So I was skimming Bert Blyleven's Baseball-Reference.com page the other day, contemplating his upcoming Hall of Fame induction (conclusion: borderline "belongs" but I'm glad he's in -- I'm a "Big Hall" guy) when my eyes began to scan the "Transactions" list near the bottom of that page. By quick count, Bert was involved in five trades involving more than 30 other players (a few of whom never did make it to the big leagues) ... with that realization, my Hall of Names brain immediately leapt to "could we possibly build a full roster from that list?"
Not only CAN we, but it's really an outstanding team overall ...
The starting lineup has four former All-Stars on board, with another coupele of guys I was surprised to learn never had participated in the midsummer classic. The starting rotation has a Hall of Famer (Bert, of course) and two other legitimate All-Stars while the bullpen has two solid, if not spectacular closing options. Seven of the nine position players amassed more than 120 career homers (though just one made it, barely, past 200), so there might not be any Murderer's Row candidates, but there are a bunch of guys who are mid-tier consistent stars.
All that said, it's time to meet -- not to throw you a Blyleven-esque curve here, but sometimes the Bermanisms stick with you ...
THE BE-HOME BLYLEVENS
**indicates Hall of Famer
C Manny Sanguillen* (.296, 65 HR, 1967, '69-80)
1B Willie Montanez* (.275, 139 HR, 1966, '70-82)
2B Mike Cubbage (.258, 34 HR, 1974-81)
SS Jay Bell* (.265, 195 HR, 1986-2003)
3B Roy Smalley (.257, 163 HR, 1975-87)
LF John Milner (.249, 131 HR, 1971-82)
CF Al Oliver * (.303, 219 HR, 1968-85)
RF Ken Henderson (.257, 122 HR, 1965-80)
DH Paul Sorrento (.257, 166 HR, 1989-99)
C Gary Alexander (.230, 55 HR, 1975-81)
IF Danny Thompson (.248, 15 HR, 1970-76)
IF Nelson Norman (.221, 1978-82)
OF Tom Grieve (.249, 65 homers, 1970, '72-79)
OF Eddie Miller (.238, 49 SB, 1977-82, '84)
OF Jim Weaver (.161, 1985, '87, '89)
RHSP Bert Blyleven** (287-250, 3.31, 1970-92)
RHSP Jon Matlack* (125-126, 3.18, 1971-83)
RHSP Bill Singer* (118-127, 3.39, 1964-77)
LHSP Bob Owchinko (37-60, 4.28, 1976-94)
RHSP Tommy Boggs (20-44, 4.22, 1976-83)
CL-RH Victor Cruz (18-23, 37 saves, 1978-81, 83)
RHRP Adrian Devine (26-22, 30 saves 1973, '75-90)
LHRP Curt Wardle (8-9, 1 save, 6.13, 1984-85)
RHRP Rafael Vasquez (1-0, 5.06 in 9 games with '79 SEA)
RHRP Rich Yett (22-24, 4.95, 1 save, 1985-90)
And the two guys who didn't make the roster?
RHSP Jim Gideon (1 start, only appearance, /75 TEX)
RHRP Mike Cook (1-6, 5.55, 1986-89, '93)
OTHER "BERT"-INENT INFORMATION ... Blyleven is not only the ace and Opening Day starter, he's the team captain -- when the team is named for you, that seems pretty obvious .... Boggs was 12-9 with the '80 Braves, but just 8-35 in his other seven seasons combined ... Owchinko's career 4.28 ERA is the worst in this rotation -- that would make him a star these days! -- and he's the sole lefty starter ... Cruz was a rookie with the '78 sophomore Jays and rang up a 7-3/1.71 season with nine saves. That earned him a trade to Cleveland (for Alfredo Griffin and a minor league pitcher) where he had back-to-back 10-save campaigns before being shipped to Pittsburgh as part of the deal for a Blylevven package ... Devine was a pretty decent closer for the '77 Rangers, notching 11 wins and 15 saves ... Slotting Yett as a reliever is a little dicey, as 49 of his 136 carreer appearances were starts ...
Sanguillen wasonce traded (PIT > OAK) even-up for a manager, Chuck Tanner ...Montanez had eight double-digit dinger seasons, reaching 20 twice and 30 once. Oddly, in his 30-homer rookie season of 1971, he knocked in just 99 runs, while in his only 100-RBI season (101 in 1975), he hit just 10 homers ... Cubbage played mostly at 3B and quite a bit at 1B, but we need someone to turn the pivot, and he did make 53 appearances (including 37 starts) at 2B ... Bell had one trruly standout season, 1999, when starting at 2B for the Diiamondbacks he hit .289/38/112. (Let's not dwell on what era it was in baseball at the time.) Still, he played more than 1500 of his 2000+ career ganes at shortstop ... Meanwhile, Smalley was primarily a shortstop, but played neearly 200 games at the hot corner ...
We'd have to think about it, but rather than the current Cubbage-Bell-Smalley 2B-SS-3B defensive alighnment, we might be better off with Bell-Smalley-Cubbage. Let's see how it plays out in spring training (in Holland, of course) ... Smalley's father, also named Roy, was also a long-time big league infiielder -- but don't call our Roy "Junior"! Dad held the Jr. tag, and our six-hole is filled with a Roman numeral III ... Millner was traded for Montanez twice, once in a huge December '77 four-team Blyleven-anza, and later even-up in a traditional 1982 deal between the Expos and Pirates ... Oliver, who closed out his career with the 1985 Jays, had 2,743 career hits and 1,326 RBI. He dropped off the HOF ballot in his first year of eligibility, but surely belongs prominantly in the Hall of Gosh He Was Pretty Good ...
Alexander hit 27 of his 55 career homers -- almost half! -- in 1978 with the A's and Indians, but that season he also hit just .225 and srtruck out an AL-worst 166 times ... Grieve hit .276/14/61 and .255/20/81 for the 1975-76 Rangers, ended up their Gemeral Manager in the 1980s and "TAG" is now a permanebt fixture in the defending AL champ teevee brooth .... Norman could play short for a "two last names" team if we ever do one -- you know, Carlton Fisk, guys like that ...There have been four MLB players named "Eddie Miller, " and one was an All-Star (note: it wasn't our guy) .... There have also been three Jim Weavers, and we appear to be stuck with the caboose from that train, too ...
So, then -- I think this team is a playoff contender amd would have championship aspirations in either current league ... what say you, Bzuxites?
Morre to the point, were we to continue this "Trade School HoN Team" track, what other players might we look at? (Yes, I've already thought of Bobby Bonds.) And please, feel free to build one yourself and submit it to me for publication here!