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A look at Cubs trades in the expansion era: 2006

This was not much of a year for significant deals.

Greg Maddux salutes the Wrigley crowd on leaving the mound for the last time as a Cub, July 29, 2006
Getty Images

The Cubs had hoped to contend again in 2006, but injuries to Derrek Lee, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior pretty much took all of that away. The Cubs lost 96 games, one of the worst years in franchise history, and trading that year was kind of meh.

January 6: Acquired Nate Spears and Carlos Perez from the Orioles for Corey Patterson

Patterson had a miserable 2005 after a good 2004. His -1.1 bWAR was one of the worst for any position player.

So the Cubs moved on. Unfortunately, neither of the guys they got ever played in the major leagues.

For a time, Spears was a pretty good prospect. The Cubs sent him to the Arizona Fall League in 2008 and he batted .349/.461/.542 with 26 runs scored in 23 games. But then he didn’t hit at Triple-A Iowa the next year and the Cubs gave up on him.

Patterson had a couple of okay years in Baltimore, producing 4.2 bWAR in 2006. I doubt he’d have done anything like that in Chicago, though.

March 28: Acquired Lincoln Holdzkom and Zach McCormack from the Marlins for Todd Wellemeyer

Lincoln Holdzkom is one of the better baseball names this century. Sadly, he died in a car accident in 2015, aged just 33. His father was from New Zealand, though Lincoln was born in California, and Lincoln pitched for a New Zealand team in a WBC qualifier in 2012. He had a brother, John, who pitched briefly in the big leagues for the Pirates in 2014.

Zach McCormack also never pitched in the majors.

Wellemeyer appeared to have some promise in the Cubs system, but in three years in the Cubs pen (2003-05) he posted a 6.19 ERA in 57 games for -1.2 bWAR. He had a bit of success later with the Royals and Cardinals, but pitched in only 18 games for the Marlins (0.0 bWAR), so this was a nothing deal for both teams.

March 31: Acquired Freddie Bynum from the Athletics as part of a three-team deal. The Cubs sent John Koronka to the Rangers, the Rangers sent Juan Dominguez to the A’s and the A’s sent John Rheinecker to the Rangers.

Freddie Bynum became a Dusty Baker favorite. In 71 games he batted .257/.308/.456 with five doubles, five triples, four home runs and eight stolen bases. He wasn’t a good defender and so that was worth -0.5 bWAR. Koronka made 23 starts for Texas with a 5.69 ERA and -0.2 bWAR. So... a trade that hurt both teams?

May 31: Acquired Phil Nevin from the Rangers for Jerry Hairston Jr.

Hairston was batting .207/.253/.244 in 38 games at the time of this deal, but he wound up playing seven more years for the Rangers, Reds, Yankees, Padres, Nationals, Brewers and Dodgers (hey! another Immaculate Grid guy!), and in 2008 he had a 2.0 bWAR season in Cincinnati. He did have negative bWAR (-0.3) for Texas in ‘06.

Nevin, a former overall No. 1 pick in the draft (1992, Astros) had a bit of a reputation as not a great clubhouse guy by this time and after a few good years with the Padres from 1999-2004 was pretty much at the end of the line by the time the Cubs got him.

He actually hit pretty well for the Cubs: .274/.335/.497 with 12 home runs in 67 games, good for 0.1 bWAR (largely because he wasn’t a good defender). He didn’t even make it to the end of 2006 with the Cubs, as you’ll see below.

July 22: Acquired Fabian Jimenez Argulo and Joel Santo from the Padres for Scott Williamson

I swear I am not making those two acquired players’ names up. Both are real, though neither played in the majors and Santo, from the Dominican Republic, is no relation to Cubs Hall of Famer Ron Santo.

Williamson had posted some good years for the Reds in 2002 and 2003 but, at age 30, he was pretty much done. He posted a 7.36 ERA and -0.3 bWAR in 11 relief appearances for San Diego, then pitched briefly for the Orioles in 2007 and was done.

