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Sunday, June 15, 2014

It was 50 years ago today Cards got Lou Brock from Cubs

As my old Cubs pal Ellsworthless Dick used to say: “You can’t spell I Go Boner Rile! without Ernie Broglio!”

On June 15, 1964, with his team enjoying an off day, Cubs second baseman Joey Amalfitano heard a knock on the door of his apartment.

Old pal Ernie Broglio was there with a suitcase and a smile, which baffled Amalfitano because his former minor league roommate pitched for the Cardinals and the Phillies were next on the Cubs’ schedule.

“I said, ‘What in the world are you doing here?’ Ernie said, ‘I just got traded to the Cubs for Lou Brock,”” Amalfitano recalled. “It was a huge surprise. I couldn’t believe it.”

Fifty years later, the shock has worn off in Chicago but some people still struggle believing the Cubs traded a future Hall of Famer for a veteran pitcher who only won seven games in three injury-plagued seasons on the North Side. Considered one of the worst baseball deals ever, Brock-for-Broglio shares a chapter in Cubs lore with tortured tales of the Billy Goat and Bartman. The standard by which all bad trades are measured remains a touchy topic for die-hards — but not for the man whose name still can make a Cubs fan cringe.

“It’s always nice to talk about that trade,” Broglio, 78, said with a chuckle from his home in San Jose, Calif. “I don’t mind. At least they remember who I am.”

...Nobody ever will know whether the Cardinals knew the extent of damage to Broglio’s elbow; none of the executives involved are alive. But Broglio suspects the injury occurred late in the 1963 season and he required cortisone shots between starts in ‘64, though he kept the pain private. His 3-5 record in early June suggested something was wrong.

“Even with our own doctors, Ernie wouldn’t say anything because you played through it,” Shannon said. “That’s just how it was back then. Ernie was a real good pitcher.”

The Cubs never saw that pitcher. The team shut down Broglio in August after the elbow issues had become intolerable. Three months later, Broglio had his ulnar nerve reset in a procedure similar to what today is known as Tommy John surgery.

“I spent three weeks in the hospital and was throwing at spring training in February because that’s the way it was those days,” Broglio said. “I’m sure that cut my career short.”

Repoz Posted: June 15, 2014 at 09:15 AM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cards, cubs, history

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   1. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 15, 2014 at 06:30 PM (#4726783)
It always seemed odd that this trade became emblematic of the worst trade ever. Brock went on to the Hall of Fame, of course, but he's one of the weakest players there. Broglio was a pitcher who got hurt; it happens.

Sam McDowell for Gaylord Perry was probably a worse trade. Orlando Cepeda for Ray Sadecki was pretty bad. George Foster for Frank Duffy. Sparky Lyle for Danny Cater. Jim Fregosi for Nolan Ryan and a few other guys. Pedro Guerrero for Bruce Ellingsen. But it's Brock-for-Broglio that still represents the gold standard.
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 15, 2014 at 06:44 PM (#4726787)
Rocky-Kuenn and Norm Cash-Steve Demeter (made within 5 days of each other)
   3. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 15, 2014 at 07:21 PM (#4726814)
Bagwell for one month of Larry Andersen. That is a Gold Standard trade.
   4. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: June 15, 2014 at 08:31 PM (#4726871)
Sam McDowell for Gaylord Perry was probably a worse trade. Orlando Cepeda for Ray Sadecki was pretty bad. George Foster for Frank Duffy.

Frank Duffy was actually in 2 of those 3 trades. After the Giants traded George Foster to get him, they sent him WITH Perry for Sudden Sam. In two trades, the Giants turned George Foster & Gaylord Perry into .... a broken down Sam McDowell. Yikes.
   5. Mark Armour Posted: June 15, 2014 at 08:38 PM (#4726874)
The Brock deal is emblematic because (with Brock hitting .348 the rest of the way) it was followed by a somewhat miraculous pennant, and two more pennants and another title a few years later. Brock was a tremendous World Series player, and is said by most of his teammates who were there (McCarver, White, Gibson) to have been the guy that turned them from a good team to a great team.
   6. Ziggy Posted: June 15, 2014 at 08:57 PM (#4726881)
Why did Brock's career high in steals (by a lot) occur when he was 35? That's got to be very uncommon.
   7. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 15, 2014 at 09:06 PM (#4726885)
Why did Brock's career high in steals (by a lot) occur when he was 35? That's got to be very uncommon.

