Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Three Strikes: Noteworthy pitchers traded
By Jayson Stark
STRIKE ONE -- LET'S MAKE A DEAL DEPT.
So if Zack Greinke and Matt Garza could get traded within three weeks of each other in the same offseason, what does that tell us?
It tells us that if you're a team looking for a top-of-the-rotation kind of arm, hang in there for a few months -- because more of those arms are popping onto the old trade market than at any time in recent history. For instance:
• Of the five pitchers to throw a no-hitter in 2010, two of them have been traded within a few months of joining the No-Hit Club -- Garza and Edwin Jackson (who was dealt from Diamondbacks to the White Sox in July a month after throwing his no-hitter).
So how long has it been since we had a season in which two no-hit pitchers got traded before the following Opening Day? More than 30 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And the last time, it involved two future Hall of Famers.
Last time it happened: 1977-78, when Dennis Eckersley pitched a no-hitter for Cleveland in '77 and started the '78 season in Boston, and Bert Blyleven threw a no-hitter for Texas in '77 and was in Pittsburgh by April of '78.
• But what's become even more astounding is the epidemic of Cy Young Award winners getting traded. Consider this:
With the trade of Greinke, EVERY American League Cy Young winner between 2006 and 2009 has gotten traded within 15 months of hauling in his trophy:
2009: Greinke (13 months)
2008: Cliff Lee (8 months)
2007: CC Sabathia (8 months)
2006: Johan Santana (15 months)
And not only has there never been a streak like that in Cy Young history, you should know that before that outbreak of Let's Make A Deal, we'd only seen five Cy Young winners traded away that fast in the previous two DECADES:
1998: Roger Clemens (3 months)
1997: Pedro Martinez (1 month)
1994: David Cone (TWICE -- 5 months and 8 months)
1993: Jack McDowell (13 months)
1988: Frank Viola (8 months)
Oh. And one more thing: Since we've also seen two other former Cy Young winners (Roy Halladay and Jake Peavy) get dealt in the past year and a half, it means that, other than the two 2010 Cy Young winners, only two active Cy Young winners are still pitching for the team with which they won the award -- Tim Lincecum and Chris Carpenter. Very strange.
STRIKE TWO -- 50 AIN'T SO NIFTY DEPT.
Because I live in Philadelphia, I find myself noticing stuff like the note I'm about to type. Can't help myself. It's in my DNA. So now that I've got that disclaimer out of the way, here it comes:
During the past two months, three more franchises have added themselves to the prestigious list of teams that have gone at least 50 seasons without winning a championship in their sport.
One is the football team in my town -- the Eagles. The second is the team that lost the last World Series -- the Rangers (as long as we count the 11 years of futility by their distinguished forefathers, the Washington Senators, before they moved to Texas in 1972). And the third we'll discuss shortly.
So that makes nine franchises in the four major pro sports that are in that 0-for-a-half-century club -- one of which (guess who?) is in its own private 0-for-a-century club. Now put on your hard hats. Here they are:
Arizona/St. Louis/Chicago Cardinals: 63
NBA Kings/Royals: 59
Detroit Lions: 53
Atlanta/St. Louis Hawks: 52
Minnesota Vikings: 50
When I ran this list out there on Twitter on Monday, we had some controversy erupt over whether the third newcomer, the Vikings, should be allowed to join this group. The Vikings did win an "NFL" title in the 1969 season, before the NFL-AFL merger. But they also lost in the Super Bowl to Kansas City. So I'm ruling that they qualify.
But if any Minnesotans beg to differ, hey, feel free. Bud Grant would appreciate it, anyway.
STRIKE THREE -- DUELING MENDOZA DEPT.
My definition of a dominator would go something like this:
A pitcher NOBODY can hit.
Not left-handed hitters. Not right-handed hitters.
Try arguing with that logic. I dare you.
So with that preamble, here comes this year's annual list of pitchers who held both left-handed and right-handed hitters to batting averages beneath the Mendoza Line in 2010. Not surprisingly, they're all relievers. What IS surprising is that you'd never, ever guess three of them.
All these guys pitched at least 60 innings. So this was no cheap feat.
OK, now which starting pitcher came closest? Bet you wouldn't guess if I gave you the rest of the week. It was the guy who was traded for Edwin Jackson -- Daniel Hudson (.203/.201). Who knew!
Coming up in the next edition of this blog: pitchers who allowed both left-handed and right-handed hitters to hit .300 against them. It's quite a group. It even includes one Opening Day starter. So stay tuned!