OK, readers, I know how much you like to debate all things Cubs. Here are my top six in-season trades (remember, it’s in-season, not off season). Agree? Disagree? I know you’ll comment:
1. June 13, 1984: Cubs receive RHP Rick Sutcliffe, RHP George Frazier and C Ron Hassey from the Indians for OFs Joe Carter and Mel Hall and Minor League RHPs Darryl Banks and Don Schulze.
The Cubs had a 1 1/2 game lead and the rotation was dealing with injuries when they made the deal for Sutcliffe, who was 4-5 with a 5.15 ERA at that point with the Indians. The right-hander finished the year 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA, won the Cy Young award, and helped the Cubs get to the playoffs for the first time since 1945.
Some say the Cubs gave away more than they got — dealing future World Series hero Joe Carter for Sutcliffe, who battled injuries. Sutcliffe also won 18 games in 1987, 13 in ’88, and 16 in ’89 with the Cubs. Hassey played 14 seasons in the big leageus, while Banks and Schulze never made it.
2. April 21, 1966: Cubs receive RHP Ferguson Jenkins, OF Adolfo Phillips and OF/1B John Herrnstein from the Phillies for RHP Larry Jackson and RHP Bob Buhl.
The deal was made nine days after the season began. The Cubs were desperate for pitching help, and picked up Jenkins, who was 22 years old at the time. The right-hander posted six straight 20-win seasons, and compiled a 167-132 record and 3.20 ERA in 10 seasons with the Cubs. He finished with 997 walks in 664 games.
Phillips delivered three productive seasons before he was dealt to the Expos. Buhl and Jackson combined for 47-53 mark with the Phillies, then retired. Jenkins, who also pitched for the Rangers and Red Sox, finished with 284 wins, and secured a spot in Cooperstown in 1991.
3. July 23, 2003: Cubs receive 3B Aramis Ramirez, OF Kenny Lofton and cash from Pirates for IF Jose Hernandez, Minor Leaguer RHP Matt Bruback and player to be named later. 2B Bobby Hill was sent to the Pirates to complete deal.
The Cubs were counting on young Corey Patterson to lead off and cover center, and he batted .298 in 83 games but suffered a knee injury on July 6. Lofton filled the leadoff spot, batting .327 in 56 games, while Ramirez was Mr. Clutch, hitting 15 home runs and driving in 39 runs in 63 games. The two, plus the late addition that year of first baseman Randall Simon, acquired Aug. 17, gave the Cubs the offensive spark they needed to reach the playoffs.
A solid defensive player, Ramirez stayed with Chicago for nine seasons, totaling 239 home runs and 806 RBIs. Hernandez was versatile and popular, but he was batting .188 at the time with the Cubs. He lasted 15 seasons in the big leagues, playing for nine different teams.
4. June 15, 1949: Cubs receive OF Hank Sauer and OF Frankie Baumholtz from the Reds for OF Harry Walker and OF/3B Peanuts Lowrey.
Walker was the 1947 batting champion, and ended up playing 165 games for the Reds before retiring. Sauer was 32 at the time of the trade, and had his best years ahead of him. he batted .367 in his first 39 games with the Cubs with 15 home runs and 45 RBIs. He belted 171 homers with the Cubs, drove in 100 runs three times, and won the MVP award in 1952. Baumholtz, a throw-in in the deal, developed into a solid center fielder and batted over .300 for five seasons with the Cubs.
5. Aug. 13, 1913: Cubs receive LHP Hippo Vaughn from Kansas City Minor League team for RHP Lew Richie
The Yankees weren’t high on Vaughn after a 2-8 season in 1912, and the Senators claimed him on waivers. The Cubs found Vaughn in the Minors, and he became the best left-handed starter in team history, totaling 151 wins, 35 shutouts and five 20-win seasons. Vaughn still holds team marks for most wins by a lefty, most starts (270), most complete games (177), most shutouts, most innings pitched (2,216 1/3), most strikeouts (1,138).
