View From The Bleachers

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Wednesday

27

August 2014

94

COMMENTS

2008 Cubs: Great team or overachievers?

Written by , Posted in General

I remember the last time I looked at the Cubs as a winning ball club.  It was 2008, what a summer! The Brewers were second in the NL Central with 90 wins.  The Cubs division title was no cheap feat as they won it by 7.5 games!  They had the most wins in the regular season of any National League team with 97.

I remember thinking Ryan Theriot and his .307 BA were the answer at shortstop.  Mike Fontenot was growing on me quickly along with a gutty Reed Johnson.  It was Geo’s first full season with the Cubs and in my opinion his best.  I didn’t think we would need a catcher for quite some time.

Then the playoffs happened…..

The Dodgers crushed any hopes Cub fans had of a post-season run to the series by a 20-6 margin over three straight games.  The headlines during the series and after the third game read like this….

“Curses (and Reverses) Distracting”

“Cubs thumped by Dodgers again, on cusp of heartbreak”

“For Cubs, it’s a tale of two seasons”

The first one is unique and I enjoyed reading it, which is why I gave the link.  It brought back all the Cubbiness of that 2003-2008 stretch.  I had almost forgotten about the amount of “Curse” talk and mystical hubbub that surrounds this club when they start winning.  I had no idea the team hired a Greek Orthodox Priest to perform an exorcism in order to vanquish the curse of the Billy Goat!!! Holy Hell, for real?   Apparently it was the chairman’s idea (whoever played that roll back then), the players and Piniella were unaware until they saw it on TV.

Anyhow, where was I? Oh yah, the last time I viewed the Cubs as a winner was six years ago.  The question I keep asking myself is, How good were they? Were they really that good, or did they overachieve?

As I type this the Cubs are finishing off a win against the Reds…their fourth in a row.  Something feels different about this team and the team we may see over the coming year.  I get excited to see Rizzo, Baez, and Mendy hit.  I caught myself running to the TV to watch Rizzo tonight…..rewarded with a homerun (his 30th).  I haven’t run to the TV to watch a Cub hitter since 2012 and it was Rizzo then too.  Prior to that it was 2008 and it may have been situational and not a specific player, I don’t remember it was so long ago.  My point is, this team is exciting again.  They may not be the refined version of what they are to be, but it’s a start.

Now we get Soler who, if healthy, will put on a show at some point.  That’s five hitters including Castro that make the Cubs worth watching again.  Some people think the tipping point for this team happened weeks ago with the call up of Baez.  That could be true but we may start tipping a little faster tonight against the Reds with new Cub Jacob turner on the mound and Soler in the lineup.  Now, Turner could get racked pretty badly and my whole thesis is blown, but we are getting real close to the future here.  We now have five very talented bats in this lineup and I have not even mentioned the rentals we signed to fill gaps that have played above and beyond this season.

We will probably win ourselves out of a draft pick in the top 5 over the next few weeks, but I could care less and I think the management is starting to feel the same way.  At some point it’s time to start winning.  It’s good for the soul.

  • Dork

    There is nothing more exciting that watching a kid from the minors come up and get his first chance. Now we have 3 in that roll. As we know it does not always work out, but still exciting. Baez is striking out alot but he is still fun to watch and root for. Now Soler, I am hoping he maintains that patient approach should be good for the cubs.

  • Dork

    There is nothing more exciting that watching a kid from the minors come up and get his first chance. Now we have 3 in that roll. As we know it does not always work out, but still exciting. Baez is striking out alot but he is still fun to watch and root for. Now Soler, I am hoping he maintains that patient approach should be good for the cubs.

  • Doug S.

    I remember 2008 so well. Nervous as hell in September thinking – this could be the year. Then almost scared entering the playoffs, it’s happening! Then…..gone without a fight. Your questions is a good one. With that kind of division lead our best pitchers and players should have been rested and ready. I want to think they were as good as the season showed, but maybe they weren’t.

