Padres, Reds Swap Myers for Roberts : Baseball: Left-hander expected to become bullpen stopper.


Make room for the hand grenades. Clear the locker for camouflage gear. Shove aside space on the magazine rack for “Soldier of Fortune.”

Here comes Randy Myers.

The Padres finally completed the long-anticipated trade for Myers on Sunday night after two months of negotiations. The Padres sent outfielder Bip Roberts to the Cincinnati Reds for Myers and a minor league player to be named today.

“It has been a little bit of a saga,” said Joe McIlvaine, Padres general manager, “but it finally came to a merciful conclusion.”


Myers, traded away by McIlvaine from the New York Mets almost two years to the day, is expected to solve the Padres’ bullpen woes. The Padres blew 17 saves last season using a stopper combination of Craig Lefferts and Larry Andersen. Myers will be used exclusively as the bullpen stopper. Andersen will be a setup man and Lefferts will be on the trading block, with the Padres hoping to dump his $1.75 million salary.

Myers, who saved a career-high 31 games in 1990 and was co-MVP of the playoffs, is considered the ideal stopper. He has a 94-m.p.h. fastball. He fears no hitter and he’s a little wacky.

* This is guy who one night shot up the New York Mets’ clubhouse with a BB gun.

* The night the Mets clinched the 1988 division and everyone stood in the room celebrating, Myers was lifting weights.

* His wardrobe is straight from an Army surplus store, complete with camouflage shirts, hats and pants.

* His reading material consists of gun and weapon magazines, foreign legion books and readings on how to kill people 109 different ways.

He is the original Nasty Boy.

“There’s a lot of people who really think he’s crazy,” Reds teammate Rob Dibble said. “I’m serious. They think he’s going to kill somebody.

“I mean, he is crazy, but not crazy-crazy. I can’t see him going down the street just wiping out people with a machine gun or something. Not really. There’s just a lot of craziness in him.

“It’s like living with Rambo every day.”

The Padres began trade talks with the Reds the final day of the season. They considered Myers the top reliever on the market, and he was readily available because of the emergence of Rob Dibble.

The two teams deliberated for two months, talking about Eric Davis, Billy Hatcher, Robbie Beckett, and virtually everyone but the clubhouse attendants. They came close to completing the deal several times the past two weeks, but McIlvaine steadfastly refused to include outfielder Thomas Howard or left-hander Rich Rodriguez.

“It was worth the wait,” McIlvaine said.

Myers, coming off his worst season, opened the year in the bullpen and posted a 4-7 record with a 3.55 ERA. He became a starter for the first time in his career at the All-Star break, going 2-6 with a 3.45 ERA. He finished the season with only six saves, but had averaged 27 the past three seasons.

“He got caught in a situation he was used to being king of the hill in the bullpen,” McIlvaine said. “Last year, the roles were reversed. And mentally, I just think it took its toll.”

Said Myers: “It was no big deal. I was willing to do whatever it took to help the team. But now, I’m back in my old role, and looking forward to it.”

McIlvaine drafted Myers out Vancouver, Wash., in 1982, but then traded him Dec. 6, 1989 to the Reds for reliever John Franco. The criticism of Myers was that he was too involved in weight-lifting, and was ruining his arm. Two years later, McIlvaine welcomed him to the Padres with open arms.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever traded away a player, and then traded for him,” McIlvaine said. “At the time, we just felt Franco could help us (the Mets) more in the long run. It wasn’t like we gave up on him.”

Said one Padre source: “Joe’s always been in love with his arm, it’s just his head he wasn’t wild about.”

Roberts, a switch-hitting leadoff hitter, is expected to solve the Reds’ needs for speed and a left-handed hitter. The Reds’ 44-63 record against right-handed starters last season was the worst in the National League. They plan to start Roberts in left field, and use him to spell Chris Sabo at third base and Billy Doran at second.