6. May 25, 1984: Cubs receive RHP Dennis Eckersley and IF Mike Brumley from the Red Sox for 1B Bill Buckner.
Buckner was batting .209, and the Cubs had Leon Durham to take over at first. Eckersley was a starter at this point in his Hall of Fame career, and 4-4 with a 5.01 ERA in nine starts with the Red Sox when he joined the Cubs. He finished the season 10-8 with a 3.03 ERA, including two complete games, in 24 starts to help the team reach the postseason for the first time since 1945.
The Cubs parted ways with Eckersley on April 3, 1987, sending him to the Athletics for three Minor League players, David Wilder, Brian Guinn and Mark Leonette. Eckersley was 32, but he resurrected his career in Oakland, and finished with 390 saves over 12 seasons. Eckersley ended up in the Hall of Fame. Wilder, Guinn and Leonette never played for the Cubs.
— Carrie Muskat
Aramis Ramirez hit a milestone home run on Thursday that meant much more considering the other name in the discussion. With his 337th career home run as a third baseman, Ramirez tied Hall of Famer Ron Santo for sixth place on the all-time list for homers from that position. The two became close after Ramirez was traded in 2003 to Chicago, where Santo was the Cubs’ radio analyst.
“I was a big fan of Ron Santo all my years in Chicago,” Ramirez told reporters in Pittsburgh. “He was a great guy, always in the clubhouse trying to give me advice, make me a better player. I admire the way he treated young players in Chicago.”
Santo was posthumously inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, an honor Ramirez called, “deserving.”
Ramirez actually has 340 career home runs — he also homered twice as a pinch-hitter and once as a designated hitter in Interleague Play. Santo hit 342 homers in his career.
— Carrie Muskat
Monday will be an interesting night for the middle of the Brewers order. Ryan Braun will be playing his first regular season away game since appealing a suspension over the winter. Cleanup man Aramis Ramirez is returning as an enemy after parts of nine seasons with the Cubs. Ramirez said he isn’t sure what kind of reception he’ll get. But he has a hunch about Braun.
“I think it’s going to be ugly for Braun everywhere we go,” Ramirez told reporters Sunday in Milwaukee. “On the road, it’s going to be tough for him. He knows it. That’s no secret. Plus, he got a taste of it in Spring Training. Everywhere we go, he was getting booed. But that’s a good player, and he’s tough. He’s tough mentally, and I think he’s going to be OK. He’s a good enough player to separate that from his game.”
How will Cubs fans greet Ramirez?
“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” he said. “I had a great career there. I played for some good teams and also played for some bad teams. I guess you have to ask the fans.”
Ramirez had a similar experience in September 2003 when he returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since a midseason trade from the Pirates to the Cubs. Ramirez went 5-for-13 in that four-game series, with three home runs and six RBIs. He homered twice in that series finale, a 4-1 Cubs win.
“They booed me,” Ramirez said of Pirates fans. “I don’t know why. I didn’t ask to be traded.”
Likewise, Ramirez said, he did not ask to leave Chicago after batting .294 with 239 home runs and 806 RBIs in 1,124 games. He was a free agent, and the Cubs’ new president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, informed agent Paul Kinzer early in the process that Ramirez did not fit the franchise’s plan.
“Theo was honest,” Ramirez said. “He told my agent they were going young, so there was no place for me there. I’m 33.”
If Cubs fans do boo him this week, Ramirez said, “I want to know the reason why. What did I do? But [Cubs] fans, they go to the park and they do whatever they want.”
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was asked whether he worried about Ramirez trying to do too much in his return to Wrigley Field.
“I think sometimes it goes both ways,” Roenicke said. “Sometimes a guy comes back and does great, and then there’s the player who comes back and tries so hard to do well that he gets out of his game. It’s hard to say which way Aramis will go. He’s calm, he’s always thinking, but there’s still emotion under that calm. Going back to a place he was for that many years, there’s going to be emotion there.”
Ramirez still has a home in downtown Chicago, but it’s for sale so he will stay with the Brewers at the team hotel.
— Carrie Muskat
Milwaukee’s Aramis Ramirez joked before Saturday’s game that he was going to try and bunt on the first pitch he saw from former teammate Ryan Dempster. The Cubs pitcher didn’t give Ramirez a chance as his first pitch sailed over the third baseman’s head. Did Dempster know about Ramirez’s plan?
