Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What It Took To Win - 2003

Normally, a team is not helped by injuries. In 2003, that was not the case. A major injury was the key factor in getting Jim Hendry to upgrade his team. The upgrades he was forced to make led to the Cubs tasting post-season victory for the first time in over 90 years. That injury occured two years ago today.

On July 6, 2003, the Cubs fell to the Cardinals 4-1. In the eighth, Corey Patterson tried to leg out a grounder and shredded his knee crossing first base. At the time, Corey had good numbers, but had been slumping. After a tremendous May, Corey slipped to .269/.319/.452 in June. By July 6th, he'd lost 30 points in average, 18 in OBP, and 82 points in slugging from their peaks. He never got a chance to try to recover from this slump as he would undergo reconstructive knee surgery and miss the rest of the season. He's still trying to recover.

So, what does Jim Hendry do? He's got a team that's toddling along at 44-43 but it has some talent. He's got a declining, but still potent Sammy Sosa. Moises Alou is chugging along at .298 and Mark Grudzielanek is at .296. Mark Prior's got a sterling 2.69 ERA. Carlos Zambrano is emerging. And Kerry Wood looks like he might finally be the real deal for the first time in 5 years. Does Jim go for it? Yes, in a way. Instead of making a big splash in going after the big name of Mike Lowell, he tries to fill an inside straight. Robbing Pittsburgh blind, Hendry goes and gets Kenny Lofton and and Aramis Ramirez for Bobby Hill (named later) and a few throw away prospects.

So, where does this lead? What happens when the Cubs get a leadoff hitter and a decent third baseman (A Ram was only decent with the Cubs in 2003)?

The Cubs won the division in 2003 two years ago today. They won because Hendry's hand was forced and he had to make a trade. To bad Hendry wasn't forced to do that this year.

Too late now.

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