Kick to Kick: Who won the Chris Judd trade?

Ken Sakata Columnist

By , Ken Sakata is a Roar Expert

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    Welcome to ‘Kick to Kick’, where two writers have it out over football’s most contentious topics. This week, we’re going back to 2008.

    West Coast traded Chris Judd and Pick 45 for Picks 3, 20 and Josh Kennedy.

    So, who won the trade?

    Ken Sakata
    I tell people I’m a Carlton person. This is like telling people I don’t believe in vaccines. You would not believe the lengths people would go to fight me.

    One of the first questions I get asked is ‘Who won the Chris Judd trade?’ This is an antagonistic power-play. Make the Carlton person admit to another Blues blunder. Essentially, a low-key hate crime.

    The conventional wisdom is that West Coast won the trade, so I say ‘West Coast’. This is, of course, a lie. The answer is actually Carlton.

    I often lie when I don’t want to embarrass someone in public. When someone serves me teriyaki chicken in a rice roll, I say, “Thank you for the sushi, which this definitely is.”

    Carlton won the Chris Judd trade.

    Ryan Buckland
    But if we want to talk about winning, surely we can’t go past two very salient facts on the matter?

    Chris Judd’s winning percentage at West Coast: 62.8 per cent (84 from 134).
    Chris Judd’s winning percentage at Carlton: 52.4 per cent (76 from 145).

    West Coast’s winning percentage since the Chris Judd trade*: 45.5 per cent.
    Carlton’s winning percentage since the Chris Judd trade*: 47.1 per cent.

    *Through Round 8, 2015.

    In keeping with your unconventional view of the football world, I put it to you, Ken Sakata, that there was no winner. Only losers.

    Eagles legend Judd ended up playing more games for Carlton than he did for West Coast. Carlton traded out a forward line player who kicked more goals last year than the top-four goal kickers at Carlton combined.

    Ken Sakata
    Ryan, every trade has a winner.

    There’s a reason it’s called ‘The Chris Judd trade’, not ‘The Josh Kennedy trade’ or ‘The Chris Masten trade’. Let’s look at some alternative facts.

    Carlton’s winning percentage post-Judd trade:

    Eight seasons: 50 per cent (88 from 176).
    Carlton’s winning percentage pre-Judd trade (eight seasons): 32.9 per cent (58 from 176).

    West Coast’s winning percentage post-Judd trade (8 seasons) : 54.5 per cent (96 from 176).
    West Coast’s winning percentage pre-Judd trade (8 seasons) : 61.3 per cent (108 from 176).

    Even I know my stats are nonsense. We can’t use team win-loss to determine the impact of individual players. It doesn’t take into account Carlton’s young list maturing, or the absolute pharmaceutical meltdown of the Eagles’ list.

    Instead, let’s look at an alternative universe. Chris Judd never gets traded. What do you think happens?

    Josh J Kennedy West Coast Eagles AFL 2016

    Ryan Buckland
    You’ve hit on a particular interest of mine here: impossible-to-prove counterfactual arguments.

    So Judd was traded to Carlton in the 2007 off season, for Picks 2 and 20, and 2005 Pick 4 Josh Kennedy (who was effectively Pick 1 in some ways, because the first three picks of the draft were priority picks). The Eagles sent over Pick 46 to make it all balance.

    Those picks turned into Chris Masten and Tony Notte for West Coast, and Dennis Armfield for Carlton. It’s simplistic, but the Blues traded Kennedy, Masten and Notte for Judd and Armfield.

    As a West Coast fan, the first thing that comes to mind is the knock-on effect of missing out on Kennedy in the key position stocks of the team. The Eagles would currently have the lion-hearted Jack Darling as its number one key forward, which would not be much fun.

    Jeremy McGovern probably makes it into the side as a key forward rather than a defender, meaning Eric McKenzie or Mitch Brown are still in the best 22 as stoppers. That would be ok, but McGovern is a better fit with where the game has moved in the past two years.

    How do you reckon the Blues would be faring right now if you had Kennedy, Masten and Notte available?

    Ken Sakata
    Let’s talk alternate realities.

