Ernie Broglio: The trade didn’t seem so one-sided at the time


Ernie Broglio was on the wrong side of one of the worst trades in baseball history, but it wasn't his fault. Broglio, who died last week at age 83, didn't make it. Cubs general manager John Holland did, getting Broglio, outfielder Doug Clemens and 1952 AL MVP Bobby Shantz, when he won 24 games for the Philadelphia A's, for the bargain price of pitchers Jack Spring (12 wins in 8 years) and Paul Toth (9 wins in 3 years) and an outfielder with a .689 OPS in parts of four seasons with the Cubs. Named Lou Brock. It's not the worst trade in MLB history -- you have to be unaware of the Babe Ruth to the Yankees thing or Christy Mathewson for Amos Rusie (the former won 372 games for his new team; the latter none in three starts) to think otherwise. Or a Cubs fan. But it's on MLB's Mount Rushmore of bad deals. Holland, who thought he was enhancing a veteran pitching staff to the Cubs' foundation of Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo, was haunted by bad fortune. He built the 1969 Cubs, who led the NL by nine games as late as Aug. 16 only to finish 8 games back. Bing Devine, who made the trade for the Cardinals, didn't even reap the benefits. With the Cardinals nine games back of the Phillies on Aug. 17, owner Gussie Busch, perhaps with the encouragement of special assistant Branch Rickey, fired Devine. “I am concerned that we cannot trade our way to a pennant,” Busch said to The Sporting News, according to the website, retrosimba.com, which seems ironic in that the Brock deal did exactly that. From retrosimba.com: “'(Rickey) was undercutting Bing,' wrote (longtime St. Louis sports writer Bob) Broeg. 'We all knew that.'” Poor Broglio, to be thrust into the middle of all that. In today's game, the trade might never have been made, given the transparency of medical records. As early as 1961, according to his bio at sabr.org, Broglio received "close to 20 cortisone shots," and by 1964 his elbow was hurting him as much as his shoulder had three years earlier. (Remember 20 cortisone shots the next time some old ballplayer is claiming the good old days were better.) From William Weinbaum's 2011 ESPN.com story on the trade: "They got a heckuva ballplayer; they gave up damaged goods," Broglio said. "I think that (the Cardinals) knew I had a bad arm. ... I think the Cardinals knew a lot -- a lot more than what I knew of the injury. So that's why I think they decided that they send the bad arm problem, get rid of him." (Not sure if Padres GM A.J. Preller, suspended in 2016 for failing to share Drew Pomeranz's complete medical records with the Red Sox, used the Bing Devine defense). The Cubs should have known about Broglio. On May 19, Broglio started against them, threw three wild pitches, walked five and lost 7-4 to Chicago. Broglio, from ESPN.com: "... Bob Uecker was catching and I kind of jokingly said, 'How come you didn't protect me?' He couldn't. He couldn't have caught the ball or stopped the ball. They were so far in front of home plate that there was an indication that I had problems with my elbow." The Cubs' powers of observations being what they were, they made the trade. Broglio won seven games for them over the next three seasons; Brock went on to a Hall of Fame career. But if you didn't know or suspect Broglio's injuries on June 15, 1964, the trade looked pretty good. Broglio was 28 with maybe a decade to pitch; Brock had a .689 OPS in 1,308 plate appearances. “Thank you, thank you, oh, you lovely St. Louis Cardinals," wrote Chicago Daily News columnist Bob Smith, according to sabr.org. "Nice doing business with you. Please call again anytime.” Wonder how many times Mr. Smith wishes he had evaluated the deal a little differently. Smith's view wasn't completely unsupported because Broglio had been that good a pitcher, and the Cubs had a record of prying veteran pitchers from Devine and the Cardinals. Larry Jackson, who went from St. Louis to Chicago after the '62 season, had a 2.55 ERA for thge Cubs in '63 and was on his way to winning 24 games at age 33 in '64. The Cubs had successfully pulled off exactly that kind of deal with the