attempts--he had 152 in 1974. His previous high was 92. Now, WHY his attempts spiked upwards, I don't have the slightest idea, nor do I remember anyone mentioning it at the time . Schoendienst was his manager almost throughout his Cardinal career, so it wasn't an obvious change in philosophy
   8. bobm Posted: June 15, 2014 at 09:14 PM (#4726894)
   9. McCoy Posted: June 15, 2014 at 09:32 PM (#4726903)
Just imagine if Rick Sutcliffe didn't get injured for two years and the mid-80's Cubs did something besides take a walk in the wilderness between 1984 and 1989. It would have equalized the Brock trade. Granted the Cubs gave up Carter and Hall for him but that would have been nothing with a WS appearance and a few more winning seasons.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: June 15, 2014 at 10:04 PM (#4726935)
Why did Brock's career high in steals (by a lot) occur when he was 35? That's got to be very uncommon.


Because of Hank Aaron. Hank Aaron broke the record for homeruns in 1974 and the NL enjoyed the boost in popularity that was a result of that event. The NL president asked Brock to go for the single season record in steals. Brock asked "why not someone else, younger?" and the president said they want it to be Brock because of his popularity.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: June 15, 2014 at 10:19 PM (#4726959)
It always seemed odd that this trade became emblematic of the worst trade ever. Brock went on to the Hall of Fame, of course, but he's one of the weakest players there. Broglio was a pitcher who got hurt; it happens.


1. That trade sparked the Cardinals into one of the greatest regular seasons pennant races of all time.
2. As mentioned above, Brock was the catalyst on 3 world series teams, had a fantastic post season record(arguably the single best post season player ever..mind you it's only three series, but unlike Ortiz or Beltran or the other great post season players, he never had a bad post season.)
3. The Cubs futility.
4. It was a trade between rivals in the same league and more or less put the accent on top of how the two organizations are perceived when it comes to good things happening to them versus bad things.
5. War probably underrates high steal guys (again, steals happen by a decision, not randomness) (he's still a weak hofer though, but probably better than his 49 war indicates)
6. All star production for the 6 years or so immediately following the trade. Brock played in over 155 games a season every season in the 60s, and consistently put up around 4 war each of those years.

   12. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 15, 2014 at 10:19 PM (#4726960)
Because of Hank Aaron. Hank Aaron broke the record for homeruns in 1974 and the NL enjoyed the boost in popularity that was a result of that event. The NL president asked Brock to go for the single season record in steals. Brock asked "why not someone else, younger?" and the president said they want it to be Brock because of his popularity.

sounds plausible, but is there any documentation for this?
   13. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: June 15, 2014 at 10:22 PM (#4726964)
The NL president asked Brock to go for the single season record in steals.


Well Rickey didn't need anyone to ask. Rickey said to Rickey that he should break any record he wants because Rickey thought this was best.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: June 15, 2014 at 10:27 PM (#4726970)
attempts--he had 152 in 1974. His previous high was 92. Now, WHY his attempts spiked upwards, I don't have the slightest idea, nor do I remember anyone mentioning it at the time . Schoendienst was his manager almost throughout his Cardinal career, so it wasn't an obvious change in philosophy


Brock routinely tells the story of why he did it (I posted it in 10) he says he was in New York immediately after Hank Aaron set the record and was in the NL President's office talking with the NL president. The two leagues had an intense rivalry, and the NL enjoyed the uptick that Hank Aaron's chase gave them, and wanted something else. So they asked Brock to go for the record. Supposedly the NL president would try to encourage Brock by having people write stories about his pace very early in the season. (Brock said he would see articles about how he was 90 stolen bases short of the record in May or June or talking about his pace etc.)

