Pete Vuckovich (and Fingers and Simmons) – Trade with St. Louis – for Dave LaPoint, David Green, Sixto Lezcano, and Larry Sorensen
Greinke might have come alongside Yuniesky Betancourt to Milwaukee, but it’s hard to argue that Betancourt was of equal import to the Crew in the trade for the Royals’ ace starter.
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The 1981 trade that pushed the Brewers to their only World Series is a little harder to dissect, as Pete Vuckovich was the third player in this trade. Vuckovich had finished third in ERA in the NL in 1978 with a 2.54 mark, and he finished in the top ten in strikeouts twice.
But Rollie Fingers was a five-time All Star closer. He’d won three World Series with the Athletics, and received MVP votes in five straight seasons from 1974-1978. Ted Simmons was a six-time All Star catcher, and received MVP votes in six seasons in St. Louis.
Vuckovich really put everything together in Milwaukee for two amazing years as a starter though. In an abbreviated 1981, he led the league with 14 wins and finished fourth in AL Cy Young Voting behind teammate and winner Fingers. In 1982 he won it outright, going 18-6 with a 3.34 ERA, working around a sub-par 1.50 WHIP and helping the Milwaukee Brewers to their first division crown, and to date, only pennant and World Series appearance. Fingers’ and Vuckovich’s Cy Young Awards are still the only two won by Brewers.
Injuries would derail his career after 1982, but the 4.8 WAR Vuckovich accumulated in his first two seasons in Milwaukee nearly put the Brewers ahead in the trade by itself. Dave LaPoint and David Green each lasted four seasons in their first stints in St. Louis, accumulating 2 WAR and 4.5 WAR respectively. Sixto Lezcano and Larry Sorensen totaled 1.1 WAR between them in 1981 before they were shipped out in major trades that put together the final pieces of the Cardinals team that beat the Brewers in 1982, including one Ozzie Smith.
The Brewers may indeed be discussing bringing in Dallas Keuchel or Madison Bumgarner. It is to be hoped however that David Stearns continues to look for proper value in those trades as he has done for the most part thus far in his tenure. Milwaukee doesn’t want to see San Francisco with the 2022 World Series unless the Brewers have at least one before then.