I wanted to go through position by position and let you know how I felt the Cubs did.
Considering the injuries to our staff, I think overall our starting pitching did great. Wood disappointed a me a bit, but the late emergence of Prior and the midseaon stuff of Clement looked great. Maddux was his usual masterfule self and Zambrano was by far our #1 guy this year. It looks like the only guy that won't return next year is Clement and that doesn't look to be a huge loss. We have Dempster and Rusch that can fit in nicely as our # 5 starter.
We need a closer. Latroy blew an insane number of saves in one run games. I think he blew 7 of 9 saves in 1 run games or something like that. In 2003 we got real lucky with Joe Borowski. We can't mess around anymore. I think Troy Percival is a free agent this year. The Cubs need to throw a bunch of money at him and move Hawkins back to the set up man role.
Farnsworth was real bad this year too. I don't know what is wrong with this guy. I heard someone in the bleachers last weekend sum him up real good - a million dollar arm and a five cent head.
Micheal Barrett had an awesome year. I think better than anyone expected. I know the end of the season he didn't do too well but I just read that he was pretty beat up from a long hear. All things considered, this was another steal that Jim Hendry got this guy.
Derrek Lee. He was our 1st baseman pretty much day in and day out this year. And he was everything that we were told about. He was an amazing defender and could hit for both average and power. Considering we gave up just Hee Seop Choi for this guy- yet another great move by Hendry.
Walker and Grudzielanek split time this year due to righty lefty matchups and Grudzielanek's injuries this year. They both did a decent job. I loved Walker's stick and he wasn't as bad as we were lead to believe with the leather. I also thought Grud had a nice year overall but injuries seemed to plague him for an important stretch of the year.
This was a huge problem until we got Nomar. Even when Nomar had to take some time off, guys like Neifi Perez picked up the slack. Nomar's bat was great and he is a way better defender that we were lead to believe. And he was a very strong arm. I don't know if he is going to resign with the Cubs. But if he doesn't I will be upset. Nomar is great.
I think the best player on the Cubs this year was Aramis. This is yet ANOTHER awesome move by Hendry. We got this guy for nothing. Ramierez is only 26 years old and I hope the Cubs lock him up for many years to come. His only question coming in was his defense and I think he had only like 10 errors this year so he proved everyone wrong.
Despite all the whining at umps, Alou ended up having a real solid year but it does look like the Cubs won't pick up his option for 11.5 million dollars. Patterson ended up with some nice numbers also but he still strikes out way too much. His speed and defense are amazing. The biggest disappoint has to be Sammy Sosa. His batting average slipped way down this year and he strikes out a ton. Also his arm in right field is pathetic. I swear, my cat has a better arm. But it is going to by real hard for the Cubs to shop him unless they pick up a chunk of his enourmous salary.
I thought the bench did an OK job this year. Hollandsworth and Walker were awesome. Even Bako did a decent job. And as I mentioned before, Neifi Perez really did an awesome job to fill in for Nomar late in the year.
Jim Hendry gave the team the best chance to win with the absolute best players. As I had mentioned a few times already, Hendry got all-star caliber players for basically nothing. The Cubs are really not going to miss guys like Bobby Hill, Alex Gonzalez, and Hee Seop Choi. But we are very much going to treasure guys like Nomar is he resigns, D-Lee, and Aramis.
Even though there has been quite a bit of criticism on Baker this year, I thought he did a good job. If you look just at the moves he made, I don't think anyone could have really done any better. I think the players were at fault.
It is weird that Chip Caray will not be doing the Cubs games next year. This was such a crazy year and you could tell in the voice of Steve Stone that the players didn't play as well as they should of. Stone is just an honest Cubs fan and I hope he is back next year. He is the best color guy in the game.
This Year in Review
I think the Cubs had a good year. I know they didn't make the playoffs but this is the 1st back to back winning season since 1971 so that is awesome. The Cubs actually won one more game than they did last year and everyone thinks they are such a failure. I am truly sad that they didn't make the playoffs but all in all I am happy. I think they had a great year and hopefully with some adjustments and a proven closer, they will be back in the playoffs next year.