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DeJesus traded for Bowa, rookie

The Tribune's story about the trade that sent Ivan DeJesus to Philadelphia for Larry Bowa and a throw-in.

The Cubs continued to retool Wednesday for what is expected to be a long climb upward by making their biggest off-season deal—acquiring Larry Bowa, an aging but feisty veteran, and an untested minor leaguer from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Ivan DeJesus.

This trade of quality shortstops had been in the works for more than a month, but wasn't consummated until the Phillies agreed to add Ryne Sandberg, a 22-year-old middle infielder with good speed but a light bat. From the beginning, the Cubs insisted there would be no deal unless Sandberg was included.

It was the second multi-player deal with the Phillies since the arrival of Dallas Green as Cub general manager. The previous exchange was a three-for-one swap [pitcher Mike Krukow for pitchers Dan Larson and Dickie Noles and catcher Keith Moreland].

"You trade with the guys who have the best baseball players, and the Phillies have a lot of good players at every level," Green said. He should know. Green was with the Phillies as a player, coach, farm director and manager for 25 years prior to joining the Cubs in October.

"I know some people have criticized us because we've made so many deals with the Phillies. They've called us the Phillies West. That doesn't bother me. It so happens I know the Phillies' organization best. And I'll tell you this, the players that we've got all have good heart and they'll be bringing that to Chicago."

The latest deal was in the usual tradition. Bottom clubs, when trying to rebuild, often trade away their best performers for two or more other players. For the deal to work to the Cubs' advantage, Green must be correct in his assessment that Sandberg has the ability to win a starting spot within the next year.

"I look at it this way. Sandberg can play any one of three positions for us—second base, third base or center field," said Cub manager Lee Elia, another import from the Phillies.

Sandberg, who batted .293 and stole 32 bases with Oklahoma City last year, will get his first shot in center field, but unless the Cubs trade outfielder Steve Henderson, it would seem doubtful that Sandberg will crack the opening-day lineup.

Leon Durham, who played right field last year, also will be tried in center. If Durham can handle it, he'll stay there and probably be flanked by Henderson in left and Moreland in right.

No such conjecture is necessary in regard to Bowa. A 12-year major leaguer, he still is among baseball's best defensive shortstops. As a fielder, many scouts give him a slight edge over DeJesus, but although he has a .264 lifetime average, Bowa has never been a strong offensive player.

With the Phillies, he had the considerable advantage of playing 81 home games on artificial turf. He could lose as much as 20 points on his batting average because the Cubs play on grass. Day ball also could sap Bowa's energy. DeJesus has a .257 lifetime average, but only hit .194 last year.

The reason why the Cubs got tow-for-one is because Bowa is 36 and seven years older than DeJesus. "Age is a relative thing," Green said. "Pete Rose is 41. Carl Yastrzemski is 42. Steve Carlton is 36. So what? You'd still want them on your club."

Green said he knew the trade would be made. "They had to get rid of him," Green said. "He had that contract problem and then he went out on a limb and said some testy things. I knew then he'd be gone."

Green laughed. He stood against the white wall in his Wrigley Field office, positioning himself for another television interview. "Bowa will be testy here, too. But you'll see a good shortstop. He's going to show up every day. He'as a 162-game player. He never gets hurt. He's capable of three or four more years of everyday shortstop."

Green, who had several verbal battles with Bowa during his two years as the Phillie manager, also said he admires Bowa's competitive spirit.

Although DeJesus plays equally hard, he has never had Bowa's rah-rah flash. Nether Green nor Elia will admit it, but there have been indications that they consider DeJesus as a bland sort, a player who didn't always participate in the infield chatter.

"I think it's a good deal for both clubs," said Elia. "Larry Bowa gives us an added dimension because of his World Series and playoff experience—and he gives us more fire.

DeJesus, who had been a Cub fixture for five years, had mixed emotions. "I really don't know why they traded me," he said. "I didn't ask to be traded."

"I suppose the only way they [the Cubs] can have a winning team is to make changes. So they changed me and Krukow, but maybe they made a mistake."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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