The Angels accommodated one unhappy pitcher Tuesday, trading John Candelaria to the New York Mets for two minor league pitchers. Now, Donnie Moore is hoping the club can do it one more time.
Nine days after Candelaria told reporters of his desire to play in New York, Angel General Manager Mike Port sent him home by sending him to the Mets, in exchange for Double-A pitcher Shane Young, 25, and Class-A pitcher Jeff Richardson, 24.
Also, one day after Port publicly criticized Moore for not being in shape and not giving the Angels “our money’s worth,” Moore’s agent, David Pinter, phoned Port to request his client be traded or released.
“Donnie Moore has had it there,” Pinter said. “Maybe a change is in store. I’d like to work out a trade with Mike or have them release Donnie. I’ve already talked with Donnie and he’s given his OK.
“I was very, very shocked to see Donnie blasted. Why Donnie? The man’s pitched in 16 games all year (actually 14). He’s been a cripple all year. I guess it’s frustration on Port’s part over the whole season, but why single out Donnie Moore? Donnie Moore is only one man on a roster of 24.
“If Mike Port is so disillusioned with him, if they want to get rid of him, I’ll get rid of him for them. I’ll get Mike Port off the hook for the $1 million.”
Pinter was referring to Moore’s annual salary. Moore is in the second year of a three-year, $3-million contract he signed in January, 1986. Moore earned that contract by saving 31 games for the Angels in 1985, and had another 21 last season, but because of a chronic rib cage injury, Moore has saved just 5 games this season--which means the Angels have paid him $200,000 per save.
Along the way, Moore has been booed consistently by fans at Anaheim Stadium, who remember Moore for the crushing home run he allowed to Boston’s Dave Henderson in the 1986 American League playoffs.
“The booing has bothered him, yes,” Pinter said. “I think he’s finished there.”
Port admitted he had discussed the subject of a trade with Pinter but said he did not want club policy to be dictated by a player’s agent.
“Health and circumstances allowing, I’m going to do what’s best for the California Angels,” Port said. “We are not interested in only ‘accommodating’ players.
“As (former Angel general manager) Buzzie Bavasi once told me, ‘I’m not interested in happy players, I’m interested in good players.’ I would certainly hope that Donnie Moore can and will pitch and prosper here.
“I want the same things as Donnie Moore--and that’s professional, tangible results.”
Candelaria apparently was a different story.
After two arrests in one month for allegedly driving while intoxicated, two appearances on the disabled list for “personal reasons,” a 28-day stay in a rehabilitation center and mixed results on the mound (8-6, 4.71 earned-run average), Candelaria may have worn out his welcome with the Angels.
Candelaria, too, wanted out. In the final year of his current contract, Candelaria broached the topic of retirement several times during the season. Then, after beating the Yankees, 3-1, in Yankee Stadium on Sept. 6, he talked of how much he enjoyed returning to New York (Candelaria was born in Brooklyn) and expressed a desire to end his career in New York.
“I’ve always envisioned how nice it would be,” Candelaria said then. “Just walking around New York the past two days, I imagined what it would be like to pitch here. I love it here.”
He did not hold Southern California in the same regard.
“He hated it here,” Angel left fielder Brian Downing said Tuesday. "(The trade) was not something all that unexpected.”
Candelaria, who left the Angels’ hotel in Kansas City early Tuesday afternoon to join the Mets in Montreal, could not be reached for comment.
Port was asked if the trade was the result of a situation that had stagnated for both pitcher and management.
“It would be incorrect to say I, or we collectively, had soured on him,” Port said. “Factually, John Candelaria is a fine major league pitcher. But, I think objectively, he was also a fellow likely to give us five or six innings at best each time out.
“We know he’s had leg and elbow problems and peripheral problems, but we also know he’s still capable of pitching a fine outing.”
According to Port, the Mets became interested in Candelaria when starting pitcher Ron Darling was lost for the season because of a thumb injury.
“I owe a debt of gratitude to the media,” Port said wryly, “because that’s where I learned of the Ron Darling situation. We consummated the deal over the next several days with that context in mind.”
Candelaria will assume Darling’s spot in the rotation, with his first start scheduled for Friday in Pittsburgh.
The Mets were the team in need, but Port demanded relatively little in return, an indication of the club’s desire to trade Candelaria. In return for the 33-year-old Candelaria, who was 10-2 and the AL Comeback Player of the Year in 1986, the Angels received two minor league pitchers who combined for a record of 15-22 this season.
Young, a 6-5, 232-pound left-hander, was 9-10 with a 3.85 ERA while pitching for Jackson of the Texas League. Richardson, a 6-3, 185-pound right-hander, was 6-12 with a 4.91 ERA at Lynchburg, the Mets’ Class-A affiliate.
Neither was regarded as a top prospect in the Mets’ organization, and only Young is given an outside chance of making the Angels’ roster in 1988.
“Realistically, Young should pitch in Triple-A for a year,” said Bob Fontaine, the Angels’ director of scouting. “He’s a big, strong kid who struck out 111 batters and showed improvement all season. Pitchers have made the jump from Double-A before, but he probably needs some time in Triple-A.”
Angel Manager Gene Mauch said that getting two young pitchers for Candelaria is better than nothing, which is what the Angels risked had they not made a deal.
Said Mauch: “With the free agent situation such as it is, plus the fact that he (Candelaria) told me more than once that this might be his last year . . . this gives us the chance to pick up a couple of young pitchers that are highly regarded.”
The Mets now assume the gamble, hoping Candelaria can overcome his personal problems and decide to pitch longer than the final three weeks of the 1987 season.
Joe McIlvaine, vice president of baseball operations for the Mets, said the club researched Candelaria’s background and history of depression and was satisfied with its findings.
“We looked into it, we were aware of it and everything is fine,” McIlvaine said.
Mauch said he hopes it remains as such for Candelaria.
“I am not concerned with how John Candelaria pitches any more,” Mauch said. “I’m more concerned with his getting his personal situation straightened out. How he pitches is unimportant.”