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A look at Cubs trades in the expansion era: 2005

There were a lot of hit-or-miss minor trades, and a couple of big ones.

Photo by Warren Wimmer/Getty Images

The 2005 Cubs were expected to do better than they did. Instead, it was a year muddling around .500, and the trades made that year reflected that.

February 2: Acquired Mike Fontenot, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Dave Crouthers from the Orioles for Sammy Sosa

After Sosa’s unceremonious exit at the end of the 2004 season, it seemed inevitable he’d be traded, and so he was.

The two major league players acquired (Crouthers never played in the majors) actually weren’t too bad. Fontenot had a really good year for the Cubs in 2008 (.305/.395/.514 with nine home runs in 119 games, 3.3 bWAR) and Hairston was decent in 2005, less so in 2006. Sosa hit 14 home runs in 102 games in Baltimore and by then, was a defensive liability, overall posting -1.0 bWAR.

The Cubs actually got decent value from trading away Sosa.

February 9: Acquired Scott Moore, Roberto Novoa and Bo Flowers from the Tigers for Kyle Farnsworth

Moore hit 20 home runs and stole 22 bases at Daytona in 2005 and played in the Futures Game. He was considered a pretty good prospect, but wound up playing in only 18 games for the Cubs in 2006 and 2007. Novoa posted a 4.33 ERA in 115 games for the Cubs in 2005 and 2006, worth 0.2 bWAR. Flowers never played in the majors.

Meanwhile, Farnsworth played 10 more MLB seasons, posting 6.1 bWAR for the Tigers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers again, Royals, Braves again, Rays, Pirates, Mets and Astros. He had 25 saves for the Rays in 2011.

Then he did this:

Anyway, the Cubs probably should have just kept Farnsworth. They could have used him in the pen in 2007 and 2008.

March 26: Acquired Mark Johnson from the Brewers for Travis Ezi

You might think I made this one up, but no, this is a real trade. I’m not quite sure where the Cubs even got Travis Ezi; his minor-league record shows him only in the Dodgers and Brewers organizations, plus a few years in indy ball.

Johnson never played for the Cubs in the majors and spent just one year playing at Triple-A Iowa. He later spent nine years managing in the Cubs system at Boise, Kane County, Myrtle Beach and Tennessee.

March 29: Acquired Cliff Bartosh from the Indians for Bear Bay

Nope, didn’t make this one up either. Bear Bay was the Cubs’ 25th-round pick in 2002 and never played in the majors.

Bartosh pitched in 19 games for the Cubs in 2005 with a 5.49 ERA, 1.729 WHIP and -0.1 bWAR.

Shoulda kept Bay, that’s a cooler name.

May 28: Acquired David Aardsma and Jerome Williams from the Giants for LaTroy Hawkins

Many people say Dusty Baker ruined Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. While that might be true, Baker REALLY ruined Hawkins as a Cub by insisting on using him as a closer, a role for which he was ill-suited. Though he did have 28 saves with the Twins in 2001, that came with nine blown saves and a 5.96 ERA. The same thing happened with the Cubs in ‘04 — 25 saves, nine blown saves, including two key blown saves in the season’s final week.

It happened again in ‘05. Hawkins had eight save opportunities in the season’s first 34 games, posted four saves but had four blown saves, including an unbelievable one on May 6 against the Phillies, where with one out and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth with the Cubs leading 2-1, he caught a line drive off the bat of Placido Polanco and had Jose Offerman easily doubled off first. He threw to first and the ball went off Offerman’s helmet, with two runs scoring. Lest you think I am making that up, you can see that play here:

Hawkins lasted another three weeks as a Cub until this trade happened. He played another decade after it for the Giants, Orioles, Rockies, Yankees, Astros, Brewers, Angels, Mets, Rockies again (where he had 23 saves at age 41 in 2014) and Blue Jays, making him an excellent answer in Immaculate Grid.

The return on this deal wasn’t bad, if the Cubs had just known what to do with these guys. Aardsma threw hard, but the Cubs sent him to the minor leagues. Eventually he posted a 4.08 ERA and 0.6 bWAR for them in 2006, and would later have a pair of 30+ save seasons for the Mariners. Williams had talent and had a 3.91 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) for the Cubs in 2005 (1.8 bWAR), then was much worse in 2006 (7.30 ERA in five games, two starts) and was let go on waivers. He pitched for the Nationals, Angels, Astros, Rangers, Phillies and Cardinals and was still active as recently as 2016.

If the Cubs had used Hawkins correctly, they could have had a very good setup man for a very long time.

July 18: Acquired Jody Gerut from the Indians for Jason Dubois

Dubois had been a decent prospect, but fizzled out after 2005.

The Gerut acquisition seemed really positive. He grew up in the Chicago area (Willowbrook HS) and in 2003, batted .279/.336/.494 with 22 home runs for Cleveland, finishing fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Injuries limited him the following year and it seemed a new start would help him in his home town.

Instead, he lasted less than two weeks in a Cubs uniform.

