champaignchris wrote:squally1313 wrote:UMFan83 wrote:Random question RE: Lee Smith. His tenue with the Cubs was a few years before I started actively following the team so I don't know a ton about him other than the basics. In the video tribute WGN showed in the pre-game yesterday, they mentioned that the Cubs traded him to Boston in 1987 per his request. Does anyone know the circumstances behind him asking to be traded?
I definitely wasn't following the team back then (on account of being born two months before the trade), but based on the two links below, he was getting either internal or media criticism about being too heavy and it having an adverse impact on his knees. There's a quote in there about just requesting to be traded, not necessarily to Boston.
http://archive.boston.com/sports/baseba ... te_closer/
https://web.archive.org/web/20070105194 ... Smith_1957
I was only thirteen at the time, but my recollection was that it was a, “If you don’t like me, trade me,” more than any particular desire to be away from the Cubs.
That was a spectacularly bad trade by the way. Neither pitcher acquired by the Cubs was still on the team by the end of 1989. The Cubs got Luis Salazar for Schiraldi. So I supposed that’s something.
The Cubs had already traded away future HoF closer Dennis Eckersley away for nothing. They signed Goose Gossage to close in 1988. He was over the hill and awful. They traded away Jamie Moyer AND Rafael Palmeiro for Mitch Williams in 1989. He was pretty good in 1989 and then completely lost his horsefeathers in 1990 and was traded for table scraps. They signed Dave Smith to close in 1991. He was awful, posted a 6.00 ERA and lost his job before the year was half over. They went closer by committee in 1992, with predictable results. Finally, they signed Randy Myers to close in 1993 and he was ok for a few years.
In those five seasons between the trade and signing Myers, fat Lee Smith with the bad knees pitched 385 innings with a 2.76 ERA and got 175 saves.
Jim Frey managed the Cubs, led them to a spectacular 1984 season, and was fired in 1986. He hung around the booth and then was named GM in 1987 after Dallas Green was fired. He quickly named Zimmer manager and almost as quickly sent Smith to Boston. It really felt like old school GM and Manager setting the clubhouse with players they liked. There was no logical explanation for the trade except for something that bugged them or happened in the clubhouse that was never going to hit the news. Same when he traded Palmiero the next year (escapades that became rumor fodder several years later). Eckersley was traded by Green prior to Frey, but he was rumored to really enjoy the bar scene after the games and had to be traded to a less tempting spot.
On that topic, in the 80's it was pretty easy to find neighborhood joints that housed Cub players well after the game ended. One of my favorite memories was sitting in a bar on Berteau and St. Louis telling Rick Sutcliffe about my fantasy league where I traded Fernando Valenzuela (who was having a monster year) for him (who was not). He told me that was probably a bad trade...
There were a lot of rumors about infidelity and late nights so we painted every questionable move with an understanding that something no one would be proud of probably happened behind the scenes.