Cubs Decade In Review: 2002 Season

Previous Reviews: 2001, 2000

Although the season ended in disappointment, the Cubs seemed to have something to build on after a mostly successful 2001 and a farm system rated as one of the best in the leagues with up and coming prospects like Corey Patterson, Carlos Zambrano, Juan Cruz, Hee Seop Choi, Mark Prior, Ben Christensen, Dave Kelton and Bobby Hill.

Despite the moderate success of 2001, huge turnover was in store for 2002. Kevin Tapani, Ricky Gutierrez, Matt Stairs, Todd Van Poppel, Dave Weathers, Eric Young, Ron Coomer and Rondell White all left via free agency (Tapani actually retired). They struck early on a deal in November to acquire Mark Bellhorn for Adam Morrisey. They ended up resigning Delino Deshields and Joe Borowski and brought Kevin Orie back to the organization. The big trade was with the Toronto Blue Jays on December 10, 2001 to bring in a shortstop with a slick glove and 20 home run power - Alex Gonzalez. The cost was reliever Felix Heredia and minor leaguer Jamie Deschaine. 9 days later they signed left fielder Moises Alou.  The rest of the offseason was a number of minor moves including trading away Michael Tucker to the Kansas City Royals for Shawn Sonnier,  and signing players like Chris Stynes, Phil Norton, Alan Benes, Will Cunnane, Donovan Osborne and Darren Lewis.

Spring training arrived and closer Flash Gordon went down and would miss the bulk of the first half. Assistant GM Jim Hendry orchestrated a deal with the Florida Marlins to acquire Matt Clement and reliever Antonio Alfonseca and his extra finger for Jose Cueto, Ryan Jorgenson, Julian Tavarez and a lefty in lo-A ball named Dontrelle Willis.

The season began against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincy and the Cubs lost 5-4 featuring the following starting lineup:

D. DeShields - 2B, C. Patterson - CF, S. Sosa - RF, F. McGriff - 1B, R. Brown - LF, A. Gonzalez - SS, T. Hundley - C, C. Stynes - 3B, J. Lieber - P

The 5-man rotation to start the year was Lieber, Kerry Wood, Juan Cruz, Jason Bere and Matt Clement. Bill Mueller and Moises Alou started the year on the disabled list. Kyle Farnsworth went on the disabled list on April 10th with a stress fracture in his foot and Carlos Zambrano was recalled. Zambrano pitched for a month out of the bullpen before heading to the disabled list himself in mid-May with a strained right elbow.

 Alou made his debut on April 15th and went 0 for 4. His OPS was below .600 until June 23rd and didn't go over .700 until July and he finally got it over .700 to stay on August 2nd.  The Cubs finished 8-16 in April and amazingly 7.5 games back of the Cincinnati Reds. The closest they would get to first place the rest of the season was 5.5 games back and that happened on May 7th.

Cubs v White Sox

On May 6th, the Cubs got Bill Mueller back from the disabled list, they put Todd Hundley on the disabled list with a bad thumb to make room. Alex Gonzalez went down with a strained hamstring on May 10th and missed two weeks. Hundley returned on May 29th but DeShields took his place with a bad hip. Corey Patterson had become the leadoff man by that point. Mark Prior made his debut on May 22nd and got the win in a 7-4 victory over the Pirates. He went 6 innings and struck out 10. The team went 13-16 in May and Sosa had 19 HR's and a 1.154 OPS through the first two months.

June arrived and Farnsworth and Zambrano returned from the disbaled list early on with DeShields back by June 12th. The only casualty was Jason Bere at the end of the month. The team was armed with 6 extra draft picks when Van Poppel, White and Weathers signed with other teams. Their first pick at #20 was used on RHP Bobby Brownlie out of Rutgers who slipped in the draft because of shoulder issues. Their three supplemental picks were spent on Luke Hagerty, Matt Clanton and Chadd Blasko. They also drafted Brian Dopirak, Justin Jones, Billy Petrick, Rich Hill Adam Greenberg, Micah Hoffpauir, Rocky Cherry, Taylor Teagarden (Did not sign) and Randy Wells in that draft. The team had its best month of the season going 12-14. Sosa was up to 27 home runs.

In July, Sosa was named as the lone Cubs All-Star representative. General Manager Andy MacPhail headed back to his presidency duties and assistant GM Jim Hendry took over full time on July 5th. The same day that was made official, manager Don Baylor was fired and Iowa Cubs manager Bruce Kimm was named the interim manager. The team was 12.5 games back in the Central at that point and even farther back in the wild card. They finished 11-15 on the month and Sosa was at 32 HR's, a 1.010 OPS, only 68 RBI's but 82 Runs. Prior was 4-3 with a 3.65 ERA, Wood was 9-5 with a 3.90 ERA, Clement 8-7 with a 3.87 ERA, Lieber 6-8 with a 3.76 ERA and Zambrano went 2-2 with a 3.58 in July after being moved out of the bullpen.Lieber would only make one more start in August and then fell victim to Tommy John surgery and missed the rest of 2002 and all of 2003.

