Nice Guys Finish Last

ìNice guys finish lastî ñ Leo "The Lip" Durocher The 1965 season closed with the Cubs mired in 8th place in the National League, with a 72-90 record, 25 games behind the N. L. pennant-winning Dodgers. 1965 was the fifth year for the College of Coaches, and the experiment wasnít working. After the season, Cubs Athletic Director Col. Robert Whitlow (USAF ñ RET.) resigned, and there was some question about who P. K. Wrigley would hire to replace him. Two Ton Baker? Bozo the Clown? The Doublemint Twins? Garfield Goose, perhaps? On October 25th, ten days after the conclusion of the 1965 World Series, P. K. Wrigley called a press conference in Chicago to announce that Leo Durocher had been hired as the new Cubs manager. A Chicago sportswriter asked Leo if his title would be ìHead Coachî or ìAthletic Director,î and what would happen to the ìCollege of Coaches,î and Leo replied ìI donít know anything about that. I am the MANAGER and ONLY the MANAGER. Donít EVER use the word ëcoachí around me!î When asked his opinion of the Cubs, Leo said ìThe Cubs are NOT an eighth place team.î (The Cubs had finished 8th in 1965, 25 games out of 1st place, 8-1/2 games behind the 7th place Cardinals, and ahead of only the Houston Astros and the hapless Mets). He also promised that the days of the Cubs trading away young players like Lou Brock were over. Leo said he would ìback-up the truck, and start from scratchî if necessary, and that his goal was to rebuild the Cubs ìDodger-style,î with strong defense up-the-middle and a dominating starting rotation. Leoís deal with the Cubs was unique. He had no written contract, just a ìhand-shakeî gentlemenís agreement with Wrigley. John Holland was NOT Leoís boss. Leo worked for and reported directly to P. K. Wrigley, although Wrigley was frequently absent from Chicago. So Leo was the manager and de facto Major League player personnel director, while GM John Hollandís job was to negotiate player contracts, run the minor leagues and scouting, and (when necessary) attempt to acquire the players Leo wanted for the major league team. It was similar to the arrangement Whitey Herzog would have in the 1980ís with the Cardinals, when The White Rat was the manager and player personnel director, and GM Joe MacDonald did everything else. When hired as the Cubs manager, Leo the Lip was 60 years old, and hadn't managed in the big leagues since 1955. But he was a baseball legend. He had been a slick-fielding switch-hitting shortstop with the Ruth-Gehrig ìMurdererís Rowî Yankees in the 1920ís and the ìGas House Gangî Cardinals in the 1930ís, a player-manager with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940ís, and the skipper of the New York Giants in the 1950ís (where in addition to managing the club, he also coached third base, and where he supposedly placed a "spy" in the centerfield upper deck clubhouse at the Polo Grounds to steal signs from the opposing catcher). Leo was Willie Maysí first manager and surrogate father (where after the 19-year old Say Hey Kid went into a horrific batting slump in his rookie season and was ready to quit and go home to Alabama, Leo told him, ìYouíre my centerfielder, kid... I donít care if you go ëOí for a hundred,î at which point Mays suddenly started to hit and never stopped). Durocher led the Giants to N. L. pennants in 1951 (the great late-season ìMiracle at Cooganís Bluffî) and in 1954 (the Giants then won the World Series, an ìupsetî over the heavily-favored Cleveland Indians, in a four-game sweep). Leo was also one of the most brash and mouthy bench-jockeys and umpire-baiters in major league history. He loved to argue with umpires, and his nose-to-nose "discussions" with N. L. umpire Jocko Conlon were legendary. Along the way, he married actress Lorraine Day, consorted with ìknown gamblersî (for which he was suspended from baseball for one year in 1947), and hung-out with buddy-boys Frank Sinatra and George Raft on the Sunset Strip and in Vegas. After his managerial days were over (or seemingly over), Leo was the Los Angeles Dodgersí loudmouth 3rd base coach for four seasons (1961-64). As an 11-year old kid, I knew Leo Durocher best from his appearance on an episode of ìThe Munsters,î where he ìdiscoversî Herman hitting baseballs 500 feet and insists that Buzzie Bavasi (the Dodgers GM) sign him IMMEDIATELY! Needless to say, the news that Leo Durocher was the new Cubs manager was very exciting. I was STOKED! Why Wrigley decided to scrap his pet project (ìCollege of Coachesî) and hire an actual genuine ìbaseballî man (and a true ìOLD SCHOOLî baseball man at that!) to manage his club is unclear. Maybe P. K. received an epiphany while at his summer cottage at Lake Geneva, or maybe it was a visit from the Ghost of a (Frank) Chance, or perhaps an offer from Chicago "Outfit" boss Sam Giancana (a friend of both Sinatra and Durocher) that P. K. couldnít refuse. I guess weíll never know. Leo had spent the 1965 season as a color commentator for the ìMajor League Baseball Game of the Weekî telecasts, and had apparently done his homework. With John Holland as his ìfront-man,î Leo made sure the Cubs got four of the top prospects in baseball. In two of the best trades they ever made, the Cubs acquired 24-year old catcher Randy Hundley and 26-year old RHP Bill Hands from the Giants in exchange for 30-year old ace bullpen ìfiremanî Lindy McDaniel and 30-year old journeyman CF Don Landrum at the 1965 Winter Meetings, and then 22-year old RHP Ferguson Jenkins and 24-year old CF Adolfo Phillips (and back-up 1B-OF John Herrnstein) from the Phillies for the Cubs #1 and #2 starters, 35-year old RHP Larry Jackson and 37-year old RHP Bob Buhl, a couple of weeks after Opening Day in 1966. It was a new tactic for the Cubs. Instead of the usual approach of making trades for established (often past their prime) veterans, the Cubs rolled the dice and traded their three best pitchers (all 30+) for four highly-regarded (yet still-unproven) 20-something ìMajor League-readyî prospects. It was almost like something Billy Beane would do today. Later, once the Cubs became a perennial contender, Durocher would have Holland do the reverse, trading two or three prospects to get a veteran who filled a particular need. Remember, this was a time before free-agency, and the only ways to build a team into a contender were: 1. Sign the best amateur free-agents (except beginning in 1965 there was a draft that spread the amateur talent around, so that it now took several years to build a team that way), or 2. Trade your best established players for a package of two or three ìprospectsî (who may or may not ìpan outî), or 3. Find a new source of talent that nobody else has mined yet (as the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cleveland Indians did with the Negro Leagues 1946-49, and as the San Francisco Giants did in the Dominican Republic in the 1950's). Leo Durocher opted for approach #2. Besides being correct in his assessments of Hundley, Hands, Jenkins, and Phillips, Leo was right about something else, too. The Cubs were not an 8th place team. They were a TENTH place team, with the worst record in Major League Baseball in 1966! But the difference between this lousy Cubs team and other previous lousy Cubs teams was that as the ë66 season progressed, the Cubs actually kept getting better and better. Sure, they lost 103 games, but they played over .500 for most of the month of September, and Don Kessinger said the guys felt like they were really starting to ìjellî as a team. By the 1966 mid-season All-Star break, the Cubs ìusualî lineup looked like this: STARTING LINEUP: Adolfo Phillips, CF Glenn Beckert, 2B Billy Williams, LF Ron Santo, 3B Ernie Banks, 1B Byron Browne, RF Randy Hundley, C Don Kessinger, SS STARTING ROTATION: Dick Ellsworth Ken Holtzman Bill Hands Curt Simmons Robin Roberts BULLPEN: Ferguson Jenkins Bob Hendley Cal Koonce Billy Hoeft Bill Faul Arnold Earley The starting rotation at the start of the í66 season was Jackson-Buhl-Ellsworth-Broglio-Holtzman, with Abernathy-Hendley-Koonce-Hands-Hoeft-Faul in the bullpen. Jackson, Buhl, Ellsworth, and Broglio had been members of the starting rotation in 1965, and 20-year old rookie Holtzman--less than a year removed from the campus of the University of Illinoisóimpressed Durocher in Spring Training to such an extent that Leo replaced Bob Hendley in the rotation with Holtzman, moving the versatile and valuable Hendley to the bullpen. When Fergie Jenkins arrived in Chicago, he told Jack Brickhouse on the ì10th Inning Showî (I remember the interview well) that he preferred to pitch out of the bullpen, because he did not like to sit around for several days between starts. So Leo initially put Jenkins in the bullpen, and he was one out-STANDING relief pitcher! Holland acquired a couple of veteran starting pitchers (Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons) to replace Jackson and Buhl in the starting rotation. And it was during this period when the Cubs played their worst baseball in 1966. In August, with the 1966 season already A Nightmare on Addison Street, Leo moved Jenkins and Hands from the bullpen to the starting rotation, replacing Broglio and Roberts. This made the starting rotation solid 1-4 (Jenkins-Holtzman-Hands-Simmons), but Ellsworth was really struggling (he lost 22 games in 1966, allowing a whopping 321 hits in just 269 IP). Moving Jenkins and Hands to the starting rotation also greatly weakened the bullpen, with 1965 stalwart relievers Ted Abernathy and Bob Humphreys having been traded earlier in the season to make room in the bullpen for Hands and Jenkins. It would have been nice if the Cubs had had the foresight to hang onto Abernathy and Humphreys (both of whom pitched very well for another five years or so), because the bullpen would be the Cubsí achilles heel for the duration of Durocherís tenure as Cubs manager. Basically, the Cubs bullpen never recovered from the combination of trading Abernathy and Humphreys and moving Jenkins and Hands to the starting rotation. After the horrible 1966 season, Leo told Holland to ìback up the truck,î and the result was that the Cubs got rid of almost all of their players over the age of 30, except Banks, Simmons, Altman, and Lee Thomas, and Altman and Thomas were dumped early in the 1967 season (although veteran OFs Al Spangler and Ted Savage were subsequently brought on-board to platoon in RF). The one notable off-season trade was 27-year old lefty starter Dick Ellsworth to the Phillies for 25-year old RHP Ray Culp, and that was a very good trade for the Cubs. The problem is, Culp was traded to Boston after only one season with the Cubs (for Rudy SCHLESINGER!!?!!), and Culp did pretty well for the Red Sox, winning 16 games in 1968, 17 games in 1969, 17 games in 1970, and 14 games in 1971 (all the while the Cubs were looking for a reliable #4 starter!). Trading Ray Culp after the 1967 season was one of the worst TACTICAL trades the Cubs have ever made, because that was the very guy they needed most in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971. Or to put it another way: If the Cubs hadnít traded Ray Culp to Boston after the 1967 season, they would have had a very good chance to win the N. L. East in 1969 and a GREAT chance to win the N. L. East in 1970. Leo also desperately wanted to get rid of Ernie Banks, but Phil Wrigley would NEVER agree to trade Ern. That was the one thing that Leo wanted that he couldnít get. He could not get rid of Ernie Banks. Leo could not stand Ernieís cheerfulness, optimism, and ìletís play two!