Cubs' CAIRO Projections

The latest projections use the Diamon Mind simulator and run 100 seasons using CAIRO projections (which I never heard of until today, but apparently have been of the of late).

They have the Cubs doing a bit better with 83-84 wins and a 17% chance of winning the division, although like PECOTA they'll run the projections again as the season approaches and playing time is a little more certain. As Neyer notes in one of the links above and others have, there's pretty much a 6-game margin of error no matter what  projection stats you use, so we're talking 76-89 win range at the moment. That being said, the Cubs are pretty clearly looking up at the Cardinals at this point and apparently the Reds.


never heard of it, either... -edit- the page i posted is full of dead links...meh

Mariners sign Eric Byrnes according to MLBTR

83-84 lines up more closely with my very sophisticated "How I feel about it two months before Spring Training even gets under way based on how we did last year and my relative enthusiasm about our left fielder" projection system. This sure feels like a .500 team with enough upside in its players to get lucky but not enough to be a strong bet, doesn't it?

2-year extension with A's with a 3rd year club option...

Damn. I stopped paying attention to his stats early in the season last year. What a crap move getting rid of him. Those K/9 and K/BB numbers kick ass. Did he just need to get away from Lou and Rothschild?

quotes from him after the trade seem to point to wuertz not being one of lou's favorites and not giving wuertz enough work for his liking...

From what I hear, they had a huge fight about who was the most interesting character in Twilight. So then Lou ordered the caterers to stop serving vanilla ice cream, because he knew it was Wuertz's favorite. So Wuertz passed a note to Sean Marshall saying that he had seen Lou holding hands with Seth McClung after a Brewers game. So Lou proceeded to go onto Wuertz's Facebook page and post a story about how Wuertz had cried when Lou went to Howry instead of Wuertz in a key game against the Giants. I think that's when Wuertz went into Crane Kenney's office and said that Lou wasn't treating him fairly and asked that Lou be given a stern talking-to. After all that, we were Lucky to get Sellers and Robnett.

sounds about right. also, awesome.

Sellers is with the Dodgers now and Robnett with the Yankees, right? How did that happen? What did the Cubs get, cash?

Sellers traded for future considerations w/ Dodgers...probably means cash or Cubs get some minor leaguer next time they make a deal. Robnett was released by Cubs.

So the deal has basically ended up being trade Wuertz for some small cash savings. Again, might I say, one of the worst Hendry deals simply as a matter of giving away useful parts.

That was the offseason where we decided to go for handedness over production or talent. Obviously you've got to do something to get past that 97 win "hump".

if the manager don't want to use you, you should go...but yeah, he was kinda given away.

If the manager is acting like a dumbass, he should go. Or somebody should get him to stop making bad decisions.

how about this realistic Cairo projection...

how about this realistic Cairo projection....

That link is misleading. CAIRO was only the best indicator in 2009 when no one was accurate at all, about half as accurate as Chone was in '07. From '05 to '08 Pecota was best three of four years.

Projecting the reds in second? Been there, done that. Didn't work out so good for me.

Potentially, the Reds have a deeper pitching staff than the Cubs, and a veteran closer. They also were ranked right behind the Cubs in team batting, so this CAIRO prediction makes sense. And, anyway, I like Joey Votto. But, all things considered, the Reds still have Dusty.

volquez is out until August and there hasn't been a pitcher I can think of that was anything better than average the first few months coming back from TJ surgery... otherwise it's Cueto, Harang, Arroyo, Bailey and Chapman possibly, but most people think he's way too wild to start the season in the majors.

Good point on Volquez. But still, Harang, Arroyo, Baily, and Cueto vs., Up-Down Z, No-Lilly, Dempster, and Wells? You don't think that "potentially" the Reds could finally click on all cyls? Honestly, I am not excited about the Cubs pitching going into 2010 whatsoever.

yeah, it's the new bats we've added that have me excited

That'd better be sarcasm, or so help me. . . *shakes fist*

Regardless of what the Cubs do, the Reds are not going to "click on all cyls" ever as long as they have Dusty. Dusty has already been hard at work destroying the Reds rotation. Harang, Arroyo, Volquez, and Cueto, all have had shoulder/arm problems under Dusty, never had problems before. It couldn't possibly stem from starting a guy, then pitching him in relief 2 days later, and having him start again 2 days later, could it?

arroyo? volz in TEX kept having "elbow tendinitis" before he was a red and always has thrown violently. harang threw 230+IP in a row before Dusty got him and injuries started if you want to play the "too much" card... cueto seems to be doing fine aside from his hip, shoulder, quad, etc. randomly doing weird crap. he shouldn't have pitched in the WBC, imo, after having a strained elbow finishing out 2008. still...your argument, like many about dusty-the-arm-destroyer, is weak at best. his list of players he's sent to surgery is really thin.

Dusty did that with Harang.

check those years/numbers again. he threw 230+ in the 2 years before dusty showed up. he hasn't touched 190 since.

Not the 230 innings. I meant that Dusty brought him out of the bullpen and threw him 5 innings and 90+ pitches 2 days after a start, then started him 2 days after. Then Harang went down with a shoulder injury that same month.

Well respected (and now out of work) Hal McCoy, beat writer covering the Reds, questioned Baker's use of Harang over a 1 week period and the shock that Harang suddenly developed arm pain afterwards... "Harang has not been the same since he threw 108 pitches in 5 1/3 innings in San Diego May 22, then came back three days later to pitch four innings in that 18-inning game the Reds lost. Some also think it might have been Harang pitching on his regular turn the next time through the rotation after throwing 166 pitches in a four-day span." Harang ultimately missed 3 weeks in July, came back and never looked the same. His ERA was 3.50 before he was used in relief, and soared to 5.59 before he finally got it under 5.00 for the year. He also used Micah Owings in 2009 in relief for 5.2ip, 81 pitches, on 3 days rest, but at least Owings was allowed 4 days rest before his next start. But hey, Dusty really knows how to handle pitchers. Like naming uber fragile Chad Fox the closer one afternoon, and saying he's only going to use him in save situations, then trotting him that night in the 9th with a 7 run lead, only to leave him in while he self destructs before throwing 25 pitches and once again blowing out his arm? Dusty is a pure genius. Jocketty must not have much pull with the Reds owner not to be able to fire Dusty, or perhaps Jocketty isn't as smart as we thought he was back in Stl. Andy at Desipio loved that one.

I am not buying the Reds as a 2nd place team. I think that the Brew Crew is more concerning then them. The Brewers have some nice hitting and arguably the best 3-4 hitter combo in all of baseball. The Brewers also have a veteran closer, he may be getting an AARP renewal card this year, albeit. All things considered, the Cubs will be battling for that 2nd place spot in the division. If the Cardinals pitching (ie. Carpenter & Wainright) stay healthy and no major blow to their heavy hitters, they will take this division with roughly 90 wins. I think the two question marks are Brad Penny (after Wainwright the rotation looks thin as I am not a believer in Lohse) and whether or not Ryan Franklin can be as dominant as he was last year. Colby Rasmus does not look like a guy that will regress. They have a question mark at 3rd base, but have a deep enough lineup to allow a .235 hitter to play there everyday. LaRussa is also one of the best at manufacturing runs. Say what you want about the guy, he gets it done, no matter who is on the roster.

wants $9M to play for the Nationals reportedly, not sure if that's his asking price for all teams or just "if you're gonna make me play for the Nationals" price...

well, we know why he's still a FA if that's his pricetag... he should probably be thinking more in the 5-7 range. who the hell would give him 9m?

What the hell does Miguel Cairo know about the Cubs, anyway? F him.
''We feel we've got an every-day, legitimate, five-hole type player to augment our lineup,'' said general manager Jim Hendry, who, according to a source, sought approval from the Cubs' new owners to stretch a tight budget to accommodate a larger contract than expected for the backup spot. ''We know he can play. We know he can hit. We know he's a quality guy off the field. I'm really appreciative [owner] Tom Ricketts and [president] Crane Kenney allowed us to get a player like this, this late in the offseason.''
they couldn't even afford Nady's $3.3M? dear god...

The Cubs have some fucked-up ideas about what constitutes a "five-hole" player.

a "five-hole" player. -- two ears, two nostrils a mouth...hmmm, something seems to be missing.

if byrd is lou's guy in the 5 slot and soriano is the 6 guy with soto bringing up 7, then yes...the cubs have fucked-up ideas about constitutes a 5-hole player. first soriano's power is wasted in the #1 slot so his speed can summon it's being buried behind m.byrd. neat.

castro can get the bat into the zone really f'n quick for a tiny dude...soriano-esque without the power.

He needs to improve his footwork out of the box.

Fidel Castro needs to improve his footwork? That bum must be 105 years old by now!

I was thinking the same thing.

2009 .258/.334/.425/.759 with 21 HR/87 RBI's 2008: 261/337/456/793 with 26 HR/96 RBI 2007: .269/.339/.438/.777 21 HR/92 RBI 2005: .276/.346/.474/.820 26 HR/104 RBI throw in pinch hitters on occasion, but that's the averages if they see Nady as a 20 HR/100 RBI/low 800 OPS guys, he's definitely in the #5 hitter class. Not every team can get nearly 40 HR's like Ibanez/Werth did for the Phils last year. *for the record, I don't think Nady is a 20 HR/100 RBI guy though In 2008, Cubs had Fukudome, Edmonds, Soto and DeRosa combine for 25/83 RBI's and a .815 OPS in the 5 spot as part of the best offense in the league.

So when Lou fills out the lineup card, it will look something like this: 1. Theriot SS 2. Fukudome RF 3. D Lee 1B 4. Ramirez 3B 5. Byrd CF 5. Nady LF 5. Soriano DH 8. Baker 2B 9. Soto C It's GONNA Happen!

byrd/nady (if lou is to be believed, and he is good about changing his mind about some things when it makes sense) are the top billing for the 5 slot with soriano slipping in 6th. unless soriano's bat is slow/dead it seems like another bad use of his bat. first his power is wasted in the 1-slot for years, now he's buried in the bottom 1/3rd of the lineup.

I think the reason Soriano is slotted 6th instead of 5th is that Lou believes in having high-contact/high avg. guys in those 3-5 RBI spots and he believes that, while Soriano may be more of an offensive threat overall, Byrd and Nady are more likely to put the ball in play. Then again, if Soriano starts out hot and Byrd/Nady do not, Soriano could find himself in the 5th spot, maybe even higher if there are issues with Lee or Ramirez. I agree that if we get something close to the performance we HOPE or from Soriano, it makes sense for him to get more PAs than Byrd and Nady.

Every time I hear the phrase, "put the ball in play..." I think of golf. That is b/c often time my ball is not in play - like in the trees or the trap.

"That, to me, is the most important thing to our team this year offensively -- who hits fifth ," Piniella said at the annual Cubs Convention.
And so, Jim Hendry being the dutiful GM he is, goes and gets Lou a couple players he thinks can hit fifth. But truly, Alfonso needs to take that spot. He's far too talented a hitter, not to mention expensive, to hit six. And if he can't, we're in a world of hurt the next five years.

i really hope soriano's issues are not bat speed related. he sits in the front of the box hoping to smack around offspeed stuff (which he doesn't see well anyway) before they break. if he has to adjust by moving back in the box he'll probably hit even less breaking balls unless something "clicks."

that's the stupidest fucking quote by a manager since baseclogging...

I'm still partial to Dusty blaming 2005-2006 failures on not having a "Left-handed batting practice pitcher" Hell, we had Glendon Rusch on the roster both F'n Years!!!

Well he's certainly not going to get 100 RBI's startin 3 times a week.

Understand Nady is currently taking part in long-toss drills to strengthen his arm. I went over thirty-five years as a Cub fan without ever hearing the terms long-toss, towel drill and throwing off flat ground. I am glad to have lived long enough to see the vocabulary of the game change in such pussified ways. Pitchers like Jenkins, Hands, Holtzman, Pappas etc. used to do two things to train (aside form drinking) Throw every day and run. Imagine how amazing they might have been had they learned the magic that is the towel drill? Yes, I'm drinking and I'm over 50. Get off my fucking lawn!

...and if you were 10-15 years older you might remember the young trio of promising Cub pitchers who developed sore arms and would have been towel drillers if it was fashionable back then. Glen Hobbie (16-13 in 1959), Moe Drabowsky (13-15 in 1957), Dick Drott (15-11 in 1957). Back then when you developed a sore flipper you moved to the bullpen then went year round back to your offseason construction job. Calling Arizona Phil. Need some perspective on how good a rotation of a healthy Drabowsky/Drott and Hobbie would have been with lefty Dick Ellsworth in the 1960's, for the youngsters sake.

