Cubs Decade in Review: 2001 Season
Previous Reviews: 2000
Coming off a second straight last place finish, Andy MacPhail had his first full offseason to try and rebuild the club after taking over for Ed Lynch.
Shane Andrews, Brant Brown, Willie Greene, Rick Aguilera and Mark Grace were allowed to leave via free agency. The overhaul began with signing Julian Tavarez in mid-November and later signings of Jeff Fassero, Jason Bere, and Tom Gordon revamped the rotation and the bullpen. A trade with the San Francisco Giants of Tim Worrell for Bill Mueller landed the Cubs their new third basemen. And on December 19th of 2000, MacPhail made his big splash in free agency, signing catcher Todd Hundley away from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hundley - a catcher turning 32 - had played in 53, 114 and 90 games over the last three seasons, but did hit over 20 HR's in each of the last two seasons even in limited playing time. The deal - for the 32 year old catcher - was for four years and $23.5M and SI.com thought he'd be a huge improvement.
The Cubs also got Matt Stairs from the Oakland Athletics for Eric Ireland and signed Ron Coomer from the Minnesota Twins as a possible first base platoon. They ended up releasing oft-injured pitcher Geremi Gonzalez, who would later lose the lightning lottery odds. They selected pitcher Scott Chiasson from the A's in the Rule 5 draft and then, before the end of spring training, traded eventual Rookie of the Year winner Eric Hinske to keep Chiasson's rights as well as getting infielder Miguel Cairo from the A's.
Sammy Sosa was in the final year of his contract and was shopped around earlier at the 2000 trade deadline, with a possible Alfonso Soriano for Sosa swap being one of the hot rumors. He finally signed an extension through 2005 during the middle of spring training.
The Cubs opened up at home against the Montreal Expos and dropped two of three including the first two games of the season. Opening Day lineup:
They went on to go 15-9 in April though and with Tom Gordon on the disabled list to start the season, Jeff Fassero was the surprise closer, starting the season with 6 straight successful conversions and 9/11 for the month. Gordon would come back in May and ended up with 27 saves on the year.
The team was up by one game by the end of the month over the Cincinnati Reds.
May went just as well and the team went 16-11 and finished two games up in the NL Central over the St. Louis Cardnals...the Reds dropped to 11.5 games back. Damon Buford was released in mid-May with Todd Dunwoody and Gary Matthews Jr. splitting center field duties. Bill Mueller tore up his kneecap in early May and Ron Coomer and Miguel Cairo did most of the fill-in work. Todd Hundley ended May with a .616 OPS and 4 home runs as a Cub to date. Sosa had 15 HR's through May and posted his second worst OPS by month - 1.060.
June rolled around and a pitcher from USC was receiving all the pre-draft buzz. The Cubs had the second pick in the draft, but the Minnesota Twins went with local high school catcher Joe Mauer instead. The Cubs were considered to have lucked into Mark Prior at the time. They also selected Andy Sisco, Ryan Theriot, Ricky Nolasco, Brendan Harris, Sergio Mitre, Geovany Soto, and Khalil Greene (unsigned) in the same draft and signed Jae-kuk Ryu a few days earlier.
The team went 15-13 in June with Sosa hitting 11 home runs and were up 4.5 games over the Houston Astros and 6 over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs began their pursuit of Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff as well. After a brief September call-up in 2000, Corey Patterson was called up near the end of June and started on June 30th, splitting time with Gary Matthews Jr. until the Cubs ended up trading for Michael Tucker in July. Todd Hundley went on the disabled list on June 19th with back problems and only started 26 games the rest of the season.
