Philadelphia Inquirer - December 13, 1980

No wheeling, no dealing for Phils

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

DALLAS – Baseball's interleague trading deadline fluttered past the Phillies last night like a Phil Niekro knuckleball.

 

No wheels, no deals, hardly a rumor left on. The Phillies did more swinging and missing this week than they did in their first look at John Pacella.

 

When the winter meetings came to an end last night, Greg Luzinski was still a Phillie. Randy Lerch was also still a Phillie. Ron Reed, Dickie Noles and Keith Moreland were all still Phillies, too.

 

A whole lot of people were still not Phillies, as well.

 

Sixto Lezcano did not become a Phillie yesterday, although he did become a Cardinal. Don Baylor did not become a Phillie, but then a California Angels official said he was never close to becoming a Phillie in the first place.

 

Nobody named Cruz became a Phillie, although the second Cruz of the meetings did get traded yesterday (Heity-Hector, from Cincinnati to the Cubs). And Gary Matthews didn't become a Phillie, although the Braves would still like to talk about him.

 

It was one of those weeks. But then, Phils vice president Paul Owens still has six months to make deals within his own league. And there is a second, six-week interleague trading period coming up in a couple of months. So a wasted week in Dallas doesn't necessarily mean the Phils are planning to stand pat, although that isn't impossible.

 

"I wouldn't be afraid to open (with this club) tomorrow if I had to," Owens said late last night. "I didn't start out to make 18 trades. We have a second (interleague) period where we can do stuff. And within our league we can still get together. I'm not going to be stampeded into bargaining the future of the club just to make a trade."

 

One thing this week definitely indicated was that the Phillies are much more interested in trading Luzinski than they had let on earlier.

 

The Mets and Cubs inquired about him yesterday. But the conversation stayed very general. The White Sox liked him once, but their ownership soap opera has canceled that.

 

Before Owens trades Luzinski, anyway, he would like to deal Lerch, Reed and possibly some kids for another outfielder.

 

The Mets, who dropped out of the bidding for free-agent lefthander Billy Travers, have interest in Lerch. But they don't want to add either of their prize relievers, Neil Allen or Jeff Reardon, to any package involving Joel Youngblood. Detroit likes Lerch. But Owens can't find anything on the Tigers he wants.

 

Toronto was the last American League team Owens negotiated with. But the Blue Jays still insisted on untouchable minor-league pitcher Mark Davis. So that never worked out.

 

Actually, the guy who killed the Phillies' chances of making a big deal or two this week was not Owens or Luzinski or Lerch or anyone else on the payroll. It was a former St. Louis Cardinal named Ted Simmons.

 

If Simmons had not balked at moving from catcher to first base in St. Louis, Whitey Herzog never would have looked around for somewhere to trade him. And if Herzog had never looked around for somewhere to trade Simmons, he never would have made yesterday's seven-player deal with Milwaukee.

 

That deal, the biggest of the week, sent Simmons, pitcher Pete Vuckovich and reliever Rollie Fingers to Milwaukee for Lezcano, pitcher Lary Sorensen, a hot outfield prospect named David Green. and minor-league pitcher Dave LaPoint.

 

But if the Brewers had not been able to make that deal, they probably could have worked something out with the Phillies for Lezcano, Milwaukee general manager Harry Dal-ton said yesterday.

 

"Well, we'd sure have been friendly for the next six hours, I'll tell you that," Dalton said late yesterday afternoon.

 

Dalton never exactly turned down the Phillies' proposal of Lerch, Noles, Reed and Scott Munninghoff for Lezcano. He just had that offer from the Cardinals that he couldn't refuse. Once he worked out a financial inducement for Simmons to waive his veto rights yesterday afternoon, that was about it for the Phillies.

 

"If we could not have made the Cardinals deal, the Phillies are the next club we would have talked to," Dalton said. "We talked to them (Thursday) and put something together, but I told them not to hold up on us."

 

The Simmons trade makes Milwaukee a more imposing force in the American League East. But it seems to have undone a lot of the good things the Cardinals had accomplished earlier this week.

 

They gave up Simmons, one of the best and most consistent offensive players in baseball. And in return, they got Lezcano, a fine all-around outfielder but a guy who did hit.229 this year.

 

They also swapped Vuckovich, their most dependable starting pitcher, for Sorensen (12-10, 3.67 this year). And that leaves them with at least as many starting-pitching problems as they had before.

 

Plus, they lost Fingers, who could have helped them in two ways – for what he accomplished himself, and for all the innings he could have taken away from Bruce Sutter.

 

"Yeah, well, there were other considerations," said Herzog. "Two of the guys I gave up (Fingers and Vuckovich) I couldn't sign. If I keep them I'm not going to be able to sign them in a year anyway.

 

"At least Sorensen I'm able to control for three more years. And I think so much of David Green that the deal would not have been made without him."

 

But Green is still a year or two away. And now so, perhaps, are the Cardinals.

 

 

NOTES: Other deals: Ex-Phil Jerry Martin, outfielder Jesus Figueroa and a player to be named went from Chicago Cubs to San Francisco for pitcher Phil Nastu and infielder Joe Strain.... Atlanta traded pitcher Doyle Alexander to San Francisco for pitcher John Montefusco and rookie outfielder Craig Landis.... Cincinnati traded outfielder Hector Cruz to the Cubs for outfielder Mike Vail.... The Expos re-signed free agent Willie Montanez to a two-year, $600,000 contract. Montanez has played for seven teams since 1975.... Montreal also acquired lefthanded pitcher Richard Wortham (4-7,5.97) from the White Sox for infielder Tony Bernazard.