The rest of the season was pretty much a bore, the Cubs did move Tom Gordon and Jeff Fassero to the Cardinals and Astros for some minor league arms and traded Bill Mueller at the beginning of September back to the San Francisco Giants to help the Giants playoff run. Mark Bellhorn was the biggest suprise of the year hitting 27 home runs with a .886 OPS playing third and second base and even a little first and shorstop along with two innings in left field. Sosa led the league in home runs with 49 and runs scored with 122. McGriff posted a solid .858 OPS with 30 Home Runs and 103 RBI's.  Alou (.757 OPS), Mueller (.757), Gonzalez (.737), Hundley (.722) and Patterson (.676) contributed to the poor offensive showing and 67-95 record and 5th place finish. All of the regular starting pitchers had ERA's under 4 except Jason Bere (5.67) but he only made 16 starts. The team led the league in strikeouts for a second straight season with Kerry Wood and Matt Clement finishing third and fourth in the league and the first duo of Cubs pitchers to surpass 200 strikeouts since Fergie Jenkins and Ken Holtzman in 1970.

Comments

Wonderful work on the decade series Rob.

Beanball Ben...haven't thought about him in years. Hurt his arm and never returned. Some thought his injuries were voodoo doll related as his bobblehead doll came with pins in the shoulder.

it's so easy to forget how awesome and uber-rare of a talent prior was.

the guy went through the minors, but had no business there. he was literally and truthfully all-star caliber MLB quality straight out of the draft.

you so rarely see a talent like that run through anyone's system.

Crunch -- You are so right. It's unfortunate that Prior is remembered primarily for his frequent injuries rather than his unbelievable talent. There are still those who insist that Prior was a weak, hypocondriac and don't believe that he was really injured. It's a shame...

It's probably not a popular opinion to hold, but I wouldn't mind the Cubs offering Prior a minor league contract. I'm not sure where his rehab stands, but it sure would be nice to see him be an effective MLB pitcher again.

I would love to see them sign him to a minor league contract, but I'm pretty sentimental for the Prior of 2003. That season was pretty amazing. Prior, Wood, Zambrano--what a rotation that was.

Sweet Lou,
I personally don't think he was a hypochondriac nor weak, but he did have two very unlucky breaks with running into Giles and the line drive off his elbow. But besides that he was just another pitcher of this generation and hurt his arm and could never get healthy.

But I agree I would love to see him sign a minor league deal with the Cubs. Then I wouldn't be so afraid to wear my Prior jersey I spent $150 on.

more reason to hope castro isn't rushed...he could be a top-10/20 next year most likely.

it would make me sick to see the guy come up, flail for a few years, and put it together right in time for that year 4+ arbitration.

the kicker is he's probably cubs 2011-bound unless ryan theriot really shows something this year making paying him bigger bucks worth doing...he seems to be 2nd-base-bound for 2011 given what the cubs are hinting.

hopefully either riot earns his slot and arb. paycheck in 2011 or castro's power and polish arrive ahead of time.

Wait til Tim Wilken gets started. Then we'll see some Cubs on that list.

"Any time you're ready Tim!"

http://www.tmz.com/2009/12/24/chan-ho-park-ch...

Chan-Ho Park sues Chad Kreuter for not paying him back on a personal loan.

*grabs Chad Kreuter's cap*

is suing the man who caught his balls...
---
life can be a meat grinder but that's a different issue

Merry f*ing Christmas, douchebags! Santa in bed by midnight this year bio-tch.

happy chaka khan to all the juice out there.

and happy muslim multi-syllable holiday festival thing, too.

and to all those pagans, leave them goats n' chickens alone.

to anyone i offended...i thank you for telling me about this site [url]www.lolwhateverdude.ru[/url]

to the Mets via Rotoworld and some Spanish language news service

Tony Gwynn promoting Dawson in this Chris DeLuca/Sun-Times piece

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/deluca/1958133...

The 11 lowlights of MB's Cub career...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

...correlates perfectly with the 11 highlights of Sullivan's career. On the 12th day of Christmas, Bradley told Sullivan, "short people got no reason to live"

http://s0.ilike.com/play#Randy+Newman:Short+P...

PG, HOF talks baseball from his Bosox centric perch. No Cub related stuff unless you though Cameron was potentially a Cub. But hey, Christmas is a really slow news day.

http://fullcount.weei.com/sports/boston/baseb...

Tim Souers with a really nice Wrigley Christmas Card

http://www.cubby-blue.com/

My wish for the new year...no Marlon. Of course if DeRo signs with the Giants they might be out of the Byrd market.

The Giants, after losing out to the Yankees on free-agent first baseman Nick Johnson, continue to look for hitting on the open market and are targeting catcher Rod Barajas, third baseman Adrian Beltre, and outfielder Marlon Byrd

from BP's John Perrotto

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php...

Cubs would be better off considering DeRo than Byrd, especially if the rumored 2 for $12 million is close to what DeRo gets.