Felix Pie was signed as an amateur free agent on July 3rd. The Cubs signed Delino DeShields on July 7th after he was cut by the Baltimore Orioles. He had a .785 OPS the rest of the way while playing mostly left field and second base. Rondell White hit the disabled list at the beginning of the month, played two games in mid-July and then missed the rest of the month and all of August with a groin injury. Sammy Sosa and Jon Lieber were the Cubs representatives at the All-Star game. Fred McGriff finally waived his no-trade clause and was
acquired from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Manuel Aybar and a player to
be named later which ended up being infielder Jason Smith. McGriff had
a .942 OPS with the Cubs the rest of the way in 201 PA's and hit 12
home runs... as many as Todd Hundley hit all season. The Cubs traded Ruben Quevedo and Peter Zoccolillo to the Milwaukee Brewers for reliever David Weathers and Roberto Miniel. Sosa had 34 home runs by this point, 99 RBI's and 83 Runs Scored. The Cubs went 16-10 and remained 4.5 games up over the Astros and 8.5 games up on the Cardinals. The Cub Reporter was started by Christian Ruzich.
In August, the Cubs regulars were now:
Matt Stairs got a lot of fill-in work and Bill Mueller returned from the disabled list as well. Jon Lieber continued to be the Cubs best pitcher and finished the month at 17-5 and a 3.43 ERA. Kerry Wood was 10-6 with a 3.50 ERA up until he went on the disabled list on August 4th with shoulder tendonitis.
Gary Matthews Jr. and Miguel Cairo were put on waivers and selected by the Pirates and Cardinals respectively. Corey Patterson was recalled on August 15th after briefly being sent down at the end of July. Joe Borowski was outrighted on the same day. Carlos Zambrano was called up on August 20th to start the second game of a doubleheader versus the Milwaukee Brewers. He lost after going 4 innings and giving up 7 runs and was sent back down two days later in favor of Ron Mahay. Juan Cruz was called up on August 21st with Will Ohman being sent down. Cruz started that day and struck out 8, but was hung the loss in a 3-1 game. He ended up making 8 starts on the season and had a 3.22 ERA on the year. The Cubs signed Mark Prior on August 29th to a major league deal.
The team had its first losing month in August at 13-16 and were 75-59 on the year. They dropped 8.5 games in the standings and now trailed the Astros by 4 games and were 2 games in front of the Cardinals. Sosa hit 17 more home runs and had his best OPS month - 1.405.
Courtney Duncan, White, Wood and Felix Heredia returned from the disabled list at the beginning of the month and the team started 3-6 in September including a five game losing streak and dropped 6 games back of the Astros.
Then something terrible happened...
Major league baseball didn't resume for another week. When it did, the Cubs went 10-9 the rest of the season and finished five games out of first place in the Central and the wild card race. The Cardinals went 20-8 in September and October to tie the Astros, but were awarded the wild card due to a 7-9 head-to-head record versus the Astros.
Jon Lieber ended with 20 wins - the Cubs last 20-game winner - and finished 4th in the Cy Young voting. Kerry Wood struck out 217, even after missing a month, and finished 12-6 with a 3.33 ERA. Sosa tallied 64 Home Runs, an NL Leading 160 RBI's and 146 Runs Scored and was second in OPS at 1.174. He had 425 total bases and set the club records for extra-base hits (103) and slugging percentage (.737). He finished second in MVP voting to Barry Bonds who set the home run record with 73 and had a 1.379 OPS. The team set a major league record with 1,344 strikeouts by the pitching staff starting a run that lasted through 2008 in which they led the league. Mark Grace won his World Series title...with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
JustSayin' 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
I hear you but welcome to the world of Theo. The team is always a step or two away from the World Series in his mind, whether that is true or not. Therefore, the thing to do on the margin is to trade top prospects or younger guys on the roster for that missing puzzle piece, not build for the future. I had a front-row seat for this as a Red Sox fan. If Pedro Martinez doesn't insist the Red Sox sign David Ortiz for table scraps and Chris Bryant isn't the no-brainer second pick in the draft, we'd all be wondering what happened to that Theo guy who was in the Red S
Cubster 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
Shogo Akiyama is a lefty bat, career BA at.301 w/ Seibu Lions. Recent OBPs: .419, .385, .398, .403 and .392. HR 20-15 in last 3 seasons Stolen bases, 12 in 2019, 18 in best season (2016). Defense supposedly plus-plus, 7-10 assists (10 in 2016). Clearly a leadoff hitter.
crunch 1 day 19 hours ago (view)
christian yelich committed internet homicide on yu darvish...