Submitted by Cubster on Sat, 01/30/2010 - 10:19pm. ...and if you were 10-15 years older you might remember the young trio of promising Cub pitchers who developed sore arms and would have been towel drillers if it was fashionable back then. Glen Hobbie (16-13 in 1959), Moe Drabowsky (13-15 in 1957), Dick Drott (15-11 in 1957). Back then when you developed a sore flipper you moved to the bullpen then went year round back to your offseason construction job. Calling Arizona Phil. Need some perspective on how good a rotation of a healthy Drabowsky/Drott and Hobbie would have been with lefty Dick Ellsworth in the 1960's, for the youngsters sake. ============================================ CUBSTER: I've probably posted this before, but it's Sunday and not much is happening, so... As important as Leo Durocher’s presence and personality might have been in turning the Cubs into a contender in 1967, the foundation for the success of the Cubs after Leo arrived was actually laid over the previous ten years or so, going back to when John Holland was appointed General Manager of the Cubs, on October 11, 1956. John Holland was appointed Cubs GM after the conclusion of the 1956 season. He had previously been GM of the Los Angeles Angels (the Cubs AAA club in the PCL). As GM of the PCL Angels, Holland had some experience signing free-agents for his club, but these were usually players released by other organizations who were hoping to resurrect their careers at L. A.'s Wrigley Field. (BTW, the Los Angeles Wrigley Field is where the classic “Home Run Derby” TV show was filmed in 1960). Holland’s first foray into signing amateur free-agents for the Cubs was in 1957, the last full year the old Bonus Rule (1953-58) was in effect. Any club that gave a signing bonus in excess of $4,000 to a high school, college, or foreign player, had to keep the Bonus Player in the major leagues on the club’s 25-man regular season roster for two full years (until the second anniversary date of the signing of the contract) or else place the player on special $1 irrevocable waivers. Needless to say, the Bonus Rule often had the effect of stunting a player’s development. (One Bonus Player who went straight to the majors out of high school in the years 1953-58 who did have success right out of the gate was Detroit’s Al Kaline, who won the A. L. batting championship in 1955 at the age of 20). The Bonus Rule was rescinded by MLB owners on January 25, 1958, and was made retroactive, so that any Bonus Player signed prior to that date could be sent to the minors in 1958, even if he hadn't completed his two years on a major league 25-man regular season roster. John Holland’s predecessor as Cubs GM (Wid Matthews) had signed three Bonus Players (RHP Don Kaiser, RHP Moe Drabowsky, and 2B Jerry Kindall) in the years 1955-56, but Holland signed no “Bonus Babies” in 1957 or 1958. In addition to the three Bonus Players, Matthews had left the Cubs farm system stocked with the likes of future Hall Of Famer Billy Williams and a slew of promising young pitchers, including Glen Hobbie, Dick Drott, Bob Anderson, John Buzhardt, Jack Curtis, and Jim Brewer, all signed in the years 1954-56. And then John Holland took over: KEY AMATEUR FREE-AGENTS SIGNED BY THE “HOLLAND” CUBS 1957-64 1957: Dick Bertell, C (Iowa State) Harvey Branch, LHP (Alabama State) Jim Woods, IF (HS – Chicago) COMMENT: Dick Bertell was pretty much the Cubs #1 catcher for four full seasons (1961-64), and was one of several talented youngsters the Cubs brought to the big leagues in 1961-62 with the hope that they would be helped by the College of Coaches. 1958: Dick Ellsworth, LHP (HS – Wyoming) Ron Perranoski, LHP (Michigan State) Jack Warner, RHP (HS – West Virginia) COMMENT: Ellsworth was considered a blue-chipper, and although he won 22 games for the Cubs in 1963, he never seemed to quite meet the Cubs’ ultra-lofty expectations. The Cubs traded Perranoski to the Dodgers (for Don Zimmer) before he ever reached the big leagues, and he had long career as one of the best lefty relievers in baseball, first in L. A., then in Minnesota, but (unfortunately) not with the Cubs. 1959; Ron Campbell, IF (Tennessee Weslyan) Ken Hubbs, IF (HS – California) Nelson Mathews, OF (HS – Illinois) Ron Santo, 3B (HS – Washington) COMMENT: Both Hubbs and Santo rocketed through the Cubs farm system, and were rushed to the big leagues, Santo arriving in 1960 at the age of 20, and Hubbs arriving in September 1961 at age 19. One of the purposes of the College of Coaches was to provide young players like Santo and Hubbs the same kind of instruction in the big leagues that they would have gotten if they had stayed longer in the minors. An interesting thing about Hubbs is that he won the N. L. Rookie of the Year Award in 1962, the same year he led the league in both strikeouts AND grounding into DPs. Talk about a rally killer! Can you find any other player in MLB history who has done that, much less to win an award the same year? But Hubbs also did set a consecutive errorless fielding record in his rookie year, and he was only 20 at the time, so I guess I should cut him some slack. Nelson Mathews arrived in Chicago in 1960 at the age of 18 (and you think Corey Patterson was rushed?). He had one borderline-OK year with the Kansas City A’s in 1964 after he got traded. His son T. J. was a big league pitcher in the 1990’s. 1960: Lou Brock, OF (Southern U.) Paul Popovich, IF (West Virginia) Danny Murphy, OF (HS- Massachusetts) Billy Ott, OF (St. John’s) COMMENT: Buck O’Neil (the ex-Kansas City Monarchs manager who was hired as a Cubs scout in 1956 and then later appointed to the College of Coaches in 1963, thus becoming both the first African American scout AND the first African American coach in MLB history) signed Brock to a Cub contract in 1960. Brock was a star at Southern U. in New Orleans, and O’Neil said watching Brock reminded him of Negro Leagues legend (and now Hall of Famer) “Cool Papa” Bell. Like Cool Papa, Brock combined raw speed with raw power (Brock was only the 2nd player in baseball history to hit a HR into the CF bleachers at the Polo Grounds), but the Cubs liked the power a lot more than they cared about the speed. On the negative side, Brock was a TERRIBLE defensive player his first few years in the majors, had zero plate discipline, and struck out a LOT. (The year after Hubbs led the league in Ks and GIDP, Brock was 3rd in the N. L. in Ks... and they hit 1-2 in the batting order!). Fortunately, Cub managers don’t hit guys like that 1-2 in the batting order anymore... But seriously, things got so bad with Brock and Hubbs batting at the top of the order in 1962, that RON SANTO (that’s right, one RONALD EDWARD SANTO) was put into the lead-off spot the last month of the season. Danny Murphy got a big bonus and a Major League contract to sign with the Cubs, and came up to the big leagues at the tender age of 17. He never made it as an outfielder, but he resurfaced as a PITCHER in 1969-70 in the White Sox bullpen. Popovich was a switch-hitting utility infielder who had two separate tours of duty with the Cubs. He was Leo Durocher’s favorite Cub pinch-hitter, even though he wasn’t any good at it. 1961: Billy Connors, RHP (Syracuse) Billy Cowan, OF (Utah) Hal Gilson, LHP (HS – California) Calvin Koonce, RHP (Campbell) Bobby Pfeil, IF (HS - New Jersey) Jimmy Stewart, IF (Austin Peay) COMMENT: Koonce got to the big leagues in a big hurry, but struggled with his control. The Cubs eventually ran out of patience with him (naturally), and so he ended up a member of the vaunted 1969 Mets pitching staff. Connors was a mediocre pitcher, and he also ended up with the Mets. Connors later would become a much-in-demand major league pitching coach. Cowan played CF for the Cubs in 1964 and did a nice job (19 HRs), earning him a trip to the Mets for George Altman redux. Stewart became a very good utility player as he gained experience, most notably with the Big Red Machine of the early ‘70’s. 1962: P. K. Wrigley issues a one-year moratorium on signing amateur free-agents. Makes sense. The Cubs had PLENTY of young players. They didn’t need any more, right? 1963: John Boccabella, 1B (HS – San Francisco) Jim Ellis (HS – California) Sterling Slaughter, RHP (Arizona State) COMMENT: Slaughter was the first in a long line of ASU Sun Devils to play in the big leagues, though (by far) not the best one. Ellis was included in the deal that netted the Cubs Phil Regan and Jim Hickman from the Dodgers in 1968. Along with Clarence Jones and Roe Skidmore, Boccabella was one of the guys seen as a potential replacement for Ernie Banks whenever Ernie was ready to retire, but Boccabella never made it as an everyday player. He eventually learned how to catch, and ultimately had a nice career as a back-up 1B-C-PH, mostly with the Montreal Expos in the 1970’s. Remember the Expos PA announcer? “Now batting... John... Bawka-BELLLLLLLLLL-ah...” Always made me hungry for pasta. 1964: Chuck Hartenstein, RHP (Texas) Don Kessinger, SS (Mississippi) Jim Qualls, IF (HS – California) COMMENT: The side-armin’ Longhorn Hartenstein got the Cubs “fireman” job pretty much by default in 1967, but was replaced by veteran Phil Regan (acquired from the Dodgers) in 1968. Kessinger was a tall and lanky offensively-challenged slick-fielding shortstop from Ole Miss who learned how to switch-hit after he reached the big leagues, and it saved his career. He was the last of the player-managers (with the White Sox in 1979). He was also an excellent basketball player, and played in the ABA during the off-season. He was named to the SEC "Decade of the 60's" first-team basketball squad (along with Pete Maravich, Louie Dampier, Dan Issel, and Neal Walk). Just as there is a RULE 5 DRAFT today, there was one 50 years ago. It was called the “Major League Draft” back then, so named because Major League teams were the ones doing the selecting. There was also another completely different draft called the “Minor League Draft,” so named because Minor League clubs did the selecting in that one. But the drafts (together) were essentially what the Rule 5 Draft is today. The only difference between then and now is that the quality of player available in the Major League Draft and the Minor League Draft of the 1950’s was a little better than what’s available in today’s Rule 5 Draft. So if they were essentially the same draft(s) as the Rule 5 Draft of today, what was it that made the Major League Draft and the Minor League Draft of that bygone era different (better)? ANSWER: There was no such thing as a “Six Year Minor League Free-Agent,” no free-agency for Major Leaguers with six years of MLB service time, and no salary arbitration (and thus no “non-tenders”). The only true free-agents were high school and college kids, youngsters playing beisbol in Latin America, and professional players who had been given their outright release. And only players with ten or more seasons in the Major Leagues could refuse an assignment to the Minor Leagues (then known collectively as the “National Association”). So good players (including some veteran major leaguers) could be found on AAA rosters every December. KEY CUB “MAJOR LEAGUE DRAFT” & “MINOR LEAGUE DRAFT” SELECTIONS 1956-65: NOTE: The MAJOR LEAGUE DRAFT allowed an MLB club to select players off AAA rosters, and the MINOR LEAGUE DRAFT allowed National Association (Minor League) clubs to select players off Class A and AA rosters. 1956: Cal Neeman, C (from NYY) COMMENT: Was the Cubs #1 catcher in 1957, and the platoon mate of Sammy Taylor in 1958-59. Good power. 1957: Tony Taylor, 2B (from SF) COMMENT: The Cubs lead-off man and 2B in 1958-59, Taylor was the main guy sent to Philadelphia in 1960 in the deal for Don Cardwell and Ed Bouchee, and he went on to be the Phillies 2B and lead-off hitter for a decade. 1960: Cuno Barragan, C (from MIL) COMMENT: A back-up catcher for a year or so. 1963: Wayne Schur, RHP (from SF) Vic Roznovsky, C (from SF MINOR LEAGUE - AA) COMMENT: Schur did an OK job as a middle reliever for the Cubs in 1964, and Roznovsky was another in a long line of back-up catchers acquired by the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft. 1964: Chris Krug, C (from STL MINOR LEAGUE – AA) COMMENT: See? Another one. After the Bonus Rule was abolished in 1958, all players (U. S. high school, U. S. college, or foreign) signed as amateur free-agents during the years 1958-64 were eligible to be selected in something called the “First Year Player Draft” (FYPD) for $12,000. To protect a player from being eligible for selection in the the FYPD, his club had to place the player on its 40-man roster prior to the first FYPD for which the player would be eligible (which would be the second FYPD after the player signed his first professional contract, usually after one partial season and one full season in the minor leagues). Players selected in the FYPD did NOT have to be placed on the drafting club’s 40-man roster. To avoid later selection in the Major League Draft (Rule 5 Draft), however, the drafted player WOULD have to be added to the drafting club’s 40-man roster prior to the third Major League Draft (now Rule 5 Draft) after the player was first signed to a contract, but that was true for any player assigned to a club in the National Association (minor leagues). KEY CUBS PICKS IN THE FIRST-YEAR PLAYER DRAFT 1959-66: 1962 Glenn Beckert, SS-2B (BOS) COMMENT: Beckert was moved from SS to 2B after Ken Hubbs died in 1964. 1963 Byron Browne, OF (PIT) COMMENT: Durocher liked him, so By Browne was the Cubs starting RF in 1966. He hit 16 HR in his rookie season, but unfortunately, he also led the National League in Ks. The Cubs traded him to Houston in 1968, but he ended up playing for several teams over the next few seasons, mainly the Phillies. The Cubs lost no players of note in the course of this draft. John Holland made a number of significant trades during the years 1956-65 that (through various degrees of separation) directly or indirectly impacted the “Durocher Cubs” of 1966-72. KEY IMPACT TRADES EXECUTED BY CUBS GM JOHN HOLLAND 1956-65 FALL 1956: Traded 3B Don Hoak, RHP Warren Hacker, and OF Pete Whisenant to CIN for LHP Elmer Singleton and 3B Ray Jablonski. COMMENT: Holland’s first trade, and it was a bad one. Hoak went on to have some fine years in Cincinnati and in Pittsburgh, while long-time minor leaguer Singleton did nothing with his “last-chance to make it” opportunity with the Cubs. Although he was a decent 3B, Jablonski got traded (in Spring Training 1957) before he ever played one game for the Cubs! FALL 1956: Traded LHP “Toothpick Sam” Jones, IF-OF Eddie Miksis, LHP Jim Davis, and C Hobie Landrith to STL for RHP Tom Poholsky, LHP Jackie Collum, and C Ray Katt. COMMENT: Another VERY bad trade. Jones had several very good years as a starting pitcher ahead of him, and Landrith was a decent lefty-hitting platoon-catcher in the 1960’s with the Giants, Mets, Baltimore and Washington. Poholsky was a big-time pitching prospect in the Cardinal organization at the time of this trade (that’s why Holland made the deal), but he failed to make the grade. None of the players the Cubs got back in this trade contributed anything worthwhile, other than to be used in subsequent deals. FALL 1956: Purchased LHP Bill Henry from BOS COMMENT: Good pick-up. Henry turned out to be a very fine lefty reliever. Except the Cubs didn’t keep him very long. SPRING 1957: Traded 3B Ray Jablonski and C Ray Katt to NYG for LHP Dick Littlefield and OF Bob Lennon. COMMENT: Jablonski was better than what the Cubs had at 3B at that time, and Littlefield was washed-up by the time the Cubs got him in this deal. Lennon was useless. SPRING 1957: Traded OF Jim King to STL for OF Bobby Del Greco and P Ed Mayer. COMMENT: King was acquired by GM Wid Matthews from the Cardinals in the 1954 Major League Draft (Rule 5 Draft), and the Cubs would have done well to hang onto King. He had some decent years playing RF for the expansion Washington Senators in the 1960’s. SPRING 1957: Traded 1B Dee Fondy and 2B Gene Baker to PIT for 1B Dale Long and OF Lee Walls. COMMENT: Holland’s first really good trade, and it was a VERY good trade for the Cubs. Both Walls and Long had excellent power years in ’57 and ‘58, while Baker was used as a utility INF by the Pirates, and Dee Fondy (who was an early version of Mark Grace) had just one more decent year left (1957) before crashing & burning in 1958. SPRING 1957: Traded LHP Jackie Collum to BRK for RHP Don Elston and LHP Vito Valentinetti. COMMENT: Cubs got Elston back in this deal (he was traded to Brooklyn in 1955 in the deal for Moose Moryn). He had some nice years as the Cubs bullpen fireman before Lindy McDaniel arrived in 1963. DECEMBER 1957: Traded RHP Bob Rush and RHP Don Kaiser and IF Eddie Haas to MIL for LHP Taylor Phillips and C Sammy Taylor. COMMENT: Former Cubs ace Rush pitched three seasons for the Braves (mostly out of the bulpen), and Kaiser was a Bonus Baby bust. Sammy Taylor had some good years (1958-61) as the Cubs left-handed hitting platoon catcher. SPRING 1958: Traded OF Bob Speake to SF for OF Bobby Thomson. COMMENT: Although he was getting a bit long in the tooth, Thomson (the man who hit “The shot heard ‘round the world” in the 1951 N. L. playoff) played CF and had a renaissance year in the power department for the 1958 Cubs offense that finished second in the N. L. in runs scored. SPRING 1958: Traded RHP Turk Lown to CIN for RHP Hersh Freeman. COMMENT: Bad trade. Lown was a mainstay in the ’59 White Sox bullpen. Cubs could have used him. SPRING 1958: Traded RHP Jim Brosnan to STL for 3B Alvin