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   1. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: December 05, 2006 at 06:20 AM (#2251984)
This was a really good article.

To those alive when this happened: Does this compare well to 2005 and 2006?
   2. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: December 05, 2006 at 02:14 PM (#2252078)
The lack of a bona fide hit-and-run man (or as Good Kid often reminded us, run-and-hit man) surely cost the Cubs ten games.

My favorite thing about Jerry Martin isn't that quote (although it is mighty fine), it's that in 1976 he played in 130 games and had just 129 PA. That's a lot of replacing Luzinski in the late innings.
   3. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 05, 2006 at 02:39 PM (#2252092)
The defense was also atrocious, easily the worst in the NL.

Well, win shares says the Mets and Cards were worse. But they stunk. That's the important thing.

"Fun" fact: From June 4, 1980 to June 4, 1981 (including games played on both June 4s), the Cubs went 53-112. That's got to be the worst 1-year stretch in club franchise.
   4. Spahn Insane Posted: December 05, 2006 at 02:48 PM (#2252100)
Kennedy denied rumors that he turned down an offer of Dave Winfield for Dave Kingman, adding that Kingman is signed more cheaply through 1982 and that he would prefer Kingman to Winfield anyway.

Heh. That's awesome.
   5. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 05, 2006 at 03:13 PM (#2252122)
Great article, deJesus. Not to mention the fact that the similarities with the current outfit are uncanny.
   6. Guapo Posted: December 06, 2006 at 12:23 AM (#2252154)
Great article. I started following baseball in 1980, so I'm glad you picked this year.

One thing about the 1980 Cubs I always thought was unusual for a 98 loss team- their bullpen. Featuring:

Bruce Sutter, one of a handful of relief pitchers who actually made the HOF.

Bill Caudill, who two years later was one of the premier relief aces in baseball for the Mariners(earning Cy Young and MVP votes), and had a nice 3 year run as a top closer.

Willie Hernandez, who won a Cy Young and MVP in 1984 for Detroit as a relief ace.

Lee Smith, who made his major league debut and went on to collect more saves than anyone in history.

Of course, Smith wasn't called up until September, but that's still a pretty good collection of bullpen talent for a crappy team.

During the offseason, the Cubs traded for Jay Howell, who also became a very good closer in the 80s (of course, after the Cubs dumped him).
   7. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 06, 2006 at 12:41 AM (#2252175)
BTW, I was reminded that I forgot this nugget that I should have included:

After Kingman got hurt, he played sporadically for most of the remaining season -- even when not on the DL, he had some days when he wasn't up to the challenge. At one point in June, he heard reports that his San Diego condo had been burglarized, and was given permission by the team to go to San Diego to attend to his personal matters. The following day, he was AWOL -- he had called Preston Gomez in the morning to tell him that his shoulder was still bothering him, but Gomez could tell he was calling from long distance. (Besides, Gomez still wanted Kingman to be at the game, if for no reason other than to sit on the bench and appear as if he could pinch-hit.)

This incident created a huge uproar, with Bob Kennedy promising to come down like a ton of bricks. In the end, Kingman was fined a game's pay (about $2,500). For a large part of the rest of the season, fans booed him frequently -- not only because of the incident itself, but for his lackluster play while nursing his injuries. (Of course, the locker room incident didn't go over well either).

The AWOL incident sounds pretty familiar. If he was Sammy Sosa, he would have been booted off the team. Come to think of it, didn't something vaguely similar happen to Kyle Farnsworth? IIRC, he flew to Georgia to attend to the birth of his child, then missed the next game as well.
   8. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 06, 2006 at 12:45 AM (#2252176)
Thanks for the kind thoughts, gents.

Well, win shares says the Mets and Cards were worse. But they stunk. That's the important thing.

They trailed the league in fielding percentage as well as defensive efficiency. Either way, though, not only was the defense lousy, but it was something that peeved Gomez throughout his brief tenure.

Lee Smith, who made his major league debut and went on to collect more saves than anyone in history.

