though Johnson promised the fans that the trades would soon bring a world championship to Kansas City, it did not work that way. The A's won 63 games in 1955, only the fifth time in the last 20 years they managed to win more than 60 games. However, they never contended past June in the six years of Johnson's ownership, and finished either last or next-to-last each season. Attendance declined, with fans and even other clubs charging that the A’s were little more than a Yankee farm team at the major league level, citing Johnson's pre-existing cozy relationship with Topping and Webb. This obvious conflict of interest was merely winked at by the rulers of the game at that time. It is perhaps not a coincidence that the Yankees went into decline as soon as the A's stopped sending them talent."

Perhaps. The story has some grain of fact, although the "any good young player" part is misleading. My research leads me to believe that much of the A's malaise was due to what they did with many of their new players, once New York delivered them. And those "good young" players the A's dealt usually belonged to New York, to begin with.

I examined each of the trades separately, and found something startling: as many actually ended up favoring the A's (or should have) as did the Yankees. And while the Yankees frequently received key additions to their bench, only a few were what you would call long-term impact players, after donning the pinstripes.

It was easy to scream "They keep trading away all our best players!" when the A's and Yanks linked up again on another swap. In fact, many were Kansas City's best. The simple fact is, the term "best players" is a relative one, and few were actually dealt in the midst of their best seasons. An eighth-place ballclub's best players may be serviceable talent, even good. But the simple fact is, if enough of their players had been any better in K.C., their team would not have spent an entire decade in the Second Division.

Also, a number of these "best players" were originally obtained from the Yankees. Several had their best years in Kansas City flannels. They were quality Major League players, to be sure. But most ended up there because the Bombers were simply loaded, and could only fit 25 players onto a Major League roster at a time. As a result, the A's were actually beneficiaries.

The Yankees obviously had top-drawer scouts combing the country. They signed an incredible array of talent, easily more than enough to stock a contender. The question then becomes, "What do you do with the overflow?"

Some ended up in K.C. And some of them made it back to the Big Apple years later, as the Yankees' own veterans faded. Management was always keen to let a player go a year too soon, as opposed to a year to late.

The core of the Yankee club was always Mantle, Berra, Ford, and Skowron. Gil McDougald was succeeded by Bobby Richardson, while the Scooter -- Phil Rizzuto -- gave way to Tony Kubek. They had Jerry Coleman, then Andy Carey at third.

Strength up the middle, good infield defense, and solid pitching. Run producers in the middle of the lineup. As to the rest, Casey Stengel was the Master of Manipulation, the first great platooner. He mixed-and-matched with world-class aplomb, utilizing a string of steady performers such as Elston Howard, Hank Bauer, Bob Cerv and Enos Slaughter.

"Suitcase" Harry Simpson, whom the Indians had signed out of the Negro Leagues in 1950, was the first of the "best" players to head East. After spending four seasons split between the big league club and the minors, Cleveland shipped the flychaser to Kansas City in 1955.

He was a fine player for the A's for the remainder of that season, and all of the next, when he peaked with .293/21/105. He was playing well early in '57, when he was packaged up with wild righthanded reliever Ryne Duren and Jim Pisoni, in exchange for prospects Woodie Held, Ralph Terry, and veterans Billy Martin and Bob Martyn.

Simpson was destined for Casey's platoon, while Duren became the Yankee closer for three years. "Battlin' Billy" Martin had run afoul too many times in New York, and it was thought that the relative quiet of K.C. would be best for the still-capable keystoner. Terry and Held were kids. The others were spare parts.

Essentially, it was the kids and spare parts for Simpson and spare parts. Not a big deal, really. But Duren went from a 0-3, six saves and a 5.27 ERA (allowing 37 hits and 30 walks in 42.7 innings), to an 18-14 record and 43 saves over three seasons in New York. That he did belies the fact that there was little, if any, indication that he ever would have in K.C.

Simpson, meanwhile, languished, batting just .250 in half-a-season in pinstripes. Exactly one year later, he was hitting a dismal .216 and was returned to K.C. with pitcher Bob Grim, for fellow hurler Duke Maas and Virgil "Fire" Trucks. The Yankees wanted Maas, who had won 10 games a year earlier with Detroit. Trucks was an end-of-the-road, 41-year-old veteran.

