TAMPA Fla. — Another baseball myth has gone the way of the two-hour ballgame.
It has become trendy in recent years to say that major baseball trades were becoming impossible to pull off; agents were too involved, the need for players' approval steadily evolved and club problems were left unsolved.
Enter the 1984-85 off-season. Exit several major-league stars.
Some of the game's biggest names have changed addresses since last season and many will have an impact on where pennants will fly in '85.
In the American League East alone, Toronto has added Bill Caudill and Gary Lavelle to a weak bullpen, Baltimore has been strengthened with free agents Fred Lynn, Lee Lacy and pitcher Don Aase, the New York Yankees flash the speed of Rickey Henderson and the guile of right-hander Ed Whitson and the Tigers have augmented a championship club with pitcher Walt Terrell.
"People talk about what kind of year Fred Lynn is going to have," says Baltimore slugger Eddie Murray. "I like to think what he's going to do for Cal Ripken and me. They may not pitch me any differently, but now there will be someone there to knock them in."
Lynn brings marvelous defensive skills and a lifetime .295 batting average while Lacy hit .321 with Pittsburgh last season and Aase posted a 1.62 ERA in 23 games with California.
Toronto's bullpen led the majors with 28 losses in 1984 and the Blue Jays were just 6-12 in extra-inning games. Caudill, a baseball vagabond hoping to stay with one club for an extended period, knows what it's like to get that 3 a.m. phone call to pack your bags.
In the major leagues, Caudill so far has pitched for the Cubs, Mariners and Oakland. At one time or another in 11 years as a pro, he also has been the property of the Cardinals, Reds and Yankees.
"Being traded is like changing a pair of socks to me now," says Caudill, acquired for Alfredo Griffin and Dave Collins after saving 36 games for Oakland last year. "The first couple were devastating. It's just like getting up and brushing my teeth in the morning, it almost happens all the time."
Henderson will be installed in Yankee Stadium's cavernous center field, and if anyone can race back to the monuments to grab a 410-foot clout, it's the fleet, single-season record-holder for stolen bases. The lifetime .291 hitter was obtained from the A's for seven players and cash.
"What I like about having Henderson here is that I don't have to worry about him on first base when I'm pitching," says New York's Phil Niekro. "He should create a lot of offense for us and with Willie Randolph behind him, that's a heck of a leadoff combination."
Terrell, traded from the New York Mets to the Tigers for third baseman Howard Johnson, slumped in the second half of '84 and finished 11-12 with a 3.52 ERA. He is expected to join Jack Morris, Dan Petry, Milt Wilcox and Juan Berenguer to give Detroit a rotation of five right-handed starters.
In the AL West, Chicago opened eyes by trading 1983 Cy Young Award winner LaMarr Hoyt to San Diego for left-hander Tim Lollar and infielders Luis Salazar and Ozzie Guillen. Hoyt plunged to 13-18 and his ERA soared to 4.47 as he led the league in losses just one season after leading the White Sox to the division crown. Texas signed pitchers Burt Hooton and Dave Rozema as free agents along with Cliff Johnson, who cracked 16 homers with the Blue Jays last season as a designated hitter vs. left-handers. Minnesota has added infielder Roy Smalley while Oakland grabbed off promising young reliever Jay Howell in the Henderson deal.
The Angels signed ex-Atlanta reliever Donnie Moore, and Kansas City has added perennial Gold Glove catcher Jim Sundberg.
The key National Leaguers to switch uniforms were All-Star reliever Bruce Sutter, All-Star catcher Gary Carter and standout outfielder Jack Clark.
"I didn't really expect to be traded because I told the Giants so often that I wanted them to trade me and they refused," says Clark, who came to St. Louis from San Francisco for four players, including pitcher Dave LaPoint and first baseman David Green. "I'm glad I'm here because I think I'm with a club that really wants me."
Clark, who batted .320 in 57 games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury, hopes to provide some power to a Cardinal lineup depleted by the loss of George Hendrick, sent to Pittsburgh for left-hander John Tudor.
Sutter and his 45 saves have gone to Atlanta after the Braves signed him as a free agent and catching him may be former Yankee Rick Cerone. Al Oliver has taken his .300 bat to Los Angeles and the Giants are hoping shortstop Jose Gonzalez, a key to the Clark deal, can beat out Johnnie LeMaster.
The Mets are counting on Carter to stabilize a young pitching staff and complement Keith Hernandez, George Foster and Darryl Strawberry in the middle of the lineup.
"His knowledge will make a huge difference," says Met pitcher Tom Gorman. "He's been a Gold Glove catcher, and you feel comfortable throwing to a guy like that. It gives you a mental edge out there on the mound."