Thursday, November 04, 2004
The Dodgers: 120 Years of Dodger Baseball, an Excerpt for Years 1967-1976
Over at Dodger Thoughts, Jon Weisman posted an excerpt from The Dodgers: 120 Years of Dodger Baseball by Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson. Jon's excerpt is the entire Chapter 14, covering the years 1967-1976.
It's an interesting read, with intriguing parallels between the Dodgers of the late 1960's and the current Mariners situation. And for both teams, the manager was named Bavasi. If you believe that one of Bill Bavasi's assets is growing up in the Bavasi household, then you should be interested to see how Bavasi pere did (or didn't) deal with the aging, punchless. PR-conscious Dodgers teams post-Koufax.
Here's an excerpt of Jon's excerpt:
And that was it. The Dodgers – the LA Dodgers - the team that had used pitching, speed and defense to win three world championships - were finished, just like that. The farm system, apart from pitching prospects, was barren. The Dodgers had been blind to their weaknesses, convinced they could always win with pitching, that hitting didn’t matter. They stocked up on arms and let the offense take care of itself. But when they traded Wills they lost any chance they had to remain respectable.
Bavasi was finished making deals. The Dodgers didn’t even try to add a veteran starter to replace Koufax. Bob Miller started on Opening Day and lost to the Reds, 6-1. It wasn’t long before the press began referring to the pitcher as “Bomb” Miller. Rookie Bill Singer soon took over for him in the rotation.
The Dodgers still had pitching, but even according to their low standards they couldn’t hit, scoring nearly 100 runs less than in 1966, averaging barely three runs a game. In Don Drysdale’s sixteen losses, the Dodgers scored a total of fifteen runs. Gene Michael hit .202 and couldn’t field either. Bailey hit .227. Lou Johnson broke his leg.
Wills hit .302 for Pittsburgh. Only the Astros and Mets kept the Dodgers out of last place. They finished 73-89. More significantly attendance at Dodger Stadium dropped by a million fans, down to only1.6 million, less than the pennant-winning Cardinals and Red Sox, the first time since moving from Brooklyn that the Dodgers hadn’t led the majors in that category.
Some experiment. And it didn’t not appear as if 1968 would bring any improvement. It was obvious the Dodgers missed Wills and needed offense, so in the offseason Bavasi made a trade he thought would make up for it, sending Roseboro, Ron Perranoski and Bob Miller to the Twins for Zoilo Versalles and Mudcat Grant.
It would have been an interesting trade two years earlier. Now it was simply a swap of fading veterans.
It soon became clear why Bavasi had never made many trades – he didn’t know how. He dealt for names, not talent. Lou Johnson was sent to the Cubs for Paul Popovich, an infielder with no pop whatsoever. He bought former slugger Rocky Colavito from the White Sox and sent Hunt to the Giants for catcher Tom Haller.
All it did was a shuffle the deck – badly. Versalles was terrible and hit .196, Colavito was almost as bad. Haller helped, but Popovich was dismal.