Over his first seven seasons in the major leagues, Ralph Kiner led the National League in home runs every year. Over those same seven seasons, his team, the Pirates, finished last, or next to last, five times. When he was traded to the Cubs in June 1953, Pittsburgh GM — the legendary Branch Rickey — was quoted as saying "We can finish last without you." He was right. They finished last that year and the two seasons after that.
Rickey also said: "Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late." More on that later.
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