î good fellowship, believing that nice guys like Ernie were losers, and Leo absolutely HATED losers. But even with Ernie Banks still playing 1B and hitting 5th in the order, the 1967 Cubs were a young and hungry team that was NOT your fatherís Cubs. This was the type of team Leo envisioned back when he was named Cubs manager after the 1965 season. A group of talented, feisty, and (mostly) YOUNG players: STARTING LINEUP: Phillips, CF Beckert, 2B Williams, LF Santo, 3B Banks, 1B Hundley, C Spangler/Savage, RF Kessinger, SS STARTING ROTATION: Holtzman Jenkins Culp Simmons Nye BULLPEN: Hartenstein Hands J. Niekro Hendley Stoneman Koonce The biggest problem facing the ë67 Cubs was Ken Holtzman getting called up to active duty in the military in May and missing most of the rest of the season (he was 5-0 when he got called-up, then came back later in the season to pitch whenever he could get a Weekend Pass, and he ended up 9-0!). I was at Holtzmanís last game before he left. It was a sunny Saturday in May, and the Cubs beat the Dodgers 20-3. Ted Savage stole home (and it was a Jackie Robinson-style ìrealî steal of home, too, not one of those ìback-end of a double-stealî jobs). I still have the scorecard from that game. Besides losing Holtzman to Uncle Sam, aging Curt Simmons wasnít as effective as he had been in 1966. Also, the previously valuable Bob Hendley suddenly sucked working out of the bullpen, and Leo lost patience with Calvin Koonce (the late 60ís Cubs version of Kyle Farnsworth). And speaking of losing patience with Cal Koonce, one of Leoís main faults while with the Cubs was that once he had developed a contending team (1967-68), he began to distrust young players, the very type of player who got the Cubs into a position to contend in the first place! With Holtzman in the military and Simmons struggling, Bill Hands and Joe Niekro were moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation (joining Fergie Jenkins and rookie Rich Nye), leaving Chuck Hartenstein as the lone arm in the bullpen that Leo trusted in critical situations. So naturally Leo just kept using Hartenstein over and over and over, until he wore him out. Even Dick ìThe Monsterî Radatzówho couldnít find home plate if his life depended on itówas acquired from Cleveland at one point to try and bolster the bullpen. One other thing Durocher did was run his starting lineup into the ground. For instance, iron-man catcher Randy ìRebelî Hundley played in 149 games in 1966, 152 games in 1967, 160 games in 1968, and 151 games in 1969, Billy Williams set a National League ìconsectutive games playedî record, Santo, Kessinger, and Beckert played upwards of 160 games a year, and even the elderly Banks played 150+ annually. The grind REALLY got to hyper-sensitive CF Adolfo Phillips, who worried so much about failure that he developed a stomach ulcer. This caused Leo to decide to switch Kessinger and Phillips, moving Kessinger to the lead-off spot and Phillips to the #8 spot (where there was supposedly ìless pressureî). Unfortunately, although Kessinger improved a lot as a hitter after he learned to switch-hit, Phillips still had the better OBP circa 1966-68, which should have made him a better choice to hit #1, stomach ulcer or no stomach ulcer. My favorite memory of the í67 Cubs was when they went into 1st place (17 games over .500) after the 1st game of a DH on July 2. And then after falling back, they beat the Cardinals in St. Louis three weeks later and went back into a tie for 1st place, the latest any of us kids could remember the Cubs being in 1st place. They were 16 games over .500 at that point, but then they faded in the heat of August and September. The Cubs finished 87-74 in 1967 in 3rd place 14 GB the 1st place Cardinals, with their best W-L record since they won the N. L. pennant in 1945! Going into the 1968 season, the main ìholesî on the Cubs were RF and the bullpen. Holtzman was back from military service, and joined Jenkins, Hands, Niekro, and Nye to form one of the best young starting rotations in baseball (but it would have been even better with Ray Culp, because then Bill Hands could have stayed in the bullpen). So trading Culp was mistake #1. During the off-season after the 1967 season, the Cubs also acquired former Cub "Sweet Lou" Johnson (in exchange for #1 utility IF Paul Popovich) from the Dodgers to play RF. Johnson, one of several of Buck OíNeillís Kansas City Monarchs players acquired by the Cubs in the 1950ís, had been the Dodgers everyday LF for several seasons, and had played on a couple of pennant-winning teams (1965 & 1966) in L. A., so he seemed like the perfect piece to complete the Cub OF puzzle. But he had broken his leg in 1965, and (unbeknownst to the Cubs) apparently never really recovered from it. He lost the ability to ìdriveî the ball, and was totally lost in RF. And without Popovich around to play SS-2B, Kessinger and Beckert never got a day off. So acquiring Lou Johnson to be the everyday RF was mistake #2, although it was probably a reasonable idea. Mistake #3 was failing to address the bullpen during the off-season. This was inexcusable. As a lot of us Cubs fans expected, Chuck Hartenstein (who had difficulty pitching in clutch situations as the Cubs went deeper and deeper into the 1967 season) struggled in 1968, which left only veteran retread Jack Lamabe as a reliable reliever, and he did not have the stuff to be a ìfireman.î So with Johnson a ìbustî in RF, and with the bullpen having more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, Holland pulled off a slick ìsaving graceî deal with the Dodgers in May, acquiring veteran ìfiremanî (and suspected ìgreaserî) Phil Regan and RF Jim Hickman (who was initially used in a platoon with Al Spangler in RF) in exchange for a young pitching prospect (Jim Ellis) and veteran OF Ted Savage. Along with the deals that netted Hundley, Hands, Phillips, Jenkins, and Culp, the Regan/Hickman deal was one of the better ones executed by John Holland up to that point in time, mainly because it filled two critical holes. Holland also somehow managed to con the Cleveland Indians into taking Lou Johnson in exchange for LHP-1B-OF-PH Willie Smith, who turned out to be one of the best combinations of a pinch-hitter & blues singer ever to play for the Cubs. So Smitty instantly made the Cubs bench pretty good (for a change), giving Leo his new Dusty Rhodes (the guy who hit two PH HRs good for 7 RBI for the Giants in the 1954 World Series). The Cubs played around .500 until midway in the í68 season, then they got ìhotî and looked like they would mount a challenge to the Cardinals, only to suffer an inconvenient six game losing streak in mid-August that effectively torpedoed their chances. The Cards and Giants were still just a little better, and so the Cubs once again finished in 3rd place in 1968, 13 GB the Cards with an 84-78 record (3-1/2 games off their í67 pace). 1968 was the end of baseball as we knew it. For those of you too young to remember, prior to 1969, the team in each league with the best record went directly to the World Series. There were no ìdivisions,î no ìLCS,î no ìWild Card,î just a ìwham, bam, thank you ma'amî pennant race that led directly to the World Series, do not pass go, do not collect $50,000. Finishing 2nd or 3rd put a team ìin the money.î Obviously the pennant winner got the ìbig bucks,î but the 2nd and 3rd place teams got a piece of the pie, too, so it was important to try and finish 2nd or 3rd if you couldnít win the pennant, and teams would actually play really hard at the end of the of the season trying to finish 2nd or 3rd. Itís hard to understand this now, but back then, before ìfree-agency,î the "place" and "show" money that was paid to each player on a 2nd or 3rd place team often exceeded what some players made in salary for the whole season! Beginning in 1969, with expansion that increased the number of clubs in each league from 10 to 12, MLB instituted so-called ìdivisional play,î with six teams in each divsion (a team played the other five teams in its own division 18 times each--nine home and nine road, and each team in the other division 12 times each--six home and six road), with a best 3-out-of-5 ìLCSî playoff after the regular season prior to the World Series. For the first time, the team with the best regular season record in each league MIGHT NOT play in the World Series. This was RADICAL stuff in 1969, let me tell you! Originally, the Cubs and Cardinals were supposed to be in the N. L. West with the Dodgers, Giants, Astros, and expansion Padres, while the Reds and Braves (both located in cities in the Eastern time zone) were supposed to be assigned to the N. L. East. But because the Cardinals, Giants, and Cubs finished 1-2-3 in the N. L. in both 1967 and 1968, N. L. owners decided to divide the teams more evenly, based on where the clubs finished in 1968, while at the same time, making sure to keep the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry intact within the same division. So thatís how come Cincinnati and Atlanta (though located east of Chicago and St. Louis and in the Eastern time zone ) were in the N. L. West back when there were only two divisions in each league. The assignments were made like this (1969 division assignment in parenthesis): 1968: 1. St. Louis 97-65 (EAST) 2. San Francisco 88-74 (WEST) 3. CUBS 84-78 (EAST) 4. Cincinnati 83-79 (WEST) 5. Atlanta 81-81 (WEST) 6. Pittsburgh 80-82 (EAST) 7t. L. A. 76-86 (WEST) 7t. Phillies 76-86 (EAST) 9. Mets 73-89 (EAST) 10. Astros 72-90 (WEST) Expos (EAST) Padres (WEST) Looking at the new "divisions," the Cubs and their fans (like me, for instance) believed their main competition in 1969 would come from the Cardinals and POSSIBLY the Pirates, but that was it. The Phils, Mets, and Expos werenít taken seriouslyÖ So itís on to 1969! CUB POWER! KEY CUBS TRADES 1965-1968 WINTER MEETINGS 1965: Traded RHP Lindy McDaniel and OF Don Landrum to SF for C Randy Hundley and RHP Bill Hands. COMMENT: This was one of the all-time best trades the Cubs ever made. Thanks to their groundbreaking foray into the Dominican Republic in the 1950's, the Giants had one of the top farm systems in baseball in 1965. (Almost every Dominican player in major league baseball circa 1965 was originally signed by the Giants). The Giants #1 need post-season 1965 was for a bullpen "fireman," and McDaniel was one of the best in baseball. And he was only 30 years old (which was young for a proven "fireman"). And (most importantly) he was AVAILABLE for PROSPECTS. From his work broadcasting the "Major League Baseball Game of the Week" in 1965, and with his many contacts throughout baseball, Leo Durocher knew all about the top prospects in baseball in 1965 (including Hundley and Hands), so Leo knew just who John Holland should ask for when the Giants came calling about McDaniel. And the Cubs had Ted Abernathy and Bob Humphreys still left in the bullpen, so McDaniel was definitely "expendable." Although he had been the Cubs everyday CF off-and-on for a couple of years, Landrum was best-suited to be a back-up defensive specialist who could pinch-run and then stay in a game as a late-inning defensive replacement, which is what he did with the Giants in '66. SPRING TRAINING 1966: Traded RHP Bob Humphreys to WAS for OF Ken Hunt. COMMENT: A seemingly "minor" trade that was a BAD trade because of unforeseen ramifications. Along with Ted Abernathy and Lindy McDaniel, Bob Humphreys had been a valuable and reliable relief pitcher for the Cubs in 1965, but he had a bad Spring Training in 1966, so he got