Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Philadelphia Phillies' Sometimes Unlucky Seven Most Important Trades in Team History: No. 1—February 25, 1972

Part 7 of a 7 Part Series

No. 1—February 25, 1972

The Deal—The Phillies acquired LHP Steve Carlton from the St. Louis Cardinals for RHP Rick Wise.

In a somewhat rare occurrence, the Phillies ended up as the big winner in this transaction. The catalyst for the trade were ill feelings on both sides stemming from contract negotiations, so the two club's swapped young pitchers with similar backgrounds.

Opinion at the time was that the deal was equal on both sides, but time would tell a very different story. Rick Wise continued to have a solid career, finishing with a 188-181 mark over 18 seasons.

As all Phillies fans know, Steve Carlton went on to have a Hall of Fame career, winning 329 games and becoming recognized as one of the greatest left handed pitchers of all-time.

In his first season in a Phillies uniform, Carlton assembled one of the best pitching performances ever by going 27-10 with a 1.97 ERA. What made it most astonishing is that he accounted for almost half of his team's 59 victories that season.

"Lefty" played 15 seasons in red pinstripes, racking up a fabulous 241-161 record with a paltry 3.09 ERA. Carlton also was recognized as the best hurler in his league by winning the Cy Young Award on four different occasions.

Carlton, along with Mike Schmidt, anchored the resurgence of the Phillies from the mid-seventies to the early eighties. Besides the current era of the team, this was the most prosperous period in team history.

The Final Word

Many trades have been made throughout the course of 127 years, but these seven trades stand out as having the greatest significance to the Phillies orgnization. A quick tally suggests that three of them have worked out on their behalf, while the other four have contributed mightily to the success of their opponents.

The source of significance may vary, but each trade either left an indelible mark on the organization or left the void of "what could have been." Two players proceeded to assemble Hall of Fame careers for their new team, while one did the same in red pinstripes.

One transaction sent another potential Hall of Famer out of Philly, but triggered an even larger chain of events that changed the face of the sport. Three of the players exchanged donned their new duds and quickly played key roles in helping their new team to a title.

Although fate has not always been kind to the Phillies in making big trades, a closer look reveals a substantial change in recent years. Over the past couple of years, the organization has endeavored to acquire high profile players in their prime, a practice that virtually never happened previously.

Shrewd moves by Gillick and Amaro have provided critical missing pieces that paid big dividends for the club. Last year it was the team's seventh National League Pennant, and of course, the ultimate payoff was the Phillies second World Championship in 2008.

Time will tell on this winter's big transactions, but there is little doubt that the 2010 "after" picture is better than the 2009 first half "before" picture.

And, it is worth noting that Roy Halladay is likely the most accomplished, highest profile player that the team has ever acquired via trade. We will have to check the future brilliance of the rough diamonds exchanged and see how the coming baseball seasons unfold in Philly.

Also, a historical study suggests that Roy Halladay is likely the most accomplished, prime time player that the team has ever acquired via trade. Another Red October culminating in a World Championship might turn this list from the "sometimes unlucky seven" to the "occasionally great eight."

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