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Monday, February 24, 2014

Harris: The Worst Trade In Cubs History Was Much Worse Than You Thought

A prevailing view of how far baseball fans were willing to go with integration was identified by a sportswriter named John Lardner in the 1950s. The view was described in Roger Kahn’s 1955 article “Ten Years of Jackie Robinson.” Kahn described Lardner’s view of a “50 percent color line.”

As long as a team fielded at least five white players, Lardner observed, it would remain predominantly white. That was a line that even progressive owners like Rickey preferred not to cross.

With that in mind, we can look at the racial history of the Cubs. It should not be a surprise that the team that pioneered the segregation of baseball in the 19th century (and you can google Cap Anson and/or George Stovey to find out how) was not among the first ones to integrate. In fact, it was not until late in the 1953 season that Ernie Banks became the first African American to wear Cubs blue.

The Cubs came up hard against John Lardner’s 50-percent color line during the 1956 season. In addition to Banks, the Cubs also had Sam Jones in their starting rotation, Monte Irvin in left field, and Solly Drake as a part-time centerfielder. After the season ended, though, the Cubs traded Jones to the Cardinals, sent Drake to the minors for the entire 1957 season, and did not re-sign Monte Irvin. Banks was once again the sole African American on the Cubs roster, until a little-used outfielder named Lou Jackson appeared during the 1958 season.

...Trading a future Hall-of-Famer for a broken-down pitcher is a nice narrative, particularly because it reinforces an image of ineptitude by the front office at Clark and Addison Streets. But the Cubs were more than inept; they were weak-willed, giving in to a handful of racist fans that thought their beloved team was too black.

In a long history of bad moves, this surely ranks among the most despicable the Cubs ever made.

The events described here had very real implications for the players involved, as well as for Cubs fans of all ages. There’s no way of knowing whether Brock would have helped lead the Cubs to a World Series, the way that he did in St. Louis. However, the Cubs teams that were managed by Leo Durocher—and the 1969 team, in particular—certainly could have used the boost that Lou Brock would have provided.

Fifty years without a single World Series game played at Wrigley Field is proof that karma is real, and the Cubs have plenty of it. And I don’t mean the good kind.

Thanks to Los.

Repoz Posted: February 24, 2014 at 06:11 AM | 65 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, history

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   1. Rennie's Tenet Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:28 AM (#4661346)
No idea about policies, but just adding that Brock went .257/.306/.383 in 1300 plate appearances with the Cubs. He was batting .251 when he was traded.
   2. just plain joe Posted: February 24, 2014 at 08:51 AM (#4661354)
The Broligio-Brock trade looks bad now, with 50 years of hindsight, but at the time it was widely thought that the Cubs won this one. The Cubs felt (with some justification) that Brock could not really play CF, and they felt he did not have the arm for right. When you add in the fact that the Cubs already had Billy Williams playing left field, then Brock was the odd man out. On the other hand, Ernie Broligio was coming off a four year stretch in which he was one of the top starting pitchers in the National League. If there were any signs that Broligio had a sore arm when the trade was made there is no evidence of it. Pitchers get hurt, a lot.

I have no idea if there was any racism involved in this trade. I'm sure there were people with racist attitudes in the Cubs' front office at this time, because racism was deeply engrained in American culture at that time. For that matter it still is, however, that doesn't mean that the Cubs got rid of Lou Brock because he was black; to me this was simply a baseball trade that didn't work out (for the Cubs).
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:01 AM (#4661358)

It would make far more sense to say that the trade was NOT AS BAD as "you thought."

This is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who, well, hasn't even yet made it into the Hall of Merit (and never will, although unlike dozens of HOFers he does make it onto several 15-slot ballots per year).

HOM aside, no one seriously sees him as being as imposing a player as he was seen 40 years ago. The HOF choice worked in the sense that people were fascinated by his breaking Maury Wills' SB mark, and he had a couple of great World Series, and he was the first 3,000-hit guy who wasn't all that, so no one thought there was such a thing. And walks, schmalks, at the time.

Whatever the reason for the bad trade, it's not what we once thought it was.
   4. The Tarp That Ate Vince Coleman Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:27 AM (#4661370)
Yeah, but it's still pretty cool to think that he stole 118 bases during his Age 35 year. Rickey had just 22 during his Age 35 year, which was actually a half-year (1994). Of course, Rickey swiped 66 during his Age 39 season.
   5. McCoy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:31 AM (#4661372)
(and you can google Cap Anson and/or George Stovey to find out how)

Is this author's first name Kevin? You'd think he would google it first to get his story right.
   6. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:38 AM (#4661374)
45 WAR for Brock vs. -1.0 for Broglio post trade. Yeah, I'd say it was pretty awful.

Has anyone tried to rank trades purely by WAR? I imagine Bagwell-Anderson has to be near the top of the list (non-Ruth division).
   7. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4661378)
45 WAR for Brock vs. -1.0 for Broglio post trade. Yeah, I'd say it was pretty awful.

Has anyone tried to rank trades purely by WAR? I imagine Bagwell-Anderson has to be near the top of the list (non-Ruth division).