Dark. COMMENT: Brosnan was a professional writer, so he got traded a lot, but he was also a good relief pitcher for several years (he was Bill Henry’s partner in the Reds bullpen for several seasons). Dark (like Bobby Thomson, a key member of the ’51 New York Giants “Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff” surprise pennant-winner) played 3B and hit 2nd in the order for the Cubs in 1958 and 1959, and did a nice job. Good trade for both clubs, although the Cubs could have used Brosnan's arm in the pen. AUGUST 1958: Claimed 1B Jim Marshall off waivers from BAL. COMMENT: Future Cubs manager, whose main claim to fame was that he was one of the first Americans to have a lengthy and successful career playing baseball in Japan. MAY 1959: Traded LHP Taylor Phillips to PHI for LHP Seth Morehead. COMMENT: One disappointment exchanged for another. FALL 1959: A two-stage deal where the Cubs traded OF Bobby Thomson, 1B Jim Marshall, and RHP Dave Hillman to BOS for 1B Dick Gernert and RHP Al Schroll. COMMENT: The power hitting Gernert had been the Red Sox everyday 1B for several years, and was (understandably) initially handed the starting 1B job with the Cubs, but he did not hold the job very long. However, he WAS the right-handed platoon at 1B (with Gordy Coleman the lefty) on the 1961 Reds N. L. pennant winning club. Thomson was at the end of the line at this point. Hillman later surfaced with the 1962 Amazin’ Mets. FALL 1959 Traded OF Lee Walls, OF Lou Jackson, and LHP Bill Henry to CIN for 3B-OF Frank Thomas. COMMENT: Thomas was a power-hitter DE-luxe who could play 1B-3B-LF-RF (though not particularly well), so it probably seemed like a good trade at the time, except Thomas only lasted only a year with the Cubs, while Henry was a nifty lefty reliever for the 1961 N. L. champion Reds. FALL 1959: Purchased OF Al Heist from MIL. COMMENT: Useful player who platooned with Richie Ashburn in CF in 1961, he was one of the Cubs players selected by the Houston Colt .45s in the 1961 N. L. expansion draft. FALL 1959: Purchased RHP Barney Schultz from DET. COMMENT: Excellent acquistion. Schultz was a knuckleballer, and made a nice complement and contrast with Don Elston’s heater in the Cubs bullpen. JANUARY 1960: Traded RHP John Buzhardt, 3B Alvin Dark, and INF Jim Woods to PHI for OF Richie Ashburn. COMMENT: The veteran Ashburn was a member of the 1950 N. L. pennant winning Phillies “Whiz Kids” club, and was a perennial league BB leader (116 BB for the Cubs in 1960) and .400+ OBP lead-off hitter, but he only lasted two years with the Cubs, who decided to “go young” with phenom Lou Brock in CF in 1962. Buzhardt was a rotation starter in Philly, and then later was a prominemt member of the White Sox "tough-as-nails" staff in the mid-60’s. APRIL 1960: Sold 1B Dale Long to SF. COMMENT: Long had the good power years for the Cubs in 1957-58, then went into a prolonged slump in 1959 that never ended. APRIL 1960: Acquired 3B Don Zimmer from LA for LHP Ron Perranoski, INF Johnny Goryl, OF Lee Handley, and $25,000 ca$h. COMMENT: Perranoski turned out to be a superlative lefty reliever with a long big league career, while Zimmer played regularly with the Cubs for only a couple of years before drifting from team-to-team (he was even a BACK-UP CATCHER at one point with the Senators!) and then on to Japan. Zimmer was one of many Dodgers in the 1950’s who were perceived as potential stars if only they could just go someplace where they could get a chance to play regularly (and the Cubs fell for THAT one several times!). Zim of course is best known by Cubs fans as manager of the 1989 N. L. East Champion Cubs team, known to even occsasionally call for a hit & run with the bases loaded! MAY 1960: Traded 2B Tony Taylor and C Cal Neeman to PHI for RHP Don Cardwell and 1B Ed Bouchee. COMMENT: After the Cubs got snowed-out of several early season games at Wrigley and were further buried with a 3-13 start, Holland decided he needed pitching more than a lead-off hitting 2B. But it actually was a good trade for both teams, and probably gave Holland the confidence to make the Altman & Cardwell-for-Jackson & McDaniel deal in 1962 and Brock-for-Broglio trade in ’64. Taylor was the Phillies 2B and lead-off hitter for a decade, and Cardwell was the Cubs #1 starter for about three years before being used as the bait used to land Lindy McDaniel and Larry Jackson from the Cards. Cardwell threw a no-hitter (with the famous final-out game-saving catch by the defensively-challenged Moose Moryn in LF) versus the Cardinals at Wrigley Field (the second game of a Sunday double-header) in his very first Cubs start after the trade. JUNE 1960: Traded OF Walt “Moose” Moryn to STL for IF-OF Jim McKnight. COMMENT: A month after saving Cardwell’s no-hitter with his glove (and Moose was NOT known for his defense!), Moryn was sent to St. Louis for a utilty infielder-outfielder of little or no value. MARCH 1961: Traded RHP Moe Drabowsky and LHP Seth Morehead to MIL for INF Andre Rodgers and SS Daryl Robertson. COMMENT: Although Drabowsky would later have some fine years pitching out of the bullpen in Kansas City and Baltimore (he set a World Series record for most Ks by a relief pitcher in a World Series game in Game #1 of the 1966 WS), Andre Rodgers was the Cubs starting shortstop (and did a nice job) 1962-64. MARCH 1961: Traded OF Lou Johnson to LAA for OF Jim McAnany. COMMENT: After having some fine years with the N. L. champion Dodgers in the mid-60’s, the Cubs reacquired “Sweet Lou” (who had an odd habit of clapping his hands as he ran around the bases) to be their #1 RF in 1968. Acquiring Johnson was thought at the time to be the final piece to the puzzle (RF was the one weak-link in the Cub line-up in 1967), but Lou was a MAJOR disappointment, and more than a few Cub fans were observed applauding as he boarded a plane for Cleveland. MAY 1961: Traded OF Frank Thomas to MIL for IF-OF Mel Roach. COMMENT: A VERY bad trade for the Cubs. Roach was a one-time Milwaukee Braves Bonus Baby who never recovered from a knee injury suffered in 1959, while Thomas still had a couple or three good years left in him (most notably as the one Big Bopper on the truly terrible 1962 Amazin’ Mets). OCTOBER 1961: NATIONAL LEAGUE EXPANSION DRAFT: NYM selected 1B Ed Bouchee, IF Don Zimmer, and OF Sammy Drake, and HOU selected OF Al Heist and RHP Dick Drott. (Also IF J. C. Hartman and IF Ron Campbell were sold to HOU). COMMENT: The Cubs had already decided to move Ernie Banks to 1B in 1962, so Bouchee was odd man out. Same goes for Zim at 2B (Ken Hubbs took his place), and Heist in CF (where Lou Brock was already penciled into the lineup). Drott was never able to fully recover from shoulder problems that had plagued him since his rookie season (1957), when he was that year’s Kerry Wood. NOVEMBER 1961: Traded 2B Jerry Kindall and IF-OF Mel Roach to CLE for RHP Bobby Locke. COMMENT: By this point in time, Ken Hubbs had passed Kindall as the Cubs 2B of the immediate future, so it was no surprise that Kindall would get moved. Kindall was a one-time Cub Bonus Baby signed off the campus of the University of Minnesota (NCAA CWS Champs in 1956) whose career was probably adversely affected by not being able to play in the minor leagues his first two years of pro ball due to the Bonus Rule in effect at the time. Kindall later would serve as the Head Baseball Coach at the University of Arizona for many years. He went to our church while he was with the Cubs, so I was a big Jerry Kindall fan. DECEMBER 1961: Sold OF Richie Ashburn to NYM. COMMENT: No Room at the Wrigleville Inn for Ash with Brock set to take-over CF in 1962. In their first few years of abject failure, the Mets had a peculiar habit of acquiring aging stars of the 1950’s at the very end of their careers. (Besides acquiring Asburn from the Cubs, the Mets also provided a farewell tour for one-time All-Stars Frank Thomas, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Yogi Berra, Ken Boyer, and Roy McMillan). APRIL 1962: Traded C Sammy Taylor to NYM for OF Bobby Gene Smith. COMMENT: B. G. Smith was considered a top prospect at one point when he was first coming up with the Phillies, but he never really developed beyond that. I remember when the Cubs made this deal, they thought they got something really special in Bobby Gene Smith. I guess he was what scouts today might call a “toolsy” guy. Sammy Taylor had had some decent years as the Cubs lefty-hitting platoon catcher, but had lost his part-time backstop gig (to Cuno Barragan) by 1962. APRIL 1962 Traded RHP Bobby Locke to STL for OF Al Herring. COMMENT: Locke for Herring? Cubs probably should have just kept Locke, a decent middle reliever for Cleveland in ’62. APRIL 1962: Traded LHP Jack Curtis to MIL for RHP Bob Buhl. COMMENT: EXCELLENT trade. Curtis was a promising lefty starter, and was eight years younger than Buhl, but Buhl had plenty left and gave the Cubs four VERY good years, before going to Philly in the deal for Ferguson Jenkins. Buhl used to sweat like a pig when he pitched. He looked like he had stepped into the shower (with his clothes on) after each half-inning. He’d get absolutely, totally drenched on the days he pitched, even on a cold day in April. JUNE 1962: Traded OF Bobby Gene Smith and SS Daryl Robertson to STL for OF Don Landrum and IF Alex Grammas. COMMENT: Landrum was one of several defensive-oriented OFs who got a chance to play CF for the Cubs after Lou Brock was traded. Landrum was probably the best defensive CF I have seen play for the Cubs. He was REALLY good. He was steady on the routine plays and was also capable of making spectacular plays when necessary. But he didn’t hit much (he had no power, but he made up for it by not hitting for average, either). He was the other player sent to San Francisco (along with Lindy McDaniel) for Giants top prospects Randy Hundley and Bill Hands after the 1965 season. SEPTEMBER 1962: Traded LHP Harvey Branch to STL for RHP Paul Toth. COMMENT: Toth had one pretty decent year (1963) as the Cubs #5 starter, then got included in the Brock-Broglio deal, after which he went into the Witness Protection Program. OCTOBER 1962: Traded OF George Altman, RHP Don Cardwell, and C Moe Thacker to STL for RHP Lindy McDaniel, RHP Larry Jackson, and C Jimmie Schaffer. COMMENT: The single most important positive trade made by John Holland pre-Durocher, as it relates directly to the Cubs eventually acquiring Ferguson Jenkins, Bill Hands, Randy Hundley, and Adolfo Phillips. McDaniel was named N. L. “Fireman of the Year” for his relief work with the Cubs in 1963, and Jackson won 24 games in 1964. McDaniel would later serve as the centerpiece in the trade with the Giants for Randy Hundley and Bill Hands in 1965, and Larry Jackson was the main guy in the deal with the Philles in 1966 for Ferguson Jenkins and Adolfo Philips. One of five ex-Kansas City Monarchs (NAL) players acquired by the Cubs in the 1950's (thanks to Wrigley's friendship with Buck O'Neil), Altman had been an offensive force with the Cubs in 1961-62 (he led the N. L. in triples in '61, and hit 49 HR combined in '61-62), but for some reason, he was never the same player after the Cubs traded him. The Cardinals acquired Altman specifically to replace Stan Musial in LF (Stan the Man retired after the 1962 season), and if Altman had played as well for the Cardinals as he had played for the Cubs, the Cardinals probably never would have had any interest in acquiring Lou Brock! The Cardinals flipped Cardwell to Pittsburgh for SS Dick Groat a month after this deal with the Cubs, and Groat would help lead the Cards to the World Series championship in 1964. So it wasn’t necessarily a bad trade for the Cardinals... just a bit of a BETTER one for the Cubs! NOVEMBER 1962: Traded RHP Bob Anderson to DET for IF Steve Boros. COMMENT: Anderson had been a member of the Cubs Kiddie Korps starting rotation (Hobbie, Drott, Buzhardt, Anderson, and Drabowsky) circa 1959, but by this time he was just a struggling journeyman middle-reliever. Boros was a failed Tiger Bonus Baby who didn’t get much of a chance to play for the Cubs before movin’ on down the road to Cincinnati in 1964, where he finally got a chance to play 3B everyday (albeit for only one year). DECEMBER 1962: Traded IF-OF Jim McKnight to MIL for IF Ken Apromonte. COMMENT: Ken Aspromonte was the older brother of Houston’s young stud 3B Bob Aspromonte. K-Aspro had been a starting 2B at one time in the A. L. (for the Angels and the Indians), but he was just a utility INF for the Cubs. MARCH 1963: Traded RHP Dave Gerard and OF Danny Murphy to HOU for C Merritt Ranew, RHP Hal Haydel, and LHP Dick LeMay. COMMENT: A left-handed hitting platoon catcher and PH, Ranew hit the ground like hell-on-wheels for the Cubs in ’63 (batting .338), then lost the magic in '64. Murphy was a failed Bonus Player (he made his debuted in the big leagues at the tender age of 17!) who later became a pitcher, and he was good enough at it to be a member of the White Sox bullpen in 1969-70. Gerard had been a passable middle-reliever for the Cubs in 1962, but did nothing for Houston. JUNE 1963: Purchased OF Ellis Burton from CLE. COMMENT: Another “round up the usual suspects” attempt to find a CF who could both play defense AND hit. Burton did OK with power-wise, but was not a good hitter, and he was gone a year later. JUNE 1963 Traded RHP Barney Schultz to STL for IF Leo Burke. COMMENT: In a test to see if they could make a stupid trade with the Cardinals, the Cubs succeeded by trading Schultz and his mysterious knuckler for still another totally useless utility infielder. DECEMBER 1963: Traded LHP Jim Brewer and C Cuno Barragan to LAD for RHP Dick Scott. COMMENT: Like Ron Perranoski before him, Brewer would later use his screwball to achieve success pitching out of the Dodgers bullpen. The Cubs just would not wait for him to put it together. Brewer’s main claim-to-fame at the time of this deal was that he had had his jaw broken by a Billy Martin haymaker sucker-punch in an on-field brawl at Wrigley Field in 1960. DECEMBER 1963: Traded OF Nelson Mathews to KC for LHP Fred Norman. COMMENT: This would have been a VERY good trade for the Cubs if they would have just had the patience to wait for Norman to develop (of course, they would have had to wait about seven years, but still...). The prototypical late-bloomimg lefty, he was one of the best lefty starters in the National League in the 1970’s (first with SD, then with CIN). SPRING TRAINING 1964: 1. 2B Ken Hubbs was killed in a plane crash in Utah while en route to Spring Training in Arizona. 2. Purchased IF Joey Amalfitano from SF. COMMENT: A veteran stop-gap replacement for Hubbs, Amalfitano was yet another future Cubs manager. 3. Claimed OF Don Young off waivers from STL. COMMENT: It took a few years, but the good field/no hit Young finally got his Big Chance to be the Cubs everyday CF with Durocher’s ’69 Cubs. All Leo asked of him was to play defense and catch the ball. A funny thing happened, though. See, there was this big game in New York, and... aw, I don’t want to talk about it. MAY 1964: Claimed LHP Jack Spring off waivers from LAA. COMMENT: Wait. You’ll see. JUNE 1964: Traded RHP Glen Hobbie to STL for RHP Lew Burdette. COMMENT: Hobbie had been the Cubs #1 starter before Don Cardwell arrived, and he was OK after that, too, but by ‘64 he was struggling. Lew Burdette had been one of the Braves Big Two starters (with Warren Spahn) in the late 50’s, when Milwaukee went to the World Series two years in a row (1957-58, with a World Series championship in ‘57), and almost went a third time (but lost a three-game playoff with the Dodgers) in 1959. By 1964, Lew was probably best-suited to pitch out of the bullpen, so naturally the Cubs used him mainly as a starter. Although he didn’t show much with the Cubs, Burdette did pitch VERY well out of the bullpen for the California Angels in 1966. JUNE 1964: Acquired OF Len Gabrielson from MIL for C Merritt Ranew and $40,000. COMMENT: Ranew was in a slump, and Gabrielson always hit well against the Cubs in Wrigley Field, so... JUNE 1964: Traded OF Lou Brock, LHP Jack Spring, and RHP Paul Toth to STL for RHP Ernie Broglio, LHP Bobby Shantz, and OF Doug Clemens. COMMENT: Whatever happened to that Brock fella? Broglio was a 27-year old top-of-the-rotation starter (before he hurt his arm), and if he hadn’t blown out his elbow, it MIGHT have been a more even deal. What the Cubs really needed to do at this point was move Brock from RF to LF, Billy Williams from LF to 1B, and trade Ernie Banks for a CF and/or a RF (like maybe to Washington for Chuck Hinton and/or Jim King, or to the Mets for Jim Hickman and/or Joe Christopher—or at least those are the trades I would have proposed if there had been a TCR back then), but Phil Wrigley NEVER, EVER would have allowed Holland to trade Ernie Banks. Noah way, Jose. AUGUST 1964: Sold LHP Bobby Shantz to PHI. COMMENT: Already the Cubs portion of the Brock-Broglio deal was collapsing. Shantz arrived in Philadelphia just in time to be a part of one of the biggest chokes in baseball history. DECEMBER 1964: Traded C Jimmie Schaffer to CHW for LHP Frank Baumann. COMMENT: Baumann was the A. L. ERA champion while with the White Sox in 1960, but he had hit some hard times (and a sore arm) by the time this deal was made. Coming across town to the Cubs didn’t help, either. He was toast. Schaffer was a decent back-up catcher with the Cards and the Cubs, but an injury cut-short his career. DECEMBER 1964 Traded SS Andre Rodgers to PIT for SS Roberto Pena. COMMENT: The Cubs went young, trading their veteran SS with