On the field, the Cubs were a mess in 2000. They got off to a bad start, then a 17-9 July helped put them just six games under .500 by August 2 (50-56). From there, though, they went a staggeringly bad 15-41 to finish with 97 losses.
There was a July selloff, too.
March 23: Acquired Gary Matthews Jr. from the Padres for Rodney Myers
Myers had a decent 1999 for the Cubs, but posted negative (-1.1) bWAR in San Diego with a 5.48 ERA in 54 games over three seasons.
The Cubs didn’t seem to know what to do with Sarge’s son. He played poorly in 2000, batting just .190/.264/.297 in 80 games. Then he was somewhat better in 2001, batting .217/.320/.364 with nine home runs in 106 games, which got him traded to the Pirates in a deal we’ll cover later.
Matthews played nearly another decade after that and had a really good year in Texas in 2006, batting .313/.371/.495 with 19 home runs and 102 runs scored. He made the AL All-Star team and got some downballot MVP votes.
The Cubs should have just kept him.
April 14: Acquired Doug Johns from the Brewers for Ray King
This was a bad trade. King gave the Brewers three decent seasons (total 3.2 bWAR) and pitched through 2008, posting a 5.4 bWAR career. The Cubs could have used some good lefthanded relief over that period. Johns, who had pitched briefly in the majors for the A’s and Orioles from 1995-99, never played in the Cubs system at all.
May 12: Acquired Dave Martinez from the Devil Rays for Mark Guthrie
Guthrie had pitched reasonably well for the Cubs in late 1999, but wasn’t as good in early 2000, so the team reacquired Martinez, who they had sent away 12 years earlier.
Guthrie would be reacquired by the Cubs for the 2003 season. Martinez’ second tenure with the Cubs lasted 18 games over 23 days...
June 9: Acquired Brant Brown from the Rangers for Dave Martinez
Hey, look! Another guy the Cubs traded away, reacquired. The Cubs got Jon Lieber from the Pirates for Brown after the 1998 season, a very good trade. Brown batted .157/.248/.270 in 54 games for the Cubs, his last season in MLB. That was good for -0.7 bWAR. Martinez played 38 games for the Rangers before he was traded again, this time to the Blue Jays, making him one of a handful of players who played for four teams in one season.
You know of Martinez’ managing and coaching career. Brown has coached in the Rangers, Mariners and Dodgers organizations and last year he was the Marlins’ hitting coach.
July 21: Acquired Ben Ford and Oswaldo Mairena from the Yankees for Glenallen Hill
Hill played really well for the Yankees, batting .333/.378/.735 with 16 home runs in 40 games, and he got a World Series ring. He was done after that, though, playing only 16 games for the Angels in 2001.
It’s too bad the minor leaguers the Cubs got did basically nothing. Ford never played for the Cubs. Mairena pitched in two games for the Cubs in 2000 and was traded in a deal we’ll cover later.
July 26: Acquired Jamie Arnold and Jorge Piedra from the Dodgers for Ismael Valdez
Valdez, who had previously pitched well for the Dodgers, had signed with the Cubs before the 2000 season and was not a good fit, posting a 5.37 ERA in 12 starts. He didn’t do any better back in L.A. (nine games, eight starts, 6.08 ERA) and the Dodgers let him go as a free agent. He hung around through 2005 with the Angels, Rangers, Padres and Marlins.
Arnold was considered a good pitching prospect, he had been a first-round pick of the Braves in 1992. Nope, that didn’t work, he posted a 6.61 ERA in 12 games (four starts) for the Cubs and was let go at the end of the season. Piedra never played for the Cubs and was sent to the Rockies in 2002 for cash considerations. Kind of a nothing deal here for both teams.
July 28: Acquired Brent Hinchliffe and Keith Luuloa from the Angels for Mike Heathcott, Chris Hatcher and Brett King
This might be the most “Who are THOSE guys?” deal in modern Cubs history. Not one of these five players played a single MLB game for the teams that acquired them.