Well, by that method, Brock for Broglio is not even close to the worst in Cubs history. Rafael Palmeiro and Jamie Moyer for Paul Kilgus, Mitch Williams, Curtis Wilkerson, and Steve wilson. Moyer and Palmeiro produced 114 WAR after the trade. The players the Cubs got combined for 4.5
   8. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4661380)
And of course the Cubs had their share of good ones. DeJesus for Bowa and Sandberg scores as a +67.7 for them. Bell for Sosa scores +60.4. Fergie Jenkins and Adolpho Phillips for Bob Buhl and Larry Jackson scores +93.2. Phillips alone for Buhl and Jackson would have been a steal.

Bagwell for Anderson scores a +75 for Houston.
   9. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:57 AM (#4661382)
It probably doesn't really count, but the Pirates had a 291 WAR win in a trade in 1899. They got Wagner, Fred Clarke, Tommy Leach, Rube Waddell, Deacon Phillippe, and Chief Zimmer from Louisville for Jack Chesbro and some spare parts.

I say it probably doesn't count because the same guy owned both teams and knew the NL was likely to contract Louisville before the 1900 season.
   10. Scott Lange Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:02 AM (#4661383)
That is as poorly supported a hatchet job as I've read in a long time. The one piece of solid evidence for the author's claim is Buck O'Neil's story at the very end, although its hard to take even that at face value since instead of quoting O'Neil on the key point, he states that "The gist of O’Neil’s story, to me, is..." Other than that, the story is loaded with powerful accusations based on the flimsiest of foundations.

He carefully lists every black player who the Cubs ever traded, sent to the minors, or gave little playing time to, implying that each decision was part of a racial conspiracy. As far as I can tell, every player he lists was mediocre or worse, with the arguable exception of Monte Irvin who was a league average player but 37 years old. He continuously mentions the magic fifty-percent "saturation point" (five of nine players on the field being black) line as though it were driving every Cubs decision. He ominously says that the 1962 Cubs had four everyday black players, then "if the 50-percent number that John Lardner had once identified truly was the “saturation point” for fans, the Cubs were about to find out."

Well, if so, they found out that it wasn't. The next three paragraphs describe how the '63 Cubs 1) purchased Ellis Burton's contract from Cleveland in May, 2) installed Burton in center in June, 3) kept the other four everyday black players in the lineup, and 4) played that way for the rest of the season!

But the author, apparently not having noticed that he just detonated his thesis, plows ahead with the conspiracy. Note the utter lack of concrete evidence exposed by the word choices in the following paragraphs:

The ugly letters probably started coming into the Cubs’ front office during the 1963 season

Probably. I mean, I have no evidence at all, but I'm still gonna say its probable.
Perhaps that explains the promotion of Sterling Slaughter to the majors...

Or perhaps it explains why there is an eye on the pyramid on the back of the dollar bill!
Was that the tipping point?

Maybe so!!
Exactly what was discussed at the May 18th meeting cannot be known with any certainty

But I think we all know it was basically a Klan meeting! Come on! Its obvious!
The piece probably seemed innocuous enough at the time, but might have been the start of a campaign to deal Brock away

Or it might have been the start of a campaign to kill Vince Foster and make it look like a suicide!
But perhaps the Cubs were not really seeking to gain a pitcher so much as they were looking to deal away an outfielder who happened to have the wrong skin color

Or perhaps they were looking to throw the 1919 World Series!
On the heels of the Cubs’ unsuccessful offer to trade Brock for Ray Sadecki, it seems clear that the team was not very particular about which player they took. Clearly, they wanted to dump Brock.

It seems clear that clearly the accusations I'm making are clearly true. Come on, its completely clear. Clearly.

All in all, the article reads like a parody written to satire people who are against discrimination by suggesting that they see racial conspiracies whether or not there is any evidence to support them. It is entirely possible that there were bigoted people in the Cubs front office making decisions for discriminatory reasons, but this article does nothing to prove it.
   11. Charles S. will not yield to this monkey court Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4661384)
I always thought the Madlock-Murcer trade was the stupidest race-based trade the Cubs ever made, and it even has the same alliteration as the Brock for Broglio deal.
   12. AROM Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM (#4661389)
Looking at Brock/Broglio, I can see where it looked like a good deal at the time for the Cubs.

Broglio was 28, and over the previous 4 years had averaged 16 wins, 220 innings, 128 ERA+, and 4.5 WAR. In 1964 before the trade, he had pitched 69 innings with a 110 ERA+ - still looks like a solid #2 starter.

Brock was 25, and in his third year as a starting outfielder for the Cubs. He could run, but was not much of a fielder (and would not become one in St Louis either). As a hitter, he's well below average, a 77 OPS+ at the time of the trade following 2 years in the low 90's. We're talking a .250-.260 hitter who doesn't walk and only offers moderate power.

To put them in terms of today's comparable players, let's pretend that instead of reaching the majors at 25 and being 33 now, Rajai Davis has been up for only 2 years, has played exactly like he did for the 2012-13 Blue Jays, and is now 25 years old.

Someone offers you a durable, above average 28 year old starter, say Doug Fister or Justin Masterson. Also assume that cost control is not an issue, as free agency will not happen for at least another decade. All players are cost controlled. Nobody would pass on that deal, unless there are serious known health issues with the pitcher (not sure what was known about Broglio).

   13. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:24 AM (#4661422)
But the Cubs were more than inept; they were weak-willed, giving in to a handful of racist fans that thought their beloved team was too black.

