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redsmetz
07-13-2006, 08:46 AM
With Lee May being inducted into the Reds HOF this weekend, it got me thinking about the blockbuster trade between the Reds and Astros following the 1971 season. We all remember we got integral parts of the later Big Red Machine, but we sometimes overlook what we gave up. Frankly, it was a trade that was not as terribly unbalanced as some usually think.

The Reds sent Lee May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart to the Astros in exchange for Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke, Jack Billingham and Ed Armbruster.

In 1971 Lee Mayhad batted .278 with 85 Runs, 154 Hits, 17 Doubles, 39 Homers, and 98 RBI. IIRC, he was selected as the Reds team MVP that year. He had been a two time All Star and batted .389 with 2 HR's an 8 RBI in the 1970 Series. Tommy Helms, also a two time All Star, with 2 Gold Gloves had been the 1966Rookie of the Year. He had batted .258 with 26 Doubles and 52 RBI's. Jimmy Stewart was a journeyman utilityman who had averaged 100 games in his three years with the Reds playing 1B, 2B, 3B, OF and even caught in one game. As an aside, he went on in his post career to be a scout for the Reds. I think he even headed up the scouting department at one point.

Up to 1971, Joe Morgan had appeared in 2 All Star games for the Astros, but had not been awarded any Gold Gloves. Cesar Geronimo was not an All Star and had no Gold Gloves with the Astros (surprisingly, Geronimo never played in an All Star game in his career - clearly his forte was not offense, but still, that did surprise me). Denis Menke had been an All Star in 1969 and 1970 and had played every infield position during his previous seasons with the Astros. Jack Billingham had a record of 32-31 in his four seasons with Houston. Ed Armbruster was a minor leaguer at the time, one of only five players in ML history from the Bahamas (the only Red) and would have his most famous moment laying down a bunt and colliding with Carlton Fisk, perhaps the second most famous play in what some consider the best Series ever.

Lee May would hit 81 homers with 288 RBI's in his four seasons with Houston and would finish with a fairly decent career that compares with the likes of George Foster, Willie Horton, Joe Adcock and Don Baylor. Tommy Helms would have 70 Doubles in his four seasons there and had a career high batting average of .287 in 1973.

Of course, Morgan would go on to win two MVP's, 5 Gold Gloves and play in three World Series with the Reds (and one more with Philly) and enter the HOF. Geronimo would win four Gold Gloves while playing in the same three WS as Morgan. Billingham won 19 games twice and finished 87-63 in his career with the Reds. Menke was a decent as a utility player with the Reds for two years before returning to the Astros for one final season (he was one of many former Braves to play for the Reds in the early 70's) and, Armbruster, of course played five years with the Reds and is known in Boston as "that ******* Armbruster".

Clearly the Reds got the better end of the deal, but what Houston got was not shabby.

cumberlandreds
07-13-2006, 09:16 AM
IIRC this was a very controversial trade. May and Helms were very popular players. May was the 1971 teams top slugger while Helms was a steady defensive player. Morgan had never done anything spectacular and was considered by some a malcontent. Billingham had been a non-descript pitcher and didn't look like a 19 game winner. Geronimo was unproven and not expected to be a contributor and Menke was considered a fill in to take 3rd base since Perez was moving to 1st to take May's place. Bob Howsam was widely criticized for this trade but proved to be his most shrewd move while GM of the Reds. I could only wonder the big meltdown of Redzone today if a trade like this would happen.

Spitball
07-13-2006, 09:21 AM
With Lee May being inducted into the Reds HOF this weekend, it got me thinking about the blockbuster trade between the Reds and Astros following the 1971 season. We all remember we got integral parts of the later Big Red Machine, but we sometimes overlook what we gave up. Frankly, it was a trade that was not as terribly unbalanced as some usually think.

The Reds sent Lee May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart to the Astros in exchange for Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke, Jack Billingham and Ed Armbruster.

For a "What were you doing when you found out about..." moment, this trade ranks with the Kennedy assasination and Elvis's death. I was a freshman in college and I'd always pick up a The Boston Globe first thing every morning. At the time, this trade sounded like pure insanity on the Reds part. I was wrong for the first time and last time in my life (Hey, I was a freshman). ;)

RedsMetz, I believe the Reds did give up alot, but this trade really shows Bob Howsam's genius. He should be in the Hall of Fame.

Krusty
07-13-2006, 09:21 AM
Bob Howsam's legacy was set with this trade.

Sea Ray
07-13-2006, 09:22 AM
Hindsight shows it was a very lopsided trade based on what these players did after the trade. At the time of the deal it looked equal but the production of those 3 players Houston received paled in comparison to the 5 players Cincinnati received. The reason being, in a nutshell, the Reds got players on the way up and Houston got players who had already peaked and were on the decline.