traded for Ken Hunt, who had been an everyday OF with the A. L. expansion Los Angeles Angels just a couple of years earlier. Leo saw RF as a "black hole," so Holland "rounded up the usual suspects" (outfielders with major league experience who could play RF), including Hunt, Carl Warwick, Wes Covington, Billy Cowan, Frank Thomas, and Marty Keough, and then Leo decided on an in-house candidate (rookie Byron Browne) anyway. Hunt went directly to AAA and never actually played for the Cubs. Humphreys would go on to be one of the better relievers in the American League over the next five years, with the Washington Senators and Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs sure could have used him in 1967-70! APRIL 1966: Traded RHPs Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl to PHI for RHP Ferguson Jenkins, CF Adolfo Phillips, and 1B John Herrnstein. COMMENT: Another one of the best trades in Cubs history. Durocher and Holland really rolled the dice on this one, trading their top two starting pitchers for two unproven prospects. But once again, Leo knew best. Jenkins would become a Hall of Famer, and Phillips SHOULD HAVE BEEN one of the game's best CF & lead-off hitters (and he WAS pretty good the first two or three years he played for the Cubs), but he was EXTREMELY sensitive and prone to nervous exhaustion and stomach ulcers. If Phillips could have overcome his emotional problems and played CF and hit lead-off, the Cubs would have had a superior team to the one they ultimately fielded in 1969. Herrnstein was only with the Cubs for about a month, before being traded to ATL for Marty Keough (one of the "usual suspects" Holland rounded up to compete for the RF job). MAY 1966: Traded RHP Ted Abernathy to ATL for 1B-OF Lee Thomas. COMMENT: Another bad "minor" trade that passed under the radar. Bill Hands and Ferguson Jenkins were working out of the bullpen at this point in time, so Abernathy was "expendadble." Thomas was a good lefty PH, but Abernathy was one of the better relief pitchers in baseball over a period of several years. Like with Humphreys, the Cubs really could have used Abernathy in 1967 and 1968, and once they did reacquire him (prior to the 1969 season), Leo kept going to the obviously worn-out Phil Regan in clutch situations late in the '69 season, instead of giving Abernathy the ball. Leo admitted "putting all of his eggs in Regan's basket and not using Abernathy enough" was the one big mistake he made in August-September 1969, and it may indeed have been the most significant mistake made by Leo that season. JUNE 1966: Purchased LHP Curt Simmons from STL. COMMENT: Simmons was 37 years old and in the "twilight" of his career. He was one of the first post-WWII "bonus babies," and had been one of the best lefty starters in the National League for nearly 20 years, pitching for the Whiz Kid Phillies N. L. pennant-winning club in 1950, and teaming with Robin Roberts to form the Phillies 1-2 starting pitching punch in the 1950's. Simmons replaced Ernie Broglio in the starting rotation, and did a decent job for a couple of seasons. WINTER MEETINGS 1966: Traded LHP Dick Ellsworth to PHI for RHP Ray Culp. COMMENT: An EXCELLENT trade, except the Cubs only kept Culp for one season. The still young (27 years old) Ellsworth had been a starting pitcher for the Cubs for seven seasons (winning 22 games with a 2.11 ERA in 1963, before losing 22 in 1966). Along with Ferguson Jenkins, Culp was one of the Phillies best young pitchers. He went 36-28 as a starter over a three-year period (1963-65), before being moved to the bullpen in 1966. When the Cubs got him, Culp was only 25, the same age as Jenkins, and younger than Bill Hands. FEBRUARY 1967: Signed FA OF Al Spangler (three days after he was released by CAL). COMMENT: Spangler had been a left-handed hitting "4th OF" for several years, with the Braves, Colt .45s, and Angels. He had little power, but did the "little things" it took to win (Leo's kinda guy!). Spanky turned out be a valuable player for the Cubs, platooning in RF 1967-69 and getting some big PHs. APRIL 1967: Traded LHP Fred Norman to LA for RHP Dick Calmus. COMMENT: Not that the Dodgers knew any better, either, but Norman would become one of the top lefty starters in th National League in the 1970's, first with SD, and later with the "Big Red Machine" in Cincinnati. MAY 1967: Traded OF Don Young to STL for OF Ted Savage. COMMENT: Yes, THAT Don Young. (The Cubs reacquired him in a cash deal a couple of months later). Young was on an I-55 milk run, going back and forth between the Cubs and Cardinals twice each in the years 1964-67. Savage was a veteran right-handed hitting platoon OF (he platooned with Wes Covington on the star-crossed '64 Phillies club). AUGUST 1967: Claimed RHP Pete Mikkelsen off waivers from PIT. COMMENT: An ex-Yankees reliever the Cubs had for a short time, Mikkelsen would have been a good addition to the Cubs bullpen 1969-72. Except he got traded. AUGUST 1967: Sold RHP Cal Koonce to the NYM COMMENT: The Cubs finally got tired of waiting for Koonce to develop consistency, so they sold the 26-year old right-hander to the Mets for "cash." Koonce was an integral member of the 1969 World Series Champion Mets' bullpen. Cubs could have used HIM, too. WINTER MEETINGS 1967: 1. Traded RHP Ray Culp to BOS for RHP Rudy Schelesinger. 2. Traded INF Paul Popovich and OF Jim Williams to LA for OF Lou Johnson. COMMENT: John Holland should have stayed home. Culp was a solid, young (26 years old at the time of this trade) rotation starter for the Red Sox for several years (64 wins 1968-71), and would have been the 4th member of the Cubs starting rotation throughout the Durocher Years, except he got traded. Rudy Schlesinger was returned to Boston in 1968, so the Cubs ended up with nothing to show for Culp. "Sweet Lou" Johnson was an ex-Cub. He was one of several ex-Kansas City Monarchs (NAL) acquired by the Cubs (thanks to Wrigley's friendship with Monarchs manager Buck O'Neill) in the 1950's, but had been traded away several years previous (to the Angels). In the meantime, he developed into an everyday LF with the Dodgers, playing with a hyper-enthusiasm (Ernie Banks on amphetamines) in the field and on the bases that made him a darling with Dodger fans. He also had a weird habit of compulsively clapping his hands as he ran around the bases. Lou suffered a broken leg in 1966 or 1967, and by the time the Cubs got him, he had difficulty driving the ball and playing defense in RF. After a horrible couple of months to start the '68 season, the Cubs sent Sweet Lou to Cleveland for Willie Smith, which WAS a good trade. Except RF was still a problem. Popovich was a good back-up middle INF, and was reacquired by the Cubs in 1969. APRIL 1968: Traded RHP Pete Mikkelsen to STL for RJP Jack Lamabe. COMMENT: A seemingly pedestrian deal that was a very bad trade, as it turned out. Lamabe pitched OK out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 1968, but Mikkelsen was still going strong (for the Dodgers) years after Lamabe was out of baseball. APRIL 1968: The day after the Cubs traded Mikkelsen to the Cards, they traded OF Ted Savage and LHP Jim Ellis to LA for RHP Phil Regan and OF Jim Hickman. COMMENT: This was a good deal that saved Holland and Durocher from having NOBODY left in the bullpen. Regan was known as "The Vulture" because he went 14-1 for the Dodgers in 1966 while pitching out of the bullpen, winning a lot of those games as a result of relieving Koufax or Drysdale after one of them had pitched a gem, coming into a 0-0 or 1-1 game in the 9th, pitching one inning, and getting the win after the Dodgers pushed across a run in the bottom of the 9th. Regan also was believed to throw a "vaseline" ball, which he supposedly "loaded" by touching his neck after each pitch. ( I say "supposedly" only because it was never actually proven in a court of law). Hickman had been an everyday OF with the Mets 1962-65, but by 1968 he was back in AAA. (Only players with ten or more years of MLB service time could refuse a minor league assignment in these times). So the Cubs resurrected his career. Hickman had some fine years with the Cubs 1969-72 (playing at various times RF-CF-1B), including an appearance in the 1970 All-Star Game. KEY CUBS AMATEUR DRAFT (RULE 4 DRAFT) PICKS 1965-68 x - denotes did not sign with Cubs 1965: Joe Decker, RHP (HS - IOWA) x - Darrell Evans, 3B (HS - California) Ken Holtzman, LHP (Illinois) x - Tom House, LHP (USC) Garry Jestadt, INF (HS - Illinois) Ken Rudolph, C (HS - Illionois) COMMENT: Durocher tabbed Holtzman to be a member of the Cubs starting rotation out of Spring Training 1966, less than a year after Holtzman was signed off the campus of the University of Illinois. Holtzman had a lengthy career as a starting pitcher in the big leagues (Cubs, A's, Orioles, and Yankees). Decker was traded (with Bill Hands) to the Twins in 1972 in an ill-advised trade for lefty reliever Dave LaRoche. 1966: Joe Niekro, RHP (West Liberty) Rich Nye, LHP (California) Bill Stoneman, RHP (Idaho) Archie Reynolds, RHP (HS - California) COMMENT: So you think players and pitchers today don't spend enough time in the minors? Like Holtzman the year before, Niekro, Nye, and Stoneman were pitching in the major leagues less than a year after they signed with the Cubs off their respective college campuses. Niekro (brother of Braves Hall of Famer Phil Niekro and father of Giants 1B Lance Niekro) was included in the deal for Dick Selma in 1969, and won 221 games in 22 big league seasons (mostly with the Houston Astros) AFTER the Cubs traded him. Stoneman was left unprotected and was chosen by Montreal in the 1968 expansion draft, and had some success as a starting pitcher for the Expos in the early 1970's. Archie Reynolds was traded to the Angels for veteran LHP Juan Pizarro in 1970. 1967: Randy Bobb, C (Arizona State) x - Ken Forsch, RHP (Oregon State) Gary Ross, RHP (Grand View) COMMENT: 1967 1st Round pick Randy Bobb was traded to the Mets at the end of Spring Training 1970 (after Leo had announced that Bobb had made the 25-man roster as Randy Hundley's back-up) for veteran C-1B J. C. Martin. Durocher said Bobb's emotional reaction to the trade (the Mets sent him to AAA) was heart-wrenching. Ross was part of the Selma deal with the Padres in 1969. Signing Ken Forsch would have been nice. 1968: Oscar Gamble, OF (HS - Alabama) Francisco Libran, SS (FA - PUERTO RICO) Paul Reuschel, RHP (Western Illinois) COMMENT: Oscar Gamble was signed by Buck O'Neill (who went back to scouting for the Cubs after the College of Coaches was dissolved) and was 19 years old and the Cubs top prospect in November 1969 when he and his afro were traded to the Phillies (along with RHP Dick Selma) for veteran RF Johnny Callison. (The deal for Callison was probably the worst deal executed by the Cubs during the Durocher years). Francisco Libran was the best amateur player the Cubs signed out of Puerto Rico in the 1960's, a defensive whiz who was the third player sent to San Diego in the deal for Dick Selma in 1969, but he never could hit big league pitching. Rick Reuschel's older brother, the younger-than-he-looks P. Reuschel pitched out of the bullpen for the Cubs (and Indians) in the years 1975-79. Paul had short hair and wore horn-rimmed glasses, so WGN-TV director Arne Harris put up one of those side-by-side "separated at birth" photographs comparing Paul Reuschel to Jack Brickhouse (who was about 60 at the time), and DANG IT, they DID look a lot alike!
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Comments