Grim was 7-6 for the A's, while Mass was 7-3 for New York (he had been 4-5 for the A's prior to the deal). A year later, he won 14, but added just five more in 1960, and was gone by '61. Simpson, however, rebounded and finished the season hitting .264. They dealt Harry and his suitcase away for good in 1960, to the White Sox, who then shipped him to soon-to-be World Series Champion Pittsburgh.

If you judge this deal by the net, it never really favored the Yankees either. Maas was never any more than a bit part, even with his 14 wins in '59 (the Yankees finished third, with just 79 wins, their worst season of the decade.

In '58, after his acquisition, the Yankees let him pitch just once in the World Series against Milwaukee. He surrendered three runs in 1/3 of an inning. In 1960 against the Pirates, he made it through two innings, allowing one run. In his two Series appearances, his ERA was 15.43. He had no decisions. He may have been one of Kansas City's best, but...

Getting back to Held, in just 92 games with the A's in '57, Woodie was second on the club with 20 home runs and was even 19th in the MVP voting.

He slipped early in '58, however, and was packaged in a deal that netted Kansas City another struggling youngster: Cleveland's Roger Maris. The A's also gave up their star first baseman, fancy-fielding Vic Power (obtained from the Yankees in 1953, the two-time All-Star had also drawn MVP votes in each of the three prior seasons).

Held went on to a 14-year career, belting 179 home runs, mostly for the Tribe.

Even with Power, Held, Hector Lopez (whom we'll discuss later), Gus Zernial (27 homers), catcher Hal Smith (.303, 13 HRs and also a former Yankee) and Cerv (.277/11/44), the truth remains they were still a seventh-place club. They had finished higher than sixth just once since 1949. That was 1952, in Philadelphia, when their 79-75 record was good for fourth. Two years and 198 losses later, Johnson bought the club and moved it to Kansas City.

Cerv was one of those who was sent from New York to Kansas City, after relatively light use. He never batting more than 115 times in six seasons in Casey's revolving door. He was already 30 when the Yankees traded him.

For the A's, he put together the three best years of his career, peaking in 1958, when he hit .305, with 38 home runs and 104 runs batted in. He hit cleanup at the All-Star Game. A year later, though, his numbers dropped off, to .285/20/87.

In all regards, '58 was his career year. He went from 124 games, to 141 in '58, but then back down to 125. His numbers peaked, then fell, accordingly. Those 20 homers in '59 were the second-best total of his career, and evidence that '58 was more of a fluke than regularly-sustainable.

In the next segments, I'll dissect the rest of the biggest trades.



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Analyzing the deals

In these next three posts, I will give my interpretation of the primary trades.

February 19, 1957

Traded a player to be named later, Irv Noren, Milt Graff, Mickey McDermott, Tom Morgan, Rip Coleman, and Billy Hunter to the Athletics. Received players to be named later, Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, Jack McMahan, and Wayne Belardi.

The New York Yankees sent Jack Urban (April 5, 1957) to the Kansas City Athletics to complete the trade. The Kansas City Athletics sent Curt Roberts (April 4, 1957) and Clete Boyer (June 4, 1957) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.

The Yankees were starting the season as defending A.L. Champs. Morgan went 9-7 for Kansas City, then was traded again (pattern here). McDermott never stopped drinking.

Shantz had won 24 for the '52 A's, but was just 13-26 over the next four years. He did win 11-7-7-5 in four years with the Yankees. Ditmar is noted for his back-to-back 12-win seasons in Kansas City, prior to the trade. But he was 12-12, 5.03, the first year, and 12-22, 4.42, in the second. From '57-'60, he won 8, 9, 13, and 15 games for New York, but lost his only two World Series decisions ('60, vs. Pittsburgh).

Boyer, of course, went on to become the Yankees' regular third baseman for the next 10 years. He was a late throw-in on the deal, after having failed to hit in three prior call-ups.

Edge: New York

June 15, 1957

Traded Billy Martin, Ralph Terry, Woodie Held, and Bob Martyn to the Athletics. Received Ryne Duren, Jim Pisoni, and Harry Simpson.