“Oh really?” Dempster said. “It would’ve been a tough pitch to bunt.”
Was he trying to send a message?
“It just got away,” Dempster said of the pitch. “I’ve seen him too many times to leave it out over the plate. I was trying to go inside. In the back of your mind, you don’t want to hit him so you end up letting it go a little early.”
Milwaukee had two on and one out, and Dempster got Ramirez to ground into a double play.
“Hopefully, some of what I’ve watched over the years, I can apply,” Dempster said of future matchups. “He’s a pretty darn good hitter.”
The rest of Dempster’s outing was without a glitch. He gave up two hits and walked two over three innings, then went down to the bullpen to throw some more.
“I’ll face these guys a lot this year so there’s no point going out there and throwing a whole bunch more to them,” said Dempster, who will start in the Cubs’ first series vs. the Brewers, April 9-12. “It was a good day, good work. I keep trying to build up innings.”
The results have been good, he said.
“That’s what I’m trying to do is just execute pitches,” he said. “As spring goes on, you hope to execute more and more of them. I still have a little ways to go and I’m just trying to get as ready as possible.”
— Carrie Muskat
On Saturday, Aramis Ramirez faced his former teammates for the first time when the Cubs traveled to Phoenix to play the Brewers. He joked before the game that he was going to bunt against Ryan Dempster in his first at-bat. The Cubs pitcher must have found out. His first pitch sailed over Ramirez’s head and the third baseman ended up grounding into a double play to end the first.
Ramirez will find out how Cubs fans feel about him April 9-12 when the Brewers come to Wrigley Field.
“I don’t know,” Ramirez said about what the fans’ reaction will be. “Obviously, they aren’t happy I’m playing for their rivals now, I’m playing for Milwaukee. I have no clue.”
If he’s booed, it won’t be the first time. Ramirez still hears jeers when he faces the Pirates.
“It’s been nine years and every time I go back, I still get booed,” Ramirez said. “I don’t know how they’re going to take it but I don’t worry about it. I can’t control that stuff.”
Ramirez never seemed to be embraced by Cubs fans despite being a consistent RBI hitter. <p> “I just try to do my job and I think for the most part I did it,” Ramirez said. “I think that’s all you can ask for as a player. When you sign somebody or pay somebody to do their job, they’re out there playing the game and I did that.”
— Carrie Muskat
Alfonso Soriano will need to spend lots of time getting to know his new teammates on the Cubs, and didn’t appear to miss players like Aramis Ramirez or Carlos Zambrano.
“It feels a little different because those guys have been forever in a Cubs uniform,” Soriano said of the two. “Now I don’t see them and it feels we’re missing something. We have a nice group of people and we have to work with these guys because they have very good talent.”
Ramirez left via free agency and signed a three-year contract with the Brewers, while Zambrano was traded to the Marlins in January.
“I think they made very good moves, trading Z, because I don’t know if he wasn’t happy or what here but the things he did here, nobody was happy,” Soriano said. “I think the team is happy they were able to trade him and I think he’s happy, too, that he’s in Miami now. It worked great for both positions. We won’t miss him.”
It’s time for the Cubs to move on, Soriano said.
“Now, I have to focus on my new team that I have here,” he said. “I can’t think about my old teammates, I want to think about my new teammates and be friendly with my new teammates.”
— Carrie Muskat
The agent for Aramis Ramirez told the Cubs Wednesday that the third baseman was declining the Cubs’ offer of arbitration. The deadline for players to decide whether to accept was 11 p.m. CT Wednesday. Both Ramirez and Carlos Pena were Type B free agents, and if they sign with other teams, as expected, the Cubs will receive a compensatory Draft pick between the first and second rounds. Pena already has told the Cubs he will decline the offer.
Ramirez may not go too far from Chicago. He is considering the Brewers as well as the Angels. There also is a third team, but Milwaukee’s advantage is that he could stay in the NL Central. Ramirez, who has met with both Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and Angels manager Mike Scioscia, has made it clear he wants to play for a contender. Ramirez, 33, won his first Silver Slugger award this season, batting .306 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs, and is considered the top free agent third baseman available.
