Cubs 2003 We " ve heard it all before, "Wait 'til next year." This is the classic quote of a Chicago Cubs fan that is heard year after year for no good reason. Well, this year is finally the year; they won the division and are now going strong in the playoffs. Given are some examples on why they " ve finally succeeded and why they will continue achieving for a long time. The main reason for all the Cubs's uc cess this year has been their pitching.
They had the fifth best ERA (Earned Run Average) at 3. 83 and the most strikeout's (with 1, 404) by any team ever for a season. The number one starter for the Cubs at the beginning of the season was Kerry Wood. However, after the all-star break the top pitcher was Mark Prior. He was also the most consistent pitcher for the whole year. He finished the season with an 18-6 record and a 2.
43 ERA. The intangible that Prior brings when he pitches is the fans' extremely confident feeling that he has no chance of losing. The most impressive feature about Prior is the fact that this year was his first full season. The second half of the dynamic duo is Kerry Wood. He is better known than Prior because he has been the lone consistent starter the Cubs have had the last six years. He also is recognized for his ability to strike out batters.
This year he actually led the major leagues in strikeouts. Kerry Wood had a pretty productive season with a 14-11 record and a 3. 20 ERA. The problem Kerry faces a lot of the time when he pitches is the inability to get run support from the Cubs. His record should be something like 17-8 had he been able to get the offensive support in some of the games he started. Nonetheless Kerry continued to dominate this year.
The rest of the Cubs pitching staff have been very steady minus a couple relief pitchers. To start, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Clement solidified the Cubs starting pitching rotation. They had records of 13-11 and 14-12 respectively. They were reliable throughout the year and avoided injury. The fifth starter was Shawn Estes who was at times decent but overall he was definitely the weak link of the staff with a dismal record of 8-11 and a giant ERA of 5. 73.
Not the numbers wanted out of a starter. The bullpen with which the Cubs have struggled in the past was actually dependable this year. They had immense set up work by Kyle Farnsworth and Mike Rem linger and a breakout year for Joe Borowski, who acted as the Cubs closer. He has never done this in the past and was kind of bumped in to because of the extremely poor job of Antonio Al fonseca. He finished the year with 33 saves and a 2. 63 ERA.
The rest of the bullpen was okay at times but didn't really turn too many heads. To continue are the Cubs batting which unfortunately started out pretty shaky. This however shifted to a pretty strong offense towards the end of the year, when it really counted. The focal point of the offense is of course Sammy Sosa who had yet another productive season, even after dealing with a few problems. One incident was he got hit in the head with a pitch which caused him to miss a couple games. The other incident was he was found with a corked bat.
This led to a seven game suspension. After both incidences he struggled with his hitting. He seemed rusty and his timing was off when he was at the plate. After consistently getting his at-bats he returned to the normal powerhouse Sosa ending the season with a. 279 average, 40 homeruns, and 103 RBI's (Runs Batted In). This is Sammy's sixth straight season with 40 or more homeruns.
Moises Alou, the highly touted free agent the Cubs signed two years ago finally lived up to expectations. He had a. 280 average, 22 homeruns, and 91 RBI's. He responded after having the worst season of his career last year by putting in more work during the off-season. It was obvious right from the beginning of the season that he was ready. He provided consistency and took over as a leader when the Cubs needed it.
For instance, Sosa was out and Alou stepped up by going 5-5 in a comeback win against the Cardinals. This was important because it quite possibly could have been the turning point of the season. The Cardinals were in first place and we closed the gap by winning the game. The rest of the Cubs offense was respectable with newly acquired Mark Grudzielanek having a breakout year. He batted. 314 and led the team in doubles.
Eric K arros was another new face that came to the Cubs this year and made a big difference. The veteran experience he brought was beneficial to the team and will definitely help us in the playoffs. Other player's who did pretty well were Alex Gonzalez, Ramon Martinez, and of course Corey Patterson who played amazingly at the beginning of the season only to have his season cut short with a knee injury. Finally, the main reason for the Cubs division-winning year was the management. Bringing Dusty Baker in as the Cubs manager was definitely a difference maker, another reason why the team did so well this year.
He brought a whole new attitude and decision- making process that few other managers' possess. He came to a notoriously losing franchise and said forget the past and let's go out there and win. The Cubs needed to change their mindset, and this positive change showed how well they could play when they believe they can win. I think he will be in Chicago for a long time. Another facet of management that flourished this year was new general manager Jim Hendry. He made many key acquisitions down the stretch that sparked the Cubs and kept them in the playoff hunt.
For example, he traded for Aramis Ramirez, Randall Simon, and Kenny Lofton all of whom made an immediate impact. Another trade he made was for Tony Womack, a speedster who gave us a spark plug off the bench. These acquisitions were made towards the end of the season and improved our team vastly. Those trades in my opinion were some of the reasons why they won the division. The Cubs starting pitching is the major reason they thrived this year.
There were many other aspects that helped us with the winning. Nevertheless, as everyone knows good pitching always beats good hitting. The Cubs finally figured out that and have one of the best rotations in the league. The scary part is they are also one of the youngest; which means if they hold on to them they will be a solid team for a long time to come.
Who knows they might even win a World Series this year. If not "Wait 'til next year.".