The worst trades in the history of the Houston Astros’ franchise
The recent DFA of Carlos Gomez has caused many Houston Astros fans, and for that matter, baseball fans to consider the 2015 pennant drive trade for Gomez to be an abject failure. For long-time Astros fans, this has brought to mind some of the not-so-great deals of years past.
This is the second in a series of articles taking a look at those trades which did not work out well for the Astros. In the first article, we looked at the “Joe Morgan Trade”. Here we will consider the “John Mayberry Trade.”
Ironically enough, this trade was actually the result of the Morgan trade. Mayberry was a slugging, left-handed first baseman who had outstanding numbers throughout the Astros minor-league system. He was given a part-time role in 1970 and 1971 after two previous cups of coffee in the bigs. He managed 12 HR and 28 RBI in 105 games with the big club.
The Astros’ Side
Evidently, the Astros management was not convinced Mayberry would reach his potential and pulled the trigger on the Morgan trade. Which brought them back right-handed slugging 1B Lee May from the Cincinnati Reds. In essence, the Astros traded a right side of the infield of Morgan and Mayberry for one with Tommy Helms and May. In other words, in four days, the Astros’ brass possibly set the franchise back several years.
Now to be fair, nobody will ever know if Mayberry would have had the career in Houston that he had in Kansas City. Since nobody will ever know if Morgan would have had back-to-back MVP seasons if not surrounded by the rest of the Big Red Machine of the mid-1970’s.
What we do know is this . . . Mayberry went on to hit 143 HR and 552 RBI over the next six years, and another 92 HR and 272 RBI in 5 years with Toronto. York went 9-11 with seven saves and a 4.19 ERA in 4 years in Houston, and Clemons never pitched a game for Houston.
The Royals’ Side
Mayberry was a big part of the Kansas City Royals’ playoff teams of the mid-to-late 1970’s and was a much better on-base percentage guy than the guy he was traded for, May. By 1975, Lee May was traded to Baltimore and Mayberry was about to have his best season in the majors. Mayberry hit 34 HR and 106 RBI with a .291 average and .416 on-base percentage in 1975.
In the first year after the trade, 1972, Mayberry hit 25 HR and 100 RBI, while hitting .298 in 149 games. Lee May had similar statistics in ’72, so one has to wonder if the Astros had kept Morgan and Mayberry, could they have won their first division championship in 1972? As it was, they finished at 84-69 (season shortened by a strike) and in second place in the NL West.
The next few years were a struggle for the Astros, with the bottom coming with their horrible last place finish of 1975. Bill Virdon was brought in as manager and helped make the club competitive. But, by this time, the club was in the process of being owned by its creditors until Dr. John McMullen bought the team.
So far we’ve looked at two of the worst trades in Houston Astros’ history. Which one should we look at next?
***Statistics by Baseball Reference***