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shin-soo chooIn mid-2008, the last time the Chicago Cubs were exceptionally good, the team signed rapidly-declining OF/1B/DH-type Ben Broussard to a minor league deal (what do you know? Good teams do sign guys like that to minor league deals!). He lasted in the Cubs’ organization less than a month, and retired after failing to make a big league team the next year. For his career, Broussard put up some decent numbers as the lefty half of a platoon with the Indians in his late-20s, but he’s not a guy you’d remember for making an indelible, long-term impact.

In 2006, the Indians traded Broussard to the Mariners for a former top 100 outfield prospect who had fallen off those lists in the last year or so: Shin-Soo Choo. It was one of those midseason trades that doesn’t get much play outside of the two cities it directly affects (at the time, Choo was a 23-year-old putting up decent numbers at AAA, but who hadn’t shown much in his first big-league go-around). The Mariners were trying to win, and Broussard offered a modest upgrade.

In the wake of Choo’s seven-year, $130 million deal with the Texas Rangers, Rob Neyer looked back at the Choo/Broussard trade, receiving thoughts from the Mariners’ GM at the time. That GM, Bill Bavasi, indicated that there wasn’t a lot of patience for any kind of long-term plan at the time – though he concedes that he screwed up by moving Choo at all.

The funny thing is that, it appears the trade was well-received by Mariners fans at the time. See this thread at Lookout Landing, discovered by Neyer. Particularly comical? As noted in the comments, Keith Law hated the trade for the Mariners, and the ensuing comments shredded Law for not knowing what he was talking about. Oops. A favorite: “Of course these dummies will just look at Choo’s line in Tacoma and act as if the M’s just traded Delmon Young.” That’s glorious, in hindsight, in so many respects.

(Remember, friends: what you say on the Internet is there forever-ever. Oh, God, some of the things I’ve said … )

The lesson here? Seemingly minor trades can have a significant, long-term impact if they’re successful. Keeping Broussard would have netted the Indians nothing (they went on to finish 18 games out of first place that year), and, even if the trade had landed them a busted out prospect, they were no worse for the wear. As it stood, they gambled on upside, and they hit the jackpot. It didn’t hurt that the Indians gave Choo another year to marinate at AAA before he broke out at 25 in 2008 – the same year Broussard was failing in his minor league stint with the Cubs.

  • Jon

    Actually, I think the the trade Cleveland made with Cincy to dump Choo was even worse. Keep in mind at that point Choo had already established himself as a legit 4-5 win outfielder in the bigs.

    Bauer is a bust. Albers is now longer with the club. Shaw is a reliever and Stubbs is a ulilty guy at best now.

    • cub2014

      the choo lesson? look no further than Dan
      Vogelbach his minors career numbers (to
      this point) are almost identical to Choo’s.
      Avg OBP are the same. Vogs slugging is
      better and so far Vogs is ahead on walk &
      k-rate. Actually Vogs k-rate has been coming
      down and walk rate has been going up.

      so lets not be in a hurry to throw Vogs in a
      trade package yet.

      • Adventurecizin’ Justin

        Agreed yo!!

      • Andrew

        Nobody doubts Vogelbachs bat really. The only thing is can he play a position. He probably can only play first which the cubs dont really need for a while.

  • Isaac

    Are you not making the exact same mistake by calling Bauer a bust this early in the game?

  • preacherman86

    Bauer is a bust huh? Seems like a thorough reading of the article would suggest you give the kid a little time to bust out a la Choo. Ironic your statement is.

  • Ken

    Anyone go back and check how often Keith Law is wrong?

  • Jon

    Choo had fallen off top 100 prospect lists when Seattle traded him, he didn’t have much value.

    When Cleveland traded Choo, they should have gotten much much much more. Even if Bauer redeems himself, the other pieces they got were not that impressive. The trade Cleveland made was much worse.

    • hansman

      Cleveland also got 5 productive years from Choo. The Reds got 1

  • Richard Green

    Worthless side note: Broussard actually un-retired last year at age 36 and hit .295 for Omaha in AAA after playing independent ball and in the Mexico league.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=brouss001ben

    • Bails17

      I was in Clinton, IA when Braussard was there for about 2 weeks. Dude crushed it and looked like he was on his way to being a solid left handed bat in the bigs. But…you never know.

  • Stevie B

    Did some one really say ” A la Choo” ?

    Spectacular

  • Kev

    Uh…. Brock for Broglio???

    (Somebody had to say it)

  • BleedingCubbieBlue

    Would you think Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters could be a candidate for a turn around. Most people have given up on them. They are still young with a little confidence they could start hitting again.

    • CubFan Paul

      Vitters never stopped hitting

    • Chad

      I’d think Vitters would have the best shot. He’s been derailed by injuries and bad defense at 3B. Maybe he can play adequate D and hit some in the OF. I think he still has a shot. BJax I don’t see him turning it around.

    • BWA

      I think Vitters could be a very productive MLB hitter if he finds a position. I think Jackson is done.

      • Voice of Reason

        The problem is… Vitters doesn’t have a position because he S-U-C-K-S defensively! And, his bat isn’t potent enough to be a full time D.H.

        At best Vitters is a pinch hitter and a spot starter at 3b, 1b, left field and right field. He will never make anyone forget about Ozzie Smith defensively, but his bat is decent!

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Confidence has nothing to do with either of their problems. Jackson needs MLB-level contact skills. Vitters needs pitch recognition. These are two basic tools, and many people have cautioned for years that neither would amount to much because of these deficiencies.

      • BleedingCubbieBlue

        Aren’t there cautions with every player. I think confidence is very important because of the way the started in chicago and the way were received by the fans. Confidence is going to play a huge part in both their games. Jackson might be done but Vitters I could see in the OF

  • Roscoe Village Fan

    This article made me feel even more at ease not signing choo to a stupid expensive contract. Thanks for the article, Brett

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