Padre Manager Jack McKeon, feeling mighty proud of his latest trade Saturday afternoon, leaned back in his office chair and pulled out a new cigar to celebrate the occasion.
The phone had been ringing all morning with congratulatory calls and reporters wanting to know just how McKeon had pulled off his latest coup.
Well, enough of that, he said, it's time to go to work. He pulled out his lineup card and routinely jotted down the names of the players in the first six spots. He had started to write down the name of the seventh hitter when a odd look spread across his face.
Puzzled, he looked up and said, "Hey, how do you spell the guy's name?"
It is Mike Pagliarulo, and if the Padres' prayers are answered, not only will people be able to spell it, but he'll become a household name in Southern California.
The Padres acquired Pagliarulo, a left-handed hitting third baseman, and right-handed pitcher Don Schulze from the New York Yankees in exchange for Walt Terrell and a minor-league player to be named.
It appears to be a perfect matchup on paper. The Padres, yearning for an everyday third baseman since the departure of Graig Nettles, have found a player that they believe can fill the bill. Schulze, who will join the team Tuesday, will step into the rotation and make his first start Saturday against the Dodgers. And the Yankees, who still have ideas about catching Baltimore in the American League East, have found a pitcher who should help them in the pennant stretch.
The only problem now is having the cooperation of the participants. Pagliarulo, 29, was hitting .197 with four homers and 16 RBIs in a platoon situation at third with the Yankees. Terrell, 31, was 5-13 with a 4.01 ERA in 19 starts. And Schulze, 26, has bounced around in seven organizations, spending all but seven starts in the minor leagues since the end of the 1987 season.
So, little risk was involved.
Terrell, who is making $725,000, is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. The Padres didn't know if Terrell wanted to be back with the little run support he had received. And Terrell didn't know if the Padres wanted him back with the way he was pitching.
Pagliarulo, meanwhile, has been deteriorating by the season. After hitting 28 homers with 71 RBIs in his second full season in 1986, and coming back with 32 homers and 87 RBIs in 1987, the Yankees felt that they too had found a replacement for Nettles. But instead of improving, Pagliarulo hit .216 with 15 homers and 67 RBIs in 1988 and this year was just having a terrible time.
Battling three separate hamstring injuries, Pagliarulo hit .190 after the All-Star break last season, with six homers and 14 RBIs. Still, he went into spring training and was promised by Yankee Manager Dallas Green that he would be the everyday third baseman.
"Well, after seven at-bats, that all changed," Pagliarulo said. "And once that happened, I didn't have a need to talk to him (Green) anymore."
It indeed appeared to escalate Pagliarulo's deterioration. There were days he was getting ripped by Green in one New York tabloid and in another by Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. Even the fans started getting in on the action.
McKeon still kept monitoring the situation closely. He thought he had a four-way deal worked out in the 1988 winter meetings that would have brought Pagliarulo and Chicago Cub shortstop Shawon Dunston for catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., infielder Dickie Thon and reliever Greg Booker. It fell apart when the Texas Rangers refused to part with third baseman Steve Buechele.
McKeon and Yankee General Manager Syd Thrift talked again in the spring, but this time, the Yankees were asking for Padre pitcher Eric Show. McKeon told them to get serious, but before they decided to trade Pagliarulo, please call again.
Two weeks ago, Thrift called. He asked McKeon if he was still interested. McKeon assured him he was, and Thrift told him he'd get back to him with the name of a pitcher.
Thrift called Thursday afternoon, not realizing the Padres were playing a day game, and left a message. McKeon called back Friday morning, and by game-time, they had a deal. The club officials were notified Friday night, the players involved were telephoned Saturday morning, and at 10 a.m., it was announced.
"I've liked him for years," McKeon said. "When I saw him, he was very productive. What happened since, I don't know. But let's see if we can't recharge him.
"You're taking a chance, but you're getting a guy who's done it before, and you hope he can do it again."
The Padres will find out quickly just what kind of player they got. McKeon plans on playing Pagliarulo every day at the outset and will bench him only against certain left-handers. Although he comes here in a four-for-33 slump overall, and has batted .199 for his career against lefties, he will be given a chance.
"That's all I want," Pagliarulo said. "There's a difference between playing bad and being a bad player. And I don't think I'm a bad player."
The acquisition of Pagliarulo left certain members of the Padres knowing just how the front-office views them. It's apparent now that the Padres think of Bip Roberts and Luis Salazar as only utility players; Carmelo Martinez will be permanently replaced as the starting left fielder by Chris James, and they are counting on Andy Benes of their triple-A team in Las Vegas to join the rotation by the start of the 1990 season, if not sooner.
"You know, even when I first came here," Terrell said, "I didn't think I'd be here for more than a year. It was like, 'Well, we'll get him for a year, let him pitch, and then let him become a free agent.'
"I wanted to say here, but with all the other pitchers signed, and with Benes in triple-A, I don't think there was a place for me.
"I'm not blaming anyone. I didn't pitch like I can, and hopefully I can pitch a lot better for the Yankees than I did here. Hopefully, I'll be pitching a long time, but if I keep pitching the way I am now, it'll be in Whiffle ball."
WHO THE PADRES ACQUIRED Major league statistics of Padre acquisitions in Saturday's trade: MIKE PAGLIARULO
Team, Year AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB AVG New York (AL), 1984 201 24 48 15 3 7 34 0 .239 New York, 1985 380 55 91 16 2 19 62 0 .239 New York, 1986 504 71 120 24 3 28 71 4 .238 New York, 1987 522 76 122 26 3 32 87 1 .234 New York, 1988 444 46 96 20 1 15 67 1 .216 New York, 1989 223 19 44 10 0 4 16 1 .197 Totals 2274 291 521 111 12 105 337 7 .229
Team, Year IP ER HITS BB SO CG W-L ERA Chicago (NL), 1983 14.0 11 19 7 8 0 0-1 7.07 Chicago, 1984 3.0 6 8 1 2 0 0-0 12.00 Cleveland, 1984 85.2 46 105 27 39 2 3-6 4.83 Cleveland, 1985 115.1 63 128 19 37 1 4-10 6.01 Cleveland, 1986 84.2 47 88 34 33 1 4-4 5.00 New York (NL), 1987 21.2 15 24 6 5 0 1-2 6.23 New York, 1989 11.0 5 12 5 5 0 1-1 4.09 Totals 314.1 191 384 99 129 4 13-24 5.47