Great stuff AZ.

Makes me think of the days of my Cubs childhood, the mid to late 70's.

If your taking requests for upcoming posts, take us down 70's lane now that you have wrapped up the 60's.

Thanks.

Sometimes Garfield Goose communicates better than Dusty.

"No what I mean, Dude?"

If you're gonna bash how someone communicates, you should probably use "know" instead.

Maybe I meant to use it that way.

Oops.

Great article, AZ Phil --

One thing I'd be curious about, though, would be a comparison between Adolfo Phillips and Corey Patterson. Is the comparison apt? Putting aside the animus most of us feel about Corey, one thing that strikes me about the underachiever is that he seems the kind of guy that keeps his feelings internal.

Phil:

Great stuff! I started following the Cubs, Garfield Goose, the Hamm's bear, and "Friendly Bob Adams," in 1953 at age 5. Frankie Baumholtz and Handsome Ransom Jackson were two of my favorites. I watched the Sam Jones no-hitter in 1955, and Cardwell's in 1960. Dale Long's left-handed catching in 1957 or 1958 was great, and so was the two-ball game with the Cardinals. You mentioned earlier in the week the sucker punch thrown by Billy Martin. Watching that game was really something, because there was great fear that Brewer was going to lose his eyesight, owing to the fractured orbit bone.

You were right on about the trades made by the Cubs.

Bob Kennedy was one of the underrated "coaches" in the system, and under him the Cubs did pretty well in 1962 or 1963, I believe [.500 season was good for them then--maybe even now it would be good].

Bill Hands was one of the better pitchers to wear a Cub uniform. Coupled with Jenkins, there were two guys who really knew how to pitch.

One question, Phil: Did Bob "Where there is a will, there is a way" Will ever get a pinch hit for the Cubs. I think he was the first of many guys I remember wearing #28 for the Cubs who rarely if ever delivered a pinch hit when we needed one.

Longest. Post. Ever.

Thanks for bringing me back to life, Phil, but it's Laraine, not Lorraine.

*kiss*

SAM CLYATT: It seems like every Cubs game I went to in 1961-63, Bob Will pinch-hit, and Bob Will made an out.

"ATTENTION... ATTENTION PLEASE... TWENTY-EIGHT... BOB WILL... BATTING FOR ELLSWORTH..."

Will was a highly-touted OF coming out of Northwestern in 1954, and he played RF most every day in 1960. Lou Boudreau really liked him. Will was a fundamentally sound defensive outfielder, had an above average arm, above-average speed, no power, and HE COULD NOT PINCH-HIT.

For those of you not familiar with Will, he wore glasses and loked like an accountant, and (style-wise) I would compare him to other guys who played for the Cubs in later years like Gene Hiser, Larry Biittner, Scot Thompson, or Brant Brown, somebody like that.

Great article Arizona Phil. You are the man!

Brings back some great memories. I remmeber the game the Cubs went into first place the lastest in the season in a long time. I think they were playing the Phillies and it was I think early June. Anyway, the game was on a Sunday, Ernie was hurt and was going back and forth between the TV booth and radio booth and we were cheering everytime we saw him. I was standing under the upper deck on the third base side. Fergie pitched and also hit a triple. At the end of the game the fans stayed to watch them put the Cubs flag in first atop the scoreboard. Great day as a Cubs fan.

How many of you remmeber before the divisional set-up, that the Cubs goal for many years was to make the first division. That was, before Mets and Houston, the first 4 positions in the NL. Brickhouse would make a statement at the beginning of the year such as, "The Cubs are hopefull of getting into the first division this year, and once you get there, anything can happen."

One last comment, I remember Wes Covington starting in LF at the beginning of the year and lolly-gagging after a ball that rolled to the wall after he let it get by him. That was the last game old Wes started for the Cubs. Leo was furious. Arizona Phil, how long into that season before they dumped Covington?

