Cubs Decade in Review: 2000 Season
The New Year is fast approaching which means it's time for everyone's year in review articles. This year we get the added bonus of the end of decade. Due to the baseball schedule and offseason, I'll be looking at each individual season from the end of the previous season to the end of that season. Let's travel through the looking glass together and remember simpler times.
The Cubs finished off 1999 at 67-95 and dead last in the NL Central. Failure at that level demanded change and the Cubs fired Jim Riggelman and hired Don Baylor in November of '99 to start off the offseason and lead the Cubs into 2000. Jeff Blauser, Mickey Morandini, Benito Santiago, Steve Trachsel, Lance Johnson and Gary Gaetti were all on their way out and in mid -December, GM E. Lynch pulled a trade for Ismael "Blister" Valdez and Eric Young from the Dodgers for Terry Adams, Brian Stephenson and Chad Ricketts.
Free agent signings included Ricky Guiterrez, Todd Van Poppel, and Joe Girardi. The immortal Augie Ojeda was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles. Manny Alexander was sent to the Red Sox for center fielder Damon Buford. Y2K hit and all the computers kept working. The first move of the decade was signing reliever Brian Williams...he had a 9.62 ERA in 2000 and was released by the end of May. Willie Greene was signed..he played 109 games in 2000. The Cubs traded for Sarge Jr. from the Padres for Rodney Myers.
Kevin Tapani, Andrew Lorraine and Scott Downs rounded out the 5-man rotation for April. 7 years later Scott Downs would become a good reliever for the Toronto Blue Jays. Ruben Quevedo made his debut in relief in April, he would get his first start at the end of May. Julio Zuleta made his debut in April. The team finished March and April at 10-17. On May 2nd, Kerry Wood made his 2000 debut after missing all of 1999 after Tommy John surgery. The game was against the Houston Astros and he pitched 6 innings and struck out four and the Cubs won 11-1. They finished May 10-16 and Wood finished the season on 8-7 with a 4.80 ERA and 137 IP. His 8.7 K/9 rate was the lowest of his career (not including the 19.2 IP he threw in 2006).
After a disappointing 1999 and terrible start to 2000, GM E. Lynch offered to resign in mid-May, president Andy MacPhail convinced him to stay. In the June draft, the Cubs selected Luis Montanez with the third pick...Chase Utley went at #15 to the Phillies. The Cubs also drafted Bobby Hill, Todd Wellemeyer, Ryan Jorgenson, Dontrelle Willis, Jon Leicester, Jason Dubois, Buck Coats, Carmen Pignatiello and Jason Szuminski in that draft. The Cubs reacquired Brant Brown for Dave Martinez on June 9th in a deal with the Texas Rangers. The Cubs went 12-13 in June.
On July 19, Lynch quit anyway and MacPhail took over as GM. He traded Glenallen Hill to the New York Yankees two days later for Ben Ford and Oswaldo Mairena. On July 25th, he traded Ismael Valdez back to the Dodgers for Jamie Arnold, Jorge Piedra and cash. Valdez made 12 starts for the Cubs and had a 5.37 ERA. At the trade deadline, Henry Rodriguez was traded to the Florida Marlins for David Noyce and eventual pinch-hitter extraordinaire Ross Gload. Scott Downs was sent to Montreal for Rondell White. The Cubs had their best month of the year, going 17-9 in July.
They finished the last two months at 17-42 and finished the second straight season in last place in the NL Central - 65-97. They were 11-29 in games decided by 5 runs or more. Will Ohman made his Cubs debut in September. Sammy Sosa only hit 50 home runs. It was Mark Grace's last season as a Cub.