   15. cardsfanboy Posted: June 15, 2014 at 10:28 PM (#4726972)
sounds plausible, but is there any documentation for this?


Don't know. I've heard Lou tell the story half a dozen times (it's one of his go to stories). But don't know if there is any documentation on that. (just read two SI articles from that time period and neither one mentioned it)
   16. Walt Davis Posted: June 15, 2014 at 10:55 PM (#4727012)
War probably underrates high steal guys (again, steals happen by a decision, not randomness)

If anything this would seem to argue that it under-rates lower-steal guys. High-steal (attempt) guys are essentially running all the time, regardless of context. They should work out to about average. A guy with maybe 15 steals in 25 attempts (60%) but only in high-leverage situations might produce as much value as a guy who goes 30 for 40 (75%) but mainly in low-leverage situations. But if you're attempting 152 steals, your attempts have to be (nearly) independent of leverage.

B-R tells us he was on 1st or 2nd with the next base open 299 times so he ran over half the time. (Wow, 19 ROE and even one catcher interference that year.) Almost all of his attempts were of 2B -- 141 of them. I don't know if a successful steal of 2nd (nearly) automatically creates a new opportunity to steal 3rd (I'd think it has to).

Anyway, it seems Brock must have attempted a steal of 2nd almost every opportunity he had so, while not random per se, it was surely (nearly) independent of context. If anything, if teams generally run at more optimal times, his steals were likely less valuable than the average steal.

So Brock ran all the time in 1974 and scored a run 40% of the time overall. In 1973, he attempted a steal in only about 1/3 of his opportunities (90 attempts) with the same success rate and scored ... 40% of the time. In 1973 he attempted a steal in fewer than 25% of his opportunities (83 attempts, a lot more opportunities) and scored a run 44% of the time. For the Cubs 62-64, running less than 20% of the time, he scored 42% of the time. In 1977, running only 1/3 of the time and a lousye 35/24 steal record he scored 41% of the time.

To be clear, Brock was successful 78% of the time so he was pretty clearly adding value.

   17. Ron J Posted: June 15, 2014 at 11:08 PM (#4727034)
Even granting that Mathewson for Rusie was in part an effort to screw a minor league team out of a few bucks it was also a real trade. For whatever reason Cincinnati simply didn't like Mathewson as a prospect and genuinely wanted Rusie.

I can't think of a worse set of evaluations.
   18. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: June 15, 2014 at 11:31 PM (#4727057)
Though they never won a pennant, the Cubs over the years have more than made up that trade, value wise. Just to name 3:

Tony Taylor for Fergie Jenkins
Ivan DeJesus for Ryne Sandberg
George Bell for Sammy Sosa
   19. Ziggy Posted: June 15, 2014 at 11:34 PM (#4727058)
If the break-even point is 75%, doesn't that mean that he was just barely adding value?
   20. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 15, 2014 at 11:38 PM (#4727062)
1. That trade sparked the Cardinals into one of the greatest regular seasons pennant races of all time.


I think that's probably the best explanation: the trade looked immediately like a steal for the Cards, and a disaster for the Cubs. So it was thought of that way right out of the gate, and then Brock kept up the Hall of Fame performance for the next ten years or so.
   21. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 16, 2014 at 02:17 AM (#4727088)
Even granting that Mathewson for Rusie was in part an effort to screw a minor league team out of a few bucks it was also a real trade. For whatever reason Cincinnati simply didn't like Mathewson as a prospect and genuinely wanted Rusie.

I can't think of a worse set of evaluations.


