Kevin Towers: Deals of 1995-96, Part 2

One section of the upcoming Ducksnorts book will focus on trades made by Kevin Towers during his tenure as Padres general manager. I’m still in the process of taking inventory of every deal he’s made, and eventually I’ll include his five best and five worst trades in the book, along with analysis of each. For now, however, we’ll just take a quick look at the deals Towers made over his first 14 months on the job. (Part 1 is here.)

November 21, 1996: Traded Dustin Hermanson to the Florida Marlins. Received Quilvio Veras.

Hermanson for Veras
Player Win Shares
1997 1998 1999 Total
Hermanson* 10 13 12 35
Veras 15 23 16 54
Difference +19
*Hermanson was traded March 26, 1997, with Joe Orsulak by the Marlins to the Montreal Expos for Cliff Floyd.

This trade is tough to evaluate because Hermanson never pitched for the Marlins. The table above shows only Veras’ contribution with the Padres and Hermanson’s with the Expos during that same time period. From a value standpoint, the Pads did very well in this deal.

Win Shares
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002* Total
5 18 9 19 26 17 94
*With Florida only.

I guess you’d say that the Expos got the worst of these two trades, but even they did okay. Hermanson made 122 starts over four seasons for Montreal and was quite effective for most of that time.

December 6, 1996: Traded Scott Sanders to the Seattle Mariners. Received Sterling Hitchcock.

Sanders for Hitchcock
Player Win Shares
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 Total
Sanders 1 1
Hitchcock 3 9 10 1 1 24
Difference +23

I hated this trade when it happened. I really thought Sanders was a serious breakout candidate who might supplant Andy Ashby as the staff ace. I didn’t know much about Hitchcock except that his ERA was too high and he wasn’t Sanders.

As it turned out, Sanders got hit early and often with the Mariners (65.1 IP, 6.47 ERA) and ended his first AL season in Detroit. Little did we realize at the time that Sanders was very near the end of his career.

Hitchcock, on the other hand, enjoyed a fair measure of success with the Padres, compiling a 4.40 ERA in 672 2/3 innings over five seasons. He appeared to be on the verge of taking another step forward after a strong 1999 campaign, but injuries kept that from occurring — he was sort of a left-handed version of Adam Eaton.

Hitchcock bounced around for a few seasons, eventually returning to San Diego in 2004. Injuries forced him to retire late that season, at the ripe old age of 33.

For whatever else he may have accomplished in his career, Hitchcock will be remembered fondly by Padres fans for his fantastic post-season run in 1998. In four starts against the Astros, Braves, and Yankees, he went 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA, fanning 32 in just 22 innings.

December 16, 1996: Traded Willie Blair and Brian Johnson to the Detroit Tigers. Received Joey Eischen and Cam Smith (minors).

Blair and Johnson for Eischen
Player Win Shares
1997 Total
Blair 13 13
Johnson 1 1
Det total 14
Difference -14

The final trade of Towers’ first full season as GM of the Padres didn’t turn out so well, but you could hardly fault his logic. Blair was a journeyman right-hander whose list of comparables through age 30 includes the likes of Miguel Batista, Jay Witasick, Amaury Telemaco, and Russ Springer — useful but replaceable.

Only problem is, Blair didn’t get the memo and had a career year in Detroit, winning 16 games and posting an ERA+ of 110 over 175 innings. He made the most of his opportunity, signing a huge contract with the Diamondbacks in December 1997.

The signing worked out better for Blair than it did for Snakes, and Arizona dumped him on the Mets after just 23 starts. Blair returned to Detroit in a December 1998 trade for Joe Randa and hung on for a few more years before fading away following a forgettable 2001 season.

Johnson enjoyed a fine 1997 campaign, only it wasn’t with the Tigers. After 45 games in Detroit, the former Stanford quarterback was dealt to the Giants for fellow backstop Marcus Jensen. In San Francisco, Johnson saw the greatest success of his career, hitting .279/.333/.525 in 179 at-bats for the Giants. He played one more year there before making stops in Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Los Angeles and then hanging up the proverbial spikes.

For the Padres? Eischen never pitched so much as an inning for them. He was flipped three months later to the Reds for a player to be named later, who turned out to be Ray Brown. No, not that Ray Brown. Not that Ray Brown either. Yep, that Ray Brown.

San Diego had nothing to show for Blair and Johnson. What makes the trade defensible is that nobody could have seen Blair having anywhere near the kind of value he ended up having, even for just one season. It was a sensible move that didn’t work.

Hey, these things happen.

32 Responses »

  1. OK, I prematurely posted this on yesterday’s thread before Geoff had today’s thread open (too eager after the holidays to talk some baseaball I guess.

    This from today’s UT:

    “First baseman Adrian Gonzalez will play for Mazatlán during the team’s upcoming season in the Mexican winter league. Gonzalez, the Padres’ leader in several offensive categories this year, will be joined by his brother Edgar Gonzalez, a second baseman who batted .392 in 46 games with Florida’s Triple-A club. Towers consented to Adrian Gonzalez’s request that he play in Mazatlán, saying the benefits exceed the injury risk. “Adrian said it helps him get ready for the season,” Towers said.”

    1) Sounds good, as long as he stays healthy. If he were a pitcher I would see more of a risk, but if this gets him ready for the spring and gives him some personal happiness to play back home, giddyup.

    2) Can we get his bro Edgar away from the Marlins? Since he plays 2B, I would assume he’s faster afoot than Adrian. Wouldn’t mind an all-Gonzalez right side of the IF!

  2. Quick question…didn’t Willie Blair get hit by a line drive in 2001 or thereabout?? I seem to recall that being a huge cause of his retirement.

