Monday, September 04, 2006

September 4th, 1950

Doyle Alexander Born

You all remember Doyle Alexander, he's the guy traded for John Smoltz. That's what's going to end up on his tombstone anyway: Here Lies Doyle Alexander. You know, the guy traded for John Smoltz. Boy, was that ever stupid. And to be fair, with the gift of hindsight, it was stupid. Smoltz is a borderline Hall of Famer, a man with nearly three hundred and fifty combined wins and saves, but the Tigers traded him for a guy who pitched in barely more than seventy-five games and did it with a 4.26 ERA.

I'm not sure if it's possible to justify that trade, and I'm not sure if I want to be the guy attempting to justify it. But I do know two things. For one, if you'd asked any Tigers' fan in 1987 what they thought of the trade, it would've seemed a mad question. The Tigers held off the Blue Jays for the '87 AL East title by just two games. It almost surely would not have happened but for Alexander who was simply masterful down the stretch. He went 9-0 with a sterling 1.53 ERA. He averaged more than eight innings a start and threw three shut outs in eleven starts. The only comparable addition in recent memory for me is Randy Johnson for the '98 Astros. Alexander pitched so well, in fact, that he finished fourth in the AL Cy Young race.

The other thing I know is that it is unfortunate Alexander is remembered for nothing but that deal. He wasn't a truly great pitcher--this isn't like Randy Johnson being remembered for his time with the Astros and nothing else--but he probably deserves better. Alexander finished sixth in Cy Young voting for the Blue Jays in '85, made the All-Star team in '88 and won nearly two hundred games in his career. As it stands, he's been doomed to the Milt Pappas scrap heap of history, but that's how it goes sometimes.

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