I was going to mention him and forgot. That '80 bullpen had Sutter, Tidrow (in his best season), Caudill, Hernandez, and Smith. What a group!
   9. Russ Posted: December 06, 2006 at 12:55 AM (#2252181)
To those alive when this happened: Does this compare well to 2005 and 2006?


I'm officially old.
   10. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: December 06, 2006 at 01:49 AM (#2252251)
This was awesome, dJf, thanks. I hope you do more.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: December 06, 2006 at 06:07 AM (#2252539)
And as mentioned in the article, the Cubs had traded away Donnie Moore (Angels closer 85-86) after the 79 season. Ron Davis (Twins closer 82-85) was a Cubs draftee. Even Dennis Lamp led the Sox in saves in 83. I think there might have been a couple more. In 1984, current or former Cub relievers were #1, 3, 4, 5, and 8 in MLB in saves.

When asked where closers came from, someone (James?) once quipped "In the 80s, they came from the Cubs."
   12. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: December 06, 2006 at 01:45 PM (#2252662)
The following day, [Kingman] was AWOL

Was that the time he went to the Taste of Chicago instead of the game?
   13. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 06, 2006 at 04:32 PM (#2252873)
Was that the time he went to the Taste of Chicago instead of the game?

No -- I said he was in San Diego.

He did show up at ChicagoFest that year (the predecessor of Taste of Chicago), but he was on the DL at that time. He was eligible to come off it, but his shoulder problems nagged him for the rest of the season, so it's entirely possible that he was still ailing. In any event, the team wasn't expecting him at the park.
   14. Spahn Insane Posted: December 06, 2006 at 04:50 PM (#2252891)
I think there might have been a couple more. In 1984, current or former Cub relievers were #1, 3, 4, 5, and 8 in MLB in saves.

Bill Caudill's another one.
   15. Spahn Insane Posted: December 06, 2006 at 04:51 PM (#2252894)
Ah--someone beat me to it.
   16. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: December 06, 2006 at 04:53 PM (#2252897)
No -- I said he was in San Diego.

I got that, but where Kingman was concerned, you have to admit anything was possible.
   17. Zonk is Back Where He Came From Posted: December 06, 2006 at 04:55 PM (#2252907)
I was only 6 -- but was this really a rumor:

Kennedy denied rumors that he turned down an offer of Dave Winfield for Dave Kingman, adding that Kingman is signed more cheaply through 1982 and that he would prefer Kingman to Winfield anyway.

I wonder if there was any truth to it (the deal truly being proffered, not there being a rumor).

Along the lines of Cubs that would close one day (for someone else)... Don't want to jump ahead, but skip a year or 2 forward -- and you could add Bill Campbell and Craig Lefferts to that list....
   18. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 06, 2006 at 05:05 PM (#2252920)
Bringing it full circle, the Cubs drafted Lefferts in 1980.
   19. Zonk is Back Where He Came From Posted: December 06, 2006 at 05:14 PM (#2252937)
Bringing it full circle, the Cubs drafted Lefferts in 1980.

They also selected Tom Henke with the 24th pick in the first round, but he did not sign.
   20. Anthony Giacalone Posted: December 06, 2006 at 07:17 PM (#2253080)
To those alive when this happened: Does this compare well to 2005 and 2006?



I'm officially old.


ugh. Me too. For the record, I think that the 2005 team was much better than that dreadful 1980 team. But, that could just be faulty memory since back then everything the Cubs did seemed "blah." Even their wonderful 1977 season paled in comparison to the Southside Hitmen.

I guess Krukow was pretty exciting back then. But nobody that I can recall ever got excited about Bill Caudill, at least not until he went to Seattle and had the break-out season in 1982. Heck, people were way more interested in Randy Martz back then they were in any bullpenner who name didn't rhyme with Hooter. Or, at least, that's the way that I remember it.
   21. Boots Day Posted: December 06, 2006 at 07:34 PM (#2253102)
This was a great article. Thanks for posting it. My family moved from Chicago in 1976, and we didn't get cable with WGN on it until 1981, so this was one of my missing years. Although apparently I didn't miss much.