    • Eddie Von White

      Yep – gone without a fight. All this optimism…I’ll believe it when I see it. The dumbest thing the Cubs have done, including not winning in over a century is to do that stupid exorcist thing. C’mon – why not just have the whole team not change their underwear for the whole season…oh wait… Superstitions stupidstitions. Just win.

  • Doug S.

    I remember 2008 so well. Nervous as hell in September thinking – this could be the year. Then almost scared entering the playoffs, it’s happening! Then…..gone without a fight. Your questions is a good one. With that kind of division lead our best pitchers and players should have been rested and ready. I want to think they were as good as the season showed, but maybe they weren’t.

    • Eddie Von White

      Yep – gone without a fight. All this optimism…I’ll believe it when I see it. The dumbest thing the Cubs have done, including not winning in over a century is to do that stupid exorcist thing. C’mon – why not just have the whole team not change their underwear for the whole season…oh wait… Superstitions stupidstitions. Just win.

  • Doc Raker

    Cubs win again. Like I have said before, I can’t remember in my lifetime when the Cubs finished a losing season stronger than the first half of the season. This team seems different with a lot of young men ready to prove themselves big leaguers, especially the bullpen. I can’t remember when I had so much confidence in the bullpen. Maybe Bosio is a good pitching coach.

    I still am not sold on Javier Baez, you just can’t take so many K’s I don’t care how far you hit the ball 1 out of 12 times.

    I am looking forward to seeing Soler come up. Did someone say he has plate discipline? I am sure Len will let us know what is on Soler’s iTunes and if you want some good baseball information about Soler you can tune into the Reds broadcast. Word has it Soler batch cooks plantains.

    • Dork

      Glass half full, this is the best thing for Baez to see how good the pitching is at this level. He knows he has to continue to get better. The FO brought him up for just this reason so he can make adjustments over the offseason.
      I just watched the Bomb by Alcantra, I have no idea how he got to that pitch and actually pulled it.

      • Unreal, right? That pitch was at his shoulders…

    • It only makes sense, Doc. Young players like Soler are on the road, a lot. Factor in double headers and extra cuts in the cage…you are going to be wiped most nights. Batch cooking plantains on a rare day-off is definitely the way to go. You can scoop a bunch into your mitt on the way out the door.

    • Noah_I

      The one thing I’d say about Baez is that his K struggles right now aren’t unexpected. Everyone expected him to struggle with contact in this first run. I’d withhold any judgment on that front until at least mid-next season. The question with Baez is if he can make the same adjustments at the Major League level that led to him reducing his K rates with time at each level of the minors.

      From what I’ve seen, his two issues are very workable and very common: he’s susceptible to the high fastball with two strikes and generally susceptible to breaking pitches low and away.

      • HLCBSL691

        I wouldn’t be overly concerned with Baez’s high K rates if his OBP was at .400 or better like Thome or Dunn. Two high K players who are very disciplined hitters, go into a lot of deep counts and rank among the league leaders in walks and OBP.

      • Doc Raker

        Jim Palmer on the Orioles broadcast quoted Baez as saying he wasn’t going to change his swing. “This is my swing, I swing hard, I am not changing it.” That might be different than not making adjustments but I want smart hitters, not hitters in love with 500 home runs with low contact rates and low walk rates. I hope he does make the adjustment but the other thing that worries me is another thing Palmer brought up. It is dangerous for an organization to tag certain players as the future before they prove themselves. Hopefully whoever proves themselves will play in Wrigley Field and not the FO’s predetermined group if they don’t earn it.

        But with that said this is a young and exciting team and I look forward to watching them. I think 2015 will be an exciting year.

        Let’s all meet up at the Residence Inn in Mesa during sprint training. CAPS can batch cook eggs for us all and Seymour will treat us to a Quizno’s turkey and cheese combo.

    • HLCBSL691

      You already made the Cubs mailbag asking about Soriano playing 3B, why don’t you try to get in by asking Muskat about players batch cooking.

      • What is the question? You can plainly see the five gallon bucket of ragu bolognese in Rizzo’s locker during postgame interviews.

      • cap’n realist

        not as good as when he asked her if they Cub brass would be interested in a 48 year old Optometrist who could rake off a machine. She printed that gem, too.

      • HLCBSL691

        I need a link of that one.

      • Carrie Muskrat

        Check out the 12/18/2006 Mailbag.

      • HLCBSL691
      • Eddie Von White

        Awesome

      • Sherm

        Just for the archives and historians, that’s why I named him Doc Raker. Just sayin’

      • Doc Raker

        True story.

      • Seymour Butts

        Thank goodness for pitching machines.

      • I think you’re supposed to capitalize the ‘g.’

  • Doc Raker

    Cubs win again. Like I have said before, I can’t remember in my lifetime when the Cubs finished a losing season stronger than the first half of the season. This team seems different with a lot of young men ready to prove themselves big leaguers, especially the bullpen. I can’t remember when I had so much confidence in the bullpen. Maybe Bosio is a good pitching coach.

    I still am not sold on Javier Baez, you just can’t take so many K’s I don’t care how far you hit the ball 1 out of 12 times.

    I am looking forward to seeing Soler come up. Did someone say he has plate discipline? I am sure Len will let us know what is on Soler’s iTunes and if you want some good baseball information about Soler you can tune into the Reds broadcast. Word has it Soler batch cooks plantains.

    • Dork

      Glass half full, this is the best thing for Baez to see how good the pitching is at this level. He knows he has to continue to get better. The FO brought him up for just this reason so he can make adjustments over the offseason.
      I just watched the Bomb by Alcantra, I have no idea how he got to that pitch and actually pulled it.

      • Unreal, right? That pitch was at his shoulders…

    • It only makes sense, Doc. Young players like Soler are on the road, a lot. Factor in double headers and extra cuts in the cage…you are going to be wiped most nights. Batch cooking plantains on a rare day-off is definitely the way to go. You can scoop a bunch into your mitt on the way out the door.

    • Noah_I

      The one thing I’d say about Baez is that his K struggles right now aren’t unexpected. Everyone expected him to struggle with contact in this first run. I’d withhold any judgment on that front until at least mid-next season. The question with Baez is if he can make the same adjustments at the Major League level that led to him reducing his K rates with time at each level of the minors.

      From what I’ve seen, his two issues are very workable and very common: he’s susceptible to the high fastball with two strikes and generally susceptible to breaking pitches low and away.

      • AC0000000

        I wouldn’t be overly concerned with Baez’s high K rates if his OBP was at .400 or better like Thome or Dunn. Two high K players who are very disciplined hitters, go into a lot of deep counts and rank among the league leaders in walks and OBP.

      • Doc Raker

        Jim Palmer on the Orioles broadcast quoted Baez as saying he wasn’t going to change his swing. “This is my swing, I swing hard, I am not changing it.” That might be different than not making adjustments but I want smart hitters, not hitters in love with 500 home runs with low contact rates and low walk rates. I hope he does make the adjustment but the other thing that worries me is another thing Palmer brought up. It is dangerous for an organization to tag certain players as the future before they prove themselves. Hopefully whoever proves themselves will play in Wrigley Field and not the FO’s predetermined group if they don’t earn it.

        But with that said this is a young and exciting team and I look forward to watching them. I think 2015 will be an exciting year.

        Let’s all meet up at the Residence Inn in Mesa during sprint training. CAPS can batch cook eggs for us all and Seymour will treat us to a Quizno’s turkey and cheese combo.

    • AC0000000

      You already made the Cubs mailbag asking about Soriano playing 3B, why don’t you try to get in by asking Muskat about players batch cooking.

      • What is the question? You can plainly see the five gallon bucket of ragu bolognese in Rizzo’s locker during postgame interviews.

      • cap’n realist

        not as good as when he asked her if they Cub brass would be interested in a 48 year old Optometrist who could rake off a machine. She printed that gem, too.

      • AC0000000

        I need a link of that one.

      • Carrie Muskrat

        Check out the 12/18/2006 Mailbag.

      • AC0000000
      • Eddie Von White

        Awesome

      • Sherm

        Just for the archives and historians, that’s why I named him Doc Raker. Just sayin’

      • Doc Raker

        True story.