I'm glad to know my mind wasn't playing tricks on me. Will was pathetic as a pinch hitter. Brickhouse loved him though--"Where there is a will, there is a way." WRONG! [at least in this case, Jack]

Also, Phil, do you remember Brickhouse broadcasting Little League, or PONY League, or American Legion games from Thillens Stadium? WGN had a lot of airtime to fill, and you could only show so many episodes of Rescue 8, Whirlybirds, Cannonball, and Silent Service. So Brickhouse would do the Thillens Stadium stuff, in addition to the Wrestling and baseball.

#5 of 9: By deJesusFreak (January 5, 2006 12:29 PM)
Great article, AZ Phil --

One thing I'd be curious about, though, would be a comparison between Adolfo Phillips and Corey Patterson. Is the comparison apt? Putting aside the animus most of us feel about Corey, one thing that strikes me about the underachiever is that he seems the kind of guy that keeps his feelings internal.

----

deJesus Freak: I'm not aware of Patterson having any physical ailments to go along with his "sick bat," but a comparison between Corey Patterson and Adolfo Phillips IS apt.

Other than the physical manifestations, their situations are very similar:

A quiet, reserved, "five-tool," can't miss prospect, under a lot of pressure to meet high expectations, who keeps screwing himself deeper and deeper into the ground, and I think it's quite possible that C-Pat (like Phillips) may end up out of baseball by the time he's 30.

TJ: May 28th.

TJ,

The game the Cubs moved into first in '67 was in July just before the 4th and I'm sure it was against the Reds. Banks was spiked by Pete Rose in the Friday game and that's why he was sitting out. WGN Radio played the audio of the Mets beating the Cardinals in a game that ended almost the same time as the Cubs-Reds and put the Cubs in a tie for first.

Thanks, Phil. I was born in '67, so although I remember guys like Kessinger, Williams, and Jenkins fondly, I really cut my teeth on the mid-to-late 70s Cubs and didn't get the chance to know anything about Phillips other than hearsay.

Thanks Arizona Phil. It didn't take long for Leo to launch him.

TJ,

Just checked retrosheet. The game was definitely July 2, 1967. Jenkins doubled and tripled. Cubs won 4-1. Reds only run was a homer by Vada Pinson. I remember Banks later said that seeing the Cub flag moved to the top of the pole was the most thrilling moment of his career up until then. Sad, really.

#11 of 17: By samclyatt (January 5, 2006 12:54 PM)
Also, Phil, do you remember Brickhouse broadcasting Little League, or PONY League, or American Legion games from Thillens Stadium? WGN had a lot of airtime to fill, and you could only show so many episodes of Rescue 8, Whirlybirds, Cannonball, and Silent Service. So Brickhouse would do the Thillens Stadium stuff, in addition to the Wrestling and baseball.

----

SAM: And "Highway Patrol."

And "Home Run Derby" (filmed at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles in February 1960).

I don't remember Brickhouse broadcasting games from Thillens, although he probably did. He was EVERYwhere. He even was WGN's correspondent at all the National Political conventions, because Jack knew EVERYBODY. He was drinking buddies with all the pols. So Jack got "scoops" nobody else could get.

I do remember seeing the King and His Court at Thillens, though.

AZ Phil,

Thanks for the review, Phil. Small thing. The Cubs moved into first after winning a single game on July 2, 1967. The Cardinals are the ones who played two dropping them both to the Mets.

Whenever people bring up Brock still being with the late 60s Cubs I always say that the Broglio trade was ancient history by then. That the trade that really killled them was the Culp trade. Only people of our advanced age remember Culp and Koonce and guys like that. They weren't great but they would have made a hell of a difference in '69 and '70 as you point out.

About Durocher - another thing he is credited with (or credits himself with) is stopping a Dodger mutiny in the spring Jackie Robinson joined the team. As Leo tells it he called the team together and appealed to their greed saying Robinson was going to put a lot of money in their pockets and that anyone who didn't want to play would be traded by Branch Rickey.

Great job on your accumulating series Arizona Phil. After you work all the way up through the Hendry Quagmire you should have it published. I wasn't old enough to be indoctrinated until Frey's days, so this is all extremely informative.

TJ,

Also after checking retrosheet. Banks was spiked in the saturday game that weekend.

Cubs went from the thrill of that Sunday to drop 7 out of 8 to the Braves and Astros. Nye picked up two of the losses and I think that was about the end of Durocher's trust in the lanky lefty.

Dr. Rich Nye was, however, able to put my kids' rabbit to sleep last summer.

It's crazy to think that the Cubs bullpen has essentially been broken for 40 years, or occasional to terrible at best.

thanks again Phil...you're conjuring up memories from a trunk (Bob Dylan lyric, just to be in the proper time frame).

Random recollections:

1) Sweet Lou Johnson-probably the only cub in history with only one ear. We have our share of other's missing parts though (eg. Mordecai Brown). I remember being very excited when that trade was announced but his play as a Cub was clearly a dissapointment.

The Johnny Callison trade was also sooo promising but he was awful as a Cub RF. Fortunately, little heralded/journeyman Jim Hickman was terrific but not until it was too late to make a difference for that group.

2) It was the 1968 Cub team's success was what prompted Harry Caray (then the Card's broadcaster) to come of with his famous chant: "the Cardinals are coming tra-la, tra-la." That was almost as rhythmic as the "Jo-Dee, Jo-Dee Davis, catcher without a peer" chant he came up with decades later.

3) Ted Abernathy had kids all over my neighborhood practicing submarine deliveries (not the sandwich kind either), myself included. Subsequently I developed a pretty good impersonation of Phil Regan's delivery. Baseball needs at least one good submariner, the latest one being Chad Bradford (now with the Bosox)

4) I too saw several of Ken Holtzman's 1967 wins in that flawless season. I'm going to go to the basement and look up which ones I have scorecards for...and will report back later.

Damn, I did imprint on this team, particularly 1967-70. Like one of those baby ducklings who doesn't have a momma duck and will follow a brick on wheels around if that's what it imprints on. Quack, quack.

Dr. Rich Nye was, however, able to put my kids' rabbit to sleep last summer.
-
Yes, he's a veterinarian. I hear he specializes in birds. His track record with cardinals isn't good though. High mortality rate for Cardinals he treats, coincidence?

Great job..........It brought back memories of former Cubs that I had forgotten about. Keep up the great work.

Great memories are flooding back.... I attended the'67 two games in mid-July in St.L. The Cubs won the first game with Ray Culp winning, to put them into a 1st place tie, then they lost the next night with Rob Gardener getting knocked out early and Bob Shaw (ex W.Sox) keeping it close until Al Spangler hit a gapper that appeared to have a chance to tie the game in the 9th. but Maris cut it off and threw out Kessinger at the plate to end the game. I also remember the game in '68, also in St.L., where Gibby faced Fergy in 100 degree heat, on the Sunday when they unveiled Musial's statue. Gibson had a 1.12 ERA that year & led 5-3 going into the 8th, when Billy homered to cut it to one. With two out in the 9th pinch hitter Spangler (again) homered to tie it! Game went 15 innings before the Cubs won it on a pinch single by the last position player left on the bench. Some guy named Lee Elia!

Thanks so much for these AZ Phil. Great firsthand retelling of stories of my team before my time. Wonderful read.

T Bone, thanks, you're right it was the Reds. Also, I do remember now that the score was 4-1. I remember Fergie's triple hitting high off the center field wall.

Mention of the Stan Musial statute reminds me of a 4th of July weekend me and my buddies attended in St. Louis in the late 60's or early 70's and the Cubs swept a double-header at some point that weekend. Someone climbed on the Musial statue and placed a big "Cubs Power" sticker on his ass. A Cardinal fan tried to start a fight, which never materialized. We then joined many other Cub fans with a victory car parade throughout downtown St. Louis, back to the Cubs hotel in the Chase Park Plaza. What a weekend! The Cubs sure have not won much in my lifetime, but they povided many, many trills. I've enjoyed the ride. I hope some day we can get a World Chamionship. with or without it, there is no team in baseball that can compare with the Cubs!

An interesting note about Prior and his upcoming arbitration. The basic run down of how arbitration works is to compare what you have done with other people of similiar service time.

With AJ Burnett getting 5 years $55 million Prior could very well get 11 million if he goes to arbitration.

Prior has better career numbers than Burnett and the arbitrator is going to rule in his favor in a heartbeat. Hendry can't offer him 5-7 million or else Prior and his agent are going to laugh in his face.

This is probably why Prior's name has been popping up in the Tejada rumor. The Cubs don't want to pay 11+ million for him next year.

Wonderful summary AZ Phil ! Thank you !

This was the era that I was just old enough to go to games. It's really nice to look back, now armed with the inside view of the Cubs at that time.

Other than Ernie Banks (every little kids favorite), Adolfo Phillips was my favorite Cub. I remember him being really fast, really good and then all of a sudden, really gone. Do you know what happened to him?

Mike he won't be compared to Burnett. It's Beckett that would be the comp. Burnett has pitchd (albeit injured) for 7 seasons to Prior's 4.

--Ted Abernathy had kids all over my neighborhood practicing submarine deliveries (not the sandwich kind either)--

Boy, does that bring it back to me... In 1963, (I was ten at the time) Ted A. was the fireman for the new AAA Indians franchise in Jacksonville (the initial iteration of the Jax Suns, BTW) that went out and won the International League championship that year. Old City Stadium was packed to the extent that you had fans sitting out well behind the lines to the right/left field fences (as in the old photos from back in the 20's & 30's), and every little league kid in town was working on that submarine delivery (including me).