John Brush owned both the Giants and the Reds. When syndicate ownership got banned, he decided to keep the Giants and had Mathewson traded over. At least that's how I remember the story behind that one.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: June 16, 2014 at 03:04 AM (#4727090)
Though they never won a pennant, the Cubs over the years have more than made up that trade, value wise. Just to name 3:

Sure but Palmeiro for Mitch Williams, Madlock for Murcer, North for whoever it was and "developing" every good closer across baseball for about 15 years (a mild exaggeration) work the other way.
   23. Rennie's Tenet Posted: June 16, 2014 at 03:19 AM (#4727092)
In 1973, Brock had 21 attempts in 30 games in August, and 20 in 28 games in September/October. That's a pace of 110-115 attempts per 162 games, so he may have started stealing more in 1973. He really cranked it up in August, 1974 - 41 attempts in 30 games.
   24. cardsfanboy Posted: June 16, 2014 at 06:48 AM (#4727100)
If anything this would seem to argue that it under-rates lower-steal guys. High-steal (attempt) guys are essentially running all the time, regardless of context. They should work out to about average. A guy with maybe 15 steals in 25 attempts (60%) but only in high-leverage situations might produce as much value as a guy who goes 30 for 40 (75%) but mainly in low-leverage situations. But if you're attempting 152 steals, your attempts have to be (nearly) independent of leverage.


Agree for the most part, that when you deal with the 60-70+ steal guys, it's more random than the guys who steal 20-30 bases etc. But unless a system looks at context ala wpa, to judge a steal attempt, I'm not trusting it's baserunning stats. Basing it upon a theoretical break even point ignores context. And unlike other offensive stats, this is purely a choice and not just randomness.
   25. Downtown Bookie Posted: June 16, 2014 at 08:46 AM (#4727112)
Quoting the article:

Broglio’s frustration paled in comparison to the reaction of Cardinals fans, who didn’t immediately view Brock as the catalyst to a run that culminated with the 1964 World Series title.

“They wanted to run our GM Bing Devine out of town at first,” said Mike Shannon....


Bing Devine would get fired by the Cardinals before the end of the 1964 season, which would turn out to be even more bad news for the Cubs; because Devine would almost immediately be hired by New York, and be the driving force behind building the 1969 Miracle Mets.

DB
   26. Ron J2 Posted: June 16, 2014 at 09:09 AM (#4727119)
#21 He didn't own the Giants at that time. He held a minority share (it's a complicated story. Brush bought the NL St. Louis franchise, relocated them to Indianapolis. When that team folded somehow he came out of it with cash and a hare of the Giants), but Andrew Freedman was very much in control of the franchise at that time. Rusie wanted to be away from Freedman, Brush wanted Rusie, the Giants wanted Mathewson but didn't want to pay Norfolk the agreed price for the first right of refusal on Mathewson and the Reds (as I said earlier), for whatever reason didn't rated Mathewson highly.

Brush did get control of the franchise in time to be responsible for paying Norfolk the few thousand bucks that Freedman had tried to screw them out of.
   27. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 16, 2014 at 09:13 AM (#4727122)
Bagwell for one month of Larry Andersen. That is a Gold Standard trade.


Pappas for Frank Robinson
   28. Downtown Bookie Posted: June 16, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4727128)
#27 - Just imagine how formidable the Big Red Machine would have been had Robinson still been a member of the Reds (at least up until and incluing 1974).

DB
   29. Ron J2 Posted: June 16, 2014 at 09:27 AM (#4727129)
#24 See Tom Ruane's study on Retrosheet. Bottom line though, it's a boatlad of extra work to take context into account and it generally doesn't matter much (given that even the best metrics have standard errors in the range of 5 runs per year for a full time player).

The biggest single season difference (positive) was Ron LeFlore in 1980. Not only did he steal 97 bases at a great success rate, but he was running in higher than average leverage situations. Best Tom could tell it was worth ~6 runs more than you'd expect from a linear weight point of view.

Now 6 runs obviously matters, but Tom found only 11 player seasons where the difference was as high as 4 runs (positive) and 7 where the difference was as high as 4 runs (negative). So I'm receptive to the claim that timing can matter, but the average value is good enough in well over 99% of the cases and you can deal with the specific exceptions as needed.

Over the course of a career Tom found only 10 players who added 10 or more runs over and above what you'd expect (with Paul Molitor leading the way) and only 4 players whose stealing (using generic values) were 10 runs high (with Chuck Knoblauch topping the list here)
   30. bjhanke Posted: June 16, 2014 at 09:33 AM (#4727134)
Three-Finger Brown for Approximately Nothing (1903) evens up Broglio for Brock. Also, the Cubs made the trade partially, perhaps mainly, because they had no place to pay Lou, not because they underrated him. They tried him at CF, but that didn't work. He didn't have the arm for RF. LF was Billy Williams. 1B was Ernie Banks. Ernie could not move to third (probably his best position at the time) because the Cubs had Ron Santo.