Cardinals already, which probably led Smith into thinking it was going to happen again. But all elbows and arms aren't the same. Jackson pitched 200-plus innings for 10 straight seasons (he topped 240 in nine of them) and only retired at age 37 after pitching 243.2 innings to a 2.77 ERA for the '68 Phillies (it was the year of the pitcher; his ERA+ was only 109). Broglio topped 200 innings twice and retired at age 32 after toiling in the minors in 1967. Before the injuries and before the trade, Broglio had been as good as Smith thought he would be with the Cubs. In his second season in 1960, he won an MLB-best 21 games (tied with Warren Spahn) and perhaps deserved the Cy Young Award. He finished third, behind winner Vernon Law of the world champion Pirates and Spahn, though he had a lower ERA (2.74 to Law's 3.08 and Spahn's 3.50) and better ERA+ (148 to Law's 122 and Spahn's 98) than both. He pitched significantly fewer innings only because he didn't join the rotation for good until July. His 7.6 WAR in 1960 was fourth in MLB behind only Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Banks, and Broglio was ninth in the MVP vote. In 1962 he won only 12 games, but had a 3.00 ERA and 144 ERA+, and in 1963 he won 18 games with a 2.99 ERA, 5 shutouts, 11 complete games and 250 innings pitched. The latter took a toll the Cubs didn't realize when they made the trade that tied Broglio to Brock. Brock from ESPN.com: "Ernie is top of the charts. He is a good man, a man with integrity. We have a good relationship because we laugh, we talk, and people, for whatever reason, are still interested (in the trade)." Broglio's career numbers: 77-74, 3.74 ERA, 259 games, 1,337.1 IP, 52 complete games, 18 shutouts, 2 saves, 1,216 hits, 587 walks, 849 strikeouts, 107 ERA+, 4.01 FIP, 18.0 WAR, 143 home runs allowed, 7 to Willie Mays. Broglio, from ESPN.com: "I congratulate all the Hall of Famers. Some I played ball with, some I helped put there."

Ernie Broglio was on the wrong side of one of the worst trades in baseball history, but it wasn’t his fault. Broglio, who died last week at age 83, didn’t make it. Cubs general manager John Holland did, getting Broglio, outfielder Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz, 1952 AL MVP when he won 24 games for the Philadelphia A’s, for the bargain price of pitchers Jack Spring (12 wins in 8 years) and Paul Toth (9 wins in 3 years) and an outfielder with a .689 OPS in parts of four seasons with the Cubs. Named Lou Brock. It’s not the worst deal in MLB history — you have to be unaware of the Babe Ruth to the Yankees thing or the 1900 trade of Christy Mathewson for Amos Rusie (the former won 372 games for the Giants, his new team; the latter none for the Reds, his new team, in three starts) to think otherwise. Or a Cubs fan. But it’s on MLB’s Mount Rushmore of bad deals for sure. Holland, who thought he was enhancing a veteran pitching staff in support of the Cubs’ foundation of Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo, was haunted by bad fortune. He built the 1969 Cubs, who led the NL by nine games as late as Aug. 16 only to finish 8 games back. Bing Devine, who made the trade for the Cardinals, didn’t even reap the benefits. With the Cardinals nine games back of the Phillies on Aug. 17, owner Gussie Busch, perhaps with the encouragement of special assistant Branch Rickey, fired Devine. “I am concerned that we cannot trade our way to a pennant,” Busch said to The Sporting News, according to the website, retrosimba.com, which seems ironic in that the Brock deal did exactly that. From retrosimba.com: “'(Rickey) was undercutting Bing,’ wrote (longtime St. Louis sports writer and editor Bob) Broeg. ‘We all knew that.’” Poor Broglio, to be thrust into the middle of all that. In today’s game, the trade might never have been made, given the transparency of medical records. As early as 1961, according to his bio at sabr.org, Broglio received “close to 20 cortisone shots,” and by 1964 his elbow was hurting him as much as his shoulder had three years earlier. (Remember 20 cortisone shots the next time some old ballplayer is claiming the good old days were better.) From