known average skills for a flashy kid who started off the ’65 season like a house afire, and then went into a deep, deep slump he probably is still in to this very day. JANUARY 1965: Traded OF Billy Cowan to NYM for OF George Altman. COMMENT: Perhaps the Cubs thought Altman might get some of that old Kansas City Monarchs/Negro Leagues mojo back by returning to the Cubs and old mentor Buck O’Neill (who was a member of the Cubs College of Coaches by this time), but he did not. And Cowan lost HIS Utah mojo (well, there IS a Utah Jazz, isn’t there?) by going to the Mets. Oh, the humanity! MARCH 1965: Purchased RHP Bill Faul from DET. COMMENT: Faul was considered a flake because he would hypnotize himself before each start. What’s so goofy about that? I hypnotize MY-self before I post something at TCR. APRIL 1965: Acquired RHP Bob Humphreys from STL for INF Bobby Pheil and P Hal Gilson. COMMENT: It’s good to know that the Brock-Broglio fiasco didn’t stop the Cubs from making another deal with the Cardinals. That Bobby Pheil kid coulda been something special! But seriously, Humphreys did a nice job working out of the Cub bullpen with Lindy McDaniel and Ted Abernathy in 1965, and he continued to pitch well for the Washington Senators and Milwaukee Brewers 1966-70 when the Cubs could have really used him. Except they traded Humphreys to Washington for OF Ken Hunt in early 1966, and Hunt never even played for the Cubs (he went from the Senators AAA club to the Cubs AAA club, and never played again the big leagues!). If there was any one move that had under-the-radar negative effects on the Cubs success (or lack of complete success) in 1967-70, it was the unnecessary trashing of Bob Humphreys. APRIL 1965 Purchased RHP Ted Abernathy from CLE. COMMENT: Abernathy had been a young hard-throwin’ over-the-top fastballer back in the 1950’s before he hurt his shoulder, which caused him to find a New Way. This New Way was a submarine delivery (like Chad Bradford’s) that deceived hitters and brought a lot of success to Ab. Unfortunately, the Cubs traded him not once, but TWICE, and each time he went on to pitch well with other teams. Abernathy was the guy Durocher wouldn’t use as his #1 reliever late in the 1969 season, even as Phil Regan was imploding on a daily basis. After the season was over, Durocher said his one regret about the 1969 season was not using Abernathy more the last two months of the season. And you know what? Duh, Leo was right. He indeed SHOULD have been using Abernathy instead of Regan. Only every Cub fan in the world knew it, that’s all. If there had been a TCR back then, this place woulda gone CRAZY on a daily basis, man! Like, it woulda ex-PLODED! MAY 1965: Signed FA LHP Billy Hoeft (released by DET in April). COMMENT: A nice acquisition, a decent veteran lefty-reliever. MAY 1965 Traded C Dick Bertell and OF Len Gabrielson to SF for LHP Bob Hendley, OF Harvey Kuenn, and C Ed Bailey. COMMENT: Harvey Kuenn and Ed Bailey had been MLB All-Stars in the 1950's (Kuenn with DET and Bailey with CIN), but both were has-beens by the time the Cubs acquired them in 1965. (Although Kuenn later had success as manager of the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers A. L. pennant-winning club that was famously known as "Harvey's Wallbangers"). But Bob Hendley was a GREAT pick-up for the Cubs. He did a nice job working out of both the starting rotation AND the bullpen in ’65 and ’66. The night Sandy Koufax pitched his Perfect Game versus the Cubs, Hendley threw a ONE-hitter back at the Dodgers... and lost! MAY 1965 Sold RHP Lew Burdette to PHI. COMMENT: The Cubs had an odd habit in the mid-60’s of acquiring big name 1950’s era starting pitchers at the very end of their careers. Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons were a couple of others who went directly from the Cubs starting rotation to Social Security. And then along came Leo!... “Nice guys finish last” – Leo Durocher The 1965 season closed with the Cubs in 8th place in the National League, with a 72-90 record, 25 games behind the N. L. pennant-wining Dodgers. 1965 was the fifth year for the College of Coaches, and the experiment wasn’t working. After the season, Cubs Athletic Director Col. Robert Whitlow (USAF – 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 “Head Coach” or “Athletic Director,” and what would happen to the College of Coaches, and Leo replied “I don’t know anything about that. I am the MANAGER and ONLY the MANAGER. Don’t EVER use the word ‘coach’ around me!” When asked his opinion of the Cubs, Leo said “The Cubs are NOT an eighth place team.” (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 “back-up the truck and start from scratch” if necessary, and that his goal was to rebuild the Cubs “Dodger-style,” with strong defense up-the-middle and a dominating starting rotation. Leo’s deal with the Cubs was unique. He had no written contract, just a hand-shake gentlemen’s agreement with Wrigley. John Holland was NOT Leo’s 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 Holland’s 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 1980’s 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 “Murderer’s Row” Yankees in the 1920’s and the “Gas House Gang” Cardinals in the 1930’s, a player-manager with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940’s, and the skipper of the New York Giants in the 1950’s (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 Mays’ 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, “You’re my centerfielder, kid... I don’t care if you go ‘O’ for a hundred,” 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 “Miracle at Coogan’s Bluff”) and in 1954 (the Giants then won the World Series, an upset 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 “known gamblers” (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 Dodgers’ 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 “The Munsters,” where he discovers 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 (College of Coaches) and hire an actual genuine “baseball man” (and a true OLD SCHOOL 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. couldn’t refuse. I guess we’ll never know. Leo had spent the 1965 season as a color commentator for the “Major League Baseball Game of the Week” telecasts, and had apparently done his homework. With John Holland as his front-man, 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 fireman 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 Major League-ready 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 prospects (who may or may not pan out), 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 ‘66 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 “jell” as a team. By the 1966 mid-season All-Star break, the Cubs usual 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 ’66 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 Illinois—impressed 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 “10th Inning Show” (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 Cubs’ Achilles heel for the duration of Durocher’s 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 “back up the truck,” 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 hadn’t 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 couldn’t get. He could not get rid of Ernie Banks. Leo could not stand Ernie’s cheerfulness, optimism, and “let’s play two!” 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 father’s 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 ‘67 Cubs was Ken Holtzman getting called up to active duty with the military (Illinois National Guard) 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 Holtzman’s 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 real steal of home, too, not one of those back-end of a double-steal jobs). I still have the scorecard from that game. Besides losing Holtzman to Uncle Sam, aging Curt Simmons wasn’t 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 60’s Cubs version of Kyle Farnsworth). And speaking of losing patience with Cal Koonce, one of Leo’s 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 “The Monster” Radatz—who couldn’t find home plate if his life depended on it—was 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 “Rebel” 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 consectutive games played 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 less pressure). 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 ’67 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 holes 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 INF Paul Popovich) from the Dodgers to play RF. Johnson, one of several of Buck O’Neil’s Kansas City Monarchs players acquired by the Cubs in the 1950’s, 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 1967, and (unbeknownst to the Cubs) apparently never really recovered from it. He lost the ability to “drive” 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 fireman. So with Johnson a bust in RF, and with the bullpen having more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, Holland pulled off a slick saving-grace deal with the Dodgers in May, acquiring veteran fireman (and suspected “greaser”) 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 ’68 season, then they got hot 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 ’67 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 divisions, no LCS, no Wild Card, just a “wham, bam, thank you ma'am” 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 “in the money.” Obviously the pennant winner got the big bucks, 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 couldn’t win the pennant, and teams would actually play really hard at the end of the of the season trying to finish 2nd or 3rd. It’s hard to understand this now, but back then, before free-agency, 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 Divisional Play, 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 League Championship Series (LCS) 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 that’s 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. To help guarantee that the Cubs would be assigned to the N. L. East, Phil Wrigley called in some markers (favors owed to him) that went back many years, to when Wrigley gave up the Los Angeles territory for nothing when the Dodgers wanted to leave Brooklyn after the 1957 season. (The Cubs had their AAA farm club in L. A. at the time, and could have fought the Dodgers Move West, or at least could have tried to exact some cash from O’Malley, but P. K. chose not to stand in the way of the Flatbush Refugees). The primary reason Wrigley wanted the Cubs in the N. L. East instead of in the N. L. West was because he wanted Cubs road night games on WGN-TV to be seen by as many fans as possible, and he also wanted results of Cubs road night games to appear in morning editions of the Trib and the Sun-Times, which would not have happened as often if the Cubs were had to play 27 games each season in California. So the National League 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 weren’t taken seriously… So it’s 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 insignificant 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 the National League in the 1970's, first with San Diego, 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'Neil) in the 1950's, but had been traded away several years previous (to the Angels). He eventually 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 RHP 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. The AMATEUR DRAFT (now the RULE 4 DRAFT) was instituted by MLB owners in 1965 in an attempt to help curb runaway signing bonuses. Only U. S. high school players (minimum age of 17) whose class has graduated and college players (any JUCO player, or for players at four-year schools, only after their Junior year or after they have turned 21) were eligible for selection in the draft. Any U. S. high school or college player eligible for that year’s Amateur Draft who went undrafted could sign with any club. Foreign players were considered free-agents and were not eligible to be selected. KEY CUBS AMATEUR DRAFT (RULE 4 DRAFT) PICKS 1965-68 x - denotes did not sign with Cubs 1965: Joe Decker, RHP (HS - California x - Darrell Evans, 3B (HS - California) Ken Holtzman, LHP (Illinois) x - Tom House, LHP (HS - California) Garry Jestadt, INF (HS - Illinois) Ken Rudolph, C (Los Angeles CC) 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. While Holtzman and Decker had some fine years in the big leagues, but it would have been a lot better of a draft if the Cubs had signed Darrell Evans and Tom House (especially Evans). 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 ex-SF 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, and he 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! HOW IT WAS: In 1968, players were eligible for selection in the Major League Draft (later known as the Rule 5 Draft) after their SECOND year in professional baseball, so a club's best prospects needed to be added to the 40-man roster a year or two earlier than is the case now. This also mreant that players were rushed through the minor leagues much faster than they are now. For instance, Ken Holtzman spent a total of two months in the minors before claiming a spot in the Cubs starting rotation, and Joe Niekro, Rich Nye, and Bill Stoneman spent three months in the minors before they were added to the Cubs 25-man roster. Also, in 1968 it was not necessary to secure waivers to send a player on the 40-man roster outright to the minors. However, if a club wished to recall a player sent outright to the minors earlier in the season, the player had to be placed on irrevocable waivers first, although a player in this situation could be traded without being placed on waivers. Additionally, players could not refuse a trade (well, of course they COULD just retire...), and players with less than ten seasons in the big leagues could be optioned or sent outright to the minors without their permission. Clubs owned all of their players (major leaguers and minor leaguers) essentially forever, or at least until the club decided to trade or release said player. There was no such thing as a player declaring himself a free-agent or salary arbitration if the player and club could not a agree on a salary. (The player would just have to hold out, like Koufax and Drysdale did prior to the 1965 season). Many times a player holding out would get traded IF they held out too long, but even then they might not get what they wanted from their new team, either. And there were no multi-year contracts. And no minor league "rehab" assignments for players coming off the Disabled List... Pitchers coming back from an injury had to ease their way back into action by throwing BP, and position players got themselves ready to play again by taking swings and infield or outfield practice during pre-game Batting Practice. It was a lot different then. But although a lot of things stayed the same, 1969 would be VERY different from 1968. DIVISIONS & PLAYOFFS: There will be four new teams (two in each league), the Montreal Expos and the San Diego Padres in the National League, and the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots in the American League. Rather than go with two twelve teams leagues playing a cut-throat schedule, with the winner of the regular season going directly to the World Series, a new two-division format will create a playoff (to be called the League Championship Series) that will pit the winners of the two divisions in each league against each other in a best three-out-of-five series after the conclusion of the Regular Season, with the winner of the LCS being the league champion (pennant winner) and playing in the World Series. UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: Each team will play the other five clubs in its own division 18 times (nine home & nine road) and the six teams in the opposite division 12 times (six home & six road). WHY? MLB owners are hoping to create the excitement of the great playoffs of past years, like the ’51 Dodgers-Giants, the ’59 Dodgers-Braves, or the ’62 Dodgers-Giants. Of course, those playoffs were not planned, and occurred only because the two clubs involved finished in a dead-heat tie for 1st place. With the new playoffs (or LCS), the two clubs usually will not have the same record, and for the first time, it is possible that a club with the best regular season record in a league might not advance to the World Series. Although there is some muttering of discontent among old-timers, baseball is merely copying what had proved to be a successful playoff formula for the NFL, NBA, and NHL. EXPANSION DRAFT: The expansion teams need players, so the first order of business after the conclusion of the 1968 World Series is the Expansion Draft. (There is no free-agency in 1968, so the only way a club can instantly field a Major League team is by acquiring Major League players in a draft). Unlike the expansion drafts of 1961-62, the 1968 version allows clubs to initially protect only 15 players from its 40-man roster, and only so-called “first-year players” (that is, amateur players signed in 1968), are exempt from the draft. The expansion clubs will be permitted to select players only from teams within their own league. There will be six rounds, and the expansion teams will alternate every-other pick, with each of the ten established clubs in each league losing one player in each round, and then pulling back three players before proceeding on to the next round (only two players