      • Seymour Butts

        Thank goodness for pitching machines.

      • I think you’re supposed to capitalize the ‘g.’

  • HLCBSL691

    RE 2008 team: I don’t think they were overachievers at all. They were a great team. Anyone can win once the playoffs start and 3-game losing streaks happen all the time. The Dodgers team that was in the playoffs would have been 100-win material if they were together the entire season.

    • Doc Raker

      Not to mention Manny on steroids hitting pitches of his toes into the bleachers. That is what ruins the game for me in the steroid era when pitchers make good pitches and juiced up hitters still hit them out.

      • HLCBSL691

        That wild-card winning HR Braun hit was steroids fueled. If he hadn’t hit that HR, we would have opened the playoffs vs. the Mets instead. Stupid MLB rules not allowing you to play your own division in round 1. If the 1 seed and WC are the same division, who gives a dam?

    • Kac

      Dempster couldn’t throw a strike in game 1 of the NLDS. 7 walks and he didn’t make it through the 5th. Still, he had danced out of trouble every inning and kept the Dodgers off the board until Loney hit that 2-out 2-strike grand slam. Was that a turning point in the series? What happens if Dempster retires Loney and the game is turned over to the bullpen in the 6th? If the Cubs hang on and win game 1, how much of a difference does that make? Lose in 4? Win the series?

      Game 2 was a comedy of errors (literally!) and the Cubs quickly booted their way to a 5-0 deficit. From what I recall, game 3 was more or less “normal”. The Cubs just happened to be on the losing end of that one.

      I still wonder how much DeRosa’s injury the last week of the season impacted things. He had been spending part of his time playing right field that last month (with Fontenot at 2nd base). He came back for the NLDS but played 2nd base (mobility concerns, IIRC), putting Fukudome back in right and pushing Fontenot to the bench. By late September I certainly trusted Fontenot more than I trusted Fukudome on offense.

      • HLCBSL691

        And everything you described could have easily happened during the regular season

      • I forgot about Fukudome. The really really poor man’s Ichiro.

      • HLCBSL691

        He was awesome the first 2 months of the season. He had the winning hit on his bobblehead night.

      • Doc Raker

        Fukudome- A NL All Star, similar to Brian LaHair- All World numbers in the first half and couldn’t make contact in the second half.

        They both now enjoy sitcom celebrity status in Japan’s remake of The Odd Couple. LaHair plays the messy Oscar Madison and Fukudome is the metro sexual Felix Unger. Th episode where Fukudome gets lost in a pile of dirty laundry when walking into LaHair’s bedroom was classic. Fukudome had to be rescued by their friend Murray the cop played by Julio Zuleta.

      • Is that the one where LaHair keeps mistaking Kosuke’s cup for a miso soup bowl? Classic.

      • cap’n realist

        I thought Hee Seop Choi was the cop…

      • Doc Raker

        Hee Seop Choi and Micah Hoffpauir were the Pigeon sisters.

      • Sherm

        LaHair agreed to the part provided that he also get to play Quincy, M.E. in the Japanese remake of that, called “Yuso dead.”

      • Seymour Butts

        So… how long have you been sitting on that one?

      • Sherm

        I would respond, but apparently I am known for “posting and disappearing” and I don’t want to ruin my image.

  • AC0000000

    RE 2008 team: I don’t think they were overachievers at all. They were a great team. Anyone can win once the playoffs start and 3-game losing streaks happen all the time. The Dodgers team that was in the playoffs would have been 100-win material if they were together the entire season.

    • Doc Raker

      Not to mention Manny on steroids hitting pitches of his toes into the bleachers. That is what ruins the game for me in the steroid era when pitchers make good pitches and juiced up hitters still hit them out.

      • AC0000000

        That wild-card winning HR Braun hit was steroids fueled. If he hadn’t hit that HR, we would have opened the playoffs vs. the Mets instead. Stupid MLB rules not allowing you to play your own division in round 1. If the 1 seed and WC are the same division, who gives a dam?

