Monday, February 14, 2011

Trade Gauge: Randy Myers and friends for John Franco and friends



December 6, 1989: The New York Mets trade Randy Myers and Kip Gross to the Cincinnati Reds for Don Brown and John Franco.

Mets fallout: This was a weird trade, since it's not very often you see two closers in their prime swapped for one another, especially when they're both left-handed. And yet the Mets and Reds did the deed, sending John Franco back to his hometown in exchange for the angry Randy Myers. Franco was a couple of years older but was also more established, since Myers had only been closing a couple of years at the time of the swap. Franco turned 30 during his first year at Shea and incredibly, played 14 seasons for the Mets, acting as the team’s primary closer until 1999 and tallying 200+ saves during that span. Despite his pointed rear and questionable moustache, Franco was a constant bright spot during an otherwise bleak decade for the Mets and by all accounts, a helluva nice guy.

Reds fallout: Myers teamed with Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton to form the bullpen three-way known as the Nasty Boys, leading the Reds to a shocking 1990 World Series sweep over the bulky Oakland Athletics. The trio was frightening, trashy and entirely dominant for that single season but the combo was clearly living on borrowed time. Dibble soon attacked manager Lou Piniella, they tried to convert Charlton to a starter and Myers was shipped to San Diego after the 1991 season in exchange for the lovable, scrappy Bip Roberts. Roberts kinda flatlined after a massive 1992 for the Reds, returning to the Padres in 1994 and putting together some bold average and steal numbers. As for Myers, he bounced between various clubs: the Cubs, Orioles, Blue Jays and ultimately a disastrous second stint with the Padres that saw Myers pitch horribly after a deadline deal and yet appear in his second and final World Series (where he likewise pitched horribly with a 9.00 ERA as the Padres were destroyed by the Yankees). A quality player whose stats generally sat between good and great (Myers is one of only nine relievers to tally 50+ saves in a single season and sits within the Top 10 of the all-time save lists… Franco is 4th if you’re keeping score) and yet one who seemed to wear out his welcome wherever he went. Best exemplified by a 1995 encounter where Myers wore out his forearm on the face of a Cubs' fan.

The verdict: Easy. John Franco. Better stats. Better attitude. An even swap at the time that is now largely one-sided in retrospect.

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