July 31: Acquired Cesar Izturis from the Dodgers for Greg Maddux

The Cubs were well out of contention by the trading deadline and everyone knew Maddux, then 40, was going to be traded. Despite his age, he was still pitching well, and I well remember the warm ovation he got July 29 when he made his final Cubs appearance, leaving the game after throwing six innings of one-run ball against the Cardinals:

The thing is, despite Maddux’ age, he should have brought more value in trade than Cesar Izturis. Izturis was awful for the Cubs, batting .242/.293/.292 in 87 games in 2006 and 2007, though he managed to hang on for six more years with the Pirates, Cardinals, Orioles, Brewers, Nationals and Reds (Immaculate Grid again!).

Meanwhile, Maddux threw six no-hit innings in his very first start with the Dodgers, August 3, 2006, and overall posted a good 3.30 ERA in 12 starts for them, worth 1.8 bWAR.

I wished Maddux well when he left. I just wish Jim Hendry had been able to get more in return.

July 31: Acquired Jose Ceda from the Padres for Todd Walker

Walker, never popular as a Cub, was another one on the deadline trade block. For a time it seemed as if he’d be going to the Giants, but a rumored deal fell through, so Walker wound up in San Diego for Ceda, who pitched two years in the Cubs minor leagues before being sent away in a deal we’ll cover later.

Walker posted 4.2 bWAR in his two-plus years with the Cubs, and batted .282/.366/.419 with three home runs in 42 games for the Padres. A free agent at the end of 2006, he went to spring training 2007 with the Padres, but they let him go at the end of camp. Signing with the A’s, he played just 18 games for them before they released him.

August 20: Acquired Chris Robinson from the Tigers for Neifi Perez

Give Jim Hendry credit here. He did Neifi a solid by sending him to the eventual American League champions, so Neifi got to play in a World Series, though Detroit lost to the Cardinals.

Robinson, a catcher who had played college ball at the University of Illinois, played in the Cubs system for five years without ever getting a callup. He left as a free agent and eventually played eight MLB games for the Padres in 2013.

August 31: Acquired Adam Harben from the Twins for Phil Nevin

Nevin batted .190/.340/.286 with one home run in 16 games for the Twins, and went 0-for-3 in their division series vs. the A’s. Those were his last MLB games.

Harben, who had put up some decent numbers in the lower levels of the Twins organization, pitched in the Cubs organization in 2007 and 2008, after which he was released. He never played in the majors. Fun fact: Harben is six months younger than Justin Verlander.

November 16: Acquired Neal Cotts from the White Sox for David Aardsma and Carlos Vasquez

Cotts posted a 4.97 ERA in 85 appearances for the Cubs from 2007-09, total value 0.2 bWAR. Aardsma had a 6.40 ERA in 25 games for the Sox in 2007, total value for them -0.4 bWAR.

So the Cubs “win” this deal, but both pitchers wound up doing well for other teams, Cotts missing most of four seasons with various hip injuries before having a really good year for the Rangers in 2013 — 1.11 ERA, 0.947 WHIP in 58 games, worth 2.6 bWAR.

Vasquez never played in the majors.

December 6: Acquired Kevin Hart from the Orioles for Freddie Bynum

Hart had his moments. Overall from 2007-09 he posted a 3.93 ERA and 1.643 WHIP for the Cubs in 37 games (four starts). He was traded away in a deal we’ll cover later.

Bynum, as noted above, didn’t do much for the Cubs, nor in Baltimore, where he batted .216/.252/.327 in 110 games in 2007 and 2008.

Hart had 0.7 bWAR for the Cubs and Bynum -0.9 bWAR for the O’s, so we’ll give this one to the Cubs.

The Cubs neither gave up nor acquired much in any of these deals, except as noted, I think they could have gotten more for Maddux. The grade for 2006 is C.


Give the Cubs a grade for their 2006 trades.

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