Chicago Cubs: What if these five things never happened in Cubs history?

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Ryne Sandberg, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: What if they never acquired Ryne Sandberg?

As a Cubs fan, I like to see trades that work out well for them. Yet as a baseball fan in general, I want to see trades that work out well for both teams. And there’s a part of me that feels bad for the Phillies fans who are still bitter about the Ryne Sandberg trade. Putting my Cubs fandom aside, this has to be one of the worst trades in baseball history.

On January 27, 1982, the Phillies sent Larry Bowa and Sandberg to the Cubs for Ivan De Jesus. De Jesus had some decent years in the late 1970s but was coming off a 1981 season in which he put up an atrocious .509 OPS. The Phillies wanted to get rid of Bowa, yet only getting De Jesus for him alone was bad enough.

Throw in Sandberg – maybe not a top prospect but a pretty good one – and this trade just makes no sense from the Phillies’ perspective. But it got worse (for the Phillies): As we know, Ryno went on to be a Hall of Famer in a career that included ten All-Star selections, nine Gold Glove Awards at second base, seven Silver Slugger Awards, and the NL MVP Award in 1984.

Sandberg was a vital member of the division-winning 1984 and 1989 teams and may have made the difference. In 1984, the Cubs won their division by 6.5 games, and Sandberg put up a WAR of 7.1. In 1989, the Cubs won their division by six games; Sandberg’s WAR then was at 6.3.

Besides all that, had this trade never happened, we would have missed out on all the other great Sandberg moments until he retired for good after the 1997 season. Today, he remains one of the franchise’s all-time famous players. And it took highway robbery on the part of Cubs general manager Dallas Green to get him.