July 31: Acquired Matt Lawton from the Pirates for Jody Gerut

I will never understand this deal. Lawton had played reasonably well for the Pirates after a long career mostly in Minnesota and Cleveland, but Dusty Baker barely played him. Lawton played in just 19 games for the Cubs, batting .244/.289/.308 (19-for-78).

Gerut didn’t play even that much in Pittsburgh — only four games. Injuries then kept him out of the big leagues until 2008, when he hit .296/.351/.494 with 14 home runs in 100 games for the Padres, a year worth 3.3 bWAR. He wasn’t quite as good the following year and the injuries ended a promising career after 2010.

You’ll read more about Lawton below.

August 9: Acquired Olivo Astacio from the Red Sox for Mike Remlinger

Astacio never played in the Cubs system, or in 2005 at all — must have been injured. He pitched in two more seasons in the Pirates chain and then was done. Fun fact: He’s one day older than Max Scherzer.

Remlinger, who’d pitched reasonably well for the Cubs in 2003 and 2004, was mostly done by ‘05, when he had a 4.91 ERA and -0.1 bWAR. He was even worse in Boston, with a 14.85 ERA and -0.6 bWAR in just eight games.

Guess the Cubs “win” this one.

August 27: Acquired Justin Berg from the Yankees for Matt Lawton

Lawton wound up testing positive for PEDs in November 2005 after playing just 21 games for the Yankees and batting .125/.263/.250. He issued the following apology:

“I made a terrible and foolish mistake that I will regret for the rest of my life,” Lawton said in a statement that he read over the telephone to The Associated Press. “I take full responsibility for my actions and did not appeal my suspension. I apologize to the fans, the game, my family and all those people that I let down. I am truly sorry and deeply regret my terrible lapse in judgment.”

Lawton said the positive test occurred after he was acquired by the Yankees but did not answer other questions.

Lawton played briefly for the Mariners in 2006, then was done.

Berg posted a 4.08 ERA in 60 relief appearances for the Cubs from 2009-11 with 0.3 bWAR, so I guess this one’s a small “win” for the Cubs. Essentially, they wound up trading Jason Dubois for Justin Berg.

August 29: Acquired Todd Blackford and Angelo Burrows from the Braves for Todd Hollandsworth

Hollandsworth had played well for the Cubs as a part-time outfielder in 2004 (.318/.392/.547 with eight home runs in only 57 games), but wasn’t as good in ‘05 and so was deemed expendable.

Neither of the players the Cubs acquired ever played in the major leagues. After finishing the ‘05 season in Atlanta, Hollandsworth played for Cleveland and Cincinnati in 2006, then hung ‘em up. He worked as a pre- and post-game analyst on Cubs TV broadcasts from 2009-16 and from 2017-21 was an analyst on Marlins TV broadcasts.

November 16: Acquired Clint Brannon from the Rangers for Jon Leicester

Leicester, whose last name was pronounced “lester” (thus giving the Cubs a “Jon Lester” before they had the real Jon Lester), had been a decent reliever for the Cubs in 2004, but not so much in 2005. He never played for the Rangers, but surfaced for 10 games in Baltimore in 2007.

Brannon never played in the major leagues, so this was a nothing deal for both teams.

December 7: Acquired Juan Pierre from the Marlins for Ricky Nolasco, Renyel Pinto and Sergio Mitre

Oh, man.

At the time this deal was made, the Cubs appeared to have a fairly solid rotation anchored by Carlos Zambrano and Mark Prior. Well, you know what happened to Prior, and the Cubs could have surely used Nolasco, who had a 12-year career, mostly as an inning-eater, for the Marlins, Twins, Angels and Dodgers. It was a 13.1 bWAR career, which is pretty good.

Pinto gave the Marlins 3.3 bWAR in five relief seasons.

Sergio Mitre was convicted of murder in Mexico in 2022 and is serving a long prison sentence.

Juan Pierre was a talented player, to be sure, though a singles hitter (career SLG .361). He rarely walked, and even though he stole 58 bases for the Cubs — the most for any Cub since Billy Maloney had 59 in 1905! — he led the majors in caught stealing with 20. He played in every game and his 699 at-bats is now the Cubs franchise record. He had 204 hits, the first 200-hit season for any Cub since Bill Buckner had 201 in 1982, but his .292 BA established a major-league record. He became the first player in MLB history to have a 200-hit season and not hit .300. (Since then, Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes have joined that “club.”)

All of that was a 2.0 bWAR season, which ... well, it’s not terrible, but Pierre never seemed to like being a Cub. He didn’t have a good arm in center field, which negated his good range.

It wasn’t a bad idea to trade those guys, but their collective value at the end of the 2005 season was more than just Juan Pierre, who left the Cubs as a FA at the end of 2006 and played seven more seasons, leading MLB in steals in 2010 with the White Sox with 68. Also that year, on June 13 at Wrigley Field, he was sent up to bat for Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd and broke up a Ted Lilly no-hit bid in the ninth inning.

This was a bad trade.

Only the Sosa deal was sort of good in 2005. Overall I have to give Jim Hendry a D+ for the ‘05 trades.


Give the Cubs a grade for their 2005 trades.

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