  3. Wasn’t that Bryce Florie?

  4. From Buster Olney’s blog today:
    “The market for Manny Ramirez continues to be robust. The Red Sox are talking with the Giants seriously about Manny, writes Henry Schulman, a trade that would have many ramifications — not the least of which is that the acquisition of Manny would end any chance of Barry Bonds re-signing with the Giants.”

    Uh, Man-Ram on the Giants? That would suck, big time. Finally getting past the Bonds in his Prime (part 2, this time w/ chemical help) years, not in any hurry to have to face another tremendous offensive LF’er in San Fran.


    Top 5 NL Team Defenses, by Defensive Efficiency

    Team, DEF_EFF

    San Diego Padres, .718
    New York Mets, .708
    Houston Astros, .706
    Chicago Cubs, .705
    San Francisco Giants, .705

  6. Answered my own question…it was in 1997…according to Baseball Library…

    » May 4, 1997: Detroit P Willie Blair suffers a broken jaw when he’s struck by a 107-mile-per-hour line drive off the bat of Cleveland’s Julio Franco in the 6th inning of the Tigers’ 2-0 victory. Blair still gets credit for the win.

    Guess that did not end his career…

    Re: #3…. Bryce Florie was hit in Sept 2000 while pitching for the Red Sox.

  7. Julio Franco was only 39 when that happened.

  8. Danys Baez signed a 3 year, $19 million contract with the Orioles. And Scot Linebrink’s value continues to soar.

  9. 8: These contracts for relievers are insane. Honestly, what is Linebrink worth in this market?

  10. Who do the Giants have to trade – who are they willing to trade – for ManRam?

  11. The thing is, if Linebrink is really worth “so much”, and I’m not arguing that he’s not, where are the offers?

    The best we could do last year was Ollie and Heath Bell. Hopefully we can do more than that for him now.

  12. Maybe Bonds should go to Boston. Now that would be a circus. I can only imagine what Steinbrenner’s reaction to that would be.

  13. Being a Padre fan has been freaking boring lately!!!

  14. KRS1…I hope that was sarcasm…I can’t remember an offseason where we have been so heavily invovled in quite sometime.

    The trades, the rumors, the manager, the coaches…I thought this has been a lot of fun and has me looking forward to Spring Training!

  15. 14.

    Yeah I loved the way it started with the Kouzmanoff deal and Bud Black and stuff but since then it’s just flat. I’m glad we didn’t go out and try to pay Soriano and Lee anything close to what they got but with Roberts about to sign with the Giants and there still being big holes at 2nd I expected to at least hear a little more than what we have lately. I mean I guess with the holiday and everything it’s and expected lull in the action but I’m just anxious to see or even hear a rumor about what we are going to do.

  16. Next week should be good with the GM meetings…

  17. Glad we side-stepped both Lee and Soriano, but am getting concerned about our 2B and LF. It would nice to still have Johnson around in case and no LF gets done.

  18. Re: #17 Hello Branyan

  19. Buster Olney has a recently posted story at about the Pads involved in conversation(s) about Manny Ramirez.

  20. Just read the story over at – freaking interesting!

  21. 19 & 20 Since some of us are not ESPN insiders, please enlighten us on what is interesting.

  22. Yeah seriously! What did Olney say?

  23. Eaton signs a 3yr/$24mm deal with the Phils…who says you can’t go back to where you started…

  24. I’m glad we didn’t get involved in the Lee/Soriano/Sarge Jr lunacy but I’m a little worried about our lack of moves since the Barfield deal. I’m assuming everyone is waiting for the arbitration deadline so I’m not going get too worked up about it.

    If we can get Manny without giving up too many players, even if we pay all his salary, I’d be all for that. He has his issues but he can flat out hit and would make us the heavy favorites in the West. The Olney article mentions the Giants possibly taking on Clement and his contract. Any chance KT makes that move?

  25. Hey if they want Liney and Greene, who are we to argue? :-)

    I can’t imagine this deal is real…If it were, it would be a brand new day in Padres Baseball…sorta like when the Angels signed Vlad…

  26. Top Prospect Alert rated the Padres top Minor Leaguers like this:

    1. Kouzmanoff, Kevin 3B
    2. Carrillo, Cesar P
    3. McAnulty, Paul OF
    4. Ramos Cesar P
    5. Hunter Cedric OF
    6. Hundley Nick C
    7. Freese David 3B
    8. Antonelli Matt 3B
    9. Huffman Chad OF
    10. Blanks Kyle 1B

  27. I don’t see how the Giants could possibly get Manny, other than Tim Lincecum their organization is almost totally barren of talent. The Red Sox would have to take at least Matt Cain and Lincecum for Manny but could you see the Giants doing that?

  28. 28.

    The good thing for us is that I don’t think the Red Sox are looking for prospects or starting pitching. I think they want Relief (Linebrink) and probably talented SS (Khalil) would do it. Darren on “Too much Show” suggested Linebrink, Green, and Giles for Manny and Willy Mo. I would JUMP all over that!

  29. I’d hate to weaken my OF defense at two spots.

  30. 27 – My opinoin of Top Prospect Alert dove went south in a hurry. Ramos #4???

    KRS1 (#13), Let’s not get impatient. Patience is what allowed Towers to get Piazza late in the off-season.

    I still think we’ll wind up with a killer LF (Burrell, ManRam, other)

    How about this lineup:

    2B Durham
    RF Giles
    LF M. Ramirez
    1B Gonzalez
    C Bard
    CF Cameron
    3B Kouzmanoff
    SS Greene

  31. 31 – I would really love that lineup. Even though it includes Orange Giles…him hitting #2 with ManRam behind him is far better than him hitting #1 with Cameron or 2B-to-be-named-later behind him.