Chicago Cubs: Trades that went our way

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Jul 30, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Milwaukee Brewers third baseman

Aramis Ramirez

(16) in the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs trade Jose Hernandez, Bobby Hill, and Matt Bruback to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, and cash considerations.

Okay, so when you look up trades that went completely one-sided, this one may be listed.  The Cubs were pushing for the playoffs in 2003 and they needed to make a trade to make their team a contender.  They went calling to Pittsburgh to inquire about center fielder and lead-off hitter, Kenny Lofton.  Corey Patterson was lost to injury so the void left needed to be filled.  Lofton fit that void perfectly.

Once considered the premier lead off hitter in all of baseball, Lofton, while in the later stages of his career was still a dangerous player on both sides of the field.  The Cubs would also wind up getting what would later be the crown jewel of the trade in Aramis Ramirez.  A young power hitting third baseman, Ramirez had an outstanding season in 2001 with Pittsburgh – his first full season as a major league player.  Ramirez went from batting .300, with 34 home runs and 112 runs batted in to .234, 18 home runs, 71 runs batted in with his 2002 campaign.

The possible reason for the drop was the fact that Ramirez was injured and was playing with an bad ankle through the 2002 season.  In 2003, Ramirez started to come back to form. Before the trade, Ramirez had a .280 batting average with 12 home runs, 67 runs batted in.  Maybe the Pirates were more scared away by his fielding than the off-year in 2002 – it’s hard to say.

The Pirates wanted to move Lofton who was declining at his age. He was on a one year contract that I’m sure they were not going to resign.  Back in those days, the Pirates would stock pile prospects, so it was no surprise they were interesting in making a deal.  The Pirates were willing to move Lofton and Ramirez for the right players and the Cubs seemed to have what they wanted at the time. Those players were Matt Bruback, Jose Hernandez, and later would add in Bobby Hill to complete the trade.

Bruback was a 6’5″ right-handed pitching prospect with the Cubs.  Bruback while in the Cubs minor league system, had limited success but the Pirates must have seen something in him to accept him in the trade.  Hernandez was kind of the odd ball of the trade. While the Pirates usually went for prospects, Hernandez was anything but that.  At 33 years old, Hernandez offered versatility position wise, couldn’t offer anything anymore in his career with a bat. Before the trade, Hernandez was only batting .188 with 2 home runs, and 9 runs batted in.  I can only think that the Cubs said he had to be in the trade to dump his salary.

Hill, the player-to-be-named-later, was a highly regarded prospect when the Cubs drafted him in the second round of the 2000 draft.  He did have the most success out of the three players traded to the Pirates, that being .267 batting average, 2 home runs, and 38 runs batted in, in his 185 games with the Pirates.

The Cubs would go on to the NLCS to come within outs of going to the world series, something that may not have happened without Lofton or Ramirez who played very well down the stretch.  While Lofton would leave the Cubs after the post season, Ramirez would call Chicago his home for the next nine years.  He would finally be the third baseman the Cubs organization was looking for since Ron Santo left the Cubs back in 1973.  Ramirez would compile a stat line of .294 batting average, 239 home runs, 806 runs batted in, along with three all-star game appearances.

It doesn’t get much more one-sided than that.

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