Sea Ray
07-13-2006, 09:33 AM
Lee May would hit 81 homers with 288 RBI's in his four seasons with Houston and would finish with a fairly decent career that compares with the likes of George Foster, Willie Horton, Joe Adcock and Don Baylor

These stats support the notion that Houston got hosed. Joe Morgan equaled Lee May's HR production of 81 and he surpassed May's RBI total as little Joe amassed 316 in the first four years after the trade. This does not even take into account Joe's 5th year with the Reds, his MVP year of 1976 or his numerous Gold Gloves, SBs and other intangibles he contributed. This only takes into account one player for one player. Throw in a 19 game winner and you've got a hugely lopsided trade.

redsmetz
07-13-2006, 09:42 AM
RedsMetz, I believe the Reds did give up alot, but this trade really shows Bob Howsam's genius. He should be in the Hall of Fame.

Apparently I didn't state my post well enough. I was trying to say the Reds did give up some significant players. It's only retrospect that it's clear that Houston got "hosed" as one other poster stated. And, I think particularly May and Helms were decent players for the Astros. They Astros finished second to the Reds in 1972 (albeit 10.5 games back) and had the misfortune of playing in the NL West which had some stellar teams over those early 70's years.

But, yes, we were giving up a lot. I didn't mention this, but we gave up three players and got four players back. One was the ROY five years prior, the other was our team MVP. And as others correctly noted, the trade was not initially accepted in Cincinnati.

My purpose was to tip our hats to both Lee May and Tommy Helms, two very good players in their day. And obviously a hat should be tipped to Big Bob Howsam, perhaps his best trade.

chicoruiz
07-13-2006, 09:51 AM
Of course May's stats were hurt by the move (81 dingers in four years in the Dome is pretty darn good) and Billingham's won-lost record is aided just a wee bit by the offenses he had behind him. Still a heckuva deal; I always assumed Morgan must have expressed the wrong opinion to the wrong person and been labeled as "difficult".

RANDY IN INDY
07-13-2006, 09:58 AM
Of course May's stats were hurt by the move (81 dingers in four years in the Dome is pretty darn good) and Billingham's won-lost record is aided just a wee bit by the offenses he had behind him. Still a heckuva deal; I always assumed Morgan must have expressed the wrong opinion to the wrong person and been labeled as "difficult".

:beerme:

Roy Tucker
07-13-2006, 10:06 AM
Helms was one of those scrappy players I loved as a kid. But when I went back and looked at his stats a few years back, I said "ugh". The guy couldn't buy a walk and had zero power. His Reds era BA/OBP/SLG numbers:

1966 .284 .315 .380
1967 .274 .305 .356
1968 .288 .305 .363
1969 .269 .296 .317
1970 .237 .262 .282
1971 .258 .289 .325

And each year was ~500 ABs.

princeton
07-13-2006, 10:07 AM
I always assumed Morgan must have expressed the wrong opinion to the wrong person and been labeled as "difficult".

maybe the Houston GM enjoyed reading Moneyball?

westofyou
07-13-2006, 10:09 AM
I always assumed Morgan must have expressed the wrong opinion to the wrong person and been labeled as "difficult".

Harry Walker's brother was Dixie Walker.. so yes there was some tension between Morgan and Walker on a generational and geographical plane.

Especially considering that Joe also used "walks" to fuel his game and Harry came for the era that only mostly only big guys walked.

Cesar was the guy that Howsam almost busted the deal if he didn't get, they loved his stride and with the Reds on carpet the need for team speed was greater then the need for power, Howsam saw into the future in the best way, he saw the Reds need for speed and the need for a true CF and he saw that the carpet would eat up Helms more then Morgan, moving Perez to 1st saved the defense and he fed this all by exploiting Houstons need for power.

redsmetz
07-13-2006, 10:13 AM
Westofyou wrote ...he fed this all by exploiting Houstons need for power.

And May most certainly was hurt, I think, by the home run eating Astrodome.

redsupport
07-13-2006, 10:15 AM
but May homered off Eddie Watt

RedsFan75
07-13-2006, 10:51 AM
At the time I absolutely HATED this deal. Lee May was not only popular, but he was my favorite player. I could almost mimic his swing!

In retrospect, it was a great trade but I was highly upset at the time. I just had to shift my allegience to Bench after that! :)

ochre
07-13-2006, 11:04 AM
I had just turned 1. I don't remember being particularly distraught about this deal. I guess I was a bit of a visionary...

