Monday, March 26, 2012

Cubs 365, March 26

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1984, the Cubs made a late spring training trade that helped catapult them to a division title. A lot of attention has traditionally been given to the Rick Sutcliffe trade that occurred a few months later, but this March 26, 1984 trade to bring Bob Denier and Gary Matthews (for reliever Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz) to the Cubs was every bit as important to that first playoff appearance in 39 years.

All Dernier did was lead off, score 94 runs, steal 45 bases, and win a Gold Glove in center field. All Matthews did was become the undisputed leader of the team, score more than a hundred runs, lead the league in on base percentage, walks and sacrifice flies, and finish fifth in the MVP balloting.

Without Dernier and Matthews, and of course another ex-Phillie named Sandberg, the Sutcliffe trade wouldn't have meant a thing.