Tracy Ringolsby

Big Deadline moves don't always pay off in season

Big Deadline moves don't always pay off in season

The gathering in Cooperstown this weekend is designed to celebrate the greatness of the four newest inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame -- left-handed pitcher Randy Johnson, right-handed pitchers Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, and second baseman Craig Biggio.

The credentials are impressive, which underscores why the three pitchers were elected in their first year of eligibility, and Biggio was elected in his third year on the ballot.

Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame Class of 2015

Given the upcoming July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, however, Johnson should serve as a reminder to eager owners and club executives that it takes a team, not just a Hall of Famer, to win a World Series. While clubs are scurrying to find that missing ingredient for a championship in the next few days, it is worth nothing that in-season additions of superstars carry a high price, but no guarantees of raising a trophy.

No incident stands out like Houston in 1998. The Astros, feeling they were a dominant starter away from their first World Series appearance in franchise history, packaged infielder Carlos Guillen, right-handed pitcher John Halama and righty Freddy Garcia to acquire Johnson from the Mariners on July 31 that season.

Those three players were critical parts of the Mariners' advance to the postseason in 2000 as the AL Wild Card team and '01 as division winners, after winning 116 games. Guillen took over at shortstop for Alex Rodriguez, who left as a free agent following the 2000 season, and Garcia and Halama were regulars in the rotation both years.

Johnson, meanwhile, was overpowering in 1998. The Astros won 102 games and the National League Central title, and Johnson, in the final two months of the regular season, was 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA in 11 starts. The Astros, however, were eliminated from the postseason in four games by the Padres in the NL Division Series. Johnson lost Games 1 and 4, but he allowed only three earned runs in 14 innings combined. The Astros scored one run in each of the two games. And Johnson left as a free agent after the season.

Donn Clendenon is the only player to win the World Series Most Valuable Player Award (since it was established in 1955) who was acquired through an in-season trade. The Mets acquired Clendenon as part of a multiplayer deal with Montreal, which included Steve Renko going to the Expos, on June 15, 1969.

Johnson did win a World Series ring with Arizona in 2001. His impact was underscored by the World Series MVP trophy he earned. Johnson was 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA in the D-backs' seven-game series victory against the Yankees. He posted wins in Games 6 and 7.

He went seven innings for the Game 6 victory, setting up the winner-take-all finale in Arizona. Curt Schilling started that game, but after Alfonso Soriano led off the top of the eighth with a home run to put the Yankees up, 2-1, and David Justice singled with one out, Miguel Batista came in to get Derek Jeter out. Then Johnson came on to get the final four outs, and he earned the win when Arizona rallied for a 3-2 victory in the bottom of the ninth.

It was a fitting moment in the career of the five-time Cy Young Award-winning Johnson, who won 303 big league games, struck out 4,875 batters (second to only Nolan Ryan), averaged a best-in-history 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings and compiled the ninth best WAR (104.3) for a pitcher.

Staying power
Biggio spent his entire career with the Astros, appearing in 2,850 regular-season games. That is the sixth most games played by a player who played for only one team in the big leagues.

Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski (3,308 games with the Red Sox), Stan Musial (3,026 games with the Cardinals), Cal Ripken Jr., (3,001 games the Orioles), Brooks Robinson (2,896 games with the O's) and Robin Yount (2,856 games with the Brewers) are the only players who appeared in more games than Biggio, while also spending their entire careers with one franchise.

Happy anniversary
• Forty-nine years ago Saturday, on July 25, 1966, Ted Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Williams' speech, in which he stated that Negro League players deserve a place in the Hall, helped pave the way for Negro League players to be inducted, starting in 1972.

• Eighty-five years ago Saturday, the Philadelphia A's pulled off triple steals in the first and fourth innings against Cleveland. The A's only stole 44 other bases the entire season.

• Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo hit for the cycle on Tuesday at Coors Field, which opened in 1995 and has been the scene of 13 of the 76 cycles hit in the big leagues since then.

• The Padres and Marlins are the only teams that have never had a player hit for the cycle. The Padres also are the only team that has never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.