The Yankees were in second place, three games behind the White Sox. They traded their starting second baseman, a talented young infielder, a young pitcher, and a utility player for three players. Duren did not even pitch for New York that season. In '58, he became their closer for three years, though he dropped from 20-14-9 saves during that span.

Simpson batted .250 (down from the .296 he was hitting for Kansas City, and further down from his 105 RBI '56 season. He was gone, back to K.C. the next season).

Terry had been 20-33 in parts of three season for the A's and was just 3-7 the rest of the season for the A's. Martin (.257, up from the .241 he was hitting for New York) and Martyn (.267) had as much impact (for K.C.). Pisoni never played for the Yankees.

Edge: Slightly, to Kansas City. You can't take this one out on the Yankees because the A's fumbled away the best player of the bunch at the time (Held).

June 15, 1958

Traded Bob Grim and Harry Simpson to the Athletics. Received Duke Maas and Virgil Trucks.

The Yankees already led the Red Sox by seven games, and the A's (surprise here) by 7-1/2. Maas had a fine finish for New York (7-3) and won 14 in '58, but was under .500 with Kansas City (4-5) prior to the deal, and was worthless in the '58 World Series.

Trucks, the aging veteran in his final season, was a bit player in both teams' bullpens, but also performed far better for Kansas City (0-1, 2.05 ERA in 22 IP, vs. 2-1, 4.57 in 40 IP). Simpson (batting just .216 for the Yanks) hit .264 upon his return to K.C. (again performing far better for the A's than he ever did for the Yankees). Grim (0-1 for New York) was 7-6 for the A's, and won six more games the next season for K.C.

Edge: As it turned out, not a big trade for either team. Slight edge to New York, in that Maas actually lasted two years.

April 12, 1959

Traded Russ Snyder and Tom Carroll to the Athletics. Received Mike Baxes and Bob Martyn.

Start of the season. The Yankees were defending A.L. champs. No debate necessary. The trade favored the A's, as Snyder went on to a fine career and was clearly the best player involved.

Edge: Kansas City

May 26, 1959

Traded Johnny Kucks, Tom Sturdivant, and Jerry Lumpe to the Athletics for Ralph Terry and Hector Lopez.

The Yankees were 14-22, 9.5 games back, in last place. Sturdivant and Kucks were a combined 0-3. Lumpe was batting .222 as a utility infielder. However, Terry was just 2-4, 5.24, after going 11-13, 4.24, in '58. Lopez was the best player in the bunch, and was K.C.'s starting third baseman.

Lopez went on to continue his fine career, while Terry had three big seasons for the Yankees, winning 16, 23 and 17 from 1961-'63. But he was just 3-7 during the remainder of '59, before going 10-8 in 1960. Still, a work in progress.

Like Art Ditmar and Duke Maas (mentioned elsewhere), Terry took his lumps in the postseason during the first two Series in which he appeared. In 1960, he took two losses, along with Ditmar, surrendering the Series-losing home run that immortalized Bill Mazeroski.

He lost again in his only decision against the Reds in '61, but finally came though with the gem of his career, the Game Seven 1-0 shutout that clinched the '62 Series against the Giants. He was 2-1 in that Series, then pitched just once in relief in each of the next two Fall Classics.

Jerry Lumpe, the young infielder who was having such a tough time earning his playing time in New York, was situated full-time at second base when he arrived in Kansas City.

He went on to have four outstanding seasons at the midway for the A's, and posted double figures in doubles, triples and home runs in 1962. In that campaign, he was second in the A.L. in hits and triples; third in sacrifice flies; fourth in at bats and singles; fifth in doubles; and eighth in batting.

After those four+ seasons, he was traded to Detroit in a deal that netted Rocky Colavito. He made the All-Star team for the Tigers in '63, and finished his career in 1967, the same year Hector Lopez retired.

Edge: New York, though Lumpe played extremely well for K.C.



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Let's look at the Roger Maris deal for a moment.  A huge amount of the overall effect of those trades has to do with what Roger became in New York.

Roger was a 22-year-old outfield with the Indians, when Kansas City picked him up in a trade involving Woodie Held and Vic Power (both previously acquired from the Yankees).

