MINNEAPOLIS -- Even in the bizarre world of George Steinbrenner's Yankees, Friday, July 28, 1995, will go down in the annals as one of the all-time crazies.
Within a span of 90 minutes, the Yankees unloaded an unhappy and unproductive designated hitter, Danny Tartabull, and three minor-league pitchers, and added Cy Young winner David Cone and switch-hitting outfielder Ruben Sierra. The moves drastically change the face of the '95 Yankees as we know them.
And to think, Darryl Strawberry is still supposed to fit in the picture somewhere.
The moves had been circulating for some time, but it still seemed odd that, after months of rumors, threats and innuendo, two blockbuster trades could come down in less time than it takes Buck Showalter to fill out his daily lineup card.
So as not to slow the frantic pace, Cone will start tonight against the Twins and it's likely Sierra will be swinging out of the DH slot. The remaining Yankees seemed psyched, but in shock.
"It's a shot in the arm," said Wade Boggs. "When you get in a pennant race, you hope the organization will do whatever it takes to get you over the top. This is large. David Cone is one of the top three right-handers in the game."
First, at about 3:10 p.m. EDT, it was learned that the Yankees had acquired Cone from the Blue Jays for three minor-league pitchers no one this side of Tampa had ever heard of. Their names: Marty Janzen, Jason Jarvis and Mike Gordon.
"Yeah, I like it," said Don Mattingly. "I know Cone and, no knock on the guys we traded, but I have no idea who those guys are. We're getting a guy who has pitched in New York and in the postseason. I can't see anything that's not to like about it."
Cone went to Toronto from Kansas City on April 6 for three minor-leaguers and was 9-6 with a 3.38 ERA for the Jays. But when Toronto fell into last place in the AL East, they decided to unload his $6 million salary and began talks with a number of teams, including the Yankees.
Originally, Toronto's price for Cone had been too high and New York backed away from the deal. After Cleveland acquired Ken Hill and California traded for Jim Abbott on Thursday, talks again heated up.
Some time around 4:40, Tartabull, who has been begging for a trade for the past two months, was called into Showalter's office, where he was told he was being shipped to Oakland for Sierra and a minor-league pitcher named Jason Beverlin.
"Both Danny and Ruben have had some health problems this year," Showalter said, with Tartabull standing at his side still in a Yankees uniform in an odd news conference in the manager's tiny Metrodome office. "We hope things work out for Danny in Oakland and for Ruben here. And we trust they will."
In Sierra, the Yankees get a 29-year-old one-time phenom who wore out his welcome in the A's organization this year after engaging in some verbal battles with manager Tony La Russa and GM Sandy Alderson. Sierra is hitting .265 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs in 54 games. If on the surface it appears the Yankees got the better end of the deal, consider that the A's have unloaded about $5 million in future salary. Tartabull is signed through next year at $5 million, and Sierra is under contract through '97 at about $5 million per year.
"I think Ruben's going to be a great player here," said Tartabull. "I'm just glad I don't have to worry anymore about when and if this is going to happen. I'm just looking forward to getting back to baseball and away from all the other stuff. This year has been a little bit different for me and I think it's my turn to move on."
Tartabull, who has only one at-bat since the All-Star break, is hitting .224 with six homers and 28 RBIs. He has been a target of Steinbrenner's since spring training when The Boss said Tartabull should be putting up numbers like Boston's Mo Vaughn and Chicago's Frank Thomas. When Tartabull got off slowly, he was all but through.
"The first three years here were fine," said Tartabull. "But this year, I started to see why people talk about New York being a tough place to play. I'm not going to point fingers as I leave. I want to be a grown-up about it.
"If I have one regret, I wish I'd made it known when I first got here that I'm not a flamboyant personality like some of the other big names that have played here. I'm not like Dave Winfield or Reggie Jackson. I'm not a high-profile personality."