I'm not sure why he says there were only a "handful" of racist fans, when before that he said that the 50% rule was widespread.
He continuously mentions the magic fifty-percent "saturation point" (five of nine players on the field being black) line as though it were driving every Cubs decision.
I'm not sure how old you are, but those of us who lived through the 1960s and 1970s remember that the number of black players vs. white players was definitely an issue for teams. This article may not do a good job of documenting it, but it was widely and openly discussed among fans, talk radio hosts and callers, and basically everyone I knew. As late as the early 1980s a caller in St Louis with a rural accent asked the talk radio host "Do you think it's possible that this Niekro will come to St Louis?" The host heard it as "negro" and paused uncomfortably until someone told him what the guy actually said. I do not doubt that race played a role in every transaction involving a black player since I do not doubt that there was a "quota" of sorts where teams felt pressure to present enough "white faces".
   14. Scott Lange Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:32 AM (#4661434)
I'm not sure how old you are, but those of us who lived through the 1960s and 1970s remember that the number of black players vs. white players was definitely an issue for teams. This article may not do a good job of documenting it, but it was widely and openly discussed among fans, talk radio hosts and callers, and basically everyone I knew. As late as the early 1980s a caller in St Louis with a rural accent asked the talk radio host "Do you think it's possible that this Niekro will come to St Louis?" The host heard it as "negro" and paused uncomfortably until someone told him what the guy actually said. I do not doubt that race played a role in every transaction involving a black player since I do not doubt that there was a "quota" of sorts where teams felt pressure to present enough "white faces".


I don't doubt any of that. I just think the article did an awful, awful job of making the case.
   15. BDC Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4661442)
I'm not sure how old you are, but those of us who lived through the 1960s and 1970s remember that the number of black players vs. white players was definitely an issue for teams

I lived through the 1960s as a faculty kid at Loyola of Chicago, so the number of black players on teams was indeed a huge issue as I remember it. But the North Side of Chicago was one of those places with a lot of white fans who were pretty enthusiastic about black athletes. I don't dismiss the possibility that any front office was playing according to implicit racial quotas, but the Cubs would be well down my list of suspects.
   16. McCoy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4661444)
They had talk radio in the 60's and had people calling in? And they also had sports talk? How long? An hour a week?
   17. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4661445)
Has anyone tried to rank trades purely by WAR?

This doesn't really count since it took place during the dying days of syndicate baseball, but still:

Christy Mathewson was traded by the Reds to the Giants for Amos Rusie on December 15, 1900. Before the trade:

Rusie's WAR: 69.1
Mathewson's WAR: 0.0

After the trade....

Mathewson's WAR for the Giants: 95.6
Rusie's WAR for the Reds: -0.7
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4661448)
Has anyone tried to rank trades purely by WAR?

Aren't we missing the obvious one?

Babe Ruth: 142.7 WAR for $100,000

Edit: missed the Ruth disclaimer; that's what I get for quoting Andy's quote.
   19. McCoy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:54 AM (#4661449)
Ahem,

"Has anyone tried to rank trades purely by WAR? I imagine Bagwell-Anderson has to be near the top of the list (non-Ruth division)."

No.
   20. OCF Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4661450)
If Brock could have played a decent defensive CF, he might well have made it to the Hall of Merit. Of course, if Brock could have played a decent defensive CF, the Cubs would have had a place to play him.

As a hitter, he's well below average, a 77 OPS+ at the time of the trade

I think Brock was already in the process of becoming a better hitter than he'd been. His poor results in the first part of 1964 were a BABIP fluke. And then, what happened for the rest of that season? An even more extreme BABIP fluke in the opposite direction. Brock batted nearly .350 for the Cardinals in 1964, when we know that he never could have sustained that kind of BA over the long run - he struck out too much.

Broglio is the exact same age as Bob Gibson, and through 1963 had been essentially equal to Gibson as a pitcher. It's not that easy to choose between them going forward. But then Broglio was an immediate total bust, while Gibson would go on to have a peak that places him firmly among the greats of the game. Who could have foreseen either path? Of course medical science and the diagnosis of shoulder and elbow injuries was not then what it is now. Clearly, Broglio got hurt. Whether he was already hurt at the time of the trade and what anyone knew about that at the time? Unknown and perhaps unknowable.

I've long been fascinated by the status of Brock/Broglio as the paradigm of "bad trade", when there are so many others to choose from - so many that, unlike Brock/Broglo, were clearly bad trades at the moment they were made. One factor has to be the immediacy of the impact: the immediate decline of Broglio, and that .350 average (that BABIP fluke) that Brock carried for the rest of 1964, with the Cardinals making it to the World series.
   21. OCF Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:03 PM (#4661459)
A "trade" is an agreement fairly reached by two independent parties, each of which is trying to win baseball games. I don't think Mathewson/Rusie meets that standard, nor do a number of other smelly late 1890's deals.
   22. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4661470)
Rafael Palmeiro and Jamie Moyer for Paul Kilgus, Mitch Williams, Curtis Wilkerson, and Steve wilson.

That was an amazingly bad trade, but Texas only got about 20 WAR from it.

Ahem,

"Has anyone tried to rank trades purely by WAR? I imagine Bagwell-Anderson has to be near the top of the list (non-Ruth division)."

No.