Maris was in his second season. His numbers with the Tribe at the time were .225/9/27 in 51 games.  He was .235/14/51 as a rookie the year before.

He finished the '58 season batting .247/19/53 in 99 games, 401 ABs.

In his only full season with the A's -- 1959 -- he was Kansas City's All-Star rep and posted .273/16/72.  Good numbers.  Not overwhelming, and a bit down in the power department from the previous season.  He had also missed 40 games with various injuries, and management got on him because they thought he was exaggerating how bad he was hurting.

The truth is, the Yankees always had their eyes on Maris, and the baseball establishment supposedly assumed they would get their man sooner or later.  This is while he was still with the Indians.

December 11, 1959

Traded Don Larsen, Norm Siebern, Hank Bauer, and Marv Throneberry to the Athletics for Roger Maris, Joe DeMaestri, and Kent Hadley.
 
The Yankees made their move.  Maris was one of three players Kansas City sent to the Yankees.  His '59 numbers have already been entered above.  DeMaestri had finished the season, his seventh in K.C. after being acquired from the Browns, with a .244 average, 6 HRs and 38 RBI.  He was K.C.'s All-Star rep in 1957, but it was a rather small honor, as he hit just .245 with 9 HRs and 33 RBIs.

The other, Kent Hadley, had just finished his first full season, and hit .253/10/39.  The totals for the three were 31 homers and 142 RBI.

The three position players New York sent combined for 33 home runs and 141 RBI in 1960.  Dead even, really.  Plus, they got Larsen, who had a bad year, but was good enough to pitch in the Big Leagues for another seven years.  He proved he still had plenty of value by what he did to help the Giants to the World Series in 1962.

Siebern led the A's in hitting four straight years, made three straight All-Star teams, and drew MVP votes (as high as seventh in 1962, when he belted 25 home runs and drove in 117 runs).

Maris/DeMaestri/Hadley drove in 125 runs for the Yankees in 1960.  Again, Siebern/Bauer/Throneberry drove in 141 for K.C.

Again, imagine if the A's had simply kept Siebern, Lumpe, Snyder, and (later) Deron Johnson.

Of course, the Yankees won the pennant.

In '61, the A's got 140 RBIs out of Siebern-Throneberry-Bauer.  Maris-DiMaestri combined for 143.

In '62, Siebern actually drove in 119 runs, to Maris' 100.

Maris missed 71 games in '63, dropping to 53 RBIs.  Siebern had 89 ribbies for the A's and made his second-straight All-Star Team.

Pennants aside (which the Yankees were likely to win anyway, and the A's weren't), why is that trade considered so lopsided for New York?



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The end of the Pipeline was soon to follow.

May 19, 1960

Traded Andy Carey to the Athletics.  Received Bob Cerv.

After 23 games, the Yankees were in fourth place, bunched in tight group a game-and-a-half behind the White Sox.

Carey had been New York's starting third baseman for the better part of five seasons.  In his best years, he was .305/8/62 and .286/12/65.

In 102 games for Kansas City, he hit just .233 but connected for 12 homers and 53 RBI (by comparison, his newly-installed replacement at third base in New York -- Boyer -- was .242/14/46).  They traded Carey to the White Sox in 1961, in the disastrous deal that also sent Larsen and Bob Herbert away.  Not the Yankees' fault.

Cerv went back into the Yankee rotation, hitting .250/8/28.

Edge: Even.  Kansas City got the best raw numbers and a starting third baseman for about a year, New York got its platoon outfield bat.  Cerv was gone at the end of the year.

NOTE: The Yankees let Cerv go in the expansion draft, then traded to get him back after the season started, from the Angels.  In '62, Cerv was dealt away for the last time, to Houston.  He hit a combined .188 (.118, 2-17, for New York).

June 14, 1961

Traded Art Ditmar and Deron Johnson to the Athletics.  Received Bud Daley.

Fifty-seven games into the season, the Yankees were one game behind both Detroit and Cleveland.  Knuckleballer Daley had won 16 games each of the last two seasons for Kansas City, but his ERA had jumped from 3.16 to 4.56.  At the time of the deal, however, he was 4-8, 4.95.