    After the inevitable Fevola trade (Brendan Fevola has a big Brownlow night in every reality), Josh Kennedy forms a Carlton forward line with Jarrad Waite, Eddie Betts and Andrew Walker. It’s tall, it’s small, it works.

    They’re supplied by a midfield of Marc Murphy, and Bryce Gibbs. Masten rolls through the interchange, and eventually starts on-field.

    In 2008, I meet a young actress while I’m on exchange in the States. We fall in love. Her name? Lindsay Lohan. In this reality, she never tries cocaine. She never markets a line of leggings with built-in knee pads.

    This is the best timeline.

    Let me tell you about all the other timelines.

    Carlton’s development has been its worst enemy. How do you turn three No.1 draft picks into a mediocre on-ball crew? How do you fail to develop every top 20 pick for five years (2008-2012)?

    With Carlton’s development, Kennedy has a John Butcher-like battle of expectation and reality. Masten assumes a Kane Lucas role and never gets going. Notte is still a bust.

    Carlton couldn’t develop their draft picks. They were better traded than wasted. In Judd, they didn’t have to develop anything, they had a ready-made superstar to plug into their side.

    Let’s talk intangibles. What do the players of the trade add to their team off the field?

    Ryan Buckland
    Carlton really have had a tough time of it, haven’t they? Off the field, well, Judd will be overseeing Carlton’s football department from next year onwards. Judd probably helped sell some extra cardboard boxes and Mars Bars in his time for the Blues, and there was that fleeting moment in 2012 when you were premiership favourites, right? Those were the good times.

    But did bringing Judd over effectively contribute to the over-rating of Carlton’s list in the early 2000s, which is the root cause of the current malaise? That has all sorts of off-field effects that will be felt for another couple of years yet.

    As for West Coast, trading Judd – or granting Judd’s wish to be traded – was undoubtedly the exclamation mark on the club’s illicit drugs issues. Trading away a Hall of Fame potential dude, just about to enter his prime, because of club culture suggests some seriously invasive surgery is required on your club culture. The Eagles are better for it in the long run.

    Ken Sakata
    Zero premierships on both sides. That’s the long and short of it.

    Judd and Carlton’s ‘tankathon as rebuild’ couldn’t get past the second round of the finals. Now he’s in the front office trying to steer things towards a flag. His contribution to Carlton may be even greater in a suit and tie. If he gets Nathan Fyfe across, or better yet, their development going, Carlton could have another tilt. But not all footballers, especially legends, are useful in a post-playing capacity.

    Kennedy and Masten haven’t won flags yet, but at least they still have opportunities to influence things directly. They’re both within striking distance of career-best form. With Nic Naitanui’s injury and the win-now mentality of the Mitchell trade, the window is ajar, just.

    It’s what I bloody thought: first side to the flag wins.

    And if none are forthcoming, it’s a battle for the father-sons. There are three Judd boys of indeterminate ability. They are as much footballers as television presenters at this stage.

    I hope we’re not pinning our hopes on this, Ryan.

    Ryan Buckland
    Look, I still think there’s a premiership in West Coast’s current list – at the worst, another genuine tilt at one. It’ll be a challenge this year just because of the Big Orange Giant stomping its way across the AFL landscape, and with Naitanui’s injury, and with the general flakiness of the midfield, and Darling’s cymbal hands, and Lewis Jetta’s career-threatening aversion to cow skin, and I need to lie down.

    Consulting my analytical lobe for a second, is it possible both sides won? Carlton got the final piece of their puzzle – they forgot they were playing checkers – and West Coast got a head start on a rebuild they commenced before it was absolutely necessary. There’s another club I know who would have done well to follow that example.

    Ken Sakata
    Nah. What’s with you man? First it’s two losers? Now it’s two winners?

    Then again, I’m now fairly certain that Carlton didn’t win the trade.

    When we’ve literally come to the opposite conclusion of what we initially argued, we know we’ve done well.

    Good game Buckland. See you next round.

    Ken Sakata
    Ken Sakata

    Ken Sakata is a sportswriter based in Melbourne, covering where sport and pop-culture collide with a keen interest in AFL. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @sakatarama