Heaviest Player: Reuschel was listed as 6’3”, 235#, but I think Barry Foote had to be heavier than that

I think Reuschel himself had to be heavier than that. By 1980, he had to be at least an eighth of a ton.

Lightest Player: Figueroa, 5’1”, 160#

I have to admit I don't remember Jesus Figueroa at all, but I suspect he was taller than that.
   22. Jose Canusee Posted: December 06, 2006 at 07:41 PM (#2253115)
Lightest Player: Figueroa, 5’1”, 160#
I thought you had found a sub-Patek but BB Ref calls him 5'-10"
   23. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 06, 2006 at 07:42 PM (#2253122)
A lurker friend asked me to compare the 2006 Cubs organization to that in 1980. Here's what I offered:

The parallels are interesting -- it was a nice coincidence. . . .

As for the comparison, I'll take today's Cubs for a few reasons. First and most importantly, Bill Wrigley lacked both the finances and the interest in the team that the Tribune does. In hindsight, I don't think the Cubs were ever going to be competitive so long as he owned the team. With the Tribune, I think it's theoretically possible (though I have other doubts).

Second, although I have problems with Jim Hendry, I'd take him over Bob Kennedy in a heartbeat. I realize that the late '70s was a different era, particularly with respect to player relations, and I also realize that Wrigley occasionally Kennedy between a rock and a hard place, but I really don't think Kennedy acquitted himself well -- either as a judge of talent, as a shrewd trademaker, as a skilled negotiator, or as a recruiter. The late '70s Cubs were a trainwreck in many ways and as difficult as it may be to attract free agents now, I can't imagine it wouldn't have been worse then. There was no way the '79-'80 Cubs would be in the market for a talent like Soriano.

Third, as for the team itself, the bullpen was terrific, and they had a good (and underrated) starter in Reuschel, but he was no Zambrano. The rest of the rotation (Lamp, Krukow, McGlothen, and occasionally Hernandez) were pretty mediocre -- I can foresee the Cubs cobbling together similar seasons by Marshall, Marmol, Mateo, and/or Guzman if things shook out well. (I also think they'll acquire another starter, but that's another issue.)

At the plate, they had Buckner, who was basically a better version of Mark Grace,* but no Derrek Lee. The current squad doesn't have any Kingmans, but I would take Ramirez and Jones over Kingman and Johnson any day of the week. Furthermore, although DeJesus was far better than Izturis or Cedeno, both of them are also far ahead of Mike Tyson. Finally, I'd take Barrett over the likes of Foote and Blackwell.

* Although Grace is Buckner's #4 comp for his career (according to BB-Ref), I really don't think it is particularly good -- as the 858 sim score indicates.

I really couldn't think of a good comp off-hand. For '80, BB-Ref had his #1 comp as Chris Chambliss, who was a fine player, but in the same era (and therefore not particularly illuminative as to what kind of player Buckner is like today).
   24. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 06, 2006 at 07:48 PM (#2253135)
I have to admit I don't remember Jesus Figueroa at all, but I suspect he was taller than that.

Thanks. That was my typo -- I've fixed it.

FWIW, I also really don't remember Figueroa at all. He didn't see the majors after '80 and Baseball Cube doesn't indicate he was in the minors either, although by 1981 he was still only 24.
   25. Boots Day Posted: December 06, 2006 at 07:52 PM (#2253141)
At the plate, they had Buckner, who was basically a better version of Mark Grace,*

What makes you think Buckner was better than Grace? Grace has 20 points of OPS+ on him lifetime (because Grace would draw a walk, and Buckner most certainly would not), and Grace sure seems like the better defender to me.

Buckner-style first basemen have more or less died out. Doug Mientkiewicz in a good year might be a decent comp.
   26. Tracy Posted: December 06, 2006 at 09:14 PM (#2253284)
For a long time, Preston Gomez was the measuring stick I used to judge lousy managers. I remember yelling "Preston!" more than once at his stupid moves.