As always, your contribution is noted and appreciated.
   23. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4661477)
Slocumb for Varitek and Lowe is ~45 WAR in favor of Boston. Not as much as I thought but still terrible or great depending on your perspective.
   24. bfan Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4661483)
A "trade" is an agreement fairly reached by two independent parties, each of which is trying to win baseball games


I think this is a good and interesting comment, because it plays into the other type of bad trade-Bagwell for Anderson; Teixeira for gobs of Braves prospects; Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. Althought the margin of WAR difference would be disappointing for the guys on the wrong side of this trade, my guess is that in all cases, if the analysis is total WAR for the players in the trade, in their career, they would admit that they are making a bad trade. But the point of the trade is convert WAR to where you feel like you want them/need them (as in winning now, vs. your thoughts of breing able to develop another, different 1B; or SS; or whatever in the future).

For example, I think in the admittedly terribles Braves/Rangers Teixeira trade, the Braves thought that Saltamaccia would be forever blocked by McCann at catcher, so that Salty's current and future value to them was zero. To the Rangers it was more than zero, but you get my point. And, if Jeff Francoeur hadn't come up with the start of his horribly bad years in RF, then the Braves get in the play-offs that year with Teixeira at a half-season of 2 WAR, and flags fly forever and so on.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4661489)
I think this is a good and interesting comment, because it plays into the other type of bad trade-Bagwell for Anderson; Teixeira for gobs of Braves prospects; Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. Althought the margin of WAR difference would be disappointing for the guys on the wrong side of this trade, my guess is that in all cases, if the analysis is total WAR for the players in the trade, in their career, they would admit that they are making a bad trade. But the point of the trade is convert WAR to where you feel like you want them/need them (as in winning now, vs. your thoughts of breing able to develop another, different 1B; or SS; or whatever in the future).

For example, I think in the admittedly terribles Braves/Rangers Teixeira trade, the Braves thought that Saltamaccia would be forever blocked by McCann at catcher, so that Salty's current and future value to them was zero. To the Rangers it was more than zero, but you get my point. And, if Jeff Francoeur hadn't come up with the start of his horribly bad years in RF, then the Braves get in the play-offs that year with Teixeira at a half-season of 2 WAR, and flags fly forever and so on.


Concur. You should also only look at WAR during the team-controlled years. What Bagwell did once the Astros had to pay him market price really doesn't affect the trade evaluation.
   26. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4661499)
Concur. You should also only look at WAR during the team-controlled years. What Bagwell did once the Astros had to pay him market price really doesn't affect the trade evaluation.


In that case, all the worst trades ever will be pre-FA. For example, Joe Tipton for Nellie Fox. Fox produced 47 WAR in his 14 team controlled years with the White Sox, 5 times getting more WAR in a season than Tipton would get in the rest of his career. Is that a better or worse trade than Bagwell for Anderson?
   27. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4661506)
I think this is a good and interesting comment, because it plays into the other type of bad trade-Bagwell for Anderson; Teixeira for gobs of Braves prospects; Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. Althought the margin of WAR difference would be disappointing for the guys on the wrong side of this trade, my guess is that in all cases, if the analysis is total WAR for the players in the trade, in their career, they would admit that they are making a bad trade. But the point of the trade is convert WAR to where you feel like you want them/need them (as in winning now, vs. your thoughts of breing able to develop another, different 1B; or SS; or whatever in the future).


The Schilling-Anderson for Boddicker deal was a good example. Boddicker was a quality starting pitcher, and he pitched well for the Sox and they won two division titles in his three years there. That Anderson and Schilling (two stops later) put up great careers is notable, but the Sox got what they were looking for.

In contrast, the problem with the Bagwell trade wasn't just that they were giving up a potentially great player; it's that they were doing so for a player who was never going to be more than 37-year-old Larry Andersen.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:47 PM (#4661507)
In that case, all the worst trades ever will be pre-FA.

That's probably right. The cost of trading away a young player who turns into a super-star is nowhere near as large today as it was pre-FA.

The surplus value of Mike Trout under the old reserve clause is probably 5-10 times as large as the surplus value of Mike Trout to the Angels today.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4661513)
In contrast, the problem with the Bagwell trade wasn't just that they were giving up a potentially great player; it's that they were doing so for a player who was never going to be more than 37-year-old Larry Andersen.

That's not fair, he had a great chance of turning into 38-year-old Larry Anderson.
   30. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4661517)
That's probably right. The cost of trading away a young player who turns into a super-star is nowhere near as large today as it was pre-FA.


I agree in large terms, but I think there is non-zero value in re-negotiating a contract versus getting someone as a free agent. I think you know more about the player and they have a greater knowledge and comfort with the organization (assumes a functional organization). I think some of the post FA WAR should be put in, but not all and I have zero clue how to figure out what the right amount would be.
   31. Sweatpants Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4661520)
And, if Jeff Francoeur hadn't come up with the start of his horribly bad years in RF, then the Braves get in the play-offs that year with Teixeira at a half-season of 2 WAR, and flags fly forever and so on.
Francoeur was actually good that year - OPS+ just over 100 and a Gold Glove in RF. The problems were the back of the rotation (Redman/Cormier/Reyes/Davies/Carlyle) and 1B before Teixeira arrived (Thorman/Craig Wilson/Franco).
   32. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 24, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4661527)
A "trade" is an agreement fairly reached by two independent parties, each of which is trying to win baseball games. I don't think Mathewson/Rusie meets that standard, nor do a number of other smelly late 1890's deals.

That's why I prefaced my Mathewson/Rusie comment by saying "This doesn't really count since it took place during the dying days of syndicate baseball". Not that this was much consolation to Reds fans.
   33. AROM Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4661559)
Clearly, Broglio got hurt. Whether he was already hurt at the time of the trade and what anyone knew about that at the time? Unknown and perhaps unknowable.