For the Yankees, he was just 15-14 in a season-and-a-half, and pitched in just one game in 1963.  This is not the the slam-dunk case once made out to be, according to an interesting note here that shines some light on what went on prior to the trade.  From the wikipedia entry on Bud Daley:

"He was traded to the New York Yankees after being relegated to the Kansas City bullpen during the 1961 season.  The move impaired his effectiveness as a pitcher.  Frank Lane (Finley's GM) was responsible for trading Daley to the Athletics (from the Indians) and then to the Yankees."

Ditmar had won 47 games in four+ seasons for New York, but was out of the rotation.  He was done.

Johnson, however, blossomed into a top star, and was clearly the best ballplayer in the deal, but after the A's let him go.  Despite that fact:

Edge: Kansas City.  Again, don't knock the Yanks for K.C.'s later, further, ineptitude.

Yet another note:  Frank Lane was the GM who traded Maris to Kansas City from Cleveland.  He was known as "Trader Lane."  And he was not a bad wheeler-dealer, either.  A few years later, he became a scout and special assistant to Baltimore Orioles GM Lee McPhail in 1965, where he remained for seven years.  He probably deserves at least some credit in assembling the Oriole powerhouse.

Again, according to the wiki, Lane "would gain fame (and sometimes infamy) for his multiple transactions, earning nicknames such as "Trader Frank", "Frantic Frank", "Trader Lane" and "The Wheeler Dealer" for the more than 400 trades he made over the years, including 241 with the White Sox alone. In addition to dealing figures such as Jim Busby, Norm Cash, Rocky Colavito, and Roger Maris, Lane also dispatched future Hall of Famers Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, and Early Wynn. When he also tried to trade the legendary Stan Musial, Cardinals owner Gussie Busch
blocked the transaction."

He was Finley's GM (for eight months), after Charlie bought a controlling interest in the club following Johnson's death in 1960.

Where the blame has historically been focused on one management group (Johnson), the truth is very different.  The ownership and GM position changed hands in the midst of the chaos.

Lane was hired by Finley and made the trade that netted Deron Johnson from the Yanks -- giving up Daley in the process -- and the Larsen-Herbert-Carey deal with Chicago (Herbert won 20 for the Sox).  Some good, some bad.

In one accounting, the Daley trade was supposedly the last straw.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It would have been a steal, had the A's held onto Johnson.

Lane was gone by then, so you can't even blame him.  Much ado was made over Finley's breaking up the pipeline with the Yankees.  But he then hired former Yankee hurler Eddie Lopat to help run things, although Charlie was pretty much his own GM.

I have a further question: Was there something wrong with Daley that caused him to be relegated to the K.C. pen, in the first place?  With that bit of info from the wiki added to the picture, it makes the Yankee move look more like a roll of the dice than anything else.



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Yes, these trades brought Ralph Terry back to New York, and added Art Ditmar, Clete Boyer, Roger Maris and Hector Lopez. But the A's gained Woodie Held, Norm Siebern, Russ Snyder, Jerry Lumpe, and Deron Johnson. The Yankees had already given them Vic Power.

It's not difficult to see Roger Maris, having stayed in Kansas City, going on to a career not much different than Norm Siebern had. I firmly believe that much of his success ultimately owed to his surroundings. Certainly, Yankee Stadium was perfectly suited to his lefthanded swing. And the other luminaries around him made certain that he never had to carry the club on his back.

Maris had more longball power than Siebern, but Norm hit for a consistently higher average for his first six full seasons, before tapering off. In his best season -- 1962 -- Siebern batted .302, with 25 homers and 117 RBI. It was the middle campaign of a three-year arc in which he drove in 298 runs, easily comparable to what Maris might have accomplished in K.C. Siebern was seventh in the MVP voting in '62, and it marked the first of three consecutive All-Star appearances.

The third of those All-Star Games, alas, was with the Orioles. Once again, the A's had traded their best player, this time for Jim Gentile. As further evidence of ineptitude that went far beyond the old A's regime, Finley dumped Gentile after one year -- a year in which the slugging first baseman belted out 28 home runs and drove in 71 runs. The A's received pitcher Jesse Hickman and a player to be named later. Hickman pitched just 13 games in the big leagues, posting an 0-1 record. The player to be named later turned out to be an infielder named Ernie Fazio. To his credit, Fazio made it into 27 games with Kansas City (34 ABs), batting just .206.

