Let’s cut to the chase.
One of my goals in taking on a challenge beginning with the Red Sox of 1976 was to see what might have been different had Bowie Kuhn not vetoed the deal that sent Rollie Fingers and Joe Rudi to Boston for cash on June 15, 1976.
My assumption was that the Red Sox would be somewhere in the mix in mid-June and that I would simply take over the commissioner role and force the Fingers-Rudi trade. Well, who knew that injuries and disappointing performances by players like Dwight Evans (.210, 2 HR), Fergie Jenkins (4-8, 4.02 ERA), and Luis Tiant (3-4, 4.41 ERA) would have the Red Sox mired in last place on June 15.
Buying Fingers and Rudi with the Red Sox almost 20 games behind the first-place
Yankees simply made no sense. With closer an issue, I decided to look elsewhere…and I found the Royals shopping around a young closer named Dan Quisenberry. Bernie Carbo had recently demanded a trade, so I decided to oblige, sending the one-time October hero to Kansas City. To my surprise, the Royals were so in need of outfield help due to an injury to Amos Otis that they were willing to sweeten the deal with an underperforming young second baseman named Frank White.
The negotiations showed just how interesting OOTP AI can be.
The Royals were obviously in panic mode. Not only was Otis on the DL, but KC was set to play several weeks without superstar George Brett. They needed a bat to keep pace with the California Angels in a tight West Division race and were willing to overpay. The final deal: Carbo and minor league outfield prospect Richard Berg for Quisenberry and White. While Quisenberry is still a year or so from being ready to be effective in the majors, White was already an everyday player for the Royals, although struggling with an average below .200.
Jump ahead to July 1, and Quisenberry is pitching well at Winston-Salem and White has found his stroke in Boston. Following his .187 start for the Royals, White has hit .291 wearing a Red Sox uniform.
To fill the hole left by Carbo as a fourth outfielder, I dealt prospect Bob Stanley and second baseman Steve Dillard to Cleveland for Charlie Spikes and 18-year-old shortstop prospect Alfredo Griffin.
Frustrated with the poor performance by all of the Red Sox starting pitchers, I began July by dumping Reggie Cleveland, his 2-4 record and 5.69 ERA in a deal with Baltimore that brought Mike Flanagan to Boston. I’ve moved Flanagan from the bullpen into the starting rotation.
So, while 1976 has been a disappointment, the additions of promising Major Leaguers like White and Flannagan along with minor league prospects like Quisenberry and Griffin give me hope for the future.
Now, can I just get Dwight Evans going? It may also be time to consider dealing Jenkins to a contender, potentially creating some additional funds to help keep Fisk from bolting as a free agent at the end of the year.
Here’s a look at where the Red Sox sit on July 1, 1976. It’s ugly: