First, allow me to give you a “brief” rundown of the 2006 season for your Chicago Cubs. Terrible.
Now, allow me to give you a “Cubs fan’s” rundown of the 2006 season for your Chicago Cubs.
C-Michael Barrett: A guy who started with Montreal and eventually became one of the majors’ better offensive catchers with the Cubs(while in his prime). Missed time in ’06 due to injury, but still posted good numbers. Fell off in ’07, and was traded to the Blue Jays.
IF-1B Derrek Lee, who in 2005 had one of the best all-around offensive seasons of all-time, broke his wrist in April, and was shelved. The wrist gave him problems later in the season, shelving him again. (Some of my nerd friends think that’s why his power numbers have been nowhere near what he produced in 2005. SUCKY TRAINERS, see Mark Prior, Kerry Wood) 2B/SS Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Theriot, Tony Womack, Todd Walker(Why are we trusting Millar, when a much younger, better Walker didn’t bring any of the damn ’04 “magic”?), Neifi Perez, and there are a few I’m sure I missed. It’s sad that out of this group, Theriot EASILY outperformed them. I thought Riot was going to be Dustin Pedroia before there was a Dustin Pedroia, seriously. Cedeno, as fashionable as he looked on the field, SUCKED, and the rest were random bums. 3B Aramis Ramirez had an excellent season, but again they were empty numbers. Do it down the stretch, ARam.
OF-LF Jacque Jones had a good, but not great season, and RF Matt Murton would’ve probably looked better in right in a Cubs uni than Fukudome and Bradley. Yes, he was part of the deal that enabled the Cubs to trade for Rich Harden, but again…Fukudome and Bradley. CF Juan Pierre did exactly what was expected of him. Steal 50+ bases, get on base at less than a 35% clip, and have his arm taken advantage of as if someone had injected roofies into it before every game.
SP-RHP Carlos Zambrano was the majors’ best 200K/100BB pitcher. RHP Kerry Wood? “Hot Tub”. No comment. RHP Mark Prior came back from a freakish elbow fracture in 2005 to post pretty good numbers, but his 2006 season was atrocious. After that, it went completely downhill for our Trojan friend. Oh, and if you wanted to see “terrible”, you should’ve seen Carlos Marmol. There were countless times in 2006 when I called for him to be traded for a case of root beer. RHP Greg Maddux was…not good. LHP Rich Hill irritated me then, when he was actually pretty decent, and, as much as I loathed Marmol, I detested the soft-tossing LHP Sean Marshall.
RP-Yes, the lame Ryan Dempster. The guy, who like about 1,000 comedians/comediennes(yes, I’ve seen women, too)in CHICAGO, does a Harry Caray impression. He was Kevin Gregg, just in Canadian form. I went to about every Cubs home game that summer, and I let him have it, all the way from Aisle 425. I really can’t badmouth the bullpen too much, because that was basically the strength of their pitching staff, sad to say. Yes, that includes Bob Howry and Steve Ire.
Manager-Dusty Baker was a lame duck. Point. Blank. Peri-ahd. Dusty Baker was/is responsible for getting Cubs fans away from using the “Lovable Losers” label for their team. All of a sudden, this was what was expected. Unlike the atmosphere after the ’98 season, when Cubs fans were just happy to be able to call Sammy Sosa and Kerry Wood their own. Cubs fans got away from the “happy to be here” tag right after the 2003 NLCS. The Cubs were in playoff contention in ’04 before choking down the stretch, and they were a team that lost Wood and Prior for stretches. It was the same with Wood and Prior the next season(this was before the Cubs realized they had two glass-armed aces and put together contingency plans), and the Cubs finished a few games under .500. The 2006 Cubs were just BAD, and Dusty Baker was the fall guy.
And now, on to December, 2006.
Watching Baseball Tonight, as per usual, I saw a story about Cubs general manager Jim Hendry signing free agent LHP Ted Lilly. ‘Nice’, I thought. For four years and $40 million. ‘Dumb’, I thought. What made this signing sound even dumber at the time were the circumstances under which it took place. Jim Hendry, a man who had signed free agent LF Alfonso Soriano to a “sizable” deal and re-signed ARam to one as well, completed the deal with Lilly while in the hospital, hooked to an EKG. For Steve Carlton? Yes. For Ted Lilly? Yahoo IM me if you want to sign. All I knew about Lilly was that he was a stoic-looking lefty that had gotten into a confrontation/altercation with Blue Jays manager, John Gibbons. I personally thought it was awesome.
Little did I know that Theodore Roosevelt Lilly would become the Cubs best pitcher since the start of the 2007 season. He takes the bump every 5 days, looking as plain as white bread, and does his job. Nothing flashy, just consistent. I feel better about his chances to give the Cubs a chance to win every time he starts than any other Cubs starter in recent memory. I don’t even want him to rush back from his injuries. A 100% Lilly is easily the ace of the Cubs starting rotation. If I have a son, he will be a lefthanded pitcher, modeled after Lilly. And just when I thought Teddy couldn’t get any doper, he TRUCKED St. Louis Cardinals Yadier Molina(which eventually caused him to be removed him from the game), pitched 8 innings, got the win, in September…in St. Louis.
I understand that the Cubs probably wouldn’t have signed Ted Lilly if they had a better 2006. I’m sure that if Wood and Prior were healthy, along with Zambrano and Hill, there would’ve been no need for Lilly. The same could possibly be said about Alfonso Soriano, that the Cubs wouldn’t have reached for him if they were coming off a 2003-like season. But unlike Soriano, Ted Lilly is that dude. You know exactly what you’re going to get from him, unlike most of the other knuckleheads currently being employed by the Cubs. Lilly might not be back after this season. The same goes for DLee. Bet that if the Cubs are out of contention by the All-Star break, Lilly and D. Lee would be the first to go. So appreciate “The Stoic One” for as long as you can…
P.S. I miss Karen!!!
P.P.S. Whatever happened to Scott Servais?