Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Never Forget: Shouldergate

Thirteen years ago today, one of the weirder trades in franchise (and perhaps baseball) history went down.  The Jays acquired Mike Sirotka, Kevin Beirne, Mike Williams, and Brian Simmons in exchange for David Wells and Matt Dewitt.

We'll start with what we actually know and are familiar with.  David Wells, who is apparently 183 lbs per his baseball-reference page, had been acquired as part of the Roger Clemens trade.  Clemens was fucking awesome in Toronto over his two seasons, putting up 20 rWAR, but the rest of the team wasn't very good so Clemens asked to be dealt and they burnt it back to the ground, moving Clemens for Wells, Homer Bush, and Graeme Lloyd.  Lloyd left as a free agent after the season, netting the Jays Dustin McGowan and Peter Bauer, despite putting up -0.1WAR as a Blue Jay.

This is getting a bit messy here, but the point that I'm trying to make is that the Jays got 20 WAR over two years from Roger Clemens, and then turned 2 more years of Clemens in to two pretty nice years of Wells, one meh year of Graeme Lloyd, some stop-gapping from Homer Bush, and two high draft picks.

From there, Gord Ash, GM at the time, turned one year (and $9.25MM) of Wells in to a young up-and-comer in Mike Sirotka, who had been worth 8.4 rWAR over his prior two seasons, and had two years of control left, at what amounted to $6.8MM.

Sirotka, of course, never pitched in the bigs again, thanks to a torn labrum.  The Jays protested the trade, claiming that White Sox GM Kenny Williams had not released all information regarding Sirotka, which, the Jays claimed, contained prior knowledge of Sirotka's medical situation.  Their protest was, of course, shooed away by commissioner Bud Selig, claiming something along the lines of "you should probably do your own research on players that you're acquiring" or something.

It's not like Wells was a whole hell of a lot better-- he threw 100 innings and was worth 1.3 rWAR before leaving as a free agent and signing in New York again.  I'm pretty sure most contracts are insured against things like injuries, so from a monetary standpoint, this was probably either a wash or a win for the Sox, since Wells was being paid like a 3 WAR player.  Still, though, there's certainly the argument to made that the Jays could have gotten an actual useful player instead of a broken one, had they known about (i.e. done due diligence on) Sirotka's shoulder.

As for everyone else in the trade-- yeesh.  Total values for each team:

As mentioned, Wells was worth 1.3 WAR for the White Sox before leaving as a non-compensation free agent.
Dewitt was traded back to the Jays for Mike Williams 2 months later, so cancel that part I guess.  Williams, as mentioned, was traded back to the White Sox, but never got past A-Ball.  As far as I can tell, he was released after 2003 and retired.

Sirotka, of course, provided nothing.
Dewitt was released at the end of the 2001 season, and produced 7 more innings of work over his career.
Beirne threw 7 innings for the Jays in 2001, and I remember none of them.  He seems to have made the team out of spring training, threw 4 pretty terrible innings of mop-up, and got sent down, only to be called back up to finish the year in a similar role.
Simmons got 117 plate appearances, again, none of which I remember, and hit a rather pedestrian .178/.239/.280.  He was DFA'ed after the 2001 season, and the White Sox picked him up off waivers, though he never played again in the bigs.

All things considered, I think this kind of situation is something that we're not likely to ever see again, the way trades and free agent deals are held up by failed physicals all the time, though Brett Anderson got traded this winter so, I guess I don't know.  We all knew that Anderson was damaged goods though; Sirotka was supposedly healthy at the time of that deal and had no prior medical issues, at least as far as Kenny Williams was concerned.  Beyond that, a deal where 6 people changed hands and none of them performed well for their new club blows my mind.  Both centerpieces turned out to be duds, and the best of the four prospects OPS'ed like .540 or something over a cup of coffee.

Not terribly surprisingly, Gord Ash was relieved of his duties as GM after the 2001 season.

No comments:

Post a Comment