After seeing this thread I looked around for an explanation. Broglio says his elbow was sore and the Cardinals had been giving him cortisone injections. He had elbow surgery of some sort after that season (bone chips removed?) but never really recovered. He thought if the article had happened 15 years later he would have had Tommy John surgery.

It seemed the general opinion of the players interviewed that the Cards put one over on the Cubs, trading damaged goods, but the GMs involved are dead so we can't be sure who knew what when.

One cool thing about it is Broglio and Brock became good friends after the trade, and remain so. Brock says his confidence took a huge leap after the trade. One minute he's worried about being send back to the minors, next thing he figures he must be pretty good because the Cards traded a 20 game winner to get him.
   34. Answer Guy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:42 PM (#4661591)
The Schilling-Anderson for Boddicker deal was a good example. Boddicker was a quality starting pitcher, and he pitched well for the Sox and they won two division titles in his three years there. That Anderson and Schilling (two stops later) put up great careers is notable, but the Sox got what they were looking for.


It also took Brady Anderson years to truly pan out, and there's nothing that says that the Red Sox, who were not the most patient organization in baseball at the time, wouldn't have shipped him away in a similar deal.
   35. Downtown Bookie Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:01 PM (#4661737)
Frankly, I'm a little disappointed that no one has yet pointed out the real reason why the Broligio-Brock trade was horrible for the Cubs.

The Broligio-Brock trade was seen as yet one more bad more by the Cards front office in 1964; so much so that August Busch, owner of the St Louis team, acting on advice from his special assistant, Branch Rickey (there's that man again!) canned General Manager Bing Devine in August of that year. Suddenly unemployed, Devine was able to secure the job of General Manager with the New York team that had an owner that was willing to spend whatever it took to turn her team into a winner; and that's how Bing Devine built the Miracle Mets team that would win it all in 1969.

DB
   36. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 24, 2014 at 07:47 PM (#4661756)
Broglio, at the time of the trade, was coming back from a reported groin injury that cost him nearly two weeks. Given the pattern of his 1964 starts, it's entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that he *was* injured at the time of the trade.

-- MWE
   37. zonk Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:24 PM (#4661794)
That's not fair, he had a great chance of turning into 38-year-old Larry Anderson.


A quote Anderson himself would appreciate...

But yeah - deadline trades for prospect lottery tickets almost always bite you in the ass (even in the prospects don't pan out) if you look at them with more than a few years of hindsight because the whole point is that flags fly forever.

That's really why the Brock/Broglio and the Palmeiro trade (to a lesser extent... after all, you could perhaps say the '89 division was basically bringing in Mitch... you might be wrong, but it was plenty written at the time and shortly thereafter).
   38. esseff Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:34 PM (#4661799)
The Broligio-Brock trade was seen as yet one more bad more by the Cards front office in 1964; so much so that August Busch, owner of the St Louis team, acting on advice from his special assistant, Branch Rickey (there's that man again!) canned General Manager Bing Devine in August of that year.


Devine was canned, all right, largely because of Rickey's meddling, but it wasn't because of trading for Brock two months earlier. Brock was an immediate sensation in St. Louis.
   39. What's the realistic upside, RMc? Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:56 PM (#4661817)
Looking at Brock's age-24 comps vs Broglio's age-27 comps, it's roughly like trading Cameron Maybin for Chad Billingsley. (Thing is, you never know...other age-24 Brock comps include Von Hayes (26 WAR from age 25 on), Alex Rios (25 and counting) and Bernie Williams (45 WAR!).

Then again, Broglio's 2nd-best age-27 comp was a guy who was the same age and played on the very same team: Bob Gibson.
   40. Cblau Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:01 PM (#4661823)
The problem with calling the Mathewson-Rusie trade one-sided is that it didn't happen. There was no such trade; that story was invented years later.
   41. Publius Publicola Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:10 PM (#4661828)
The late 50's/early 60's Cardinals also had their issues with racism. Solly Hemus ostracized Bob Gibson and Gibson didn't really start to flourish until Johnny Keane replaced him as manager.
   42. Downtown Bookie Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:15 PM (#4661830)
"Three or four years ago, Vaughn P. (Bing) Devine, the club's vice-president and general manager, began the moves that resulted in this year's [1964] flag. He installed Johnny Keane, a veteran member of the Cardinal chain, as manager; he put in Eddie Stanky as director of player development; and he negotiated a number of trades of such astuteness that he was named 1963's Major League Executive of the Year. Meanwhile, however, August A. Busch, Jr., the St. Louis brewer who purchased the Cards in 1953, was growing impatient. Two years ago, irritated by the club's sixth-place finish, Busch hired Branch Rickey, the octogenarian Grand Panjandrum of baseball, as "special consultant" to the club - a famously disruptive title in any business organization. Rickey arrived, heavily retinued, and began rumbling forebodings. He opposed Devine's pending Gotay-for-Groat trade with Pittsburgh-a deal, ultimately clinched, that nailed the Cardinals' infield together once and for all. The Mahatma was unappeased. As one Cardinal later said, "He sat in that damned box watching us and never smiled once. He didn't even smile when we won."

Last August, some weeks after Devine traded off an eighteen-game winning pitcher, Ernie Broglio, for a .251-hitting Cub outfielder, Lou Brock, he was summarily fired by Busch and Rickey, neither of whom noticed that the trade had transformed the Cardinals into the hottest team in the league. Eddie Stanky then resigned, and both Devine and Stanky were instantly hired by the New York Mets, who are unaccustomed to such strokes of fortune."

