Monday, November 27, 2006

November 27th, 1967

Mets Acquire Gil Hodges

Perhaps unfairly, ever since the Devil Rays traded Randy Winn to the Mariners for the right of having Lou Pinella skipper them to three traditional Devil Ray-like seasons--but at least they were fiery!--trading players for a manager seems like a bad idea. Given how I've marginalized the value of managers here, I would tend to agree with that, but I must admit there is at least some evidence to suggest when a team wants a manager badly enough to give up players for him, they're on to something.

In the past, I've described the Pirates trading Manny Sanguillen for Chuck Tanner, a deal that "worked" when Tanner led the Pirates to the 1979 World Series. Today we have the Mets trading for Gil Hodges. In order to acquire the longtime Dodger (who had played briefly for the Mets in 1962 and '63) the Amazins sent the Washington Senators--where Hodges had been managing since 1963--pitcher Bill Denehy and a hundred thousand dollars. On first blush, making all that effort for Hodges seems silly, as he had only managed a .420 winning percentage in DC and never led the Senators to a higher finish than sixth.

Despite some suspicion that bringing Hodges in was all a publicity stunt for the still-struggling franchise--Mets' attendance had dropped nearly four hundred thousand in the year before Hodges arrived--I will give Mets' management the benefit of the doubt and say they knew Hodges had what it took to lead their young team. And let's just say that when it came to leading them, especially in one magical year, Hodges had what it took.

I still don't know if it wise to exchange someone who can help a team on the field for a man who can only decide who is helping the team on the field, but the '69 Mets and Gil Hodges are another point in favor of the concept.

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