pulled back between the 5th and 6th rounds), until each established club has lost six players, and each of the four new expansion teams has 30 players. As it turns out, most established clubs protect their core lineup, plus their starting rotation, and as many of their best prospects as possible. And that’s what the Cubs do, too. Everybody knows the expansion teams are mainly looking for young players and Major League-ready prospects. A number of fairly good and still-young (relatively speaking) position players are made available in the Expansion Draft, including Ollie Brown, Jesus Alou, Mack Jones, Ron Fairly, and Donn Clendenon in the National League, and Don Mincher, Lou Piniella, Joe Foy, and Tommy Harper in the American League, but quality pitchers are at a premium. A few good arms slip through (like Dick Selma, Clay Kirby, and Carl Morton, who get caught in a "numbers game" with their respective former clubs and get snatched by either San Diego or Montreal), but not many. If Ernie Banks had been on any other club in 1968, he probably would not have been protected among anybody’s Top 15 (because of his age and bad knees), but P. K. Wrigley would not allow Banks to be traded, so he certainly wouldn’t allow Ern to leave via the Expansion Draft, either! The Cubs decide to initially protect seven of their eight position starters (RF is still a platoon, and so neither Hickman nor Spangler are protected), their five-man starting rotation, their bullpen fireman (Phil Regan), and their top two pitching prospects (Gary Ross and Darcy Fast): OCTOBER 1968 EXPANSION DRAFT: 15 PLAYERS INITIALLY “PROTECTED” BY CUBS (alphabetical): 1. Ernie Banks, 1B 2. Glenn Beckert, 2B 3. Darcy Fast, LHP 4. Bill Hands, RHP 5. Ken Holtzman, LHP 6. Randy Hundley, C 7. Ferguson Jenkins, RHP 8. Don Kessinger, SS 9. Joe Niekro, RHP 10. Rich Nye, LHP 11. Adolfo Phillips, CF 12. Phil Regan, RHP 13. Gary Ross, RHP 14. Ron Santo, 3B 15. Billy Williams, LF FIRST ROUND: INF Jose Arcia selected by SD COMMENT: Arcia was a slick-fielding SS selected by the Cubs from the Cardinals in the 1967 Rule 5 Draft. He had spent the entire 1968 season on the Cubs Major League 25-man roster, but played very sparingly. CUBS PULL-BACK: Randy Bobb, C Terry Hughes, INF Jimmy McMath, OF COMMENT: Along with Gary Ross and Darcy Fast, Bobb, Hughes, and McMath were among the Cubs Top 5 Prospects at this time. You can bet John Holland felt tremendous relief when the Padres selected Arcia in the 1st Round! Except all three of these players were total, abject busts, especially Hughes and McMath. SECOND ROUND: RHP Bill Stoneman selected by MON COMMENT: Just like Niekro and Nye, Stoneman was a college pitcher (Idaho) selected in the 1966 Amateur Draft who rocketed to the Major Leagues, arriving in 1967. He was a member of the Cubs bullpen in 1967-68, and after being selected by Montreal in the Expansion Draft, he would become the ace of the Expos starting rotation. CUBS PULL-BACK Jophrey Brown, RHP Joe Decker, RHP Alec Distaso, RHP COMMENT: All three were among the Cubs Top 10 Prospects circa October 1968, but only Decker developed into a Major League pitcher (and a very good one at that, except he did most of his pitching with the Twins). THIRD ROUND: RHP Frank Reberger selected by SD COMMENT: A borderline Top 10 prospect, Reberger was closer to the majors than Terry Bongiovanni or Dean Burk (see below). CUBS PULL-BACK: Terry Bongiovanni, RHP Dean Burk, RHP Archie Reynolds, RHP COMMENT: Burk was a former #1 draft pick (1966), and Bongiovanni was selected in the 3rd Round of the Amateur Draft behind Hughes and McMath in 1967, so the Cubs still had high hopes for both. Unfortunately, both were busts. Reynolds was a low-round draft pick who threw a lot of ground balls. He was used in a deal to acquire veteran LHP Juan Pizarro from the Angels in 1970. FOURTH ROUND: RHP Rick James selected by SD COMMENT: The Cubs first-ever #1 draft pick, and selected ahead of Ken Rudolph (2nd round), Greg Werdick (3rd round), and Ken Holtzman (4th round) in the inaugural Amateur Draft in 1965, James never amounted to anything, at least not in professional organized baseball. CUBS PULL-BACK: Jim Dunegan, OF Jim Hickman, OF Pat Jacquez, RHP COMMENT: Dunegan was a Brooks Kieschnick-type P-OF. He had awesome power but struck out a LOT, and because he had a gun for an arm, he was later converted into pitcher. Except he couldn’t throw strikes, either. Jacquez was another middling pitching prospect who didn't develop as hoped. Hickman had been the Mets everyday CF in the years 1962-66, but by 1967 he was playing in AAA. He came to the Cubs in the deal for Phil Regan in 1968, but had yet to show that he was back to his 1963-65 form. FIFTH ROUND: INF Garry Jestadt selected by MON COMMENT: One of several infielders in the Cubs farm system at this point in time (Terry Hughes, Jimmy Qualls, and Greg Werdick were the other notable ones) who had promise that was never fulfilled. CUBS PULL-BACK: Willie Smith, 1B-OF-PH-LHP Al Spangler, OF COMMENT: Willie Smith was a former pitcher with the Angels who by 1968-69 had evolved into one of the game's best pinch-hitters. He was also a fine gospel & blues singer. Spangler had been the left-handed platoon-mate of Jim Hickman in RF in 1968. SIXTH ROUND: 1B John Boccabella selected by MON COMMENT: When you say "John... Bawka-BELLLLLLLLLLLLL-uh!!!!"... you've said it all... AVAILABLE THROUGHOUT DRAFT BUT NOT NOT SELECTED: Rick Bladt, OF Joe Campbell, OF Jim Colborn, RHP Johnny Hairston, C Chuch Hartenstein, RHP Clarence Jones, !B Tom Krawczyk, INF Jack Lamabe, RHP Vic LaRose, INF John Lung, INF Gene Oliver, C-1B Bill Plummer, C Jim Qualls, INF Ken Rudolph, C Earl Stephenson, LHP Bobby Tiefenauer, RHP Greg Werdick, INF Don Young, OF Once the Expansion Draft is over, it’s pretty obvious that with the exception of Bill Stoneman, the Cubs have survived with minimal damage (especially when compared to some other clubs--like Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Atlanta, who actually lost talented players they could have used in 1969 and beyond). In 1967-68, as they vaulted up to the top of the National League standings to finish 3rd in both seasons, the Cubs were characterized by a potent offense (they finished first in Runs Scored in 1967 and second in Runs Scored in 1968) and a solid defense (they finished first in fielding--fewest errors and highest fielding %) in both '67 and '68. Where they fell a bit short was pitching (they were in the "second division" in ERA and Runs Allowed in both '67 and '68), and that was mainly because the Cubs had one of the worst bullpens in baseball. So one thing that was pretty clear throughout 1968 was that the Cubs needed bullpen help. Phil Regan was basically a one-man gang. Thus, in January 1969, John Holland makes a deal to upgrade the bullpen. JANUARY 1969: TRADE: The Cubs acquire RHP Ted Abernathy from CIN for C Bill Plummer, 1B Clarence Jones, and P Ken Myette. COMMEMT: Admitting they made a mistake when they dumped Abernathy in 1966, Holland-Durocher reacquired the submariner for three young players with no future in Chicago. Abernathy was one of the better relievers in MLB 1965-71, and Durocher said after the 1969 debacle that probably the biggest mistake he made during that season was that he “put all of his eggs in Regan’s basket” instead of using Abernathy more. (And Leo was right about that!). SPRING TRAINING 1969 Cubs sign FA LHP Hank Aguirre. COMMENT: A so-called “short reliever” with the Cubs in 1969, Aguirre had been a fixture in the Detroit Tigers starting rotation for many seasons. He was released by the Dodgers after the 1968 season, and made the Cubs roster with a good Spring Training showing. Now at the very end of his career, Aguirre did a nice job in occasional spot relief duty in ’69. CUBS SPRING TRAINING ROSTER - 1969 * dentoes throws or bats left # bats both PITCHERS (17): 37 Ted Abernathy 34 Hank Aguirre * 35 Terry Bongiovanni 47 Jophrey Brown 46 Dean Burk 36 Joe Decker 45 Alec Distaso 38 Darcy Fast * 49 Bill Hands 30 Ken Holtzman * 43 Pat Jacquez 31 Ferguson Jenkins 48 Joe Niekro 32 Rich Nye * 27 Phil Regan 39 Archie Reynolds 33 Gary Ross CATCHERS (4): 6 Randy Bobb 9 Randy Hundley 12 Gene Oliver 8 Ken Rudolph INFIELDERS (11): 14 Ernie Banks 18 Glenn Beckert 19 Lee Elia 17 Terry Hughes 11 Don Kessinger # 40 Tom Krawczyk 22 Vic LaRose 15 John Lung 42 Jimmy Qualls # 10 Ron Santo 41 Greg Werdick OUTFIELDERS (8): 23 Jim Dunegan 28 Jim Hickman 24 Jim McMath * 20 Adolfo Phillips 25 Willie Smith * 21 Al Spangler * 26 Billy Williams * 29 Don Young MANAGER: 2 Leo Durocher COACHES: 5 Joe Amalfitano (1st base) 3 Joe Becker (Pitching coach) 7 "Pistol Pete" Reiser (3rd base) 4 Verlon "Rube" Walker (Bullpen) Although it had been disbanded at the Major League level after the 1965 season, the College of Coaches is still alive and well in the Cubs minor league system in 1969. The minor league managers are called "Head Coach," and there are several roving minor league instructors (a concept later copied by ALL Major League organizations). COLLEGE OF COACHES (1969) Walt Dixon George Freese Lou Klein Whitey Lockman Jim Marshall Fred Martin Buck O'Neil Elvin Tappe Mel Wright NOTE: Fred Martin was a Cubs roving minor league pitching instructor for many years, and he's the guy who taught Bruce Sutter to throw the split-finger fastball. In 1969, the Cubs had the following minor league clubs: Tacoma (AAA) - PCL San Antonio (AA) - TEXAS Huron (C) - NORTHERN Quincy (D) - MIDWEST Treasure Valley (R) - PIONEER The Cubs had relocated their Class "C" team from Lodi (CALIFORNIA) to Huron (NORTHERN) after the 1968 season. The Cubs had no Class "B" club. All leagues below AA were called Class "A" by MLB starting in 1963, but the old designations ("B," "C," and "D") were still in use throughout the 1960's. OPENING DAY Cubs CF Adolfo Phillips suffers a broken hand early in Spring Training (hit by a pitch) and is out of action for most of March, but he is healthy by Opening Day. But Durocher surprises EVERYBODY by leaving Phillips on the bench and naming long-time minor leaguer Don Young the Cubs starting CF. The Cubs also purchase veteran 3B-PH Charley Smith from the Giants to back-up Santo and (hopefully) provide some pop off the bench, and trade #1 utility infielder Lee Elia to the Yankees for veteran 2B Nate Oliver at the end of Spring Training. Oliver had been with the Dodgers when Durocher was the 3rd base coach there in 1961-64, and will be used mainly as a pinch-runner by Leo in 1969, although he can also play 2B. So on Opening Day 1969, the Cubs looked like this: STARTING LINEUP: Don Kessinger, SS Glenn Beckert, 2B Billy Williams, LF Ron Santo, 3B Ernie Banks, 1B Randy Hundley, C Jim Hickman, RF Don Young, CF BENCH: Gene Oliver, C-1B-PH Nate Oliver, 2B-PR Adolfo Phillips, OF Jimmy Qualls, IF-OF Ken Rudolph, C Charley Smith, 3B-PH Willie Smith, 1B-PH Al Spangler, OF STARTING PITCHERS: 1. Ferguson Jenkins 2. Ken Holtzman 3. Bill Hands 4. Joe Niekro 5. Rich Nye BULLPEN: Phil Regan Ted Abernathy Hank Aguirre Gary Ross LHP Darcy Fast (along with Gary Ross, one of the Cubs top two pitching prospects at the time) had been expected to contend for a bullpen spot in 1969, but the Cubs give him permission to remain in college through Spring Training before entering the military. Durocher prefered a nine-man pitching staff, and in 1969, he used his starting pitchers "Old School” like this: He had a “Big Three” (Jenkins, Holtzman, and Hands) who almost always pitch on three days rest. The 4th starter is skipped when the Cubs have a day off. The 5th starter is used only when the combination of a doubleheader and no off days make it impossible to go with just four starters. All starters are expected to pitch a complete game if possible. Leo uses his bullpen like this: He has a Chief Fireman (Regan) who comes into a game when the Cubs are ahead and the starting pitcher has to leave the game (either because of a pinch-hitter or because he had run out of gas). Regan pitches as many innings as necessary, but usually not more than two (MAYBE three). If he is well-rested, the fireman can be used in a tie game or even when the Cubs are trailing. The others (Abernathy and Aguirre, and later Don Nottebart and Ken Johnson) are called “short relievers,” and are used for an inning or two late in a game (usually 7th inning or beyond) when a fireman is not needed (like when the Cubs are trailing), but any of them can be used as a fireman if Regan is unable to pitch that day. There is no such thing as a “LOOGY,” or 8th inning “set-up” man, or “one-inning closer” pre-emptively brought into a game in the 9th inning with his team ahead by three-runs or less, in 1969. So with Regan the "Chief Fireman," Abernathy is the #1 “short reliever,” Aguirre is #2, and then Nottebart or Johnson #3 (next on the pecking order). The #4 starter (initially Niekro, then Dick Selma) is available to pitch in relief when his spot is skipped to keep the Big Three on three days rest, and the #5 starter (usually Rich Nye) is available to pitch in long relief or in an emergency start (if the scheduled starter unexpectedly unable to pitch at the last minute) whenever he isn’t needed for one of his rare pre-scheduled spot starts. With a nine-man pitching staff, Leo has an eight-man bench, including two back-up catchers, and a number of veterans who can be used as pinch-hitters, pinch-runners, or late-inning defensive replacements. Only RF is a platoon (Jim Hickman and Al Spangler), but it isn't really an absolute platoon, because Hickman gets most of the starts. Although they hadn’t yet developed into a contender, the 1968 Mets had a load of young power pitchers, including Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, and Dick Selma, with Jim McAndrew and Gary Gentry on the way. The Mets inexplicably left Selma (their #4 starter behind Seaver, Koosman, and Ryan) exposed in the Expansion Draft, and the Padres grabbed him. Meanwhile, for some unknown reason (bad vibrations, maybe?), Durocher had started to sour on both Rich Nye and Joe Niekro, and so when the opportunity presents itself to acquire Dick Selma from the Padres, the Cubs jump on it. The price is the Cubs #4 starter (Joe Niekro), their top pitching prospect (Gary Ross), and a young shortstop they had signed out of Puerto Rico in 1968 named Francisco Libran (who as a non-roster player, had "wowed" Durocher with his defense in Spring Training—and this was an annual Spring Training Rite for Leo, getting all excited about some young phenom every year). LEO (on Libran): “That kid is some kind of shortstop. All he needs to do is learn how to hit.” No question Selma was a legitimate #4 starter, and had the potential to be a member of a Big Three, so the upgrade is considered worth the very steep price. (Of course, if the Cubs had just kept Ray Culp after the 1967 season, the Selma trade wouldn’t have been necessary!). But Joe Niekro was no slouch, either. A week before the trade, Niekro had pitched nine shutout innings in a game the Cubs eventually won in 12 (maybe Durocher thought Niekro should have pitched all 12 innings?), and he went on to win 221 games in a 22 year big league career. Subtracting two pitchers to add one in the Selma deal, the Cubs are now one pitcher short, so they acquire RHP Don Nottebart (another veteran reliever) from the Reds. The Cubs start the season going 11-1 through their first twelve games, including a thrilling Opening Day victory over the Phillies where the Cubs blow a 5-2 lead in the 9th (Jenkins gives up a three-run homer to Don Money) and then fall behind 6-5 in the 11th, only to have Willie Smith crank a two run homer into the right-field bleachers to win the game in the bottom of the 11th. I got home from high school and turned on Channel 9 just in time to see Willie smoke it. Brickhouse went absolutely CRAZY. He was in “hey hey” heaven. So the Cubs win 11 of their first 12, and are 16-7 by the end of April. At one point during their April winning streak (4-16 & 4-17), Hands and Jenkins pitch back-to-back shutouts in St. Louis as the Cubs sweep an early two-game series from the N. L. defending champion Cardinals. This is DEFINITELY a new season! Pretty soon, there are “CUB POWER!” buttons and bumper stickers adorned with pictures of the Cubs’ stars. And a hit record, too! MAY: The Cubs go 16-9. And get this...Cub pitchers throw nine (count 'em, NINE) shutouts in May, including three consecutive whitewash jobs May 11-13 (the May 13th game is a 19-0 shellacking of the Padres, where Dick Selma strikes out 10 and Ernie Banks hits two three-run homers with a total of 7 RBI), and then four out of five (they blank Houston 11-0 in the Astrodome on May 16th). At the 1/3 mark in the season (54 games), the Cubs are 37-17, on a pace to win 111 games! So I’m watching the “10th Inning” show sometime in May after the shutout streak, and Dick Selma is Jack’s guest. All of a sudden, Brickhouse gets some kind of signal, and tells Selma to put on headphones. And right there on Channel 9, for the first time ever, hot off the presses, we hear the World Premiere of “Hey Hey, Holy Mackerel.” Brick and Selma are boppin’ and bouncin’ to the music, and when it’s over, Jack says “Well, that is just GREAT!” and he asks Selma what he thought of it, and Dick says: “Ya, that’s one of the better ones I’ve heard.” You’d think Selma was talking to Dick Clark on American Bandstand! And it just kept on going, getting more and more crazy every day. It was like Beatlemania. Except it was Cub-mania. On days he wasn’t starting, Dick Selma would sit in the Cubs bullpen and waive his arm