- Roger Angel, "Two Strikes on the Image", October 1964; reprinted in The Summer Game

DB
   43. Jose Canusee Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:33 PM (#4661835)
No one mentioned "reliever named Bobby Shantz", whom Harris acts like we wouldn't know about either. He was about the same age as Burdette and had been a bigger star in the AL, winning the 1952 MVP by putting up a 24-7 record for the generally lousy Philadelphia A's. He had been an excellent reliever in 2+ years with the Cards. He was so well-regarded at the time that 1964 was his eighth consecutive Gold Glove-name another reliever, much less an old reliever, that had that kind of reputation with the glove. Spring was not comparable unless the Cardinals thought he was a mechanical fix from going from mediocre to good.
   44. bjhanke Posted: February 24, 2014 at 10:55 PM (#4661843)
A couple of comments on the Brock trade that haven't already been made.

1) The Cubs not only had Billy Williams in LF, they also had Ernie Banks at 1B. Brock did not have the arm for RF nor the glove for CF, and he was a lefty. LF and 1B were the only spots he could play, and the Cubs had a black HoF guy in both places already.

2) Bing Devine did NOT get fired over the Lou Brock trade. What happened was that he made a later, and much lesser, player move and, with his phone ringing off the hook, did not IMMEDIATELY call Gussie Busch to tell him. Rickey, a master of power plays (the dark side of Rickey that has been forgotten, but was always a part of his methods) called Gussie and told him that Bing was trying to conceal a trade. Bing is explicit about that in his autobiography, and it's also the same story he told me when I got to know him at the end of his life.

3) The Cards had a weird history about integration. Up through 1953, they were owned by Fred Saigh, a combination of a lawyer and a venture capitalist. He'd bought the team during one of his flush periods, but by 1953, he was looking at both bankruptcy and income tax evasion. Distracted from being a hands-on owner, Saigh left integration to the front office, which was highly salted with old Branch Rickey recruits from the 1930s, when Branch recruited heavily from the South. So there was no drive to integrate. When Saigh did sell the team, in the 1953 offseason, it was to Gussie Busch, who had deep pockets and no money troubles.

To his credit, Busch went about integrating right away. They tried Tom Alston and Brooks Lawrence in 1954, Gussie's first year. Alston didn't work out, and Lawrence got traded to Cincy after a weak sophomore year. But Gussie hired Bing as GM during the 1956 offseason, and Bing went right to work. His first trade was for Curt Flood, who seems to have been available because the Reds had Vada Pinson about ready for the majors, and Pinson was a CF who hit better than Flood, and having the two of them AND Frank Robinson in the OF may have been too many black guys in one place for the Reds (I don't KNOW this - I'm speculating here based on a few comments from Bing that were not specific). Then Bill White. He matched the Harlem Globetrotters' money offer to Bob Gibson (really; the Trotters paid better than the Cards' original offer). By that time, though, Solly Hemus had raised his ugly head with a rabble-rousing groupie letter to Gussie, who was susceptible to such, and got the manager's job in 1959. Hemus was a racist whose idea of how to deal with black guys was to bench Curt Flood, send Stan Musial to 1B, and thereby "have" to try Bill White out in CF. White, although a Gold Glove 1B who could run, was no OF, and besides, the Cards already had Joe Cunningham, who also could only play 1B. Solly was very lucky that Musial put up with this. Solly also reduced Gibson's role to mop-up man, using Bob's not-quite-perfect strike zone control as an excuse. This lasted from 1959-1961, when Bing finally got Solly fired. In 1963, Stan Musial announced his retirement at the end of the season, leaving Bing with a hole in LF for 1964. The Cards at that time had lots of pitchers, few decent OF prospects. But Bing had had a whole 1963 to make a list of potential Musial replacements. When the Charlie Jameses of the world failed, Bing got Brock, whom the Cubs could not find a spot for, in return for Broglio, a pitcher who had been pitching well in 1964, and who had been great in 1962, but who was facing a lot of competition in the Cards' rotation.

Bing's opiniion of Branch Rickey is enlightening. His take on Branch was that Branch had taken the title "special consultant" and translated it into "deputy owner in charge of ordering the GM around." Bing thought he had been hired as GM. So Rickey found an opening, pulled a completely unethical power play, and had his own guy installed at GM. Since, at his age, Branch did not have the energy to do the huge amount of work that he had done before, the organization drifted. But it already had Flood, White, Gibson, and Brock to go with Boyer and Groat and Javier and McCarver, and an organization that was still kicking out hot young pitchers like Ray Sadecki and Steve Carlton.