There are two factors involved in Brock's base stealing that haven't been mentioned yet. 1) This was the period where turf was appearing in new park after new park. Turf aids speed, hence stolen bases. 2) Brock, for most of his career, played in very low-run environments. The value of a stolen base is magnified in those situations, so the break-even point between SB and CS is lower - one run from a SB is worth more in terms of WINS, and CS cost less.

Brock would not have sailed easily into the HoF without the postseason record (which is Eddie Collins great), but he was holding the SB records, and he did have his best years in the campaigns that the Cardinals won. His best two seasons were 1967-68. Also, all the systems that "double count" defensive errors, by including them overtly as fielding percentage while also counting them en passant as "plays not made" in range factor, underrate fielders whose main weakness is a weak arm. That was Lou. Unless systems like WAR and Win Shares have changed their formulas, Brock is actually underrated by the consensus of methods. He played in a huge turf park, where the effect of his raw range (his speed) paid off. He must have had the best legs ever made, stealing all those bases on all that turf without wearing his legs out. The New Historical Abstract (2000) does double-count errors, but still has Lou over the Hall Line by a player or two, because he did have an excellent peak and prime, did accumulate black ink, had surprising power for his time and his ballpark, and maybe a "subjective" adjustment for the postseason. He belongs in Halls. - Brock Hanke
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: June 16, 2014 at 09:39 AM (#4727138)
#24 See Tom Ruane's study on Retrosheet. Bottom line though, it's a boatlad of extra work to take context into account and it generally doesn't matter much (given that even the best metrics have standard errors in the range of 5 runs per year for a full time player).


I've seen it mentioned, and still not sold on it. 1. Nobody who has ever done a study like that has looked at the count on the batter, so they are strictly looking at bases/outs situation. (getting caught stealing to end an inning helps the batter who was behind in the count for his next at bat) 2. Every study I've seen on leverage, has used "league" average context instead of basing it upon the quality of the batters in the upcoming situations.(this would probably hurt leadoff guys like Brock since the following batters are probably above league average) 3. They only look at it relative to the current inning, and not how it affects the future. I.E. two outs, your best hitter is up to bat, and man on first. You attempt the steal and get caught. That means the next inning, your best hitter is leading off. Nobody looks at that change in regards to any stolen base study I've ever seen. There is a reason to make that move there, if you get caught, the next inning the heart of the lineup is coming up, if not, you put yourself in scoring position. 4. When a player steals second base with a great hitter behind him, he guarantees the intentional walk. Does Tom's study credit the runner for the second guy added to the base?
   32. Ron J2 Posted: June 16, 2014 at 10:08 AM (#4727150)
#31 I'm skeptical that anything that you mention matters in general. I mean we couldn't produce any kind of decent model for offense if these kind of things mattered profoundly.

What we have is generally good enough. I'll listen to any specific case, but you've never provided one.
   33. Hal Chase School of Professionalism Posted: June 16, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4727161)
3. The Cubs futility.


The other thing was, coupled with the tragic death of Ken Hubbs, the Cubs got very good in the late 60's and fell just short. There was lots of "what if?" surrounding that team as they imploded in the early seventies... right around the time Lou Brock was stealing 118 bases.

The Cardinals created a dynasty about 2 hours after the trade and the Cubs were the next big boys on the block, but ultimately did nothing with 4 HOFers.

I guess people figure 5 woulda done it.
   34. cardsfanboy Posted: June 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4727166)
#31 I'm skeptical that anything that you mention matters in general. I mean we couldn't produce any kind of decent model for offense if these kind of things mattered profoundly.

What we have is generally good enough. I'll listen to any specific case, but you've never provided one.


I don't think it's going to make a big difference, but I do think it will make some difference. It's not going to push Brock to a 60 war career player, but I wouldn't be shocked at all to see it add roughly around .5 war on many seasons.