Now, you may say "Wait a minute: the Lumpe deal netted a heckuva slugger." You'd be right. But Colavito -- like Gentile -- lasted just one season, even though the Rock belted out 34 homers, collected 102 ribbies and made his fourth All-Star Team. The next great bit of Finley wisdom -- a three-team trade involving the White Sox and Indians -- that followed, brought the A's outfielders Jim Landis and Mike Hershberger, who combined for eight homers, and pitcher Fred Talbot. Talbot was 15-16 in a season-plus, before the A's traded him on June 10, 1966...to the New York Yankees. It was a five-player deal that sent Gil Blanco, Roger Repoz and Bill Stafford to Kansas City.

Lost in the shuffle is Johnson, the big power-hitting outfielder-first baseman. Still only 23 after two partial-season trials (the second was just 17 games in 1962), they sold him to the Reds in April of 1963. A year later, he hit 21 homers and drove in 79 runs for the pennant-chasing Reds. In '65, he finished third in the MVP race, as he posted 32 roundtrippers and drove a Major League-best 130 runs.

The A's finally did get something out of Johnson, though. In 1973, they traded Minor Leaguer Jack Bastable (???) to the Phillies to reclaim Johnson. His 19 homers and 81 RBI help the Oaklanders to the second of their three straight World Series titles.

As far as the pipeline was concerned, players went back and forth from time-to-time, but those players didn't make a huge difference when they were in Kansas City. Even at its best, the club was strictly Second Division and second rate. The owners had ultimately wanted to move the franchise to Los Angeles, but were thwarted when the Angels were created. Charlie Finley finally secured Oakland, but still found little support, as his attempted free agent fire sale later proved. Even after three titles, he still had made precious little money with which to keep his stars.

Finley was, of course, his own side show. Even after he made a big show of stopping the business with New York, he (and Lane) made the Daley trade. And continued to trade away many of their best players.

And while the A's may have traded their best players, those players were almost always players they had received from other organizations...not just the Yankees. Their own history of signing young amateur players was horrible. The few quality signees were limited to Clete Boyer (1955), Dick Howser (1958), Jose Santiago and Ken Harrelson (1959), and Dick Green and Ken Sanders (1960). They were good, but not World Beaters.

At least they drafted better after Finley took command. They signed Bert Campaneris, Lew Krausse and Fred Norman in '61. Tony LaRussa entered the fold in '62, and '63 brought Dave Duncan, Paul Linblad, and Jim Nash. They were starting to build their own quality organization.

But still, compare that record to: Jerry Coleman (1942); Yogi Berra (1943); Hank Bauer, Bobby Brown (1946); Whitey Ford, Lew Burdette (1947); Bob Grim, Gil McDougald, Tom Sturdivant (1948); Mickey Mantle (1949); Andy Carey, Bob Cerv, Bill Skowron, and Bill Virdon (1950 -- they also purchased Elston Howard from the Kansas City Monarchs); Jerry Lumpe, Woodie Held, Norm Siebern, Vic Power, and Johnny Blanchard (1951 -- they also traded Burdette for Johnny Sain); Johnny Kucks, Marv Throneberry (1952); Russ Snyder, Bobby Richardson, Ralph Terry (1953).

They added Tony Kubek in 1954, also purchasing Tommy Byrne from Seattle of the PCL. Deron Johnson was signed in '56. Horace Clarke, Don Lock, Joe Pepitone and Tom Tresh were added in 1957, and Jim Bouton signed on in '59. Mel Stottlemyre and Al Downing were welcomed to the fold in 1961, along with Mike Hegan and Roy White.

All those names in bold represent the heart of the "best players" the A's supposedly gave up, either to the Yankees, or to others. Look where they had all come from in the first place.

That's how the Yankees built their winners. They went out and found them. And with all that talent, they could afford to be magnanimous with an old friend. They could have always stowed them away somewhere on the farm.