It would be nice if Hendry finally realized we need a second baseman, too, instead of claiming Fontenot and Baker will be the fix. I would have rather seen them non-tender Fontenot and use that money towards Orlando Hudson or some other proven, major league 2b. Not that Hudson is awesome anymore, but he's better than what we have, as long as Hendry doesn't hand out another 3 year, overpriced contract.

The potential for a Castro-Theriot tandem as early as later this year apparently make 2B a lower priority.

I'd accept DeRo in RF, backing up 2B, 3B, and 1B, especially if the Cubs are short on $. But I would've kept Brad Snyder around and wait and see what other outfielders become available, too.

http://cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=2009...

(d)ummm, clever Carrie titles this one, Santo Claus

http://cubs.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_i...

Reynolds thinks Silva may be better in Chicago...followed by a 3 minute video interview with Muskat on mlb.com on the trade.

Considering Lilly's situation, Silva might get April to prove it.

Isn't 2002 the year it became the "in" thing for fans to get drunk at Wrigley?

I like this series, but one thing you leave out Rob is the number of home night games. The theory goes, the '69 Day Cubs were wore to a frazzle, so as the night game negotiations went on, Cubbies win percentage got better.

Maybe the whole thing is a ball of crap, since the schedulers don't mind day game followed by night game followed by day game, Cub's body clocks is some kinda screwed. I wonder some times if players hate Cubs day games more than they let on, since it's hard to get rid of cobwebs from last night and play ball at 1:20 the next day.

(don't get me wrong, I'd do it for the love of the game).

I think 2003 was pretty much the year the buzz started to rise to its current level. In 2002, there was definitely a buzz around the Cubs, but it was a quiet one. Baseball fans knew, but those who follow casually probably didn't realize the team would be able to contend so soon.

It was the last (only?) time I felt OK watching a bad Cubs team, because I felt they were headed in the right direction and the future was bright.

The players' union filed a grievance earlier this year, saying that (Manny) Ramirez and more than 100 other players from 22 teams, including the Dodgers and Angels, should not have to make a combined $6 million in donations to club charities last season. The union said such donations were improperly mandated; the owners said the donations were freely negotiated.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-dodgers25...

per CCO, XM hosts reporting Cubs interested in Damon for CF.

http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2009/12...

according to Jim Duquette (radio host on XM).

The former Mets and Orioles GM mentioned, on two different occasions, Thursday during Power Alley with Seth Everett (XM Radio) that he had heard the day before the Cubs are "very interested" in Johnny Damon to play centerfield.

...a Cubs' outfield of Alfonso Soriano, Johnny Damon and Kosuke Fukudome would be the worst defensively in all of baseball. (Amen).

Any OF featuring Damon in center would be the worst defensively in all of baseball, but the lineup could use him. I sure like it better than Byrd - assuming the money is close.

I have an Alou and prior jersey

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  • Any word on Neil Ramirez?? Today is his 10th day where they have had to have done something with him, or are they not count today because it is a holiday??

    cubbies.4ever 53 min 18 sec ago view
  • if they dont win at least 130 games this season they can pack it all up, turn wrigley into a concert venue, and move the damn team to san jose.

    #Bernie130orBust

    crunch 10 hours 25 min ago view
  • I see where catcher Cael Brockmeyer was promoted to Tennessee a couple of days ago, to fill a roster spot vacated by David Freitas, recently promoted to Iowa. Caratini is the other catcher at Tennessee.

    VirginiaPhil 10 hours 28 min ago view
  • They've already clinched a minimum winning percentage of .607 for the month, and that's only if they lose the last 2 games. If they win both, they can push that up to .679. So much for "stumbling" in May. When you're winning over 60% of your games, you're doing baseball well.

    John Beasley 11 hours 42 min ago view
  • If the best walk-off hit possible is a solo home run in a zero-zero game--Eloy did it tonight!

    (But maybe it's a grand slam when your team is down three? He didn't do that.)

    Number eight for Jimenez. His team is 31-17. Yesterday they scored 17 runs against Lansing. Two weeks ago it was 15 runs against the same team. This is a nice team, South Bend. The Cubs must have had a good draft last year.

    Tonight the pitchers were Sands, Brooks and Effross.

    VirginiaPhil 11 hours 49 min ago view
  • RIP Zoobrest.

    crunch 13 hours 23 min ago view
  • He'll be fine. He's not some wimpy young pup.

    Old and Blue 13 hours 52 min ago view
  • In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.

    johann 15 hours 48 min ago view
  • Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?

    Old and Blue 16 hours 24 min ago view
  • 34-14...awww yeah.

    crunch 17 hours 21 min ago view
  • Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]

    Eric S 18 hours 42 min ago view
  • ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.

    cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/

    crunch 19 hours 16 min ago view
  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 22 hours 12 min ago view
  • ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels. 

    M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores)  the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating. 

    Arizona Phil 22 hours 14 min ago view
  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 22 hours 24 min ago view
  • PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.

    The E-Man 23 hours 7 min ago view