in the circular “home run” motion and lead the Left Field Bleacher Bums in various chants and cheers. Ron Santo would leap and click his heels while running to the Cubs clubhouse in the left-field corner after every home win. Leo Durocher would gloat daily on his five-minute pre-game radio show about how his hunches were paying off (Durocher had been criticized throughout his career for managing by whim, discarding logic and playing a hunch the way a gambler would throw money at a trifecta). But so far, it was working. By the end of May, the Cubs are 48-23, 7-1/2 games ahead of the 2nd place Pirates. Both the Cardinals and Mets are playing sub-.500 baseball at this point in time. JUNE: Just before the June 15th Trading Deadline, the Cubs pull off another deal, and this one makes Cubs fans nervous: TRADE: Cubs send OF Adolfo Phillips and Jack Lamabe to MON, Expos send INF Maury Wills to LAD, Dodgers trade INF Paul Popovich to Cubs. COMMENT: The Cubs finally gave up on Adolfo Phillips, and all they got back for him was a utility infielder (albeit ex-Cub Popovich was a good one). Though everybody was worried that this trade would be another Lou Brock Fiasco, it wasn’t. Sadly, Phillips never found himself (he was essentially a 4th OF for Montreal and then later for Cleveland), and he was out of baseball by the time he was 30. But the Cubs continue rolling merrily along, going 18-11 for the month of June. JULY: After Fergie Jenkins beats the Braves 3-1 on the Fourth of July, it's exactly the halfway point in the schedule, and the Cubs are 53-28, on a pace to win 106 games. So everything is still peachy, as the Cubs go into New York in early July for a three-game series with the improved (and suddenly very “hip”) Mets. The Cubs are 5-1/2 games in front of the 2nd-place Mets at this point in time, and 13 games in front of the Cardinals. It’s another routine dominating performance by Jenkins, as he carries a two-hitter into the bottom of the 9th (yawn!), and it looks like the Cubs are about to put some more distance between themselves and the rest of the division. I remember half-watching the game on Channel 9 (it was an afternoon game) while I was playing chess with a friend of mine, and as the bottom of the 9th progresses, I get this strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had never felt that way before in my life, and certainly never like that about the Cubs! Like I was about to witness a plane crash. And the Cubs indeed somehow do manage to crash & burn, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. In a scene eerily similar to the future 1984 NLCS Game 5 in San Diego or the 2003 NLCS Games 6 at Wrigley, Jenkins gives up a lead-off double to pinch-hitter Ken Boswell, before retiring Tommie Agee. Donn Clendenon then lofts a high fly ball to the warning track in left-center, and Don Young, who had been given the starting CF job because the one thing Leo KNEW Young could do was CATCH the ball, drifted under it, and... Brickhouse: “There’s a long fly to center… and it’s CAUGHT!... and DROPPED!... by Young...” No error was charged, but it sure should have been. Cleon Jones follows the dropped flyball with a game-tying two-run double, and then with two outs, Ed Kranepool fists an opposite-field broken-bat bloop that drops in front of Billy Williams in left, and--poof!—game over. Mets win 4-3. The next night, Tom Seaver brings his “A” game to Shea, and has a perfecto going with two outs in the top of the 9th, before rookie Jimmy Qualls singles to break it up. But Seaver gets his one-hit shutout and the Mets win again, dropping the Cubs lead to 3-1/2 games. The worst thing about the July losses to the Mets, though, is that Ron Santo blasts Don Young in the newspapers. Young is so upset he runs out of the clubhouse into the streets of Flushing Meadow. A lot of baseball fans (even some Cubs fans) feel sorry for Young (“Hey, he didn’t drop the ball on PURPOSE!”), and start booing Ron Santo. Players on other teams start calling the Cubs “bush” for allowing Selma and Santo to do their “thing” (Selma’s cheerleading and Santo’s heel-clicking after victories) at Wrigley. And too much “Hey Hey, Holy Mackerel” is starting to get on people’s nerves, too. Mine, anyway, for sure. But even after the two ugly losses in New York, the Cubs recover. Just like a "stopper" is supposed to do it, Bill Hands pitches a three-hitter to keep the Mets from sweeping the series, and the Cubs go 8-4 into the All-Star break, as they seemingly patch up their wounds and get hot again. And the All-Star Game is fun, because the NBC announcers (Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek) gush over the Cubs (I never had heard THAT before!). On July 20th--the day Neil Armstrong walks on the moon--the Cubs walk all over the Phillies, sweeping a doubleheaeder at Philadelphia, 6-1 and 1-0. AUGUST: By August, the Cubs have extended their lead over the now-2nd place Cardinals to 9 games (as the Mets have fallen back to 3rd place). Harry Caray was still singing the same old song (“The Cardinals are coming, tra la tra la”) on KMOX. I used to listen to out-of-town baseball broadcasts at night before I went to sleep, and Harry Caray was a great announcer, but he was also irritating. And that's why I could never really accept Harry as a Cubs announcer and especially as a Cub fan the way I did with Jack Brickhouse (who I KNEW was a Cubs fan). Harry put just a little too much enthusiasm into the "Cardinals are coming tra la tra la" thing. But the fact is, the Cards were NOT coming “tra la, tra la,” and everybody (Cubs fans and Cardinals fans and probably Harry Caray, too) knew it. And the Mets are... well, you know, the METS! So 1969 was definitely, positively the year of the Cub. I went to about ten Cubs games in June and July (I still have the scorecards, too), but in August, I went with my family on a Route 66 road trip to Southern California that just happened to coincide with a Cubs West Coast Road Trip (and with the Manson Family’s Tate-Lobianca murders, too). The Cubs had always had problems winning in California, but I felt confident this time. Fortunately, Tex Watson and Susan Atkins got nowhere near Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams! I had “CUB POWER!” bumper stickers plastered all over my suitcase. I can recall my dad driving down a street in L. A. and some bum dressed in a clown costume and wearing a Dodgers cap was holding a sign advertising a sale or something and I stuck my head out of the car window and yelled “Hey clown, CUB POWER!!!!” at him at the top of my lungs, and the clown gave me the finger. We were like the Obnoxious Traveling Cubs Fans everybody hates today. We did see the Cubs play at Dodger Stadium, though, although the Cubs lost two out of three there. Disneyland and Universal Studios were cool, though Then we head down to San Diego for a trip to Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, and a two-game series at the Murph (though it wasn’t called that then). We stayed in the same hotel as the Cubs (as did a number of other Cub fans--sort of an early version of the Cubs Convention), and I got several autographs from Cubs players passing through the lobby. And my "CUB POWER!" suitcase identified me as a certifiable (and I mean CERTIFIABLE) Cub Fan. The security guard at San Diego County Stadium let us into the ballpark early so we could find the "perfect" seats (“Find some you like, folks, and then tell the clerk at the window where you want to sit”). Nice people in San Diego. (To this day, I still love San Diego, and go there a lot). And best of all, the Cubs sweep the Padres! At the first Cubs-Padres game, a new Padres team song is introduced, and it's really something. I believe some guy from The Lawrence Welk Show wrote it and performed it, and it had a bit of a polka beat to it, and it went something like this (it was called "Let's Go Padres"): "Let's go Padres! Hit one down the line. Let's Go Padres! Hustle all the time. Let's Go Padres! We will wait for you, We will wait and we will wait, Until you come through." Something like that. Anyway, by the second verse, all us Cub fans who were there (and I'm pretty sure there were a lot more Cubs fans present than Padres fans) had learned the song, so we shouted "Cubbies! over "Padres!" when it got to that part of the song, drowning out the Padre faithful. They did not perform the song again the second night. I'm not absolutely sure, it's just a theory on my part, but I believe part of the Padres motivation in coming back as they did against the Cubs in the last three NLCS games at San Diego in 1984 had something to do with the way us Ugly Traveling Cub Fans' blastered "Let's Go Padres!" in August 1969. Combined with a four-game split in San Francisco (Woodstock was that weekend, but of course I didn't go there, and since we were out in California, we COULD have gone up to San Francisco for the four game series there, but instead we spent a few days with my grandmother in Van Nuys). My parents wanted to stop in Vegas on our way home--I told my dad to put a grand on the Cubs, but he didn't (thank God!), and the Cubs end up going 5-4 on the West Coast swing. They then come home to start a series with the Braves, and on our way home, motoring down I-80 in Nebraska, we heard on the radio that Kenny Holtzman had pitched a no-hitter(!), and that Billy Williams had made a game saving catch of a sure-fire Hank Aaron home run to save the no-no. So I was feeling pretty good about the Cubs when I got back home, although naturally I was disappointed that I missed seeing the no-hitter, since if I hadn’t been in California, I probably would have been at that game! But I guess you can't have everything. The day Holtzman pitches his no-hitter, the Cubs are nine games in front of the Mets and Cardinals, with 41 left to play. But there is still one Big Problem. The whole time the Cubs are playing well on their West Coast trip, the Mets (of all teams) just keep winning. After the Holtzman no-hitter, the Cubs lose seven out of nine, while the Mets are going 14-2. The Mets would not go away. (And their lineup sucked, too). Of course, they also had the best collection of young pitching in baseball, but still... they're the freakin’ METS, damn it! And suddenly there is this National Media thing about the Mets. First there's Woodstock, then the next week it's the Mets. Could the Mets maybe actually win the pennant!!?? The same team that lost 120 games in 1962?!!! The cute, lovable AMAZIN'Mets?!!! Blah, blah, blah. Gene McCarthy or George McGovern says “If the Mets can win the pennant, then we can get out of Vietnam,” and Tom Seaver responds “If the Mets don’t win the pennant, we can STILL get out of Vietnam.” That sort of thing. Kind of “anti-establishment.” The same thing Joe Namath had done a few months earlier when he led the Jets to the upset over the Colts in Super Bowl III. Rock & roll. Stick it to the Man (who was, I guess, P. K. Wrigley, Leo Durocher, and everything they stood for). That would be gum, in Wrigley's case. Wrigley's Chewing Gum. That's what was wrong with America. And of course Leo Durocher represented the swingin' Frank Sinatra Ring-a-Ding-Ding Rat Pack, and that wasn't youthful rebellion, either. Heck, that's our PARENTS thing. SEPTEMBER: So now it’s September 2nd. The Cubs have just defeated the Reds 8-2 at Crosley Field behind Ferguson Jenkins, have won six in a row, are 32 games over .500 (the most games they’ve been over .500 all year), and are on a pace to win 100 games. The Mets are 5-1/2 games back with only 26 games left to play. The Cubs got it in the bag, right? Well... Unfortunately, beginning on September 3rd, the Cubs lose eight in a row and 11 out of 12, while the Mets go 11-3. After getting shut-out in the last game of the two-game series at Crosley on September 3rd (another tough loss for Bill Hands), the Cubs go home and get swept in Wrigley by the Pirates, the first two blow-outs where first Ken Holtzman and then Fergie Jenkins get knocked out early (I was at the Saturday game), and the last of the three a dagger where after the Cubs heroically come back from a 4-2 deficit to take a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the 8th, Phil Regan blows the save by giving up a two-out two strike game-tying home run to Willie Stargell onto Sheffield Avenue in the top of the 9th (BRICKHOUSE: “Oh, no!”), with the Pirates going on to win in 11 (and completing the three-game sweep) as they score two runs off newly-acquired knuckleballin' reliever Ken Johnson (purchased from the Yankees in August). If there is any game that killed the season for the Cubs, it was this one. So on the heels of probably the worst loss of the season, and carrying a four-game losing streak on their backs, the Cubs leave on a ten day, nine-game, four-city road trip, leading the Mets by only 2-1/2 games. It’s a Road Trip that will live in Cub Infamy. The Road Trip from Hell. Imagine Game 6 and Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS spread over ten days. It was like that. In the first game of the two-game Showdown Series at Shea Stadium on Monday night September 8th, the Mets score a run in the bottom of the 5th to break a 2-2 tie and hang on to beat Bill Hands and the Cubs 3-2. (That’s the game where the umpire blows the call and rules Tommie Agee “safe” at home in the bottom of the 5th, sending Randy Hundley into apoplexy). The next night, Jenkins gets creamed (second start in a row) and the Mets win 7-1, getting within a half game of first place. And a black cat runs across the Shea Stadium field into the Cubs dugout. The Cubs leave New York ½ game in front of the Mets, but one down in the loss column and 25 heads down on the team bus. The Cubs bats are ice cold. Moving on to Philadelphia on Wednesday night, the Phillies score four runs in the last two innings--including a three-spot off super-struggling Phil Regan in the 8th, when long-time Cub nemesis Johnny Callison rips a pinch-hit single to Beckert’s left into RF, scoring two runs. The Mets take over 1st place. The next night, another dagger. (Will these freakin’ daggers never cease?). Dick Selma takes a one-run lead into the bottom of the 8th, but Richie Allen’s two-run homer gives the Phils a 4-3 victory. Things are getting REALLY desperate now, so Leo sticks 19-year old Oscar Gamble (the Cubs #1 prospect at the time) into the starting lineup in CF, while GM John Holland is acquiring veteran A. L. slugging OF Jimmie Hall in a waiver deal with the Yankees, at the cost of RHP Terry Bongiovanni (one of the the Cubs top pitching prospects). The Cubs next take their now eight-game losing streak to St. Louis. But Bill Hands stops the bleeding with a masterful complete game, as the Cubs win 5-1 in Game 1 of the series. Ernie Banks drives in four, three on a bases-loaded double. There is still time to turn it around! Isn't there? On Saturday, Randy Hundley slugs a two-run home run to give the Cubs the lead, and Fergie Jenkins takes a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the 8th, but guess what happens. Reliever Ken Johnson walks the bases loaded and then walks in the tying run, before Phil Regan (that man again!) surrenders two consecutive two-out RBI hits. On Sunday, Ken Holtzman and Bob Gibson both pitch ten inning complete games, but the Cardinals win 2-1 on a game-winning home run by--guess who... yep--Lou Brock, in the bottom of the 10th. Next up: Montreal. Can it get any worse? Yes, it probably can. Ron Fairly (two doubles and a two-run homer) and the Expos (on their way to losing 110 games) pound the demoralized Cubs 8-2 on Tuesday night, dispatching Dick Selma after only four innings. That makes (what?) 11 out of 12. (I've lost count). Bill Hands (the Cubs "stopper" throughout the last few weeks of the season) pitches the Cubs to a 5-4 win on Wednesday to salvage a split with the Expos, but I am afraid it’s too late. By the time they get back home to the Friendly Confines on September 19th, the Cubs are four games behind the Mets. Although the Cubs have stopped their losing ways, and go 7-7 over the last 14 games, the Mets win nine of their last ten, finishing with 100 victories, and eight games in front of the Cubs. About the 1969 season, Leo Durocher would say: “We didn’t LOSE it. The Mets WON it. They deserved it.” And you know, maybe Leo was right. The Mets won 37 of their last 48 games, and 22 of their last 27, including winning streaks of ten games and nine games in September, not to mention winning 14 out of 16 in August. The Mets had a lot of rain outs early in the season, and so they had to play a unusually high number of doubleheaders in August in September. Starting on August 16th, the Mets played nine doubleheaders, sweeping six and splitting two. The Mets were a juggernaut the last six weeks of the season. But even if Leo was right, even if the Mets WON it and the Cubs did not LOSE it, it FELT like the Cubs blew it. Maybe it was the WAY it happened, but I felt embarrassed to be a Cub fan during the post-69 off-season. Just like I did after the 1984 NLCS, and just like I did after the 2003 NLCS. Teams just don’t LOSE like that. Maybe the 1919 Black Sox did, but things like that aren’t supposed to happen outside of a Cub Fan's worst nightmare. Ironically, if the Cubs and Cardinals had been placed in the N. L. West instead of the N. L. East (as had been the original plan), and if the Braves and Reds had been assigned to the N. L. East, the Cubs would have certainly won the N. L. West in 1969, and would have at least had a CHANCE to beat the Mets in the NLCS and get into the World Series. Maybe.