By the time that run ended, however, the amateur picks were beginning to thin out a bit. There were two more teams, the Angels and the new Senators. In another year, there would be two more (the Mets and Colts). That was a 25% increase in the number of teams -- with their minor league organizations -- scouring the country for talent. Finally, in 1965, came the draft. As the Yankee machine was showing its age, they were doubly penalized by drafting near the bottom, because of their having won the '64 pennant.

There are two interesting ironies that played out during the Kansas City years. First, the A's may have traded many (not all) of their best players to the Yankees, but without the Yankees, they might have never had most of those good players to begin with. Imagine how bad they would have been then, if the Yankees had just horded those guys on the farm.

The second involves going back to the comments from the wikipedia entry at the beginning of this piece, that the Yankees' demise was apparently tied into the A's no longer giving them the parts they needed to keep running smoothly. Where were the players the Yankees needed in 1965, when Mantle and Maris were hurt, and Bouton suffered his sore arm? The sure weren't in Kansas City:

Deron Johnson (.287/32/130) was in Cincinnati, finishing third in the MVP race.

Jerry Lumpe (.257/4/39) was now anchoring the keystone in Detroit.

Norm Siebern (.256/8/32/79 BB) was starting to wind down a fine career (three All-Star selections) in Baltimore.

Russ Snyder (.270 as a utility outfielder/pinch hitter) was Siebern's teammate again in Baltimore, and would win a World Series the next season --
with former Yankee/Athletic Hank Bauer, who earned Manager of the Year)

Woodie Held (.247/16/54) was now a Senator.

It's not that the Yankees stopped getting the A's best players; it's that they stopped getting their own back. And their own new generation of youngsters (Clarke, Hegan, White, Bobby Murcer (1964)) weren't quite ready to shoulder the load. The Orioles (and then the A's) were ascendant. It happens to everyone, sooner or later.

It's also worth noting that the Yankees were having ownership problems of their own, as another dip into the wiki reveals:

"After the 1964 season, CBS purchased 80% of the Yankees from Topping and Webb for $11.2 million. With the new ownership, the team would begin to decline. In fact, the Yankees finished in the second division for the first time in 40 years in 1965. This was made worse by the introduction of the major league amateur draft that year, which meant that the Yankees could no longer sign any player they wanted. Webb sold his 10 percent stake to CBS before the year was out.

In 1966, the Yankees finished last in the AL for the first time since 1912. After they finished next-to-last in the 1967 season, the team's fortunes improved somewhat, but they would not become serious contenders again until 1974. Various reasons have been given for the decline, but the single biggest one was the Yankees' inability to replace their aging superstars with new ones, as they had done consistently in the previous five decades. Topping and Webb had owned the Yankees for 20 years, missing the World Series only five times and going 10-5 in the ones they did get to. By contrast, the CBS-owned teams never went to the World Series."

They never even made it to the postseason. Of course, that disastrous run led to the Steinbrenner Era.

All of a sudden, the '50's don't look so bad.

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GREAT GREAT GREAT read here Jeff..........

I for one 100% agree with you in all you have written. I never thought the Yankees had a "pipeline" with the A's as far as talent. I 100% agree with you that in fact it seems like the A's were just the only team that traded with them (Senators too). Also, at the time there were VERY few trades between teams in opposite leagues, so you really had only 7 teams to choose from if you wanted to make a trade (unlike nowadays...or even in the 60's and 70's, it seemed MANY more trades happened between leagues then the 50's).



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Thank you.

I understand why Kansas City fans might come away feeling used and abused, but the picture I see is that the A's management (both the Johnson and Finley regimes) simply frittered away a fine haul.

It's just too easy to sit back and say, "Look. All those players we traded to the Yankees got to the World Series again. We got screwed."

No, they didn't. Not by the Yankees, anyway.

Again, if those players had been that good to begin with, wouldn't the A's have been a better ballclub?

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Good timeline of the trades the A's & Yankees made with each other. When you look at the trades one at a time you can see where the trades were in actuallty fairly even.

The A's just didn't hold on to some of the players before the trades or after for very long. It appears tha the management did not show patience when it should have.

Great job on breaking down the relationship of the NY/KC trades Seajaw.

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i think the yankees use every major league team as a pipe line since they have so few players come up through their system to make an impact anymore.

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Nowadays, all they have to do is bide their time, then open the vault.

