Yo, Out Of Here, Adrian – And The Bunning File

I guess you mention this now to decrease your client’s trade value, so maybe the best option for his current team winds up being letting him walk as a free agent. They take the draft choice; you take the percentage of whatever the market can bear. Otherwise there can’t be anything logical about the agent for Adrian Gonzalez explaining he is expecting a Mark Teixeira deal, from the Padres, or from which ever the Padres deal Gonzalez to, or from the free agent market in the winter of 2011-12.

The Padres are not going to summon $180,000,000 even to keep a popular hometown superstar, and it seems unlikely that many other franchises would. If the Cubs really aren’t looking at Derrek Lee long term (how is my Micah Hoffpauir recommendation working out, by the way?), the Chicago teams might battle for him, maybe the Mets, but without the Yankees there to help drive the market, the money just isn’t going to be like that for a player who is not Teixeira’s defensive equal, and it would presumably limit trading interest in a pre-free agent Gonzalez to lesser prospects.
Consider what a difference a year – and a conviction by one team that they could sign him, and the conviction by another that they could not – did to Teixeira’s “value.” In 2008 the nonpareil first baseman was a nice rental in Anaheim at a price of Casey Kotchman and Steve Marek. In 2007 Atlanta (in retrospect, disastrously) gave up Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Beau Jones, thinking they were buying Teixeira.
If new Padres’ GM Jed Hoyer somehow doesn’t see those stark options, there is the added dimension of Gonzalez’s salary. At just $4.75 million this year, with an option for $5.5 million in 2011, he will be paid for two seasons what Jonathan Papelbon asked for in arbitration for just the one ahead of us.
With even the false pretense of a hometown discount erased by the agent’s remarks, there would seem there are three stages to the Padres’ end game with Gonzalez: 1) trade him immediately for a package not unlike what the Braves gave for Teixeira, to a team that believes it can sign him (if you are getting ten years of Gonzalez for the price of eight of Teixeira, the deal suddenly begins to make a little more sense). 2) It is conceivable the personnel price might peak as late as this year’s trade deadline, but certainly beyond it, it will deflate. 3) The last stage is when it just isn’t worth it for anybody to go to the prospect bank to rent Gonzalez for all or part of 2011.
Think of it this way. Trade him today and you can have Andrus, Feliz, and Saltalamacchia. Trade him in July and it might just be Andrus and Saltalamacchia. Wait until July 2011 and maybe it’s just Saltalamacchia.
I vowed when I started this blog last year to keep politics out of this, so I’ve waited until the news story involving Kentucky Senator/Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Bunning changed from active to past tense tonight, to share an odd bit of research I compiled awhile back.
One of the more intriguing measures of a pitcher is his record in the heat of pennant races. Don Drysdale, measured against the Dodgers’ chief rivals in each season of the ’60s, was only about a .500 pitcher. Juan Marichal pitched closer to .600 ball against the key teams in the Giants’ various pennant pursuits.
Another measure paints a very odd picture of Bunning the pitcher. He just wasn’t that good down the stretch.
Only once in his years with Detroit were the Tigers competitive. On July 15, 1961, they were tied for first with the Maris/Mantle Yankees. From that date on, Bunning posted a record of just 7-5 and his losses were not exactly to the cream of the crop (Baltimore twice, Boston, Chicago, and Minnesota). The Tigers plummeted to second place, eight games out.
1964 can hardly be blamed on Bunning alone, or even to a great degree. But it is still fascinating that however foolhardy Gene Mauch was in running his starters into the ground, the facts were pretty straightforward: On the morning of September 16, Bunning was 17-5 and the Phils were still five games in front. Their ace would make five starts between that day and September 30, and he went 1-4 with a 7.46 ERA. The Phils finished third, though Bunning did win on the last day of the season in a game that could have theoretically forced a playoff.
In 1966, the Phils were still on the outskirts of the pennant race on September 5th, seven out. Bunning had a 16-9 record. He dropped five of his remaining eight decisions and the Phils were no factor down the stretch.
In the winter of 1967-68, the Pirates stripped their farm system of a couple of top prospects (shortstop Don Money, who made it, and lefty pitcher Bill Laxton, who didn’t) and packaged them with quality lefthander Woody Fryman to pry Bunning from Philadelphia. I can recall vividly that many believed the addition of a pitching ace like Bunning made the Pirates the NL favorites for 1968. He went 4-14.
In 1969, the Pirates sold Bunning to the Dodgers in mid-August (and got a couple of fringe prospects to boot) as LA sought to replace the suddenly-retired Drysdale during the frantic five-team NL West title hunt. On August 19, Los Angeles was half a game out. They proceeded to lose six of Bunning’s nine starts (four of the five after September 5, when they were still only a game-and-a-half back). The Dodgers finished fourth, eight out.
Again, you can’t pin any of these pennant race collapses entirely on Bunning. In ’64 the Phillies would never have been in the position to fold had he not dominated the league until the middle of September. In ’68 a lot more went wrong with Pittsburgh than just Bunning. And in ’69 he pitched some fine games in LA that the Dodgers could not win for him. 
But it is odd that not once in four pennant sprints did he finish strongly.


