The Chicago Cubs have more than a century of rich history. In the wake of the Cole Hamels trade, we look back at three past swaps that made a difference.
In recent days, the Chicago Cubs traded Eddie Butler and minor league pitcher Rollie Lacy to the Texas Rangers for Cole Hamels. Whether this trade takes the Cubs to the World Series remains to be seen. There is quite a history of Cubs trades for pitching that impacted one or more seasons. So let’s look back at three trades for pitching that made a difference.
We’re going back to the very early days on these first two. In August of 1913, the Cubs traded Lew Richie to Kansas City (American Association) for Hippo Vaughn. Vaughn had struggled through four seasons with the New York Yankees and the Washington Senators before being sent to Kansas City. After the trade to the Cubs, Vaughn played nine seasons for the North Siders compiling a 151-105 record, a 2.33 ERA, 2.56 FIP and 1.169 WHIP.
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Vaughn led the Cubs in the 1918 World Series giving up three runs in three games (1.00 ERA) with an 0.815 WHIP. Later we’ll see another struggling pitcher the Cubs received in a trade who made a huge impact.
A three-fingered menace
Another blast from the past, and given that we’re playing the Cardinals and all the Brock for Broglio trade controversy you’ll realize it was payback in a way. In 1903 the Cubs traded Larry McLean and Jack Taylor to the Cardinals for Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown. Brown played nine seasons, 1904 to 1912, with the Cubs compiling a 188-86 record (really!), 1.80 ERA, 2.21 FIP and a just ridiculous 0.998 WHIP.
Brown led the Cubs to three consecutive World Series in, 1906, 1907, 1908 – and another in 1910. In the 1907 and 1908 World Series, he threw a total of 20 innings compiling a 0.00 ERA, a sub 1.000 WHIP. As we all know the 1908 World Series was the last the Cubs won until….
2016 and another massive trade two and a half years earlier that made an impact. In that trade, the Cubs sent Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles for Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta. The rest made history as Arrieta led the Cubs to the NLCS in 2015 gaining a Cy Young Award, then in 2016 led the Cubs to their first World Series Championship since Brown threw two no-run games in 1908.
The bearded right-hander was 68-31 from 2013 to 2017, with a 3.16 FIP and 1.034 WHIP. He won both his starts in the 2016 World Series compiling a 2.38 ERA and 0.971 WHIP. Okay, not exactly Three Finger Brown but very strong all the same.
Of course, there were many other trades for pitchers who made a notable impact for the Cubs. Rick Sutcliffe, Kyle Hendricks, Claude Passeau, Fergie Jenkins and many others. Can this trade for Cole Hamels reach the lofty heights of Brown, Vaughn, and Arrieta? He certainly has the pedigree to reach that pinnacle. Time will tell.