William Weinbaum’s 2011 ESPN.com story on the trade: “They got a heckuva ballplayer; they gave up damaged goods,” Broglio said. “I think that (the Cardinals) knew I had a bad arm. … I think the Cardinals knew a lot — a lot more than what I knew of the injury. So that’s why I think they decided that they send the bad arm problem, get rid of him.” (Not sure if Padres GM A.J. Preller, suspended in 2016 for failing to share Drew Pomeranz’s complete medical records with the Red Sox, used the Bing Devine defense). The Cubs should have known about Broglio. On May 19, Broglio started against them, threw three wild pitches, walked five and lost 7-4 to Chicago. Broglio, from ESPN.com: “… Bob Uecker was catching and I kind of jokingly said, ‘How come you didn’t protect me?’ He couldn’t. He couldn’t have caught the ball or stopped the ball. They were so far in front of home plate that there was an indication that I had problems with my elbow.” The Cubs’ powers of observations being what they were, they made the trade. Broglio won seven games for them over the next three seasons; Brock went on to a Hall of Fame career. But if you didn’t know or suspect Broglio’s injuries on June 15, 1964, the trade looked pretty good. Broglio was 28 with maybe a decade to pitch; Brock had a .689 OPS in 1,308 plate appearances. “Thank you, thank you, oh, you lovely St. Louis Cardinals,” wrote Chicago Daily News columnist Bob Smith, according to sabr.org. “Nice doing business with you. Please call again anytime.” Wonder how many times Mr. Smith wishes he had evaluated the deal a little differently. Smith’s view wasn’t completely unsupported because Broglio had been that good a pitcher, and the Cubs had a record of prying veteran pitchers from Devine and the Cardinals. Larry Jackson, who went from St. Louis to Chicago after the ’62 season, had a 2.55 ERA for the Cubs in ’63 and was on his way to winning 24 games at age 33 in ’64. The Cubs had successfully pulled off exactly that kind of deal with the Cardinals already, which probably led Smith into thinking it was going to happen again. But all elbows and arms aren’t the same. Jackson pitched 200-plus innings for 10 straight seasons (he topped 240 in nine of them) and only retired at age 37 after pitching 243.2 innings to a 2.77 ERA for the ’68 Phillies (it was the year of the pitcher; his ERA+ was only 109). Broglio topped 200 innings twice and retired at age 32 after toiling in the minors in 1967. Before the injuries and before the trade, Broglio had been as good as Smith thought he would be with the Cubs. In his second season in 1960, he won an MLB-best 21 games (tied with Warren Spahn) and perhaps deserved the Cy Young Award. He finished third, behind winner Vernon Law of the world champion Pirates and Spahn, though Broglio had a lower ERA (2.74 to Law’s 3.08 and Spahn’s 3.50) and better ERA+ (148 to Law’s 122 and Spahn’s 98) than both. He pitched significantly fewer innings only because he didn’t join the rotation for good until July. His 7.6 WAR in 1960 was fourth in MLB behind only Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Banks, and Broglio was ninth in the MVP vote. In 1962 he won only 12 games, but had a 3.00 ERA, 144 ERA+, 11 complete games, 4 shutouts and 6.1 WAR, and in 1963 he won 18 games with a 2.99 ERA, 5 shutouts, 11 complete games and 250 innings pitched. The latter took a toll the Cubs didn’t realize when they made the trade that tied Broglio to Brock. Broglio pitched only 59 games with a 5.40 ERA — 2.03 runs higher than his Cardinals ERA — and was 7-19 after the trade. Brock from ESPN.com: “Ernie is top of the charts. He is a good man, a man with integrity. We have a good relationship because we laugh, we talk, and people, for whatever reason, are still interested (in the trade).” Broglio’s career numbers: 77-74, 3.74 ERA, 259 games, 1,337.1 IP, 52 complete games, 18 shutouts, 2 saves, 1,216 hits, 587 walks, 849 strikeouts, 107 ERA+, 4.01 FIP, 18.0 WAR, 143 home runs allowed, 7 to Willie Mays. Broglio, from ESPN.com: “I congratulate all the Hall of Famers. Some I played ball with, some I helped put there.”

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