The Ten Best Trades in Philadelphia History

Posted: February 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


The trading of players is one of the most fascinating aspects of sports. One day, you can be the toast of the town. The next, you are shipped to Columbus for a player to be named later and a carton of Parliament Light 100s. It is a “what have you done for me lately” world and that is no more obvious than in the realm of sport (as Mitt Romney would call it).

Finding just ten trades to focus on was difficult. So, here are some honorable mentions in the list of the top trades in Philadelphia sports history:

Honorable Mention

Philadelphia Eagles QB trade Donovan McNabb to Washington Redskins for a 2nd round pick (Nate Allen) (4/4/2010): This might have made the list if the team did not waste the pick on the talentless turnstile that is Nate Allen.

Philadelphia Eagles trade QB AJ Feeley to Miami Dolphins for a 2nd round pick (Reggie Brown) (3/2004): The same theme as above. Feeley never became anything but a mediocre backup. Unfortunately, that is about all Reggie Brown ever was, as well.

Philadelphia 76ers trade SG Jerry Stackhouse and C Eric Montross to Detroit Pistons for SG Aaron McKie and C Theo Ratliff (12/18/1997): The real turnaround from the John Lucas/Johnny Davis days of infamy. Stackhouse just could not fit with Iverson and Montross was a mediocre bench piece. In return, the Sixers got a future sixth man of the year and assistant coach in McKie and a very talented defensive presence in Ratliff.

Philadelphia 76ers trade C Theo Ratliff, PF Toni Kukoc, PG Pepe Sanchez, and C Nazr Mohammad to Atlanta Hawks for C Dikembe Mutombo and SF Rashawn McLeod (2/2001): The 76ers knew they had no shot at defeating the Lakers in the finals with no interior presence. Ratliff had just gone down with a tough injury, so he was seen as replaceable. In came Mutombo, who, despite not providing the team with enough to upend Los Angeles, gave them a presence that they had not had in the middle since Charles Barkley was traded.

Philadelphia Flyers trade Alexei Zhitnik to Atlanta Thrashers for D Braydon Coburn (2/24/2007): With the team mired in their worst season in a generation, GM Paul Holmgren shipped the veteran blue-liner to Atlanta (who was finally contending for the first time). In exchange, he received a large and talented young defenseman in Coburn who has headlined their defensive corps since.

Philadelphia Phillies trade LHP Josh Outman, 2B Adrian Cardenas, and OF Matt Spencer to Oakland Athletics for RHP Joe Blanton (7/17/2008): Big Joe never got a ton of love in Philadelphia. But, he did win 35 games with the Phillies including a 6-0 mark in the 2008 season (regular and post). He also had a World Series HR, which not many players, let alone pitchers, can say. Meanwhile, Outman has struggled with injuries and is on his third organization since the deal. Cardenas, whilst a top prospect at the time, has never lived up to the hype, finally making the majors in 2012 with the Cubs and hitting a paltry .183.

Philadelphia Phillies trade IF Juan Samuel to New York Mets for RHP Roger McDowell, RHP Thomas Edens, and OF Lenny Dykstra (6/18/1989): Samuel had enjoyed some fine seasons in Philadelphia. His finest being 1987, where the infielder hit 27 home runs. He lasted just half a season in New York and never replicated his success throughout the rest of his 16-year MLB career. Meanwhile, Lenny “The Dude” Dykstra exploded (with the help of needles, steroids, and bad business deals) onto the scene in Philadelphia, leading the club to a 1993 NL pennant. The deal only gets better when one considers than Eden was just a throw in and ended up landing the team Milt Thompson in a future trade with Houston.

Philadelphia Phillies trade LHP Fabio Castro to Toronto Blue Jays for OF Matt Stairs (8/30/2008):With just a day to go before playoff rosters were finalized, GM Pat Gillick acquired this free-swinging slugger from north-of-the-border for journeyman LOOGY Fabio Castro. This trade would not have even registered on the Richter Scale if it weren’t for Stairs’ colossal two-run blast off L.A. Dodgers’ closer Jonathan Broxton in game four of the NLCS. His one swing changed the momentum of the series and kick started the Phillies’ run to their second world championship.

