3 reasons why the Chicago Cubs were so horrible for so long

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs were also slow to grasp the draft

The Cubs also struggled to draft impact players once MLB instituted the (then-June) annual draft in 1965. Their haul from first-round picks was anemic. From 1965-83, only two Cubs first-rounders would go on to have double-digit WAR careers: Joe Carter (19.6 WAR, drafted in 1981) and Shawon Dunston (11.5 WAR, drafted in 1982). Carter would never play much for the Cubs, of course, but he brought back Rick Sutcliffe and his blistering 16-1 run in the now-famous 1984 blockbuster trade.

The Cubs had some later round draft success during this period, most impressively landing Rick Reuschel (who should be in the Hall) in 1970 and Lee Smith in 1975 (who is). Indeed, the bulk of the Cubs’ draft success during this time came on the mound: Dennis Lamp, Ray Burris and Mike Krukow all made solid contributions.

On the other hand, the Cubs didn’t always make good use of the talent they drafted. In 1968 and 1969 the Cubs drafted Oscar Gamble, Bill North, and Larry Gura, players whose combined career WAR was 71.1, very little of which came in a Cubs uniform. These guys were traded for, respectively, two so-so years of center fielder Johnny Callison, one excellent year of reliever Bob Locker, and 19 abysmal innings of reliever Mike “The Walrus Was” Paul. These were not Brock for Broglio trades, but they didn’t help an organization perennially starved of adequate talent.