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Cleveland Indians: Looking back at the trade of Chris Chambliss

After two really fantastic trades, we look at one of the more detrimental trades in Indian history.

Chris Chambliss, when he was a coach for the Cincinnati Reds
Chris Chambliss, when he was a coach for the Cincinnati Reds
David Maxwell/Getty Images

Born shortly after the Tribe's last World Series victory in 1948, Chris Chambliss was born in Dayton, Ohio. But as his father was a Navy chaplain, the family moved quite often, with the final stop being in Oceanside, CA.

The Cincinnati Reds drafted him twice: The first time in June 1967 after his freshman year at Mira Costa College in Oceanside and again in the second round of the January 1968 secondary phase draft. He spent a year at Montclair State University (NJ) before landing at UCLA for his senior year. He slammed 15 homers and drove in 45, good enough for the Tribe to take him first overall in the January 1970 secondary draft.

He quickly signed and reported to the Wichita Aeros, the Indians AAA affiliate. He slashed 342/412/483 and almost won a job in spring training in 1971. But Hawk Harrelson was the incumbent at first, so Chambliss went back to Wichita to continue learn the outfield. But by early May, Harrelson was struggling mightily and Chambliss had been called up. Harrelson eventually retired on June 20, choosing to become a professional golfer instead.

Chambliss had been given the job on May 29 and would not relinquish it. He played the rest of the year, slashing 275/341/407 with 9 homers, 48 RBI and earning Rookie of the Year honors in a weak class. Chambliss would miss time in 1972, but put up another solid season. In 1973, he played his first full season and by traditional stats, he slumped a little, but really was still a good, but not great, hitter in that playing era.

Gabe Paul had taken the GM helm when Al Dark was fired at midseason in 1971, and after the 1972 season, made a very unpopular deal of send Graig Nettles to the Yankees. After resigning in January 1973, sold his interest in the team and joined George Steinbrenner's group that purchased the Yankees from CBS. As the Nettles trades occurred in November and his joining the Yankees just two months later, that deal seemed very sketchy at best.

Farm director took Phil Seghi took over for Paul and appeared over his head. He made a few ill-fated trades of his own and in early in 1974, the Tribe was off to a really poor start. The Yankees were desperate to deal Fritz Peterson, who the year before had "traded" wives with Mike Kekich and was under immense scrutiny. When the Yankees offered Peterson and a second starter Steve Kline, along with two relievers, Fred Beene and Tom Buskey, Seghi couldn't resist the influx to his rotation. So he sent Chambliss along with starter Dick Tidrow and reliever Cecil Upshaw.

Interestingly enough, the Yankees press and fans lambasted the deal. The Cleveland press hammered Seghi as well, noting that Paul was basically taking all of the good players off the talent-starved Tribe teams for basically warm bodies.

Chambliss would go on to play six seasons in New York, having a top 5 MVP finish in 1976 and winning a Gold Glove in 1978 before being traded to Atlanta for the 1980 season. Tidrow was very effective in his six seasons in New York before heading to the Cubs in 1979. Upshaw only played 1974 with the Yankees before being dealt to the White Sox in 1975, his final MLB season.

Peterson ended up like most of the Tribe starters of that era, not good. He had a slight rebound in 1975, almost league average, made six more starts in 1976 before being dealt to Texas for Stan Perzanowski and cash. Kline was awful in 1974 for the Tribe, spent 1975 in the minors and sold to Atlanta in 1976. Beene was a disaster for the Tribe in 1974 and even worse in 1975. He would play four more seasons, but only in the minors. Buskey ended up being the best part of the deal, having three decent seasons as a reliever before imploding in 1977. He was dealt with John Lowenstein to Texas for David Clyde and Willie Horton in April 1978.

The final totals on the deal:

Yankees

Chris Chambliss

G

PA

2B

3B

HR

BA

OPS

OPS+

bWAR

wRC+

fWAR

1974

110

427

16

3

6

243

625

80

0.7

80

0.2

1975

150

603

38

4

9

304

770

118

3.3

115

3.0

1976

156

676

32

6

17

293

765

124

4.1

126

4.1

1977

157

653

32

6

17

287

781

112

2.3

114

2.7

1978

162

677

26

3

12

274

703

100

3.1

100

2.1

1979

149

599

27

3

18

280

761

106

1.8

106

1.6

Total

884

3635

171

25

79

282

740

108

15.3

108

13.7

Dick Tidrow

G

GS

ERA

IP

WHIP

K%

BB%

LOB%

bWAR

FIP

fWAR

1974

33

25

3.87

190.2

1.353

12.3

6.5

67.2

-0.1

3.38

2.5

1975

37

0

3.12

69.1

1.385

12.9

10.5

78.3

0.9

3.90

0.1

1976

47

2

2.63

92.1

1.126

17.2

6.4

77.7

1.4

2.74

1.5

1977

49

7

3.16

151.0

1.219

13.3

6.6

81.7

2.2

4.22

0.5

1978

31

25

3.84

185.1

1.317

9.3

6.7

70.2

1.1

3.65

2.2

1979

14

0

7.94

22.2

1.853

6.9

4.0

62.9

-1.3

5.51

-0.5

Total

211

59

3.61

711.1

1.305

-

-

-

4.3

3.66

6.3

Cecil Upshaw

G

GS

ERA

IP

WHIP

K%

BB%

LOB%

bWAR

FIP

fWAR

1974

36

0

3.02

59.2

1.291

11.3

10.0

70.0

0.3

3.25

0.5

Indians

Fritz Peterson

G

GS

ERA

IP

WHIP

K%

BB%

LOB%

bWAR

FIP

fWAR

1974

29

29

4.36

152.2

1.467

7.8

5.6

67.6

-0.8

4.06

1.2

1975

25

25

3.94

146.1

1.326

7.7

6.6

71.0

1.1

4.22

1.2

1976

9

9

5.55

47.0

1.468

9.3

4.9

58.6

-0.4

3.29

0.8

Total

63

63

4.34

346.0

1.408

-

-

-

-0.1

4.03

3.2

Steve Kline

G

GS

ERA

IP

WHIP

K%

BB%

LOB%

bWAR

FIP

fWAR

1974

16

11

5.07

71.0

1.423

5.6

10.2

66.0

-0.6

5.23

-0.4

Fred Beene

G

GS

ERA

IP

WHIP

K%

BB%

LOB%

bWAR

FIP

fWAR

1974

32

0

4.93

73.0

1.288

11.4

8.5

59.9

-1.1

3.98

-0.1

1975

19

1

6.94

46.2

1.886

8.8

11.0

57.4

-1.6

4.64

-0.3

Total

51

1

5.72

119.2

1.521

-

-

-

-2.7

4.24

-0.4

Tom Buskey

G

GS

ERA

IP

WHIP

K%

BB%

LOB%

bWAR

FIP

fWAR

1974

51

0

3.19

93.0

1.355

10.0

8.3

80.5

0.8

4.21

-0.5

1975

50

0

2.57

77.0

1.273

9.2

9.2

80.7

1.7

4.18

-0.1

1976

39

0

3.63

94.1

1.293

8.2

8.7

73.8

0.6

4.37

-0.8

1977

21

0

5.29

34.0

1.559

9.6

5.1

65.8

-0.2

4.94

-0.2

Total

161

0

3.41

298.1

1.337

-

-

-

2.9

4.34

-1.6

Net Result:

The Yankees definitely killed the Tribe in this deal.