The Top Ten Trades in Philadelphia Sports History

10. Eagles acquire QB Ron Jaworski from Los Angeles Rams for TE Charle Young (1976)

ImageAt the time, Charle Young was an All-Pro TE in his prime. The 25-year old from USC began his career with back-to-back 650+ yard seasons. However, injuries and inconsistency had left a sour taste in the organization’s mouth. The following offseason, they dealt him to Los Angeles for QB Ron Jaworski. “Jaws” had a putrid first three years in the NFL with a TD to INT ratio of 1-8. It did not take long, however, for the former Youngstown State Penguin to emerge as a franchise QB and MVP. He led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl appearance in 1980. Young, meanwhile, never recaptured the glory days of his rookie season. He never caught more than 37 passes in a season the rest of his career. He did, however, win a championship in 1981 with the 49ers.

9. Flyers acquire D Eric Desjardins, LW John LeClair, and LW Gilbert Dionne for RW Mark Recchi and a conditional draft pick (2/9/1995):

ImageAt the time, the Flyers were in the midst of a renaissance. Gone were the great days of Brian Propp and Mark Howe. The future was Eric Lindros and the team needed to find a strong linemate for him whilst also boosting their defensive punch.

Recchi was coming off 93 goals in the past two seasons when the team shipped him to Montreal 10-games into the shortened 1994-95 campaign. In exchange, the team landed LeClair (three 50-goal seasons immediately thereafter) and Desjardins (a future captain whose offensive punch from the blue line gave opponents fits). Recchi, meanwhile, enjoyed 4+ quality campaigns in Montreal before returning to the City of Brotherly Love in 1999.

8. Eagles acquire WR Terrell Owens in three-team trade with Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers for DE Brandon Whiting and a conditional fifth-round pick (S Tony Bua) (3/16/2004):

ImageFew will forget the constant drama that came with Terrell Owens’ on-field dominance. As publicized as his demise from Philadelphia was, the fiasco that was the 2003-2004 offseason was just as ridiculous. His agent, David Joseph, had missed the deadline to void the final years of his contract with the 49ers. San Francisco, believing they still owned the WR’s rights, shipped him to Baltimore in March for a 2nd-round pick. Owens, never one to not get his way, challenged the 49ers’ belief that they owned his rights. Eventually, a three-team deal was worked out to send mediocre DE Brandon Whiting to San Francisco and a fifth round pick to Baltimore. T.O., meanwhile, led the Eagles to their most exciting campaign perhaps in team history before flaking out on the team a year later.

7. Phillies acquire RF Bobby Abreu from Tampa Bay Devil Rays for SS Kevin Stocker (11/18/97):

ImagePhiladelphia fans never gave Bobby Abreu much credit. But, the guy was one of the finest ballplayers this city has ever known, even if he played like he was just getting out of bed after a night-long binge drinking fest with the cast of Jersey Shore.

In eight full seasons with Philadelphia, Abreu hit .300 all but twice. He enjoyed two 30-30 campaigns in 2001 and 2004, and made the All Star Game twice. Meanwhile, the man they traded for him, Kevin Stocker, never lived up to the hype in Tampa Bay. After being a promising prospect in the early 1990s, the University of Washington alumnus hit .208 in 112 games with the Devil Rays in 1998 and never approached the performance he put up in his rookie campaign of 1993.

Oddly enough, Abreu is also a candidate for the worst trade in Philadelphia sports history after he was sent to the Yankees for a bucket of balls and a used condom in 2006.

6. Eagles acquire Norm Van Brocklin from Los Angeles Rams for T Buck Lansford, DB Jimmy Harris, and a 1st round pick (DT Paul Dickson) (1958):

Image“The Dutchman” was coming off a six-interception performance in the 1957 NFL Title Game loss to the Cleveland Browns. Los Angeles viewed him as expendable, and dealt him for three players the following offseason. Under the tutelage of Eagles coach Buck Shaw, Van Brocklin improved the Birds offense dramatically. Just two years later, the Eagles won their last championship behind Van Brocklin and diminutive receiver Tommy McDonald, defeating the Green Bay Packers, 17-13. Van Brocklin was the only QB to defeat the Packers and head coach Vince Lombardi in a playoff game during the latter’s tenure as coach.

5. Phillies acquire RHP Jim Bunning from Detroit Tigers for UTL Don Demeter and RHP Jack Hamilton (12/5/1963):

ImageThe future US Senator from Kentucky played nine glorious years in Detroit, going 118-87 with a 3.45 ERA. In the offseason following the 1963 season, he was traded to Philadelphia for Don Demeter and Jack Hamilton.