:)

Cooper
07-13-2006, 11:59 AM
You think Howsam knew anything at all about park factors?

In hindsight, park factors through off a different perception of each player than first noticed. Howsam was smart. Did he understand OBP?

WOY, you ever Howsam mention the differences in parks?

westofyou
07-13-2006, 12:14 PM
You think Howsam knew anything at all about park factors?

In hindsight, park factors through off a different perception of each player than first noticed. Howsam was smart. Did he understand OBP?

WOY, you ever Howsam mention the differences in parks?
Yes he did, after the Reds moved into Riverfront Howsam lost his CF Tolan and McCrae to leg injuries, that coupled with watching the small park Crosley Reds take on the carpet for a year and 2/3rd showed Howsam that speed up the middle was going to be a major player in the Reds future.

He knew that May had teh power to knock down some of the Domes PE, but he also knew that the speed on the Reds carpet would transfer well because the Astros had been showing the Reds that for 5 plus years. The power factor that came with Morgan was icing on the cake.

princeton
07-13-2006, 12:17 PM
You think Howsam knew anything at all about park factors?


do you think that GMs didn't think about big parks and little parks until the 1980's?

lots of people waxed poetic about lefty Ted Williams hitting in Yankee Stadium instead of Fenway Park...

terminator
07-13-2006, 12:35 PM
Given the thread, I just thought I would share this picture of Lee May & Sparky that I took at the Reds Hall of Fame on opening night. :)

(Hopefully it is attached.)

redsmetz
07-13-2006, 12:44 PM
I had just turned 1. I don't remember being particularly distraught about this deal. I guess I was a bit of a visionary...

:)

Word on the street is you went in your pants several times that day, that's how distraught you were!

tsj017
07-13-2006, 12:50 PM
I was only 7 at the time, but I do remember that it was very controversial and that the general feeling of Reds fans was that we'd given up 2 of our stars for not much. Little did we know.

As WOY said, after 1 1/2 seasons in Riverfront (and a disastrous 1971 season), Howsam realized that the Reds were still built for Crosley. Astroturf demanded speed--Morgan on the basepaths, Geronimo in CF. He saw the future and acted accordingly.

I wonder, though--did anyone really foresee Morgan becoming the complete package he was in '75-'76?

vic715
07-13-2006, 01:57 PM
I was home on leave from The USAF when I heard those words come out of Jack Morans mouth that the Reds Traded May,Helms and Stewart to Houston.
I didn't like it as May was my Favorite player at the time. On july 15 1969 My seventeenth birthday my dad took me to a twilight doubleheader at Crosley and the Big Bopper busted 4 Homeruns that night.
Now according to My Baseball Encyclopedia May only played Three years for the Astros hitting 81 Hrs. He went on to Baltimore in 75 and led the AL in RBIs in 1976 with 109. He never again though had a season in which hit 30 hrs again.

redsmetz
07-13-2006, 02:03 PM
Now according to My Baseball Encyclopedia May only played Three years for the Astros hitting 81 Hrs. He went on to Baltimore in 75 and led the AL in RBIs in 1976 with 109. He never again though had a season in which hit 30 hrs again.

You are correct. He was in Houston only three years.

919191
07-13-2006, 05:45 PM
When I saw news of this trade in the Indianapolis Star I was devastated. But heck, I was only 11...

redsmetz
07-13-2006, 08:50 PM
So kind of ironic I started this thread today, no?

Matt700wlw
07-13-2006, 08:56 PM
Can you imagine if Redszone had been in existance back in those days?

tsj017
07-13-2006, 09:01 PM
So kind of ironic I started this thread today, no?

Yeah, I was thinking that, too.

So which of the guys we got is the equivalent of Joe Morgan? [/wishful thinking]

redsmetz
07-13-2006, 09:06 PM
Thompson, he'll be the Reds first Cy Young winner in 8 years (well, or maybe second since Bronson will win it this year :) )

ochre
07-13-2006, 10:38 PM
Can you imagine if Redszone had been in existance back in those days?
punch card's would be flying.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Punch-card-blue.jpg

Tony Cloninger
07-13-2006, 10:57 PM
That trade......along with Duffy/Gieshert for Foster......and the "old" Pinson for the "young" Pinson (Tolan) ......helped us forget and FORGIVE Bob for..... Shinebloom and Nelson for McRae & Simpson (he could have asked for Splittorf at least? KC would probably not have parted with Busby).... but Bob liked fastball pitchers more than the junkballers.
Grimsely for Rettenmund.
Andujar for i forget who.

Those last 2 were more due to players not fitting the "red" way of doing things.

WK has pretty much gone anywhere in trades from terrible to great in less than 1 year.