After two notable failures to win the division title, the Cubs more or less stood pat during the 1971 season, not adding or subtracting significant players by trade.
When the season was over, though, they began to re-make the lineup with two significant deals.
May 19: Acquired Chris Cannizzaro from the Padres for Garry Jestadt
Flailing around looking for a backup to Randy Hundley, the Cubs acquired the former Met and Padre Cannizzaro, who was 33 years old and didn’t do much. Cannizzaro had been a good defender as a Met, twice leading the N.L. in caught stealing percentage, but by 1971 he was more or less done. He hit .213/.311/.340 in 70 games and was lost on waivers at the end of the season.
August 31: Acquired Frank Fernandez from the Athletics for Adrian Garrett
Garrett, a catcher, was in the Cubs system for a couple of years after being acquired from the Phillies in late 1969 for cash considerations. He played in just three games for the Cubs in 1970, all as a pinch-hitter, and went 0-for-3, striking out all three times. The Cubs later reacquired him and he played in 46 games for them in 1973 and 1974. He later had one good year for the Angels in 1975.
Frank Fernandez, another catcher, played in 17 games for the Cubs in September 1971 with the bizarre slash line of .171/.414/.488. He went 7-for-41 with 17 (!) walks and hit four home runs, all solo shots. The following year he almost matched Garrett’s 1970 season by going 0-for-3, all as a pinch-hitter, with two strikeouts.
December 3: Acquired Rick Monday from the Athletics for Ken Holtzman
After several good years with the Cubs, Holtzman’s performance declined in 1971 and he and Leo Durocher clashed. Holtzman asked to be traded and the Cubs obliged him.
While the Cubs didn’t make the postseason with Monday on the team, this was a very good deal for them. Monday played five years for the Cubs, batted .270/.366/.460 with 106 home runs and generally played a very good center field. Then he was traded to the Dodgers for Bill Buckner and Ivan De Jesus.
Holtzman had four good years with the A’s and pitched in three World Series for them, famously hitting a home run in Game 4 of the 1974 Series after having not batted all year:
The left fielder in that clip, incidentally, is Buckner. Holtzman wasn’t a very good hitter with the Cubs, batting .161/.185/.206 with two home runs and 145 strikeouts in 515 at-bats.
The Cubs reacquired Holtzman years later — more on that in an upcoming installment.
December 3: Acquired Jose Cardenal from the Brewers for Jim Colborn, Brock Davis and Earl Stephenson
Davis and Stephenson appeared to be decent young players, but neither did much in Milwaukee; this deal boiled down to Colborn for Cardenal.
As was typical of Leo Durocher, he never gave Colborn, a young pitcher, much of a chance. In three Cub seasons he pitched in 54 games (seven starts) with a 3.87 ERA.
His second year in Milwaukee produced a 20-win season, a 3.18 ERA and sixth place in Cy Young voting. Again, that would have looked pretty good in the Cubs rotation.
But this deal did produce value for the Cubs. Cardenal became a fan favorite and in six Cubs seasons he batted .296/.363/.424 with 61 home runs and 129 stolen bases. He stole 25 bases in his first Cubs season in 1972. That was just the second time (the other, Adolfo Phillips, 32 in 1966) any Cub had stolen that many bases since 1930.
He played a few more years after the Cubs traded him away, including a few at-bats for the Royals in the 1980 World Series. After his playing career Cardenal became a longtime coach for the Reds, Cardinals, Yankees and Devil Rays.
There weren’t many Cubs player-for-player trades in 1971, but the last two give this year a solid B grade.
Give the Cubs a grade for their 1971 trades.
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