Grading the General Managers: Eddie Robinson (1972-’76)

Paul Richards’ protege replaced his mentor as general manager and his tenure was marked by smart decisions (drafting Dale Murphy) and baffling ones (trading for Joe Pepitone).

Eddie Robinson’s first deal netted a future Hall of Famer, though no one much cared about Tony LaRussa back then. The Beeg Boy, Rico Carty, was among the more popular Braves, and Robinson traded him for a song. A very bad song. “Afternoon Delight” bad.

Jim Panther, acquired from the Rangers for Carty, was Elmer Dessens-like for the ’73 Braves. In what would be the final 30 innings of his big league career, Panther allowed 45 hits for a 7.63 ERA.

Carty struggled with the Rangers but rebounded with the Indians in ’75, twice batting higher than .300. He topped 80 RBI three more seasons before his retirement.

Trading Felix Millan and George Stone to the Mets for a washed-up Gary Gentry was another questionable move, though Robinson redeemed himself later in November of ’72 when he sent Earl Williams to Baltimore for Davey Johnson and Pat Dobson.

Neither of the ex-Orioles mattered much over the long run, though Johnson had one fantastic season as a Brave, slugging 43 homers in ’73. Dobson struggled in 10 starts in Atlanta, was traded to the Yankees for a package of scrubs and rebounded to win 19 in ’74.

Ying, then yang. He drafted Murph a year after wasting a first round pick on Pat Rockett. That pretty much defines Robinson’s tenure. He’d make a shitty trade, then steal a Carl Morton (48 wins over the next three years) from Montreal for Pat Jarvis, who’d win only two for the Expos. Purchasing Buzz Capra from the Mets was another shrewd move.

Overall, though, the bad overwhelmed the good. Trading prospect Andre Thornton (career totals: 253 homers, 895 RBI) for Pepitone, who lasted one month and 11 AB’s with the Braves, made zero sense.

Nor did gift wrapping Dusty Baker, sent to the Dodgers for  a collection of mediocrities (Royster, Wimpy, Lee Lacy) and Jim Wynn, gone after one forgettable season. Baker went on to hit 140 homers for the Bums.

Robinson was fired soon after. He was a slight improvement over his mentor, but only slight.

Grade: C-

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3 comments

  1. The Baker trade was bad on multiple fronts. First of all, we got Jim Wynn, whose career was essentially over by then. Then we got Jerry Royster, who was not only a worthless player, he was a worthless player who Bristol, Cox and Torre thought was good enough to put him in the lineup daily. Lacy and Paciorek actually had some good seasons after the trade, although they happened after both left Atlanta.

  2. The best player we got in that deal was Lacy, who we then traded away for Mike Marshall. Royster was unbelievably bad.

  3. As I recall, Royster was the key to that deal and was supposed to hold down the shortstop position for a long time. (Not a lot different than the expectations for Sonny Jackson a few years before, only Jackson had had some major league success when the Braves acquired and he was fast, which Royster wasn’t.) Royster did play for the Braves for several years, but mostly because of a combination of the front office not wanting to admit having screwed up and the alternatives being even more horrid.

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