The worst trade between the Cubs and Cardinals still remains Three Finger Brown, right after his rookie season in 1903, from the Cards to the Cubs for Approximately Nothing. - Brock Hanke
   45. RickG Posted: February 24, 2014 at 11:05 PM (#4661847)
Not bothering with "team control only", but Bagwell-Andersen isn't even the best Houston deal of that era by WAR. Schilling/Finley/Harnisch for Davis is a net +140.9 for the Astros. Of course, they let Schilling get away...but evaluating the deal by itself....
   46. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 25, 2014 at 12:58 AM (#4661884)
Apropos of nothing, thank you for the various excellent posts on this topic, especially #44. Growing up in 1980s Champaign, IL, which was about evenly split between Cubs/Cardinals, this trade had kind of an "origin story" legendary status as shorthand for the fates of both teams.
   47. OCF Posted: February 25, 2014 at 02:12 AM (#4661895)
Just to put in a plug for some of my own posts in the Hall of Merit section, here is the link. Many of the issues dealt with in this thread surface there as well.
   48. BrianBrianson Posted: February 25, 2014 at 04:47 AM (#4661900)

Babe Ruth: 142.7 WAR for $100,000


Although there wasn't much of a free agent market at the time, if you extrapolate $/WAR inflation back to 1920, this is probably about fair.
   49. bjhanke Posted: February 25, 2014 at 05:34 AM (#4661902)
ElRoy - Thanks. I did the best I could. Cub fans will never forget that trade, although reminding them of Miner Brown does perk them up some. My personal opinion is that the Cubs' biggest problem at the time was that their farm system just wasn't cranking out enough talent go go with the black guys they were signing. The team was mostly dominated by Williams, Banks, Jenkins and Santo. Only Santo is a white farm product. The other top farm products were good but not real good, like Don Kessinger and Glenn Beckett. You may know a LOT more about that than I do....

AROM - Bing Devine said that he was not trying to put over anything on anyone. He was acquiring a guy who could play only 1B and LF, and who hadn't hit yet. He was trading away a pitcher who had been very good, but had just suffered a reasonably minor injury. Of course, Bing isn't exactly the neutral source you're looking for.

Also AROM - I put this up on a thread a couple of weeks ago, but the thread disappeared into the archives, so I doubt you ever even saw it. Somewhere in the last few months, someone - maybe you - commented that the BB-Ref WAR system, which is, I think, the one you do, actually starts top-down, like Win Shares, instead of bottom up, like all WAR systems I had ever heard of until that comment. My question is whether this is true. I have had a theory for a long time that one of the largest - perhaps the largest - difference between WAR and Win Shares is that WAR, after it tries to get a system that matches team runs scored (or allowed) in a season as well as possible, then proceeds to use the system's results instead of reconciling anything to actual team wins. This implies that WAR treats the discrepancy between system and reality (call that "undiscovered value") as if it were all luck, whereas it, of course, is part luck and part undiscovered skill. Win Shares, which reconciles everything to team wins, implicitly holds that all undiscovered value is skill. That's a big difference. If your WAR system does start top down, boy would that be a good thing to know when comparing systems, because it might imply that your WAR system treats luck the same as Win Shares, instead of the opposite. Thanks in advance - Brock
   50. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: February 25, 2014 at 07:43 AM (#4661924)
The team was mostly dominated by Williams, Banks, Jenkins and Santo. Only Santo is a white farm product


And what people seem to always forget, is that the Cubs got Jenkins less than 2 years after Brock-Broglio in a polar opposite fleecing of the Phillies. Only worse. Instead of getting a young guy in his prime, the Phillies were getting 2 guys over age 35. Larry Jackson was decent for the Phillies for 3 years (on paper, he looks like a right handed Mark Buehrle.), but the Cubs got 50 WAR out of Jenkins, 10 out of Phillips, and 14.5 out of Bill Madlock. That more than makes up for Brock for Broglio, and it happened less than 2 years later, and no one remembers it.
   51. Rennie's Tenet Posted: February 25, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4662091)
1) The Cubs not only had Billy Williams in LF, they also had Ernie Banks at 1B. Brock did not have the arm for RF nor the glove for CF, and he was a lefty. LF and 1B were the only spots he could play, and the Cubs had a black HoF guy in both places already.


It's just beyond the fringe of my memory, but the Cubs played Williams in right for 106 games in 1965 and 152 games in 1966. It looks like George Altman was Plan A in left in 1965, and some combination of Altman and Byron Browne in 1966 (with Browne eventually having most of the job).
   52. esseff Posted: February 25, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4662184)
And what people seem to always forget, is that the Cubs got Jenkins less than 2 years after Brock-Broglio in a polar opposite fleecing of the Phillies.


And less than two years before Brock-Broglio, they made a very similar trade with the Cardinals, only they got TWO established pitchers (All-Stars even) for a young outfielder, who in this case proceeded to disappoint in St. Louis. (The Cardinals salvaged something from that deal only because they were about to flip Don Cardwell, whom they also acquired in it, for Groat.)
   53. Sunday silence Posted: February 25, 2014 at 01:44 PM (#4662224)
I really enjoy BJ's stories from these days, I did a little more research to flesh out what he is saying.

The experiment with White in RF and Musial at 1B ended at the end of 1960. Neither of them played there in 1961. Solly was fired half way through the '61 season not sure about what happened there. White could really run throughout his career though so not sure it was such a bad idea.

Joe Cunningham was actually OPS+ ing in the 140s from '57-59 and he was still above average hitter at this point. He played mostly RF and some 1b. Not sure what the problem was in Right, it looks like he could cover the position but maybe he didnt have much of an arm? He was traded after the '61 season for Minnie Minoso who was similar LF although a bit older. Minoso had nothing much left in his final 3 seasons, Cunningham had one more good year and hung on for five more.
   54. esseff Posted: February 25, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4662261)
Minoso had nothing much left in his final 3 seasons, Cunningham had one more good year and hung on for five more.