Charlie 1 day 23 hours ago (view)
Little in the offseason could make me happier than the Cubs finding ways to retain the good MLB players who came up with them while remaining competitive. This Javy extension talk makes me much happier as a fan than the Bryant and Contreras trade talk.
crunch 2 days 13 min ago (view)
"Javy Baez. The two-time All-Star shortstop and 2018 MVP runner-up already has begun negotiations on a potential long-term extension with the Cubs, according to sources."
also, some talk of being linked to shogo akiyama (CF, Japan, 32yo in April)
crunch 2 days 20 hours ago (view)
j.odorizzi accepted his qualifying offer (17.8m) from MIN...so did j.abreu (CWS)....everyone else is gonna play the FA market.
w.smith (SF) immediately signed with the braves for 3/39 (13m team option/1m buyout on the backend). braves lose a 2nd round pick...which they'll probably get back when someone signs j.donaldson.
crunch 3 days 20 hours ago (view)
it's not like i think he's something special, but if he had 5mph more on his stuff he'd probably be a top prospect in the system combined with his command/control. he's got highly repeatable junk and he's still young enough there might be a little more velocity to discover.
Arizona Phil 3 days 23 hours ago (view)
CRUNCH: As long as Carrera is placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/20 he should be safe from selection, and I would say he is in fact close to a lock to be placed on the Iowa roster.
Presuming he is on the Iowa reserve list going into the Rule 5 Draft, I doubt very much that he would get selected in the Major League Phase because he hasn't pitched above Lo-A.
crunch 3 days 23 hours ago (view)
i'm low-key keeping an eye on faustino carrera if he's not protected...which he may not be protected.
he throws junk, but he throws it well, and with great control.
Arizona Phil 4 days 16 min ago (view)
I've talked to Player Development people over the past many years about the Rule 5 Draft and how an organization goes about deciding whether to protect or not protect a player from selection.
STEP 1: How many of your Rule 5 Draft-eligible players are actually legit candidates to get selected in the Major League Phase?. Usually there a dozen or more who could conceivably/realisticaly get selected. You need to identify them and then carefully evaluate them.
EXAMPLES: See my lists above.
crunch 4 days 2 hours ago (view)
"There are no untouchables," Epstein said.
In truth, the Cubs boss has said the same every year, but it certainly sounds like he means it this time. "We're in the 'information collecting' stages of the process," one general manager put it on Tuesday.
Dolorous Jon Lester 5 days 5 hours ago (view)
I think, in relation to the higher profile guys like Javy or Contreras, they're trying to put some pressure on to sign extensions.
That said I do think they're listening on everyone with the only name I haven't seen being Rizzo.
crunch 5 days 21 hours ago (view)
i wonder where the cubs will go with things.
there's a lot pointing to the cubs being expected to listen to offers on almost anyone. as it is, on paper, the cubs could roll right into 2020 with no changes whatsoever and still field a very competitive team. the whole "shakeup" thing seems to be a very hot topic from a variety of sources, though.
bryant, contreras, schwarber have all been linked to "cubs may be listening" rumors...probably listening to anything on happ, bote, almora, russell, too...
Hagsag 5 days 22 hours ago (view)
Even the Cubs should be able to out bid the Marlins!
crunch 5 days 22 hours ago (view)
"According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins are "believed" to have interest in free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos."
by interest, i assume they mean they'd like to have some baseball rookie cards or his or maybe a hug from him. i can't imagine they actually want to spend money on someone they could use to make their team better because that makes no sense.
Arizona Phil 6 days 14 hours ago (view)
Prior to joining the Cubs in 2012 Scott Harris was Director of Baseball Operations in the MLB office, which means he received, reviewed, and approved all major league and minor league contracts and transactions, as well as providing MLB clubs with schedules, rules updates, and draft information.