You are right it's good enough, but it doesn't mean I'm going to ignore it every time someone tries to put "weak hofer" because they are too stupid to look beyond the numbers or even question the numbers.

I'm not sure what you mean by "case". I'm talking about steals are undervalued because the formulas used is based upon linear weights, which is based upon events being totally random, and lineups being average. Steals are an active, conscious decision made with factors in mind, and shouldn't be limited by a system that assumes randomness. Every single stolen base in history is subject to this, there isn't a "case" involved in it.

   35. Rennie's Tenet Posted: June 16, 2014 at 10:32 AM (#4727168)
LF was Billy Williams.


The Cubs played Williams in right for 106 games in 1965 and 152 games in 1966, so it's not as if that was in stone. I think the best explanation for trading Brock is that he went .257/.306/.383 in 1300 plate appearances with the Cubs, and he was batting .251 at the time of the trade.
   36. Ron J2 Posted: June 16, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4727363)
#34 My point is that if you are saying it could matter. I'm far more interested in your presenting a case where it does in fact matter.

Worth noting that after Dave Smith (in the first use of retrosheet data) presented evidence that stolen bases were not random (that they're more frequent in high leverage situations) Pete Palmer opted to use a higher weight for stolen bases than his studies showed. The logic being that since they're discretionary the runs they create should be more valuable in explaining wins than a random run.

The problem though is that there's no evidence that this is true. Or to be more precise, the evidence I've been able to find is that it isn't true. I've tried looking at it in a couple of ways (multiple regression, as well as looking at the the difference between pythagorean wins and actual wins and checking whether you can explain any of the variation with the running game. Short version, you can't).

Pete Palmer evidently came to the same conclusion because he eventually dropped the higher weights for stolen bases (and of course caught stealing)
   37. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 16, 2014 at 02:16 PM (#4727527)
Even granting that Mathewson for Rusie was in part an effort to screw a minor league team out of a few bucks it was also a real trade. For whatever reason Cincinnati simply didn't like Mathewson as a prospect and genuinely wanted Rusie.

I can't think of a worse set of evaluations.


John Brush owned both the Giants and the Reds. When syndicate ownership got banned, he decided to keep the Giants and had Mathewson traded over. At least that's how I remember the story behind that one.

Yeah, it was a bogus trade for sure, but in a way it's too bad that it was, because if it'd been legit it would've made every other trade in history look like swapping a pair of 1990 Topps second year benchwarmers' baseball cards.

Records before the trade:
Mathewson 0-3
Rusie 246-173

Records after the trade:
Mathewson 373-185
Rusie 0-1
   38. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 16, 2014 at 06:19 PM (#4727752)
Wrong thread.
   39. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 16, 2014 at 07:25 PM (#4727858)
if it'd been legit it would've made every other trade in history look like swapping a pair of 1990 Topps second year benchwarmers' baseball cards


I'd say Babe Ruth for $100,000 was worse.
   40. Ron J Posted: June 17, 2014 at 12:19 AM (#4728158)
#39 The Ruth sale was sort of forced though. Harry Frazee needed the money to buy Fenway. Ban Johnson was trying to force him out of the league by pressuring Fenway's owner not to allow the Red Sox to play there. That's also why a crucial part of the deal was the loan guarantee that Frazee got.
   41. Curse of the Andino Posted: June 17, 2014 at 01:08 AM (#4728167)
It's funny how many teams seem to have both kinds of trades. O's did Pappas for Robinson, also Tillman, Adam Jones, et al for Bedard, and absolutely fleeced Montreal a few times in the '70s--Mike Torrez and Ken Singleton for Rich Coggins and the soon-to-be-retired Dave McNally.

But then, O's also gave up Schilling, Harnisch and Steve Finley for Glenn Davis.

