I was perusing an article on THT on May trades and the name of Roberto Kelly came up which to a Reds fan always brings back memories of the trade that sent O'Neill to the Yankees.
What happened when Paulie went to NY? The Reds traded him right before his age 30 season and what happened in NY for the next 6 years was completely unlike the O'Neill the Reds had seen to that point in time.
During his Reds tenure his high BA was .276(the only time he broke .270), his high OBP was .346 and his high SLG% was .484. His 92 season was abysmal as his OPS barely crawled over .700. As a Red Piniella had given him the nickname "Big". It was a term of derision because O'Neill was an opposite field gap hitter and Piniella wanted him to be more of a slugger.
O'Neill goes to NY and hits over .300 each of the next six year, slugs over .500 in 5 of those years and basically becomes a different and much improved hitter overnight. During the strike shortened 94 season he had an OPS of 1.063
I didn't see a lot of O'Neill after his trade and my question is why did O'Neill become something with the Yanks he had never been with the Reds? Did Paul change his approach and become the pull hitter that Piniella wanted him to be(his numbers would seem to indicate maybe he tried to be that hitter in 91)? Was it something else?
Bowden has always said that is the trade he regretted the most but looking at the relative age and numbers heading into the 93 season it is hard to say that was a bad deal. It was only awful in hindsight. BTW, Kelly was gone after 1.5 years but he managed to hit .319 in 93 and was over .300 in 94 when traded. However, by then his speed which had been his main asset seems to have deserted him.