Hinchliffe never played for the Cubs and left after 2000 as a free agent. His MLB career consists of 14 games pitched with a 10.22 ERA.
Luuloa played in four games for Triple-A Iowa and went 6-for-18 and was let go at the end of the season.
Heathcott pitched in three games in the Angels system and never played pro ball again.
Hatcher played in 30 games in the Angels system, batting .339/.394/.661, then was let go and played a couple more minor-league seasons and one in Korea.
King never played in the majors at all.
July 31: Acquired Rondell White from the Expos for Scott Downs
Sigh, what might have been.
White had tremendous talent but just could not stay healthy. In 114 games for the Cubs in 2000-01 he batted .310/.374/.515 with 19 home runs. By the time the Cubs got him injuries had taken away the speed he had earlier in his career. He left the Cubs as a free agent after 2001, having posted 2.6 bWAR.
White wasn’t Hall of Fame caliber, but I’d bet if he had been healthy the Cubs might have kept him. He could have hit potentially 300+ career HR and had over 2,000 hits.
Downs, meanwhile, pitched 12 more years after the trade as a useful middle reliever for the Expos, Blue Jays, Angels, Braves, White Sox and Royals, with a total of 11.1 bWAR.
It wasn’t a bad deal — I don’t think anyone would have predicted a career like that for Downs, and White COULD have stayed healthy and productive. It just didn’t work out.
July 31: Acquired Ross Gload and Dave Noyce from the Marlins for Henry Rodriguez
Oh! Henry! was pretty much done after this deal, he played in only 58 more MLB games. He was decent enough for the Cubs, batting .272/.348/.534 with 75 home runs in 334 games.
The Cubs just had no place for Gload, and they let him go on waivers the following year. He wound up a useful bench player for the Rockies, White Sox, Royals, Marlins and Phillies through 2011, though he was not a good defender and the Cubs couldn’t hide him at DH. So this was kind of a nothing deal for both teams.
Noyce never played in the major leagues.
November 18: Acquired Bill Mueller from the Giants for Tim Worrell
Worrell was a useful MLB reliever for 14 years, though I had pretty much forgotten the 54 games he pitched for the Cubs in 2000 with a 2.47 ERA. That was good for 1.9 bWAR, one of his better seasons. He’d go on to have three good years with the Giants, posting 2.6 bWAR.
Mueller immediately became productive for the Cubs in 2001, batting .318/.409/.508 with five home runs in 36 games before he was sidelined with a freak knee injury suffered when he collided with an advertising sign in St. Louis. You can see that at the beginning of this highlight package from the game of May 13, 2001:
Mueller missed three months and didn’t hit as well when he returned. He didn’t hit as well in 2002, either, and the Cubs wound up trading him back to the Giants.
Maybe they should have kept him, because he had his best season in the majors with the Red Sox in 2003, batting .326/.398/.540 with 45 doubles and 19 home runs. He led the AL in batting average and got some downballot MVP votes.
November 30: Acquired Matt Stairs from the Athletics for Eric Ireland
Here’s another “should have kept that guy” deal, though again, here’s a spot where the Cubs could have used the DH. Stairs batted .250/.358/.462 with 17 home runs in 128 games for the Cubs in 2001, a 1.5 bWAR season. He wasn’t seen as good enough to play first base every day, though, and probably wasn’t, he was a mediocre to poor defender for almost his entire career.
So he left as a free agent and played 10 more seasons for the Brewers, Pirates, Royals, Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays, Phillies, Padres and Nationals, quite the odyssey. He hit .260/.352/.460 in 1,077 games with 125 home runs over that span.
If only the NL had the DH at that time.
Ireland never played in the majors, so this was a win for the Cubs.
I’m going to give these deals a C+, because though the Cubs did get some talent, they either didn’t know what to do with it or the guys got injured. They didn’t give up much, though.
Give the Cubs a grade for their 2000 trades.
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