Apparently Ted went to AAA while he was trying to locate the strike zone, a trick that had eluded him in the bigs beforehand. Anyway, thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Other Suns on that team included Vic Davalillo (later a big pinch hitting stick w/ the miracle A's of the early 70's), who basically put the team's offense on his back and carried it all year, and the only player ever traded for himself, former Cub Harry Chiti, who won the opening night game w/ a ninth-inning home run. I'll never forget it.

You know, my mother went to school with Bank's kids. That was back in the day when he was King in Chi-town. In fact, Ernie would be one of the 'Chaperones' on field trips. It must have been amazing to be escorted around the Museam of Science and Industry by Mr. Cub...

one correction re: Abernathy - it was 1962 that the Suns won- not '63. (Heck, it was a long time ago - thank goodness for the internet and fact-checking)

Anyone else remember those Schlitz commercials that featured Durocher sitting around telling old baseball stories to a group of guys? I remember him telling the story of Dusty Rhodes' World Series heroics and "the catch" by Willie Mays. "Vic Wirtz hit it a ton, what we call a ton in baseball," Durocher said. He later describes Mays' catch..."and he caught it, like a ballet dancer." The commercials would end with Durocher saying the same thing: "Have another Schlitz, boys."

Those Durocher commercials were the equivalent of 'Citizen Kane' compared to Hundley's and Banks' Uptown Federal Savings spots. Yikes.

Or maybe it was: "Have another Schlitz, fellas. Have another Schlitz." Alcohol and time play tricks on the mind.

MikeC:
"With AJ Burnett getting 5 years $55 million Prior could very well get 11 million if he goes to arbitration."

that is not how it works...

They do "consider" what other players of his service time and stats do, but if it is a multiyear contract, they look at that similar year of what Prior would be, which is 2006. How much does Burnett make in 2006? $7.0 M, so that is more the HIGH END.

But still that is a multi year contract the arbitrator leans more towards arbitration style 1 year contracts as the thing to most look at.

Also, Burnett has 2 more years of service time than Prior, not comparing apples to apples.

Zambrano from last year would be a better comparison as he had almost the exact same amount of service time and was considered a top flight pitcher. Prior will get more though as his overall stats were better, thus the $5M or so.

$11M?? WOW!!

Prior should be happy you are not his agent as if he was expecting that and only got the $5.0M or so he is going to get instead, you wouldn't have a job long.

#35 of 37: By tbone (January 5, 2006 04:43 PM)
Anyone else remember those Schlitz commercials that featured Durocher sitting around telling old baseball stories to a group of guys? I remember him telling the story of Dusty Rhodes' World Series heroics and "the catch" by Willie Mays. "Vic Wirtz hit it a ton, what we call a ton in baseball," Durocher said. He later describes Mays' catch..."and he caught it, like a ballet dancer." The commercials would end with Durocher saying the same thing: "Have another Schlitz, boys."

--

T-BONE: Do I remember those commercials?

This was going to be the title of my 1969 article:

"Hey fellas... How about another Schlitz?"

Manny wants to stay in Boston. Here is the link:

http://espndeportes.espn.go.com/story?id=396286

The article is written in english.

Interesting read- the 40% I got through.

Did they put quotation marks on sale at the local dollar store, though? Parsed it out at 181, which I am sure must be some sort of record.

funny comments from a phillie blog showing disgust in the Ryan Franklin signing...

top reasons this deal might not suck...

Turns out he's been pitching with the wrong arm the last two years

Franklin is a direct lineal descendant of Benjamin Franklin, and has figured out a way to harness the power of the lightning bolt within the strike zone

Five years ago, then-Seattle GM Pat Gillick planted a post-hypnotic suggestion in Franklin's brain that contained the secret to the 2001 Mariners' 116-win season. That secret will now be revealed!

Prior is going to get a hell of alot more than $5 million. Bank on it.

MikeC:
"Prior is going to get a hell of alot more than $5 million. Bank on it."

I would be willing to bet on it...

Since you think he will make $11M and I think $5M, let's split it in half at $8M. I have under $8M and you have over $8M. $8M is a tie. This is base salary, no bonuses or incentives.

I know you don't "bet" (good thing because I would of easily taken you Gatti money), but let's do just a "friendly" wager.

Something with our handles we use. I will change my handle to "DUSTYBLOWS" if you win and you have to make yours "INDUSTYWETRUSTY" if I win. Let;s say for exactly 2 weeks after the day the signing is offical we have to change.

Do we have a friendly wager???

Great stuff Arizona Phil!
I was at that '67 game when the Cubs took over first place, standing with a few hundred others in the aisle in the upper deck along the first base line. Absolute bedlam when they raised the first-place flag.

Also attended a doubleheader against the Cards around Labor Day when the Cubs were barely hanging in the race. They lost both games and were effectively out of the running. Steve Carlton pitched in one game; I think that was his rookie year.

In '65 I saw another great lefty pitch against the Cubs--Warren Spahn, but he pitched for the Mets of all teams. It was one of his last starts. Pretty sure he beat the Cubs that day. I also recall that attendance for that game was under 1,000. I sat behind the box seats along the third base line, and I was the only kid in the section. I had my own personal hot dog man. Unfortunately for him, I only had enough cash for one dog and car fare. Today's Cub fans don't remember how poor attendance was at Wrigley in the early-mid 60s.

Finally, didn't Adolfo Phillips have the unusual habit of stepping up to the plate, making the sign of the cross, and then "adjusting" his athletic supporter? Poor guy, Leo often compared him to Mays, and it was too much pressure.

hi CA Bob...I tried to find that game you referred to in 1965. I think this is the link.

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/bo...

Tuesday, 6-1-65; Mets 10 Cubs 5. The boxscore says the attendance was 2,270.

Did you bring your picnic lunch to the ballpark, like Fran Allison (of Kukla, Fran & Ollie) told you to on the TV commercials?

Spahn started but didn't get the decision. Bob Buhl lost and pitched poorly. I remember that Buhl was infamous as one of the worst hitters in baseball. The comment I remember is him saying his best was going 1 for 3, one hit in 3 seasons. Buhl went 0-2 that day.

This was an embryonic lineup regarding the pre-Durocher Cubs but Beckert batted 2nd followed by Williams-Santo-Banks...so it has a ghostly appearance to what was to follow. Also those 3 could hit. on that day they were 7 for 14 including a Santo HR.

One more footnote, Jim Hickman played CF for the Mets and hit two HR's, forshadowing his liking for Wrigley field.

Fantastic stuff. I lived at 3639 N. Sheffield from 1977-1981 or so. I remember the bad teams of the 70s quite well. Im only 35 so I dont know diddly about the 60s. Thanks AZ Phil!

Attendance was pretty bad in the 70s too. I used to be able to come home from school as a 3rd grader and walk in pretty much for free I think, after the 6th inning or so, and sit anywhere. What my mom was thinking letting me go by myself is another thing...

Just to show a more detailed comparison of why Prior will get around $5M:

Carlos Zambrano went to arbitration last year for the first time with 3.042 years of service time. He had a record of 34-29 with an ERA of 3.25 and he signed a deal with the Cubs for $3.76M.

Mark Prior goes to arbitration for the first time this year with 3.13 years of service time. He has a record of 41-23 with an ERA of 3.24.

The ERA are identical, but Prior does have a better record. Thus that is why he will make more than Z did last year.

That is how I logically come up with the $5M figure. I actually think Prior will turn ina figure of around $6.0M and the Cubs will counter with $4.5M and they will settle in the low $5.0'sM.

I guess we will see....

The Cubs announced their minor league coaching staffs today. The obvious highlight (from a fan favorite perspective) was that Jody Davis will be the manager at single-A with the Peoria Chiefs.

What got my attention is their Dominican Rooklie league team. Is this a new entry for them?

Dominican Rookie: Manager Franklin Font, pitching coach Leo Hernandez, hitting coach Ramon Caraballo, athletic trainer Robert Jimenez.

Also of note is that Von Joshua will be the hitting coach at AAA-Iowa, moving up from AA-West Tenn. That means he will spend another year working with Felix Pie. Is that good or bad news? I'd love to hear AZ Phil's take/critique on the minor league coaching staff.

cubs dominican complex has been around a long time...only recently they've upgraded the digs so they dont have 14-17 year olds living in conditions that make migrant camps look like club med.

"I used to be able to come home from school as a 3rd grader and walk in pretty much for free I think, after the 6th inning or so, and sit anywhere. "

It was after the 7th inning and the policy was still happening as late as 1984. I took advantage of it on a Saturday in June to see Ryno hit his second homer off Sutter and Dave Owens' later heroics.

Didn't seem like something the Tribune would do for too long and sure enough, they didn't.

Another thing about those Leo Durocher Schlitz commercials. He wasn't a Schlitz drinker and mispronounced the name. He called it "Slitz."

"Have another Slitz."

Apparently no one had the nerve to correct him.