so far, i'm only halfway through your post, az. anything beyond "thank you very much" is superfluous. thank you, very much.

Awesome post Az Phil. I'm going out to work on my towel drills.

I am wondering a couple of things, that I just cannot remember clearly: 1. Abernathy the side-armed guy, and Phil "The Vulture" Regan, were Leo's first choices as relievers, right? The position "closer" really was not established much at that point (LaRussa and Eck.) - but did Leo utilize these guys much earlier? I mean, without looking this up, it would seem that until late August, the Cubs should have been leading all of baseball in CG's for their staff with Fergie, Hands, Holtzman as their top three horses. Right? Did the starters just melt-down all at once? Or, as you allude to, just EVERYTHING fell apart all at once? Or, were Regan and Abernathy just terrible? 2. I remember the Stargell game very much, and I seem to remember also, either in that game or another important one, Roberto Clemente throwing out Kessenger trying to score a go-ahead run. 3. After playing in 160 games in 1968, Randy Hundley played 151 in 1969. This is frankly, abuse, for someone in this position - and no lights at Wrigley even. Brutal. 4. When the Cubs were riding high at the All-Star break in 1969, the entire Cubs infield started the game, and Fergie pitched that night as well. I do not recall this happening during my lifetime - it may have - I just don't recall. 5. I seem to remember that Leo took a lot of flak also for leaving the team to visit a relative or his girlfriend's daughter - or something like this - at an overnight camp that summer. I would have to agree with you AZ, that I was terribly embarrassed after the Cubs collapsed in '69 AND '84. Both times they "should have" made it to the World Series. But, the Miracle Mets had developed a nucleus that sustained itself while the Cubs "sniffed at it" in 1971, and of course once again faded. There is no way in hell the '84 team should have lost three straight to the Padres. But they found a way.

