After the disappointment of 1969, the Cubs looked to improve the team in that pre-free agency era by trade.
The first one was the Johnny Callison deal, made late in 1969. That one — nope.
Part of the problem was that by 1969, Leo Durocher was so disliked around baseball that no one wanted to do anything to help the Cubs.
And so a bunch of minor deals were made. Since this series is intended to deal only with player-for-player deals, I’ll also mention at the end a couple of players acquired for what would now be called “cash considerations” that were important.
March 29: Acquired J.C. Martin from the Mets for Randy Bobb
A deal of a young backup catcher for a veteran backup catcher. This one wouldn’t have been necessary if the Cubs had left Bobb exposed in the 1968 expansion draft instead of John Boccabella. Boccabella would have been a useful backup to Randy Hundley. Bobb played 10 games for the Cubs and never appeared for the Mets.
Martin would have been a decent backup to Hundley but wound up playing nearly every day for a couple months after Hundley’s knee injury in April. The man just could not hit. From April 22 to May 30, right after Hundley’s injury, Martin played in 20 games (18 starts) and batted .167/.369/.250 — a lot of walks but no power. Later the Cubs would acquire some catching help.
April 22: Acquired Garry Jestadt from the Expos for Jim Qualls
Jestadt played in only three games for the Cubs and was traded away the following year. Qualls didn’t play much for Montreal and finished his career with the White Sox. This might have been one of the least significant trades in Cubs history.
May 12: Acquired Jack Hiatt from the Giants for Boots Day
This appeared to be a useful deal on its face. Hiatt had been a decent-hitting backup catcher for a few years with the Giants and had gone to Montreal just before the 1970 season, where he shared duties with Boccabella.
Hiatt, though, didn’t hit much and was sent to the Astros for cash considerations after the season. The injury to Hundley really affected the Cubs for years after — they didn’t really have a good, solid offensive and defensive catcher again until Jody Davis.
May 29: Acquired Phil Gagliano from the Cardinals for Ted Abernathy
Yikes, yikes, yikes, what are you doing, Leo?
Abernathy actually pitched reasonably well for the Cubs in 1970, though not very often — only 11 appearances in the first 45 team games.
Gagliano was pretty bad. He’d been a decent spare part on the Cardinals’ N.L. champion teams in 1967 and 1968 and again, the Cubs tried to get — what? They didn’t really need another backup infielder with Paul Popovich around.
Gagliano spent the entire rest of the 1970 season on the Cubs’ roster and appeared in 28 games, starting seven of them, and batted .150/.244/.150 (6-for-40).
The only redeeming feature of this deal was that Abernathy didn’t last long in St. Louis. He got pounded in his first game there and a month later the Cardinals traded him to the Royals for a righthander named Chris Zachary, who was pretty bad in St. Louis. Abernathy, meanwhile, went on to have three very good years in Kansas City, posting 40 saves. That would have looked real good in a Cubs uniform.
This was a terrible trade.
June 23: Acquired Roberto Rodriguez from the Athletics for Don Young
Young, as you likely know, had become persona non grata because he really couldn’t hit or field. Later in life he even admitted he didn’t really belong in the big leagues. Rodriguez posted a 5.82 ERA in 26 relief appearances the rest of 1970 and then spent three years in Triple-A for the Cubs, never once getting another callup.
July 9: Acquired Juan Pizarro from the Angels for Archie Reynolds
Pizarro had several good years for the White Sox in the mid-1960s but by 1970 he was 33 and just about done. He appeared in 12 games, all in relief, with a 4.60 ERA.
In 1971 he actually threw pretty well for the Cubs, making 14 starts and throwing three complete-game shutouts, including a one-hitter against the Padres August 5. In his 1-0 shutout of the Mets September 16, he singlehandedly won the game with the shutout and hitting a solo home run — off Tom Seaver!
Reynolds pitched briefly for the Angels and Brewers and was out of baseball after 1972. This was a good trade.
October 12: Acquired Hector Torres from the Astros for Roger Metzger
Metzger was the Cubs’ No. 1 pick (16th overall) in the 1969 draft.
So why trade him one year later for a journeyman infielder who hit .224/.274/.276 in 31 games for the Cubs in 1971?
Another inexplicable trade. Metzger played 10 seasons after he left the Cubs, mostly for Houston, and won a Gold Glove in 1973. He led the N.L. in triples twice (1971, 1973) and stole 23 bases in 1972.
Maybe the Cubs thought Metzger was blocked by Don Kessinger and Glenn Beckert, but they certainly could have received more in trade than Hector Torres.
December 3: Acquired Carmen Fanzone from the Red Sox for Phil Gagliano
The Cubs did get some value from Fanzone, who was a decent utility guy for a couple years.
He was also a talented musician who played the national anthem on his trumpet before some Cubs games. Sadly, no video appears to have survived of this.
I mentioned above that I was going to note some 1970 Cubs acquisitions made for cash considerations, and there were several as the season went on, all attempting to make something out of a winnable division. In order:
June 23: Milt Pappas (Braves)
July 29: Joe Pepitone (Braves)
September 1: Bob Miller (White Sox)
September 16: Tommy Davis (Athletics)
September 21: Hoyt Wilhelm (Braves)
Pappas, Davis and Wilhelm had all previously been All-Stars. Of course, Wilhelm was many years past that and was 47 when he pitched in three games for the Cubs that September with a 9.82 ERA. The Cubs did get some value from him by trading him back to the Braves November 30 for Hal Breeden.
Pappas and Pepitone stuck around for a few years for the Cubs and both were productive, Pappas throwing a no-hitter in September 1972:
Davis had been very good for the Dodgers in the early 1960s. The Cubs released him after the 1970 season and he went on to have three decent years in 1973, 1974 and 1975 as a DH for the Orioles. Miller was released by the Cubs in May 1971 and hung on for three more years with the Padres and Mets.
All in all, 1970 did not produce good deals for the Cubs. Grade here: D
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