10 years ago today the Cubs traded Todd Hundley and Chad Hermanson to the Dodgers for Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros. It was not only the best trade that new GM Jim Hendry made in his tenure as GM, but one of the best trades the Cubs made in franchise history. Chris Jaffe writes about that trade today on The Hardball Times.
Eric Karros had one of the greatest first halves of his career. He entered the All-Star break batting a bizarrely high .323—and then he went 7-for-12 after the break. On July 22, he was hitting .338, which would dwarf his previous career high of .304.
Instead he flopped badly. He batted just .202 with eight extra base hits down the stretch, but his early heroics were enough to give him his best overall offensive season in four years. Still, as Branch Rickey had said, it’s better to trade a player one year too early than one year too late, and the Dodgers had just traded him a half-season too early.
Then there is Grudzielanek. Inconceivably, the 33-year-old enjoyed the best year of his career, batting .314. That proved to be no fluke as he hit .302 from 2003-08. Sure it can help leaving Dodger Stadium but it shouldn’t help that much—especially not for someone who was that old.
So the Dodgers traded Karros a half-season too early, and Grudzielanek a half-dozen seasons too early, all for a pair of players who gave them 10 hits.
As for the Cubs, behind the unexpectedly good production from their new first and second basemen, they made the postseason and nearly claimed the team’s first pennant since 1945.
That was one heck of a one-sided trade that occurred a decade ago on Dec. 4, 2002