4. When the Cubs were riding high at the All-Star break in 1969, the entire Cubs infield started the game, and Fergie pitched that night as well. I do not recall this happening during my lifetime - it may have - I just don't recall. ____________________ The entire Cubs infield made the All-Star team but only Santo and Kessinger started the game. Fergie did not make the All-Star team, despite a 13-7 record and a 2.69 ERA as of the All-Star break. BTW, epic post, AZ Phil. This is as good a history of the development of the 1969 Cubs as you will find on the internet -- or possibly anywhere (I say this having read a few books on the subject in my time). I hereby direct several Andre Dawson salaams in your direction.

The All-Star game info is at Wiklifield here: The most starters the Cubs have had was 1936 (4).

Somebody remind Phil that he's allowed to make his own posts...

Holy Shit, Phil. You're such an incredible fount of knowledge. Thank. You.

All I got from this was that the Cubs AAA team has won a World Series before the Cubs did. Just kidding, excellent story Phil.

I wonder what Rick Rueschel did for training?

to the Reds... Phil Rogers does a Sunday paper piece on Nady and mentioned that Nady's surgery was done by Dr Lewis Yokum, from the Kerlan-Jobe clinic in LA (also considered to be the LA Angels Team Orthopod). I looked around a bit and got more detail on how Nady got hurt this time as well as finding out that Dr Yokum performed Nady's first TJ surgery. From a NY Post article on 6-26-09:
The Post has learned Xavier Nady's season is over and next year is in question, too.
According to several teammates, the Yankees outfielder told them late Thursday night that his right elbow requires Tommy John surgery, a procedure that often takes 12-14 months recovery.
Nady, a free agent at the end of the season, felt something in the elbow in the third inning of a Triple-A rehab game Thursday night and removed himself two innings later. He... is scheduled to see Dr. Lewis Yocum in California. Yocum performed the same surgery on Nady in 2001.
...When Nady was injured in April, an MRI exam in Florida led many to believe he needed surgery. However, Nady and the club opted to rehab the problem with the hope he could return this year. Dr Yokum's CV:

Orthopaedic Consultant: * Numerous Dance Companies So which will Nady be able to do first, hit the cutoff man or perform a Pirouette à la seconde?

interesting time estimates for his recovery from TJ surgery...12-14 months from his surgery date which was in July 2009, is July-Sept 2010. Obviously that's a slow recovery scenerio (more appropriate for a pitcher than an IF/OF). I believe Nady had his 2001 surgery at the end of August and was back playing full time next April after 7months (albeit, he was a minor leaguer then at age 22).

Submitted by Cubster on Sun, 01/31/2010 - 12:04am. interesting time estimates for his recovery from TJ surgery...12-14 months from his surgery date which was in July 2009, is July-Sept 2010. Obviously that's a slow recovery scenerio (more appropriate for a pitcher than an IF/OF). I believe Nady had his 2001 surgery at the end of August and was back playing full time next April after 7months (albeit, he was a minor leaguer then at age 22). =========================================== CUBSTER: Both Hak-Ju Lee and Tyler Colvin returned from 2008 TJS to the extent that they were able to make throws (HJ Lee from SS and Colvin from CF) about eight months after their surgeries, and both were hitting without restriction three months before that. So Nady's expected recovery/rehab time does seem excessive if he had the surgery at the end of June 2009. He should be able to hit to the extent that he can DH right now, and he should be ready to throw by the start of Spring Training games. I wonder if he had a setback somewhere along the way?

...and the NY Daily News article from April 21, 2009 when Nady went on the DL with his elbow, including info on the decision to rehab rather than reconstruct the UCL.
Nady said much of his rehab will be rest and strengthening his elbow. "Trying to let that ligament heal back together as much as possible and hopefully everything feels good from there," he said. "I'd done this (hurt the elbow) before, but I think when I originally did it, I tore it almost all the way. It was more severe then than now. "There's obviously some decent amount of damage, but hopefully it's hanging on a decent amount." Nady said he has tried to be optimistic through the whole process, which included an MRI with dye, an MRI without dye, a CT scan and X-rays and multiple meetings with doctors. But he admitted he was worried when he was originally told by doctors in Tampa that "it looked like it was torn again and I was probably going to have to have surgery again.
Dodgers making hard run at free-agent OF Reed Johnson. Deal may be close or already done.

I thought RJ was exploring opportunities to be a regular OF. Ethier, Kemp and your 4th OF.

I thought the same thing, CUBSTER! Well, since he lives in the area, and grew up around there, I hope he can make it happen.

Chuck Brownson (The Hardball Times) says Geo Soto will be slightly better than average throwing out runners this year.

it's a bit chilly on this side the the Az Phil post...and my hand hurts from scrolling down this far.


Since we're on a history kick, here's a NYTimes article on Willie Mays. Interesting that Durocher was a father figure.
In his early years, Mays was looked after — some said coddled — by Manager Leo Durocher, whose celebrated truculence with opponents and umpires was matched by his paternal attitude toward his star center fielder. Mays called him Mr. Leo back then; today, he acknowledges Durocher, who died in 1991, as a father figure. “He always made sure I knew what suit to buy and how to dress,” Mays said. “He’d never holler at me. If he had something to say, he’d talk soft. When we were in California, I’d stay at his house, and when we went on the road, his kid was my roommate. Chris Durocher, he was about 7. We’d go on the road, and Leo would say, ‘You got him,’ so for two weeks, I can’t go nowhere, can’t do nothing. I think that was Leo’s way of looking after me.” Mays giggled as he recalled that he managed to make money on this arrangement. He ate at restaurants where the black players were welcome, and took Chris with him; when Chris reported to his father he had been on a steady diet of soul food, Durocher told Mays that he wanted his son to be able to eat steak.

Rosenthal tweets that Marlins made an offer to Kevin Gregg for a setup role

He needs the biggest park he can find.

Bruce Miles was on 670 The Score earlier today talking about the Cubs. The Big News is that he says the Cubs are seriously annoyed with Ryan Theriot holding out for $3.4 million. So pissed off they may try to trade him or even non-tender him when the season is over. Bruce said he's sure the Cubs will go to arbitration this year ( unless RT backs down of course ) The lesser News is that Xavier Nady pronounces his hame EXavier rather than Zavier. Like many of us, Bruce thinks Lou very well could make Nady his every day right fielder over Fukudome if Nady is healthy and hitting. . Other stuff: The Cubs really don't expect Lilly back before May 1. Kiko Calero: The Cubs have been up and down about him. Right now they're worried about his health but still could pick him up if he's still on the market in two weeks. Bruce thinks both the Cubs and Cards have Starting Pitching problems and opined that the Brewers have really improved their staff with Wolf and Davis. The podcast of this interview is now available.

sweet...cubs still in the market for a vet. reliever. i was worried (well, not too worried...not like they're picking up a show stopper) that nady might have pushed things to a closing-point with the 2010 team.

I was thinking sweet, no more Ryan Theriot

that works, too. he's reasonably priced through 2010, but there's no real need to keep him longer...even at 2nd...once he's a 4+m guy.

Agreed. He's essentially David Eckstein... and I wouldn't spend 3.4 mil on David Eckstein. Still, after all the irresponsible spending Hendry has done the last few years, not ponying up for Theriot might seem like a douchey thing to do. I can see both sides of it.

Yeah. It'll be really nice to have a falling out with a player and reduce our options at SS by one. If Castro is ready to take over, it won't be a big deal to lose Theriot. I hope his BB and K rates fall back into the 2008 pattern this year, though. He's worth playing if he's going to put up a .370 or higher OBP, but not if he's going to be at .340. His defense is not good enough (nor are his speed or power) for a .340 OBP to support.

Negotiations to settle on a figure between the $3.4 million Ryan Theriot has asked for and the club's number of $2.6 million have failed. . In a departure from business as usual for the Chicago Cubs, the team may very well be headed to their first arbitration hearing in 17 years.

their first arbitration hearing in 17 years Coincidentally, the uniform number of the last player they took to arbitration.

We are now deeper at SS than the team has been in my recent memory in the minors: Castro, Barney, Lee, and Flaherty. Some of you may not have seen Barney during his back-to-back NCAA championship years, but he can play. I will predict it will be he, not Castro who makes it to Clark and Addison first. Although - Barney does remind me of Ryan Theriot a bit with better range and arm.

According to Major League Baseball sources, the Los Angeles Dodgers have offered former Chicago Cubs' outfielder Reed Johnson a one-year, $800,000 contract, pending a physical. Good grief! He wanted $2 million from the Cubs. So much for that second place predicted finish for the Reds. Dusty will find a way to give Miles 700 ABs. You gotta love Dustiny!

Reds actually have a solid-looking infield at this point, but if Rolen or Phillips goes down, I agree ... they are doomed.