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You learn something new every day...

I was just researching the career of Gino Cimoli, as I recently acquired his original "Bonus Baby" contract on eBay.

I was reading his SABR Bioproject entry, and got to the part where he was dealt to the Pirates, following the end of the '59 season.  It mentions the fact that the Pirates had no real power source (Cimoli didn't help there).

Evidently, the Pirates had a chance to get one, but turned it down, when they refused to part with shortstop Dick Groat, who went on to become the 1960 N.L. MVP.  The player the Pirates turned down?

Roger Maris.

Pittsburgh GM Joe L. Brown had agreed to the deal at the Winter Meetings, but Bucs' manager Danny Murtaugh was firmly against it, and the trade never took place.  The A's then turned to New York to complete the mega-deal that finally took place.

I have found another source that substantiates this.  I'm not sure just how much it's considered "common knowledge," since it has a wiki entry.

But it flies in the face of the A's giving Maris to New York, just because they had some kind of special "sweetheart arrangement."

Imagine how history might have been changed, had Murtaugh not put his foot down.



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Revisiting the New York/Kansas City
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Bill James has said he surmises someone in New York had shown him how to be an extreme pull hitter to take advantage of the short porch in right. He had power before he went to New York yes, but not 61 homer power.

The right field line in Forbes was pretty short (300 feet directly down the line), but the power alley was quite a bit longer then Yankee Stadium, and of course it REALLY got deep pretty fast going to center. Not as extreme as Fenway but pretty big anyways.

(SIDENOTE: If you have ever been to Fenway like me, go and stand by the Pesky Pole and look directly right...how fast the fence fans out on TV is nowhere near as visual as seeing it in person, it almost looks like it goes behind you).

Then again, he would have had to play somewhere other then RF, as no matter how much power he may have, he isn't going to supplant Clemente's defense and arm.

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RE: Revisiting the New York/Kansas City "Pipeline"
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nacster wrote:

Bill James has said he surmises someone in New York had shown him how to be an extreme pull hitter to take advantage of the short porch in right. He had power before he went to New York yes, but not 61 homer power.

The right field line in Forbes was pretty short (300 feet directly down the line), but the power alley was quite a bit longer then Yankee Stadium, and of course it REALLY got deep pretty fast going to center. Not as extreme as Fenway but pretty big anyways.

(SIDENOTE: If you have ever been to Fenway like me, go and stand by the Pesky Pole and look directly right...how fast the fence fans out on TV is nowhere near as visual as seeing it in person, it almost looks like it goes behind you).

Then again, he would have had to play somewhere other then RF, as no matter how much power he may have, he isn't going to supplant Clemente's defense and arm.


True.

I find it interesting, though, how this works against the narrative of the "Pipeline," that the Maris-to-New-York deal was part of business as usual between the A's and Yankees.



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seajaw wrote:
nacster wrote:

Bill James has said he surmises someone in New York had shown him how to be an extreme pull hitter to take advantage of the short porch in right. He had power before he went to New York yes, but not 61 homer power.

The right field line in Forbes was pretty short (300 feet directly down the line), but the power alley was quite a bit longer then Yankee Stadium, and of course it REALLY got deep pretty fast going to center. Not as extreme as Fenway but pretty big anyways.

(SIDENOTE: If you have ever been to Fenway like me, go and stand by the Pesky Pole and look directly right...how fast the fence fans out on TV is nowhere near as visual as seeing it in person, it almost looks like it goes behind you).

Then again, he would have had to play somewhere other then RF, as no matter how much power he may have, he isn't going to supplant Clemente's defense and arm.


True.

I find it interesting, though, how this works against the narrative of the "Pipeline," that the Maris-to-New-York deal was part of business as usual between the A's and Yankees.


 I know I have read somewhere why the Yankees and A's made so many trades......seems to me it involved the KC owner somehow, like a former shareholder or something........



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"NACSTER'S HISTORICAL REPLAY"

34 REPLAYS IN THE BOOKS!

1876-1883

1896-1900

1906

1916-1917

1921, 1929

1936-1937

1943, 1946

1956-1963

1976

1986

1991, 1996

37,117 regular season games through 34 replays!

 

 

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