Contrary to popular baseball opinion, it does not always take a full season to evaluate the results of a trade.
Sometimes it can be done in two at-bats.
Franklin Stubbs to the Houston Astros for Terry Wells? Wednesday night that trade helped push the Dodgers a step further away from the division title.
A revenge-minded Stubbs stunned his former teammates by hitting a three-run home run and three-run double in leading the Astros to a 10-1 victory before 13,790 at the Astrodome.
Any combination of Reds' victories and Dodgers' losses equaling three would officially eliminate the Dodgers. That moment could come as soon as Friday night, when the Dodgers play in San Francisco while the Reds are host to the San Diego Padres.
It would not be a moment too soon for first baseman-outfielder Stubbs, who was traded April 1 because the Dodgers did not think he could hit left-handed pitching.
His homer in the fifth inning came against left-handed reliever Jim Poole.
"Yes, I get a little pumped up against the Dodgers, playing them will always be special," said Stubbs, who had seven hits in 12 at-bats in this three-game series, with three homers and eight runs batted in. "It's for the simple reason that they told me I couldn't do this, and I couldn't do that. I guess I'm showing them I can do it."
And how he's rubbing it in. He has more homers (six) and RBIs (15) against the Dodgers this year then he had all of last season, when injuries limited him to four homers and 15 RBIs. Overall, he has 22 homers and 68 RBIs.
"Every time I play against them, I am going to try and play this way," Stubbs said. "People over there know why I am playing that way, and I'll just leave it at that."
Stubbs wasn't the only one responsible for the Astros' victory.
Astro starter Jim Deshaies, who is 7-0 in 11 games against the Dodgers in the Astrodome, pitched a four-hitter. Deshaies walked two and struck out a season-high nine.
Of course, the Dodgers could not bring themselves to give Stubbs complete credit for the evening.
Tom Lasorda was more upset with starting pitcher Mike Morgan, who lasted only five batters, his worst performance of the season in his biggest start of the season.
Morgan started the game with walks to Craig Biggio, Karl Rhodes and Glenn Davis, sandwiched around a double-play grounder that was botched by Juan Samuel and Alfredo Griffin.
With the bases loaded, Morgan fell behind Stubbs in the count, 3-and-1, then Stubbs lined a ball down the first base line to clear the bases. Morgan was immediately removed from the game, eventually losing for the sixth time in his last eight decisions.
Morgan is still tied for the major league lead in shutouts with four, but he hasn't had a shutout since July 14. He is 11-15 with a 3.67 earned-run average.
"I don't know what the heck happened to him," Lasorda said of Morgan. "Franklin is an outstanding guy but . . . if you don't make the right pitches, this is what kind of hitter he can be. We made him look like a star."
Lasorda said Poole made Stubbs shine even brighter in the fifth, with the score 3-0. After walking Biggio and intentionally walking Davis with two out, Stubbs lined a 1-and-1 pitch over the right-field fence in a spot similar to his two other homers this series.
"The kid came in and hung a slider . . . you hang those pitches, they are the kind that sit up there and say, 'Hit me, hit me,' " Lasorda said.
Said Poole of the pitch: "It was a like a flying saucer going up there. He hit it and I didn't even have to look. You can't make a mistake like that to normal people."
Those who thought the hit would change Lasorda's opinion about Stubbs' ability against left-handers were wrong. Two innings later, Lasorda intentionally walked Davis again and brought in left-hander Dave Walsh to face Stubbs.
Even though Stubbs struck out, he said he was struck by what he considered the symbolism of the move. "I know what it looked like, and I'm sure you know what he was trying to do," Stubbs said reporters. "But I am not getting into a word war."
Stubbs' next challenge will come in the free-agent market, where he is headed this winter. He said, no, he would not even consider returning to the Dodgers.
Besides, they already received a pitcher for him, Terry Wells.
Wells finished the year at Albuquerque going 8-6 with a 4.62 ERA. Earlier this summer in five big league starts, he was 1-2 with a 7.84 ERA.
Jim Gott made one of baseball's best business decisions last winter when he accepted a contract with the Dodgers even though it contained the same $300,000 base salary offered by Pittsburgh. However, the Pirates' incentives rewarded Gott only for saves and appearances, and the Dodgers' incentives rewarded him for remaining on the active roster. Confident that he would be sound, Gott picked the Dodgers and will make $900,000. If he had remained with the Pirates, he would have made about $575,000, entering Wednesday's game. "This year could not have worked out any better for me," Gott said. Because the Dodgers picked up an option on Jay Howell's contract that will pay him $1.05 million next year, Gott could eventually make more than Howell. . . . Ray Searage pitched for the first time since Aug. 14. He came off the disabled list Sept. 10.