Bunning would go on to win 19 games each of his first three years with the Phillies (including an astounding 44 complete games over that time). He never won a World Series with Philadelphia. But, he certainly cemented his legacy as a Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest to ever grace a mound.

Demeter, meanwhile, was coming off the two best seasons of his career in 1962-63. He never replicated that success elsewhere. Hamilton, who walked a league high 107 batters in 1962, pitched on some brutal Mets teams in the 60s before retiring as a reliever with the White Sox in 1969.

4. Phillies acquire RHP Roy Halladay for RHP Kyle Drabek, C Travis D’Arnaud, and OF Michael Taylor (12/16/2009):

ImageRuben Amaro’s deal for the “Doctor” comes in at #4 on the list. Following a decade of dominance north of the border, Roy Halladay was ready for a taste of Philadelphia’s finest. His first year with the team included a perfect game, a playoff no-hitter, 20 wins, and a Cy Young award. Unfortunately, Doc has not won a World Series with the Phillies, yet.

In exchange, the Blue Jays acquired three top prospects that have had varying degrees of success. Drabek, the Phillies’ 1st round pick in 2006, struggled dramatically with control with the Jays from 2010-12 (110 K, 107 BB) before going down with his second Tommy John surgery last season. D’Arnaud is the top ranked catching prospect in the game and was a key cog in the Blue Jays’ acquisition of 2012 NL Cy Young RA Dickey. Taylor, meanwhile, was shipped to Oakland for 1B Brett Wallace soon after the original trade. He has yet to make a major impact at the MLB level and it appears as though he never will.

Prospects are just prospects, and this deal proves that more than any other.

3. Phillies acquire RHP Brad Lidge and INF Eric Bruntlett for RHP Geoff Geary, 3B Mike Costanzo, and OF Michael Bourn (11/7/2007):

ImageThe Phillies rode a dramatic New York Mets collapse to the postseason in 2007. However, their stay was short as they were unceremoniously swept in the NLDS by Colorado. Pat Gillick, the team’s GM at the time, knew that they needed a lockdown closer to push them over the hump. Enter Brad Lidge, who was coming off a bounce back season after a dismal 2005. “Lights Out” Lidge would prove the difference, closing all 41 save opportunities in the regular season in 2008 before seven more in the postseason, including the game five championship clinching strikeout of Tampa Bay’s Erik Hinske. The Phillies also acquired Bruntlett, who was best served as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. He scored the game winning runs in games 3 and 5 of the Fall Classic.

In exchange, the Astros got Bourn, who would emerge as a capable All-Star leadoff hitter. They also landed Geary, who never replicated his 2006 success, and Costanzo, a former #2 pick who finally made his MLB debut last season with Cincinnati.

2. 76ers acquire C Wilt Chamberlain for PG Paul Neumann, C Connie Dierking, and SF Lee Shaffer (1965):

ImageWilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain had spent the first seven years of his NBA career with the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors. When the Syracuse Nationals relocated to Philadelphia to become the 76ers, the team was all too happy to re-acquire a Philadelphia legend. At the 1965 All-Star break, Chamberlain was shipped to Philly for what looks like the cast of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The greatest Center to ever play the game would lead the 76ers to the 1968 NBA Finals, a series they would win in six games over his former team, the San Francisco Warriors.

1. Phillies acquire LHP Steve Carlton for RHP Rick Wise (2/25/1972):

ImageBeing a southpaw myself, I am partial to Steve Carlton. He was, after all, the greatest lefty to ever step foot on a mound. After seven seasons in St. Louis in which he composed a 77-62, 3.10 record, the future Hall-of-Famer was dealt to Philadelphia for RHP Rick Wise. At the time, Wise had just enjoyed his finest campaign, going 17-14, 2.88 in 1971. However, trading the 25-year-old to St. Louis for the 27-year-old Carlton was the closest thing to a no-brainer.

In his first year in Philadelphia, Carlton put up the greatest single-season in franchise history. His 27 wins and 1.97 ERA were phenomenal. But, it was his 11.7 WAR that remains a franchise record to this day for pitchers. By comparison, Roy Halladay’s dynamite 2010 campaign registered an 8.3 WAR. Carlton pitched 346.1 innings that season, and never pitched less than 200 until 1981.

He would go on to be the greatest pitcher in team history, winning 242 games over the duration of his 14-year stay in Philly. Wise, meanwhile, pitched just two seasons in St. Louis, going 32-28 with a 3.24 ERA.


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