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Cubs Trade Retrospective: Lou Brock

Lou Brock poses for a portrait in the Polo Grounds in New York. (Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images Sport)
Lou Brock poses for a portrait in the Polo Grounds in New York. (Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images Sport)

I'm doing something a little different today.

With all the deals the Cubs have made this week, I thought it would be interesting, instead of a random game recap, to do a retrospective post about the Lou Brock deal in 1964, as if BCB had existed on that date.

A lot of people at the time thought the Cubs had fleeced the Cardinals. Obviously, it turned out to be the other way around.

How excited would we have been on June 15, 1964 to get an experienced and relatively young starting pitcher? Follow me past the jump.

It's been 19 years since the Cubs have won the NL pennant and that feels like a long time.

But I think today's big trade with the Cardinals, on an off day before the Phillies come to town tomorrow, has given our favorite team a real shot at the '64 pennant.

The Cubs traded outfielder Lou Brock and relievers Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the Cardinals for righthanded starter Ernie Broglio, reliever Bobby Shantz and outfielder Doug Clemens.

According to Richard Dozer in the Tribune, this deal has been in the works since May 26; Dozer says Broglio was reportedly unhappy in St. Louis and Cards GM Bing Devine gave him his wish by trading him.

The Cubs' 82-80 season last year, their first winning season in 17 years, was something they could build on after the horrid year in '62. It was the outstanding pitching of Dick Ellsworth that helped get the Cubs that far, but apart from Larry Jackson -- who had a losing record of 14-18 in spite of a good 2.55 ERA -- the rest of the staff wasn't that great. No other starter had an ERA lower than 3.38 (Bob Buhl, and that just isn't good enough; he ranked 26th in the NL). The team has needed a solid No. 3 starter and Broglio fits the bill. He won 18 games last year with a 2.99 ERA (16th in the league) and he led the NL in wins just four years ago with 21. At 27 he should be a mainstay of the Cubs' rotation well into the 1970s.

Brock? Well, he just never could develop the power that head coach Bob Kennedy wanted him to, although he did hit a home run off the Pirates' Steve Blass in what turned out to be his final at-bat as a Cub in the Cubs' 5-2 win on Sunday. That was only his second homer of the year in 251 at-bats and that just isn't good enough. The team needed him to be another Billy Williams; Brock can play a good center field, but this Cubs team isn't going to win without power.

Or pitching. Kennedy was quoted in the Trib as saying, "This gives us as good a pitching staff as there is in the league", and I agree with him. Getting Shantz is a bonus -- even at age 38, he can still fool hitters, and he had 11 of those newfangled things they call "saves" last year for the Cardinals. I dunno about that "save" thing -- I can't imagine that Jerome Holtzman's creation is ever going to catch on permanently.

Clemens seems like a good outfield prospect, too; he hit .278 with 13 homers for Atlanta of the International League last year and just turned 25 last week; Kennedy will probably install him in center field.

The Cubs got off to a rough start this year but are 13-6 since May 27 and, getting back to .500, are just 5½ games out of first place. I think this deal will keep them in contention all year, and maybe bring that elusive pennant. Nice work, John Holland.

And as for the Cardinals: good luck with Brock. With little power, he'll probably be out of baseball in a couple of years.