“We think he’s one of the top three leadoff hitters in the National League,” Reds Manager Lou Piniella said. “He gives us speed, he gives us offense, he gives us defense. We felt all along we could make this trade.”

Roberts, who knew he would be traded weeks ago, was out of town and unavailable for comment. The Padres have yet to notify him about the trade.

“He’s been sitting by the phone a couple of weeks waiting for the call,” McIlvaine said, “and tonight when we get it done we couldn’t get ahold of him.”

For the Padres, the trade is a bit of a gamble considering Myers is eligible for free agency after 1992. Myers, 29, earned $2 million in 1991 and could receive as much as $2.5 million in arbitration this winter.

Although shortstop Tony Fernandez now is expected to be the Padres’ leadoff hitter, the trade leaves them without a left fielder. That could be resolved if the Padres are serious about pursuing free-agent outfielder Danny Tartabull. The Padres scheduled a meeting with agent Dennis Gilbert, and now consider themselves a viable candidate for the player.

“It’s unlikely we can sign him if he’s in the Bonilla range ($29 million),” McIlvaine said. “But if the number starts with one instead of two, you’ve got a better chance.”

The reason for the Padres’ optimism is the waning interest by the Angels in Tartabull. Whitey Herzog, Angels general manager, said it’s possible now the team may not bid on Tartabull.

“Unless he changes agents, I won’t be interested,” Herzog said. “I’m never going to make an offer to any of Dennis Gilbert’s players. I’m making that statement and it’s mine to make.”

Herzog, who launched an obscenity-laced tirade to Gilbert in a restaurant Sunday morning, later modified his stance. He said that although he will not make an offer to Gilbert, he’ll allow Gilbert to make an offer that he can reject or accept on the spot.

“I’ll ask him, ‘How much will it cost to sign him,’ ” said Herzog, who’s still upset at losing Bonilla to the New York Mets. “I want to have the upper-hand this time.”

Said Gilbert: Whitey’s a true professional and a great guy, but right now he’s made at hell as me. You ever get mad at say things you don’t mean? That’s what happened this time. I know the door’s not closed.”

The Padres, who officially lost third baseman Jack Howell when he agreed to a two-year contract with the Yakult Swallows of Japan for about $2.5 million, also had meetings Sunday with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Oakland Athletics. Neither negotiating session was considered serious.

The Padres still have not met with the Pittsburgh Pirates about outfielder Barry Bonds, and McIlvaine reiterated that it’s highly unlikely a deal is possible because of their budget.

Padres-Reds Trade by the Numbers

Randy Myers: Regular Season

YR TEAM IP SO BB W L S ERA ’85 N.Y. 2 2 1 0 0 0 0.00 ’86 N.Y. 10 2/3 13 9 0 0 0 4.22 ’87 N.Y. 75 92 30 3 6 6 3.96 ’88 N.Y. 68 69 17 7 3 26 1.72 ’89 N.Y. 84 1/3 88 40 7 4 24 2.35 ’90 Cin. 86 2/3 98 38 4 6 31 2.08 ’91 Cin. 132 108 80 6 13 6 3.55 Totals 458.2 470 215 27 32 93 2.85

Randy Myers: League Championship Series

YR TEAM IP SO BB W L S ERA ’88 N.Y. 4 2/3 0 2 2 0 0 0.00 ’90 Cin. 5 2/3 7 3 0 0 0 0.00 Totals 10 1/3 7 5 2 0 0 0.00

Randy Myers: League Championship Series

YR TEAM IP SO BB W L S ERA ’90 Cin. 3 3 0 0 0 0 0.00

Bip Roberts: Regular Season

YR TEAM AB R H HR RBI AVG ’86 Padres 241 34 61 1 12 .253 ’88 Padres 9 1 3 0 0 .333 ’89 Padres 329 81 99 3 25 .301 ’90 Padres 556 104 172 9 44 .309 ’91 Padres 424 66 119 3 32 .281 Totals 1,559 286 454 16 113 .291