There may be no more magical time for a baseball fan than the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. It’s like Christmas morning without the religion or messy package cleanup – it’s a holiday for everyone! Whether your team is at the top, the bottom, or languishing somewhere in the middle there’s a reasonable chance you’ll get to take part in the excitement come July 31st (or slightly before).
While fans look forward and prepare for the dealings of the Byrnes Era, I prefer instead, to look back. This purist always defers to history to explain our convoluted present. My mentor at Grand Lakes University, Professor Turgesson, once remarked, “I hold history sacred. Sacred. The way a farmer looks at the earth and he holds it sacred”, a mantra which, I too subscribe. Therefore it is the history of trade deadlines past which we will examine, in an effort to help us understand today.
The year was 2005. With first place loosely secured by an anemic offense, the Padres found themselves to be much like a ship foundering at sea. Third baseman Sean Burroughs, San Diego’s original Savior, mistakenly brought his Long Beach Little League bat to The Show, thus forcing the Padres’ front office to make a move . . . a championship caliber move. Enter journeyman third baseman, Joe Randa.
Joe “The Joker” Randa arrived in San Diego with a reputation as a positive clubhouse presence with gap-to-gap power and a perpetual smile (hence the nickname bestowed upon him by former Royals manager and current Padres bench coach, Tony Muser). The price was steep as Kevin Towers mortgaged the future in sending RHPs, Justin Germano and Travis Chick to Cincinnati in exchange for the veteran third baseman. The results were to Towers’ liking though, as Randa brought dazzling defense and a professional hitting approach to San Diego’s championship cause for 58 games that year. Joe Randa quickly made Padres fans forget about the Little League legend and colossal first round bust.
The Joker paid immediate dividends by slugging his way to a .698 OPS, dwarfing Burroughs’ effort by 80 points! Randa also helped fuel the Padres to the 2005 NL West crown by hitting TWICE as many homeruns as Burroughs while plying his trade in spacious Petco Park (Randa also did it in less at-bats). This boost in offensive production cannot be ignored in assessing the value added by KT during the monumental stretch-run of ‘05.
The Friar Faithful should derive an important lesson from that fateful 2005 deadline trade: the Moores/Alderson regime had the stones to pull the trigger on a bold and daring championship move. While the transaction was a genuine stroke of genius I’d be remiss not to call your attention to the bigger picture. Every time you set your eyes upon the 2005 NL West banner proudly displayed at Petco Park, reflect on the steely individual that served as the catalyst for San Diego’s championship pageantry. Joe Randa was gone in 2006 but that championship banner will wave forever.
Based upon the lessons of our past I look to the Byrnes Era with genuine excitement. Under what guise shall the hired gun or big stick arrive? I will leave the speculation to others but I am certain the Padres will do what is necessary to hang another NL West banner in Petco Park . . . someday.
Rife with hyperbole and sarcasm, this post originally appeared at 619Sports.net in July of 2010. Slight alterations exist to allow a seamless transfer from the Jed Hoyer Era to the Josh Byrnes Era.Good times.
I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly inspired. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM where I set my eyes on 2014, 7 days a week. The dusty archives are located at avengingjm.blogspot.com