— Carrie Muskat
Carlos Pena will not accept arbitration, according to a report Wednesday. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman said Pena will be going back on the market. In his one season in Chicago, Pena batted .225 with 28 homers and 80 RBIs. The deadline for players is 11 p.m. CT Wednesday. The Cubs also offered arbitration to Aramis Ramirez. If Pena and Ramirez sign with other teams, which was expected, the Cubs will receive a compensatory Draft pick between the first and second rounds.
Pena’s decision is not a surprise. Theo Epstein mentioned Pena was looking for a multi-year contract.
The Cubs did not offer arbitration to Kerry Wood, another Type B free agent, but they were expected to try to re-sign the reliever. Wood has had conversations with Epstein re: coming back.
The Brewers are reportedly interested in Ramirez, 33, who won his first Silver Slugger award this season, batting .306 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs, and is considered the top free agent third baseman available. Ramirez’s agent Paul Kinzer has said his client is looking for a multi-year contract.
The Cubs did not offer arbitration to four other unranked free agents for whom no compensation applies, according to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. That group includes John Grabow, Reed Johnson, Ramon Ortiz and Rodrigo Lopez.
— Carrie Muskat
Aramis Ramirez’s agent Paul Kinzer said Monday there’s no chance the third baseman will return to the Cubs and is looking for a three to four-year deal with a new team. Ramirez wants a ring.
“Aramis is going to be fine,” Kinzer said of the free agent, considered the top third baseman available. “We’re not in any hurry. I’m just feeling teams out. As the market establishes itself and people find out if they’re in or not on [Albert] Pujols or [Prince] Fielder, and who’s in on [Jose] Reyes, Aramis is going to be there. He’s not looking at an eight-year contract. He’s going to be looking in the four range, and maybe three with an option. It’s going to be his choice.”
However, Kinzer did take the opportunity to respond to criticism from Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly, who said in a radio interview that it was time for Ramirez to go.
“There’s no question about it, you look at the stats and he’s the best third baseman they’ve had since Ron Santo, maybe the only third baseman the Cubs have had since Ron Santo,” said Brenly, who also said pitchers don’t like Ramirez because it takes him too long to turn double plays and he’s weak defensively.
“For me, I think maybe it’s time for him to move on and go somewhere else,” Brenly said. “I’m sure he still has a number of good years left as an offensive player but if you’re looking to retool the team in a diffrent image, it might be time for him to go.”
“I’m not real happy about the stuff that came out negative about Aramis,” Kinzer said. “For a broadcaster to come out and say that, I think is very low class. We didn’t come out and say a word about it but that bothered Aramis and it bothered me a lot. If [Brenly] had something to say to him, he should’ve said it to his face when he was a Cub and not when he hits free agency and then come out like that. You can talk to Jim Hendry, Lou Piniella, Dusty Baker and if this guy isn’t a producer and he was as bad as he said, and not a clutch hitter — they don’t give Silver Sluggers out to punch-and-Judy hitters. If he had a personal problem with him, he should’ve come to Aramis or I instead of trying to destroy him in the media. That bothered me a lot.”
— Carrie Muskat
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who posted his sixth season with at least 30 doubles and 25 home runs this year with the Cubs, won his first Silver Slugger award. Ramirez, 33, who is a free agent after nine seasons with the Cubs, batted .306, seventh best in the National League. His 173 hits and 288 total bases both ranked 10th in the NL. He was named the NL Player of the Week June 27-July 3, hitting .393 with six homers and 10 RBIs in eight games. Ramirez also hit .332 at home, fourth best in the league.
This season, Ramirez belted his 300th career homer on July 1, connecting against Edwin Jackson in an Interleague game against the White Sox. Ramirez is the first Cubs’ Silver Slugger winner since pitcher Carlos Zambrano won his third such award in 2009, and the first non-pitcher to win since catcher Michael Barrett and first baseman Derrek Lee both won in 2005.
— Carrie Muskat