AP
Enjoyed the glimpse back. You were right on about Adolfo Phillips' potential, but as I recall the largest reason for his decline was fear, rather than nervousness. He took a couple of hard shots to the head I want to say in New York and he was noticeably plate shy from that point on and his performance suffered. Kind of like Sammy was in '04 but worse.

Thanks again, Arizona Phil, wonderful stuff! The article really rounded out my understanding of the Leo teams of 1966-68. The great trades as well as the trades of guys like Culp, Abernaphy, Humphrey, Koonce and Mikkelson which I now see hurt more than I would have realized at the time. I'd forgotten Culp went on to do so well, although I felt Nye in '67, Niekro in '67 and/ or '68, Selma in '69 and, especially Pappas in the early '70s were all pretty good #4 guys with Fergie, Hands and Holtzman. I, too, enjoyed doing impersonations of Regan, Abernaphy and the other pitchers in neighborhood pick-up games as well as impersonating the entire lineup at the plate (probably should have just stuck with Billy and Fergie, I might have developed better technique, but it sure was fun). Finally, I'm one of many, I suppose, who wish Adolfo had continued to develop and been a star CF and lead-off hitter in '69 and onward. He was an exciting player on that '67 team, to be sure. Thanks again for a great report and I look forward to the Cubs Power feature.

Leo the Lip. The Cubs have had a few good managers since Leo, like Don Zimmer and Jim LeFevbre, who both got royally shafted. But we haven't had what I would consider a "big name" manager since Leo. Granted, we all thought we got that in Dusty Baker and the book on his tenure is still open. But if the Cubs are bumbling along with a .500 record at the All-Star break and Dusty gets canned, the guy we need is Uncle Lou Pinnela. Now there is a guy who will kick a guy into the freakin' gutter if he calls the pressbox during a game, or whines about an opposing player getting booed at Wrigley.

The Tribune just posted a regular news story that the Cubs may be close to dealing Korey to Baltimore for a mid-level prospect. Tejada is not part of the deal.

Best part is it isn't a Phil Rogers column, it's a regular sports news story by Dan Connolly.

Beh, I'd rather make him fight for a spot and see if there's any life left and toss him in the dumpster if he flops than ship off for someone who will probably never see the bigs.

corey's destined to be traded. there's already mabry on the bench filling the LH corner OF + lefty batter role...and hairston/jones can cover CF.

corey's 3.whatever million will probally go into a prior 3-year deal or something similar..maybe Z can get a nice 3-year to go along with it.

club still needs a RH bench OF'r...looks like it might be a grissom/restovich fight if corey goes for a prospect(s). i'm fine with either, honestly.

Prior just voided the last year of his contract, making him eligible for arbitration.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2...

Great history here. I started following the Cubs in the mid-60s'. Still remember playing little league with the fantasy of being Adolfo Phillips on my mind. Never new till today the problems he had with the ulcer. Really enjoy all of your posts but this one was special to me. Thanks

#55 of 59: By LarryBiitner (January 5, 2006 10:42 PM)
The Tribune just posted a regular news story that the Cubs may be close to dealing Korey to Baltimore for a mid-level prospect. Tejada is not part of the deal.

Best part is it isn't a Phil Rogers column, it's a regular sports news story by Dan Connolly.

-

Dan Connolly is the Orioles beat reporter & columnist for the Baltimore Sun, which a Tribune paper.

The mystery player is probably Jeff Fiorentino.

Regarding Corey possibly going to Baltimore for a non-prospect, I've been hoping for either a trade where we get someone for him we can really use-especially in the event he gets things turned around in his new environment, it needs to be someone we REALLY can use, or see if a fight for a job (LF, for example, with Murton) could get him going. I guess, as was written earlier, if his $ can go for keeping Prior and Zambrano at the front of our pitching staff, that'd be something good. I just hate to lose guys like this for no kind of player return. Corey could be, as someone wrote, like Adolfo and be out of baseball completely in a couple years. Or we may look back thinking what might have been AGAIN. It just seems like consistently winning franchises find ways to get the most out of investments like Corey Patterson.

Great stuff, Phil. I was born in '64, so as much as I remember the Lip, I din't know the details...I did have Culp's baseball card and remember asking my brother about him. It didn't even make sense to a 7 yr old to see a guy winning 15+ games a year and seeing the Cubs had him.

I'd like to see you elaborate more on Banks. Sure don't want to ruin the Mr Cub mystique, but when I look at the stats he was definetely behind Williams and Santo. Banks appeared to dominate in the late '50s and faded very much in the entire decade of the 60s. Living on his reputation it seemed.

I remember in '72 the Cubs had a guy named Jack Aker. He was basically their closer.

The other thing I've always noticed is as much as I like Madlock, Jenkins was not old when they traded him. Nor was Holtzman. They both played another 10 years after being traded. If they would have kept Jankins, Holtzman and surrounded them with Hooten, Reuschel and Bonham,what would have been? They could have made those other deals for Trillo and Thornton and should have kept Bill North as well.

Lets see, they had Jim Colborn, Joe Decker, Rick Reuschel, Bill Bonham, Bill Stoneman, Larry Gura, Burt Hooten, etc...yet very few position prospects. Sound a little like now. I think Mel Hall in 83 was the first home grown position prospect to crack the starting lineup since the Durocher Era.

CTC,

Smart, smart, smart.......the two guys who bust someone in the mouth ig tyhey need it are:

Sweet Lou Piniella and Larry Bowa

I'm not among the legions of folk who are Baker Haters (unlike Tony LaRussa, now THERE is a guy I simply don't like)......in the grand scheme or big picture, the players have to play, not the manager........but I am a believer in shaking things up sometimes just for the sake of getting someones attention. If the Cubs are .500 or below at break...bring me Sweet Lou.

Joey

Don't know if this is old news to some of you but baseball america posted each organizations top ten prospects. These are cubs in order ...

1. Felix Pie, of
2. Mark Pawelek, lhp
3. Ronny Cedeno, ss
4. Angel Guzman, rhp
5. Rich Hill, lhp
6. Sean Marshall, lhp
7. Ricky Nolasco, rhp
8. Ryan Harvey, of
9. Brian Dopirak, 1b
10. Eric Patterson, 2b

Here's the link for team by team.
http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/features...

CARMEN F: Phil Wrigley would never allow Ernie Banks to be traded, and that was one of Wrigley's faults.

After the 1962 season, John Holland traded OF George Altman (who had led the N. L. in triples in 1961 and had hit 49 HRs for the Cubs in 1961-62) and Don Cardwell (the Cubs 26-year old #1 starter at the time) to the Cardinals for pitchers Larry Jackson and Lindy McDaniel. That was a good trade for the Cubs, because it didn't hurt the starting rotation (although Jackson was five years older than Cardwell, Cardwell-for-Jackson was a short-term "wash") while upgrading the bullpen.

This is when Banks SHOULD have been traded.

Altman, Billy Williams, and Lou Brock had been the Cubs starting OF in 1962, and all three were strictly "left-fielders." Trading Altman took care of one of the problems, and moving Billy Williams from LF to 1B and Lou Brock from CF to LF would have completed the repair.

Then, Ernie Banks should have been traded for a couple of outfielders who could play CF and RF.

At that time (1962 going into 1963), the only clubs needing a 1B were the Milwaukee Braves, New York Mets, and Washington Senators. The Braves didn't have two outfielders to trade, but both the Mets and Senators did.

If Holland could have received Wrigley's permission to do it (and of course that NEVER would have happened), I believe the Cubs could have probably traded Banks to the Mets for Jim Hickman and Joe Christopher (the Mets at that time were "hot" after "name" players like Gil Hodges and Duke Snider, so Banks would have fit right in), or to Washington for Chuck Hinton and either Jim King or Don Lock.

Moving Williams to 1B, Brock to LF, and adding a couple of outfielders with the defensive acumen to play CF and RF in a Banks trade probably would have kept Lou Brock in Chicago past 1964. Brock's defense (or lack of it) in RF and CF (he played both at various times 1962-64) is one of the main reasons he got traded. Either Billy Williams or Lou Brock had to go.

But trading Banks for two outfielders after the '62 season, moving Billy Williams to 1B, and keeping Lou Brock to play LF, would have strengthened the Cubs defense AND made the Cubs a better club long-term, while ALSO weakening the Cardinals (they wouldn't have had Brock, so Curt Flood and Dick Groat would have hit 1-2) to the point where they probably wouldn't have won the pennant in 1967 and 1968.

The main reason Jenkins was traded was that he wanted a five-year million dollar contract. Even though this was before free-agency and at a time when players had little leverage, "irreplaceable" star players were not adverse to "holding out" and getting into pissing matches (especially in the media) with their owners to get the contract they wanted. So Wrigley told Holland to trade Jenkins, and then (might as well) just nuke the whole team that Durocher had built.

Wrigley HATED players who wanted "too much" or who were "uppity." Wrigley saw himself as a patrician benefactor who "took care of his players (children)." But never forget who's the boss! Leo Durocher ALWAYS called P. K. "Mr. Wrigley," even after he got fired.

Same thing happened with Ken Holtzman. Wrigley thought he was "greedy." Holtzman wanted "too much money" to suit Wrigley, so Wrigley told Holland to trade him.

And then the same thing happened again a few years later with Bill Madlock after he had won a couple of batting championships. He got "uppity," and Wrigley didn't like "uppity"... That's why Wrigley liked Negro Leagues (Kansas City Monarchs) alumni like Ernie Banks and Buck O'Neill so much. They weren't "uppity." They appreciated whatever they got, and didn't ask for "too much" or get "greedy."