Organization's track record is absolutely horrible when they start trading cromulent young talent for aging vets. Like when they gave up John Maine to the Mets for the privilege of taking Anna Benson's husband off their hands.... Fontenot and Hairston, Jr. for Sosa. Trades weren't major disasters, but O's kept giving up 2-3 cheap WAR a year when they couldn't afford to.
   42. bjhanke Posted: June 17, 2014 at 02:39 AM (#4728172)
Rennie's (#35) does have a point. In 1964, the Cubs were actually trying to play Brock in RF, with Williams in LF. But in 1965, they did switch Billy to RF, in order to try people like the 32-year-old George Altman in LF. It's always possible that Williams in LF was set in stone in 1964, but that changed in 1965. I have no way of knowing. I didn't manage either of those teams. But, at least in 1964, Williams was the everyday LF, while Brock was being tried in RF, which suggests, given Brock's arm, that the Cubs were pretty set on Williams where he was, at least in that one year. - Brock
   43. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 17, 2014 at 08:22 AM (#4728198)
i am a bit surprised nobody has mentioned the influence of cubs manager bob kennedy on the deal. kennedy was a guy with firm opinions and he was very influential after the cubs went from winning 59 games to winning 82 games between 62 and 63. when things weren't going like everyone in chicago expected early in 1964 kennedy supported the idea of trading brock who he thought wasn't going to get any better. and kennedy had guys like santo and williams GET better so probably thought he knew what he was talking about.

not that kennedy ran brock out of chicago. but he definitely held the door open for him as he left to join the cardinals
   44. Mark Armour Posted: June 17, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4728386)
Brock's problem in Chicago was similar to Morgan's in Houston and Buford's in Chicago (White Sox). Various managers had told Brock that they wanted him to bunt, hit behind the runner, etc., and also that he should steal rarely. The team had lots of power, and they didn't want Brock to get in the way. He was also miscast in Wrigley's brutal right field. Johnny Keane, on the other hand, told Brock to hit the ball however the hell he wanted and steal a base any time the mood struck -- the third base coach would give him the "stay" sign, otherwise he was free.
   45. Walt Davis Posted: June 18, 2014 at 03:43 AM (#4729040)
I didn't manage either of those teams.

But you were part of the college of coaches right?

kennedy supported the idea of trading brock who he thought wasn't going to get any better.

Understandable I think. Probably just another sign of Cub ineptitude though. Brock went immediately from so-so (3.7 WAR -13 Rbat in 1300 PA for the Cubs, below average, no obvious sign of progress) to putting up 5.7 WAR (31 Rbat) in his first 464 PA for the Cards. He stayed at about a 5 WAR level for the next 4 seasons (19 WAR). That's not misjudging a young player only to see him develop into something 3 years from now, any team can do that. It seems more like "how come you morons didn't fix this obvious and easily-fixable flaw in his swing?"

It's unlikely the Cubs would have extracted full talent anyway. Throughout the 60s and 70s, the Cubs never ran much. Mainly they purposely stocked the team with "sluggers" to take advantage of Wrigley but even if they had a guy who could run, he didn't get much chance to. Brock was on pace for about 40 steal attempts following 36 the year before. In that first 2/3 a season with the Cards, he attempted 48 steals and the year after that is was 90. If he was still on the Cubs in the 60s, he'd have spent the time standing at 1B waiting for Beckert to "move him along."

In poking around, I've stumbled across Byron Browne. He'd fit right into today's game. At 21 in A ball he hit 270/491 (no OBP info). The next year he hit 285/493, mostly in A ball with a little AAA. Surprisingly (to me) the Cubs played him in 66 and he hit 243/316/427, 104 OPS+ with a league-leading(!) 143 K in just 466 PA. That earned him a trip to AA in 67 where he hit 272/393/521 with about a 20% K-rate. That earned him a trade to the Houston org where he did struggle in AAA in 68 and got traded to the Cards. In 69 at AA again he hit 340/425/596 with still about a 20% K-rate and he got a cup of coffee ... then a trade to Philly who actually played him a fair bit in 1970 posting a 248/327/437, 106 OPS+ line. Then things just dwindled to a close.

I'm guessing everybody was spooked by the K-rate and BA and looked right past the walks and power. Unlikely to have made it anyway and his defense doesn't seem good but maybe he coulda been Rob Deer.



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