    • Kac

      Dempster couldn’t throw a strike in game 1 of the NLDS. 7 walks and he didn’t make it through the 5th. Still, he had danced out of trouble every inning and kept the Dodgers off the board until Loney hit that 2-out 2-strike grand slam. Was that a turning point in the series? What happens if Dempster retires Loney and the game is turned over to the bullpen in the 6th? If the Cubs hang on and win game 1, how much of a difference does that make? Lose in 4? Win the series?

      Game 2 was a comedy of errors (literally!) and the Cubs quickly booted their way to a 5-0 deficit. From what I recall, game 3 was more or less “normal”. The Cubs just happened to be on the losing end of that one.

      I still wonder how much DeRosa’s injury the last week of the season impacted things. He had been spending part of his time playing right field that last month (with Fontenot at 2nd base). He came back for the NLDS but played 2nd base (mobility concerns, IIRC), putting Fukudome back in right and pushing Fontenot to the bench. By late September I certainly trusted Fontenot more than I trusted Fukudome on offense.

      • AC0000000

        And everything you described could have easily happened during the regular season

      • I forgot about Fukudome. The really really poor man’s Ichiro.

      • AC0000000

        He was awesome the first 2 months of the season. He had the winning hit on his bobblehead night.

      • Doc Raker

        Fukudome- A NL All Star, similar to Brian LaHair- All World numbers in the first half and couldn’t make contact in the second half.

        They both now enjoy sitcom celebrity status in Japan’s remake of The Odd Couple. LaHair plays the messy Oscar Madison and Fukudome is the metro sexual Felix Unger. Th episode where Fukudome gets lost in a pile of dirty laundry when walking into LaHair’s bedroom was classic. Fukudome had to be rescued by their friend Murray the cop played by Julio Zuleta.

      • Is that the one where LaHair keeps mistaking Kosuke’s cup for a miso soup bowl? Classic.

      • cap’n realist

        I thought Hee Seop Choi was the cop…

      • Doc Raker

        Hee Seop Choi and Micah Hoffpauir were the Pigeon sisters.

      • Sherm

        LaHair agreed to the part provided that he also get to play Quincy, M.E. in the Japanese remake of that, called “Yuso dead.”

      • Seymour Butts

        So… how long have you been sitting on that one?

      • Sherm

        I would respond, but apparently I am known for “posting and disappearing” and I don’t want to ruin my image.

  • Jedi

    We need to have every prospect debut in Cincy.

    • HLCBSL691

      Solder is halfway out of the No Homers Club!

    • Eddie Von White

      Amen to that

    • Johnson!

      • Jedi

        Swanson!

      • Seymour Butts

        Where, oh where, have our Johnsons been?

      • Jedi

        I’ve been working and traveling and having kids.

        He’s been getting married and traveling.

        I’m going to pretend that’s what you were asking.

      • Don’t be a stranger, Jedi. We’re still a bunch of idiots.

      • Doc Raker

        yes yous are

      • Jedi

        I’m pretty sure not everyone feels the same – but I appreciate the sentiment jswan.

      • No, we all know we’re idiots.
        (Good to see you Jedi!)

  • Jedi

    We need to have every prospect debut in Cincy.

    • AC0000000

      Solder is halfway out of the No Homers Club!

    • Eddie Von White

      Amen to that

    • Johnson!

      • Jedi

        Swanson!

      • Seymour Butts

        Where, oh where, have our Johnsons been?

      • Jedi

        I’ve been working and traveling and having kids.

        He’s been getting married and traveling.

        I’m going to pretend that’s what you were asking.

      • Don’t be a stranger, Jedi. We’re still a bunch of idiots.

      • Doc Raker

        yes yous are

      • Jedi

        I’m pretty sure not everyone feels the same – but I appreciate the sentiment jswan.

      • No, we all know we’re idiots.
        (Good to see you Jedi!)

  • SSIrish

    The ’08 season finally was draining; just a few months after my grandfather passed away. I can honestly say after they lost that he gave up

  • SSIrish

    The ’08 season finally was draining; just a few months after my grandfather passed away. I can honestly say after they lost that he gave up