"The Cubs have had a few good managers since Leo, like Don Zimmer and Jim LeFevbre..."

I'd have a lot more respect for Zimmer as a manager if he had sat Andre Dawson and his batting average of .100 in the '89 NLCS and put in McClendon. That's what a real manager would have done by game five at least. The Cub offense in the '89 NLCS was the exact opposite of the Cubs' '05 offense. In '89 the table setters all had great series and the RBI guy failed on a truly remarkable scale. Obviously, we know what happened last year regarding table setters and clean-up hitters.

As for LeFevbre. He must have murdered someone to get fired by the chicago Cubs after finishing over .500.

Durocher often talked about the biggest mistake he almost made which was wanting Holland to trade Billy Williams for Mike "Superjew" Epstein. He said until he managed Williams for a while he had no idea what a great player he was and what a bullet he had dodged.

He felt just the opposite concerning Banks. Thought he was getting one of the greats of the game until he managed him and realized how much his skills had eroded. He did give Banks credit for being able to pick low throws out of the dirt - claims he was the best he ever saw at that - but really disliked him for talking himself up in the press.

Color me unimpressed with Jeff Fiorentino. Small sample size, young player, etc. I know...but does he show any remarkable traits or qualities?

No one denies that Korey is still young and very talented, and I'd hate to see him given up for this. The only way I can see to justify it is salary dumping to be put into another signing or trade, but even then I'm not convinced.

In 1967, Mike Epstein was stuck behind Boog Powell at 1B with the Orioles, so Baltimore optioned Epstein back to AAA Rochester, even though Epstein had nothing more to prove down there. Epstein threatened not report to Rochester, and the O's ended up trading Epstein to Washington for LHP Pete Richert (a fair deal for both clubs).

Epstein was used as the poster boy for "free-agency" back then. Before the Curt Flood lawsuit, before Messersmith-McNally, the sympathy for free-agency wasn't with star players who were already making top dollar. It was with players like Epstein, who were stuck behind another slightly more-established young players at their position.

I remember a Rain Delay discussion Jack Brickhouse had with somebody back then about how to give players like Epstein a chance to play everyday while still giving his club adequate compensation. That's where I first heard the concept of a special "dispersal draft" each season that would allow clubs to protect 15 players, with each club (in inverse order of the previous year's finish) permitted to select one player.

A similar format (each club initially protects 15 players, with an additional three players pulled back after each selection) was later used in the 1968 expansion draft, which was set-up differently that the expansion drafts of 1960-61 (where clubs were allowed to protect 25 players, with the remaining 15 placed into a "pool").

As I posted here recently, an annual limited Major League "dispersal draft" (clubs "protect" 15 players, and then each club--in inverse order of the previous year's standings--may select one player, with a club losing no more than one player) would still be a good idea today. So would removing the restriction on optioning Rule 5 picks to the minor leagues.

#68 of 69: By Andrew (January 6, 2006 07:55 AM)
Color me unimpressed with Jeff Fiorentino. Small sample size, young player, etc. I know...but does he show any remarkable traits or qualities?

----

ANDREW: No, he does not.

The only other player I can see fitting the profile described by Connolly (and I'm figuring the player the Cubs will get back will probably be a "younger" OF) would be Val Majewski, but he tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder last season, and whether he will return with the same arm strength he had prior to the surgery is the big question. I saw Majewski play in the AFL this past October, but he was the DH the time I saw him.

Fiorentino would be the "safer" choice, if the Cubs are (in fact) given a choice between Majewski and Fiorentino, although (if his shoulder is OK) Majewski is probably the better player.

The Cubs certainly aren't going to get Nick Markakis back for Patterson, so Fiorentino or Majewski would be the most-logical choices.

Both Fiorentino and Majewski are on the Orioles 40-man roster, BTW, so trading C-Pat for either one of them would NOT open up a spot on the 40-man roster. Both Fiorentino and Majewski are left-handed hitting "corner" OFs.

Fiorentino will be 23 next next season and has 22 days of MLB service time with two minor league options left, and Majewski will be 25 next season and has one year-plus 47 days of MLB service time (he spent the 2005 season on the 60-day DL) with three minor league options remaining.

It could end up being C-Pat for a PTBNL, with the Cubs having a chance to evaluate Majewski's throwing arm in Spring Training before making a final decision on which one of the two they prefer.

The Cubs never got a replacement player back from the Orioles for David Crouthers (who retired), either, so that might have been one of those "secret" cash settlements in lieu of a player.

Awesome news about Jody Davis in Peoria! I can't wait to see what he can do with the Chiefs.

I'm a few hours from the Cubs but less than an hour from four Midwest League teams, so I enjoy going to those games, then listening to Pat and Tonto on the way home.

Az Phil,

What about John Maine as the guy back in the Cpat deal? He would be better than Hill in a role of the first guy up from the minors. He has really seemed to fall off the radar in BAL as he was not even in BA's top 10 for O's prospects.

CHIFAN3887: If it's not an outfielder, then John Maine certainly could be the player.

I just don't think the Orioles are going to want to give up any of their young pitchers (including Maine) for C-Pat.

"Jody, Jody Davis, king of Wrigley Field."

How is Bengie Molina still available and not swirling in rumors? 2 years, $14M guaranteed with a team option for a third year and he might sign on the spot. Two Gold Gloves, .300 average, durable for a catcher, young for a FA catcher, rarely strikes out, 15 HRs... I mean, Michael Barrett is league average, and Molina is an improvement. Barrett would also be a good bargaining chip to a team with a GM who likes clean white faces.

I was checking out an Angels blog a couple of days ago, and I seem to recall someone mentioning Molina as a high injury risk for some knee problems. I have absolutely no data to back this up, however, and I might totally out in left field on this one.

$7 mill per year seems a bit excessive, though, for someone who has drawn so little interest from teams so far. Perhaps $4.5 would be closer to appropriate, especially if there is some fact behind my injury rumor.

You also have to take into account his career averages: .273/.309/.397.

On what planet is Bengie Molina considered durable?

USA TODAY has the player rankings. Lee is first at 1b, Walker 24th, Burnitz 19th, Ramirez in the top 5, Zambrano in the top 10, Neifi in the top 20.

Patterson is unranked.

Interesting comments about Lee.

Why bother trading Patterson for something mediocre. If they can't get something decent for him now, because his value is down, I'd rather keep him and hope for the best.

walker 24th at 2B? you've got to be kidding me.

neifi in the top 20 at ss?

neither of those make any sense.

usa today? you know what you can do with that paper...

red sox sign JT Snow for 1 yr, 2 mill

personally? i'd save that money, play youkilis more at 1B. maybe marte gets some PT in the second half and you could move lowell to 1B if needed

but not a bad signing for relatively cheap (when you're the red sox)

TJ, were don't want to pay him money anymore. That's why.

Rob G., he's durable on planet 30+ catcher, where Barrett is scheduled to crash-land after this year. Better bat, better glove, period. I'll take the extra 2 1/2 years of age, especially on a 2-year deal with an option.

Also, that salary was a sign-here-and-now salary. But these are the Cubs, of course. Does Molina think he's worth the same as Neifi and Glendo? Likely not.

I'll just copy and paste what I wrote at BCB the other day..
---
First, at about age 32 is when catchers begin their freefall to obscurity. Molina will be 32 in July. Second, Molina is a pretty poor bet to stay healthy, he's constantly suffering from tweaked groins and hamstrings. There's no DH in the NL to get him some extra at-bats. Third, he's so comically slow that the Angels had to carry a 3rd cather all year so they could pinch-run for him late in games. Finally, his defensive skills are eroding. He's gotten really fat and lazy [I later retracted lazy]. While his career #'s look pretty good, he stabs at balls now in the dirt instead of trying to block them and his ability to throw out runners is nowhere near his peak years. There's a reason no one jumped to sign this guy.

That all being said, if Barrett was coveted by other teams and could land us someone useful, then signing Molina to a deal wouldn't be a horrible idea, especially since he looks to be had for the cheap now.
---

I'll add that I've watched an unhealthy amount of Angels game since 2002 and Bengie's once stellar defense is pretty unstellar now. And you really think he has a better bat?

SamClyatt,

You got a link to that USA Today story?

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/bbw/2006-01-04...

Not exactly easy to find. And there are no catchers.

Those lists on USA Today are garbage. I just read them and they must have soccer moms writing for them or something.

WPZ,

You're going to have to explain to me just how Molina is a better bat than Barrett. I'm not seeing it.

Tim Dierks over at MLBtraderumors is reporting an interview with Dave Kaplan in which he reports that the Cubs are "trying hard" to go after Tejada. Apparently, if the Cubs throw in Pie along with Prior and Hill, it will get done.

I thought this rumor died along time ago. Now it's just getting silly. Hasn't Hendry said the Cubs will only trade Prior if they get a pitcher (Bedard) in return? I'd love to have Tejada, but only if we ain't giving up Prior.

I don't buy it, but if the Cubs traded Prior, Hill and Pie just for Tejada, I'll happily be the spokesman for the Fire Jim Hendry fanclub.

I'll have to concede on his defensive decline as I don't see him play so often.

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