Then Terry Bevington came along.
   27. Zonk is Back Where He Came From Posted: December 06, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#2253286)
At the plate, they had Buckner, who was basically a better version of Mark Grace,* but no Derrek Lee

Echoing Boots...

No one is ever going to mistake me for a fan of Mark Grace -- but strictly in terms of production, I don't think it's even close.

In addition to Grace's career OPS+ being 20 points higher than Buckner (119 to 99) --

Buckner's career high single season OBP was .353. Grace eclipsed every season of his career except -- 1991 (.346), his 2nd to last season (2002 - .351) and his last season (in 116 at-bats).

Grace had a better career SLG than Buckner by a wide margin, to boot.

The only advantage I can see Billy Buck having over Gracie is that he looked a lot better in retrospect because he surrounded by a lot worse teammates than Grace.

Sorry... but I don't think it's even close.
   28. Tracy Posted: December 06, 2006 at 09:22 PM (#2253296)
"Buckner-style first basemen have more or less died out. Doug Mientkiewicz in a good year might be a decent comp."

I think Sean Casey is now a good comp - can't run, gets hurt, and is annoying as hell.

When Herman Franks resigned, his parting shot was a blistering attack on Buckner and his obsession with his batting average. For whatever reason, WGN let Buckner go on the TV pregame show the next day to defend himself.
   29. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 06, 2006 at 09:30 PM (#2253304)
What makes you think Buckner was better than Grace?

I'll go with "biases, faulty memory, and a failure to look at the stats." Buckner did draw more black and grey ink, but that's about it.

As for Casey, perhaps he's a good comp. He'd be even better if he had significant OF experience, of course.
   30. Zonk is Back Where He Came From Posted: December 06, 2006 at 11:10 PM (#2253444)
FWIW, dJF, I was rather shocked the spread was as big as it was between Gracie and Buckner, too (somehow, I always thought Billy Buck had more walks than he actually did).

Like I said, I really do think it was a matter of the Cubs having such a truly awful lineup between the Santo-Williams Indian summer (can I still say that?) years and the Dallas Green days -- I mean, when folks get excited over Steve Swisher and you're counting on players like the Jerries (Morales and Martin) as your key offensive cogs -- Buckner looks a lot better. From 80 to 82, he actually was a pretty good player (OPS+ of 119, 130, and 116 - far and away the best 3 year stretch of his career). My first piece of Cubs garb was a Buckner jersey.

But hey.... long before Rosey Brown, Jason DuBois, and company -- I was absolutely CERTAIN that if the Cubs would just give Brian Dayett 600 at-bats, he'd hit 30 bombs. I have absolutely no idea why I thought that, but I still have a whole, big stack of Brian Dayett baseball cards. I keep them right next to my stack of dot com stock ;-)
   31. Walt Davis Posted: December 07, 2006 at 09:36 AM (#2253976)
Before the ankle injury, Buckner was looking like a fairly special player (though still not as good as I remember) -- 115 OPS+ with 30 SB speed. Later he was a "good RBI man" (trademark). I see he led the league in singles in 1982 -- I wonder how many other 1B can make that claim? :-)

Hey, I see Willie Hernandez was a rule V draftee -- you never see him listed as one of the all-time top rule V draftees but seems he should be on the list. I wonder if he wasn't the most successful rule V draftee ever in his first year -- at 22, he threw 110 IP of relief with a 145 ERA+. Bell, Santana, Clemente didn't do squat in their first years.
   32. Catfish326 Posted: December 12, 2006 at 11:38 PM (#2259358)
I remember watching a Cubs game in 1977, and the Cubs were getting blown out so bad, they brought in Larry Biittner . . . to pitch! On the TV screen they wrote: "Larry Biittner - the Piittcher". He got lit up like Times Square, and finished with an ERA over 40.00. Too funny.

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