Camden Courier Post - December 14, 1980
Brewers appear top winners in winter trades
By Bob Kenney, Courier-Post Sports Editor
DALLAS – It is far too early to pass judgment, but the Milwaukee Brewers appear to be the big winners as the teams head home from the annual winter baseball meetings.
With a handshake and a million dollars, General Manager Harry Dalton picked up three proven major leaguers and put his Brewers back into contention in the American League East.
Many clubs headed home with improved rosters, as club owners went on the biggest trading binge since 1973, exchanging 65 players in 17 trades,
"These things have to be proven between the foul lines next summer," said Phillies Manager Dallas Green. "But on paper, there were some pretty impressive deals made."
After solving his relief pitching problems, Cardinals' General Manager Whitey Herzog supplied the Brewers with seven-time All-Star catcher Ted Simmons, ace relief pitcher Rollie Fingers and veteran starter Pete Vuckovich.
"This made us a contender," said Dalton, who paid over $900,000 to get Simmons to approve the trade. The Brewers parted with pitcher Lary Sorensen, outfielder Sixto Lezcano and two minor leaguers to get the three Cardinals.
"That deal is a steal for next year," said an American League manager. "But over the long haul, the two kids could turn out to be a factor."
The kids, David Green (called the best player in the Eastern League last year) and David LaPoint, will not help St. Louis this year. But the Cardinals will be helped by the addition of Bruce Sutter, acquired from the Cubs.
Bob Shirley will join Sorenson in the starting rotation and veteran Gene Tenace will serve as catching insurance behind Darrell Porter, the former Kansas City All-Star signed as a free agent.
Other teams sporting new looks after the week-long meetings included the Cubs, Boston Red Sox, California Angels and San Francisco Giants.
Boston boss Haywood Sullivan dealt Rick Burleson, his unsigned All-Star, shortstop, and starting third baseman Butch Hobson to the Angels.
In return, the Red Sox got third baseman Carney Lansford, Rick Miller as outfield insurance and dependable reliever Mark Clear.
"It was quality for quality," said Jim Fregosi, the Angels' manager. "We had to give up a player like Lansford to get two solid infield "starters."
Fregosi also signed free-agent pitchers Geoff Zahn and John D'Acquisto.
Cleveland made the other major American League trade by sending four pitchers for Pittsburgh's pitcher Bert Blyleven and pinchhitter Manny Sanguillen.
The Indians unloaded pitchers Victor Cruz, Rafael Vasquez, Bob Owchinko and reserve catcher Gary Alexander to the Pirates.
The last official trade of the meetings came at 3 a.m. yesterday when the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners finally agreed on an nine-player deal that featured power-hitting Richie Zisk. The Rangers sent four young pitchers and Zisk to Seattle for a package that included starting pitcher Rick Honeycutt, starting shortstop Mario Mandoza, defensive ace Larry Cox, a backup catcher, and reserve outfielder Leon Roberts.
Both San Francisco and Chicago gambled to improve their status in the National League. The Cubs lowered their payroll considerably in a series of trades described as a youth movement by General Manager Bob Kennedy.
"The Cubs will keep losing," said one scout, "but it will be a lot cheaper."
San Francisco Manager Dave Bristol was axed by unemotional owner Bob Lurie the second day of the meetings. "We'll talk about a manager when we get home," said Lurie. Baseball veterans Gene Mauch, Frank Luchessi and Jim Davenport were mentioned as possible replacements.
The Cubs also traded grumbling center fielder Jerry Martin to the Giants. Martin, who hit 23 home runs, and is one of the best center fielders in the league. If he ever gets happy, he could settle down and really help a club.
Not all the clubs traded players. The Mets, Phillies, Dodgers,.Yankees and Orioles elected to return with the same players.
"Sometimes you have to trade," said Paul Owens, the Phillies' General Manager. "Sometimes you don't. It is the teams in trouble that have to trade."
Troubled teams will get a second chance this spring. For the first time, teams will have a six-week open trading period going into the season.
"That's when you will see some of the results of this meeting," said Mike Port, the Angels' Player Personnel Director. "Teams put it on the line here. Now, they will go back and look things over in spring training."