Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tigers Have Trading Deadline History

As the July 31st non-waiver trading deadline fast approaches, the reckless and careless naming of names is beginning to pick up steam. Names of players who would be coming to Detroit, buyers for the first time in years. Names of players that would be going to other cities. Names of players who are going nowhere, but who are talked about nonetheless because that's what this time of the year is for. If winter's offseason is time for the Hot Stove League, then this might be called the Swimming Pool League.

The Tigers have had some success with the trade deadline acquisition, although it hasn't always resulted in a first-place finish.

1993. The Tigers are treading water, barely, about five or six games behind the frontrunning Toronto Blue Jays. Close enough to be a buyer. It's August 31st -- the cutoff date for acquisitions to be eligible for postseason rosters. Trades are still being made, but they must involve players clearing waivers first. The team swings a deal with the Dodgers for outfielder Eric Davis, who hits a homerun in his first game as a Tiger. He does OK. The Tigers fade in September, though.

1988. This is a real race. The Tigers, Red Sox, Brewers, Yankees, and Blue Jays all have a real shot at the division title. Another August 31st arrives, and so do some trades. Freddy Lynn is the big name, shipped over from Baltimore. The Tigers also get pitcher Ted Power from Kansas City. Lynn hits a few homers, makes some acrobatic catches. Power is serviceable. But the Tigers again suffer through a horrible September slump and finish one game behind the Red Sox.

1987. The Doyle Alexander-John Smoltz year. That trade's made on August 12. With a couple weeks to go, the Tigers acquire pitcher Dickie Noles from the Cubs for the legendary "player to be named later." Noles is a beer-drinker and a volatile personality. But he grabs two saves in four games for the Tigers. The Blue Jays are vanquished in the season's final week -- some of the most exciting baseball ever played in Detroit. Noles is returned to the Cubs in the offseason -- the player to be named. He's traded for himself.

1972. The team is in a dogfight with the Red Sox, Orioles, and Yankees. GM Jim Campbell gets manager Billy Martin the horses he needs to nip the pack: catcher Duke Sims, pitcher Woodie Fryman, and first baseman Frank Howard all arrive deep into the summer. Howard comes so late -- in September -- that he's not eligible for the playoffs, which the Tigers make on the last weekend of the season. All three -- Sims, Fryman, and Howard -- all have a hand in the Tigers' AL East crown.

1967. Eddie Mathews is a 500+ homerun guy that is in the twilight of his career with the Braves. He's such a Brave, that he's the only player in history to play for the franchise in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. The Tigers pick up the third baseman, who's with the Astros by now, for the epic '67 stretch run. He hits six homers in 108 at-bats, but the Tigers fall just short of the Red Sox.

What will happen this July 31st? Or this August 31st?

When the Tigers have been competitive, the deadlines have been strewn with activity. Not always have the moves panned out, but how often do they, really?


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