In 1975, Rusty Staub had his best season ever for the Mets, batting .282/.371/.448 with 30 doubles, 19 home runs and 105 RBI. Then, in the offseason, for reasons few fans could understand, the Mets traded Staub to Detroit for veteran lefthanded pitcher Mickey Lolich. Actually, the trade was Staub and AAA pitcher Bill Laxton for Lolich and AAA outfielder Billy Baldwin.
I remember thinking that maybe this guy Baldwin was some super-prospect (he wasn’t) because otherwise, this trade was hard to justify.
Trade Staub? Maybe not unthinkable, because the Mets thought they had his replacement in the much younger Mike Vail. But for Lolich? Was that the best they could do ?
Mike Vail came to the Mets as a minor league throw-in in an otherwise inconsequential swap of utility infielders with the Cardinals. But Vail quickly established himself as a superior hitter at the AAA level, and he was an immediate sensation when the Mets brought him up. His 23-game hitting streak made fans and team offic...