Thursday, March 4, 2010

Reviewing From Decades Past: 2000 - Position Players

We've got two holdovers from the 1990 starting line up, first baseman Mark Grace and catcher Joe Girardi. Girardi wasn't with the team the entire decade, though, rejoining the team in 2000 after seven seasons away.

The average age for this group was almost 32 years old. Plus, five of the eight were new to the Cubs for the 2000 season. Stocking you team with old guys no one else wants is not a way to win many games. The 2000 Cubs did not win many games.

First Baseman Grace entered the 2000 season with all the hype as the 1990's hits leader. Well, that and a quarter (OK-so I'm dating myself here!) will get you a cup of coffee. He was 36 years old and saw his average drop almost 30 points from 1999. After the season, the Cubs decided not to re-sign him, and Grace went to Arizona and a world championship. The Cubs, they figured that with Hee Seop Choi in the pipeline, they would be set at first for years to come.

Second Baseman
EY was picked up from the Dodgers in an off-season trade and had a decent year as the Cubs starting second baseman. He played in 153 games and hit .297.

Like his double play partner, Ricky Gutierrez was new to the Cubs in 2000, signed as a free agent. He played in 125 games, hitting .276 and even showing a little pop with 11 home runs.

Third Baseman
It's been a quarter-century since Ron Santo left and third base was still a hole. In 2000, Willie Greene ended up with the most starts, 77. He was picked up off the scrap heap over the winter, the Cubs being his fourth team in three seasons. At the age of 28, he was the youngest of the eight position players. Greene barely made it above the Mendoza line, hitting .201 and was released at the end of the season. No other team saw fit to sign him, ending his big league career. Not one of the major releases featured a 2000 card of Greene with the Cubs, so I had to go with this Topps card from 2001

It was homecoming as Joe Girardi returned to the organization he broke in with. The good news: Joe played in 106 games and made the All-Star team. The bad news, he went from the World Champion Yankees to the last place Cubs.

Left Fielder
The 32-year-old Henry Rodriguez had seen his power numbers dropping over the last season and a half, and by late July, the Cubs gave up and traded him to the Marlins. In 76 games for the Cubs, he hit .251 with 18 HRs.

Center Fielder
Damon Buford was another aging player picked up by the Cubs in the off-season. In 2000 he set career highs in games played (150), home runs (15) and RBI's (48). But the Cubs brass saw his as a stopgap measure until touted prospect Corey Patterson would be ready to take over in center for years to come. So, Cubs brass, how did that work for you?

Right Fielder
In 1998 and 1999, Sosa topped 60 home runs, but didn't lead the league in either season. In 2000, his HR number dropped to 50, but it was good enough to lead the league. There must have been some bad steroids going around in 2000. Sammy also hit .320 and had 138 RBIs. It was the first season in four that he didn't lead the NL in strikeouts, so all in all, it was a pretty good year for him.

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