White Sox trade tangents from Fred Talbot

The right-handed pitcher, who died last week at the age of 71, sealed one of the sweetest deals the White Sox ever pulled off.

Fred Talbot, a journeyman right-handed pitcher who plied his trade during the 1960s, died last week at the age of 71.

He was most popular for being a member of the Seattle Pilots, and the victim of a memorable prank in the pages of Ball Four. Jim Bouton tells the story here:

What I didn't know is that he started his career with the White Sox. He only pitched 78 total innings for Chicago over parts of the 1963 and 1964 seasons, which were his first two stints in the big leagues. Still, whenever a former White Sox dies, it's always worth checking it out, because you'll never know what you'll find. I mean, Ted Beard only batted .180 over 125 plate appearances, but there was this tremendous photo of him from a larger pictorial of a pretty fierce basebrawl.

For the Sox, Talbot provided the most value as a player to be named later in a complicated three-team deal that took place Jan. 20, 1965. It's the best trade general manager Ed Short ever made, and it has to be up there among the greatest deals in franchise history.

Needing a bat to supplement the talented pitching staff, Short sent Jim Landis, Mike Hershberger and the player who would become Talbot to the Kansas City Athletics for popular slugger Rocky Colavito, fresh off a 34-homer season that put him past 300 for his career.

But the Sox wouldn't keep Colavito. Instead, Short acquired him so he could pull off a deal with Cleveland. Indians fans pretty much rioted when Frank Lane traded Colavito to Detroit for Harvey Kuenn after the 1959 season, and the Indians wanted Colavito back to try to restore their mojo.

Their effort to put the genie back in the bottle is what set the Curse of Rocky Colavito in motion. The Indians acquired Colavito and catcher Camilo Carreon, but at a hefty cost: center fielder Tommy Agee, pitcher Tommy John and catcher John Romano.

The Sox were primarily interested in erasing their own mistake. Bill Veeck traded both Romano and Earl Battey after the 1959 season, which created a hole behind the plate that neither Carreon nor J.C. Martin could fill for years.

But Short's trade was not only a short-term solution. Yes, Romano held up his end of the bargain by giving the Sox two strong, power-oriented seasons behind the plate. but the trade still paid dividends years later.

John, who went 2-11 with a 3.61 over two partial seasons with the Indians, flourished under pitching coach Ray Berres. He broke out by posting a 14-7 record and a 3.09 ERA in his first full season, and won 82 of his 288 career victories as a member of the White Sox before Roland Hemond dealt him for Dick Allen.

Agee joined the party a year later, winning the Rookie of the Year and a Gold Glove in center field for the Sox in 1966 as a 23-year-old. The Sox dealt him after 1967, but he went on to have a few very good years with the Mets, including a key role with the Amazin' Mets of 1969.

And if it couldn't get any better, the Sox didn't miss any of the guys they traded away. With Landis, Hershberger, Carreon, and even Talbot, their best years were already behind them.

If you want to quantify the lopsidedness of this trade, here's what Baseball-Reference.com says the trade netted each team by the amount of Wins Above Replacement they had yet to produce:

White Sox Athletics Indians
Agee
(23.6)
Landis
(1.3)
Colavito
(4.8)
John
(56.7)
Hershberger
(-1.5)
Carreon
(0.2)
Romano
(4.8)
Talbot
(-0.1)
85.1 -0.3 5.0

Rule of thumb: When you end up with the three best players in an eight-player trade -- or when your yield is 18 times greater than the other ones combined -- you did pretty well for yourself.

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