  1. minkyb63@yahoo.com

    I feel a little weird coming in here to say this, but please accept my adding my voice to the chorus of well-wishes for your father, your family, and you. Stay strong; we’ll try to help. And now, back to baseball….

  2. wellsoliver

    If the rumors are anything to believed, I think SD fans should prefer Gordon Beckham over a package involving any of those three players.

  3. clnowacki@yahoo.com

    Ah, my ever heart breaking Padres..sigh. Of course, my head agrees with you – if you are going to lose him, do it now and get maximum trade value (as we should have done with Peavy who I think was traded a skosh too late). But….my heart…

    All of which just makes me even MORE amazed at keeping Tony Gwynn all those years.

    Your comments about your dad on your show always touch my heart Keith. Much love & warmth to your entire family and continued Houdini-like improvements to your dad!

  4. lreed@niu.edu

    Baseball really needs to have a salary cap, every year the Yankee’s and the Red Sox grab up the all of top free agents and everyone else gets to go after what’s leftover. I’d love to see my beloved Cubbies go after Adrian Gonzalez but the new ownership doesn’t seem to want to do much right now.

    PS – My thoughts and prayers for a full recovery go out to your father, KO. The free health care clinics that you’ve sponsored are something that any father would be proud of.

  5. mantlewasarockstar

    Baseball really needs to have a salary cap, every year the Yankee’s and the Red Sox grab up the all of top free agents and everyone else gets to go after what’s leftover.” – lreed

    So, if there is a salary cap, who gets the extra revenue that now goes to the players? The owners? Hell, no. As much as I think players are vastly overpaid I’d rather they get the money and not the owners.

    It seems that everyone else gets the slim pickin’s after the Yankees and Red Sox make their FA choices, but perception is not reality. There are numerous recent examples–Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Roy Halladay, Matt Holliday, etc etc etc–where the Yankees and Red Sox did not have their way with the FA market.

    Yeah, the Yankees not being interested in Adrian Gonzalez may not raise his price as he and his agent would like, but there will be healthy competition for his services, no doubt.

  6. kattdrakken@yahoo.com

    It’s good to see you on the internets Keith. Isn’t it fabu that hospitols have wireless. All my best to you, your dad and the rest of your family.

    I’m not sure what your research says about the Bunning of today but I gotta say…he kinda freaks me out. Enough of that.

    Give your dad a kiss for me 😉

    It can’t hurt any.

  7. sanfranciscokarmared@yahoo.com

    Was Jim Bunning a mean little SOB as a baseball player, too? Meaning, does he have a history of wild pitches, “dirty” play (maybe not Ty Cobb-esque but not “nice), or not getting along with anyone in baseball? I’m wondering if he’s always been nasty or just got that way after entering politics. Continued good wishes for your Dad, your family, and friends!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s