Minoso ran into the concrete wall at Busch and fractured his skull early in his St. Louis tenure, and that was that*. Cunningham was kind of a rock in the outfield but made a bunch of sliding and diving catches that Harry Caray would announce as though Cunningham was some kind of Gold Glover.

*- Don't know why it took so long after the collisions with the same wall that ruined Pete Reiser's career and nearly killed Earle Combs, but after Minoso's, the Cardinals finally padded their walls. Maybe because Reiser and Combs were visiting players?
   55. Sunday silence Posted: February 25, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4662310)
That's too bad; because it looked like Minoso was still putting up decent offensive numbers prior to the trade. After the trade he played very little in '62, then the last two years were just a shadow of his former self; and he was not very old.
   56. Sunday silence Posted: February 25, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4662314)
when did Coombs run into that wall? His games played is quite good until 1934...
   57. esseff Posted: February 25, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4662342)
when did Coombs run into that wall? His games played is quite good until 1934...


July 24, 1934. He, too, fractured his skull. Broke his collarbone as well. Some accounts say he nearly died from his injuries.
   58. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 25, 2014 at 06:02 PM (#4662456)
The worst trade between the Cubs and Cardinals still remains Three Finger Brown, right after his rookie season in 1903, from the Cards to the Cubs for Approximately Nothing.


The Cardinals got Jack Taylor and Larry McLean. Taylor have the Cardinals two decent seasons before being sent back to the Cubs for nobody.

Brown's 1903 season was nothing to write home about - he had a 2.60 ERA but gave up twice as many runs per game because the Cardinals had an abominable defense. He was already 26 at that point, and trading him for a veteran front of the rotation man in Taylor made some sense. The Cardinals made several changes in that offseason, including bringing in Kid Nichols to manage, and went from allowing 795 runs to allowing 595.

-- MWE
   59. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 25, 2014 at 06:36 PM (#4662483)
Babe Ruth: 142.7 WAR for $100,000

Although there wasn't much of a free agent market at the time, if you extrapolate $/WAR inflation back to 1920, this is probably about fair.


No, the average player got about $5,000 per year.
In 2013 it was about $4.3 mil per year

So Ruth was sold for 20 times the average annual salary

20 times the current annual average salary is $86 million= 142.7 WAR for $86 million is one helluva bargain by today's standards.
   60. FrankM Posted: February 25, 2014 at 08:37 PM (#4662532)
I've been going through the 1964 Sporting News recently and I jumped ahead a bit to look at the immediate reaction to the Brock - Broglio trade. It was pretty balanced, nobody was claiming a steal. The Cardinals said they thought they had enough pitching and needed an everyday outfielder (they were platooning Charlie James, Carl Warwick, Johnny Lewis and Doug Clemens in the corners; later they'd call up Mike Shannon to take care of the other corner). The Cubs announced that the 1964 race was wide open (which it was) and getting Broglio gave them a real shot.

A couple of unrelated notes I thought were interesting in some previous issues. There was a Phiilies article headlining Cookie Rojas having an OBP of .692 while filling in at second base. He hit .536 in the same stretch, but the emphasis was on the on-base percentage. Every so often you'd see OBP referenced in TSN in those years; not often but it did get some mention.

And there was a note about how the Angels were playing a shift against Tony Oliva, with the shortstop behind second base and the secondbaseman in shallow right. I never thought of Oliva as primarily a pull hitter.
   61. Hysterical & Useless Posted: February 25, 2014 at 08:50 PM (#4662540)
I don't recall hearing of the "50% color line" before, but in the 50s and 60s if you looked in a major league dugout while the team was in the field you weren't going to see many black faces. If a black player wasn't good enough to start, he wasn't going to make the team.

Weren't the Cubs the 1st ML team to hire a black coach? Odd that the writer would be singling them out as particularly resistant to integration.

As I recall, Larry Jackson had put up some huge IP numbers in the low minors, still went on to have a long and very good ML career. Must have had an incredibly resilient arm.

This is Anecdote Farm. A zero-research zone.
   62. Hysterical & Useless Posted: February 25, 2014 at 08:59 PM (#4662542)
Okay, Jackson had 1 300 inning season (1952, Fresno, Class C), followed by 214, 172, and then 177 as a Cardinal in 1955. So not quite the MiL workhorse I'd thought, but a far cry from the Joba Rules.
   63. Sunday silence Posted: February 26, 2014 at 12:23 AM (#4662623)

So Ruth was sold for 20 times the average annual salary


but you're talking the sale price and not what Ruth was to be paid in salary. I am not sure how you would work out a comparable sale today. Wasnt Fielder traded along with cash and Tigers paying some of his salary? would it be roughly on the same scale?

Anyhow you'd have to do some sort of comparison like that before you say that Ruth's sale was a huge bargain compared to today. Maybe it was but you have to run numbers.
   64. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 26, 2014 at 05:52 PM (#4663168)
So Ruth was sold for 20 times the average annual salary

but you're talking the sale price and not what Ruth was to be paid in salary.


You'd also have to account for the fact that teams routinely sold players (technically they sold player contracts but you get the idea) and more money would change hands in those deals the were paid to players in salary- so
in terms of player costs- 5k per player is actually low- that's what was paid to players not what was paid FOR players
   65. Sunday silence Posted: February 26, 2014 at 06:49 PM (#4663203)
which goes back to the fact that there were independent leagues and a lot of these guys had to be purchased from Baltimore, or the SF Seals or whatever. So it's a totally different market thing going on there.

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