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.


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!"

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][/url]

to the Mets via Rotoworld and some Spanish language news service

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

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

...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"

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.

Tim Souers with a really nice Wrigley Christmas Card

My wish for the new 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

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.

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

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

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

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

Recent comments

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  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:

    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).