Now that there are no more games to be played in the 2009 season, at least not for the Chicago Cubs, we can take a better look at this ball club and the failure of a season they had. Yes, I said failure. Take any stats you want, if you do not win the World Series, your season was a failure. The goal of every team every year is to win the World Series. The season is, in essence, a one question test. You either answer the question correctly, or you fail. Unfortunately, for the 101st straight time, the Cubs season ended in failure. Don’t get me wrong, you can have a good year, and a good team in years that you don’t win the World Series, but the season still amounts to nothing if you don’t win the whole thing.
Take this years Cubs team for example; many fans will say that this ball club was a complete disaster. They will say that General Manager Jim Hendry blew up a World Series contender, turning the Cubs into a joke. Fans are also blaming Cubs Manager Lou Piniella for not doing a better job of managing the team, or for playing the wrong players at the wrong time. While both Hendry and Piniella could be to blame for the demise of the 2009 Cubs, ask yourself this question. Just how much worse was this years team compared to last years?
When looking at the two teams, the 2009 Cubs ended the season with 14 fewer wins then the 2008 ball club. That is a horrible stat, but there are many things to keep in mind when looking at the record for the 2009 Cubs. During the 51 games that Aramis Ramirez was on the disabled list, the Cubs went 25-26. Are you telling me, that if Ramirez was healthy, we wouldn’t have won more then those 25 games? I am not saying that the Cubs would have won 14 more games in that stretch to match their 2008 record, but that would not be out of the realm of possibility. Don’t forget all the games he sat out as well because his shoulder was giving him problems after he came back. The entire season, he only played in 82 games. Had he played the whole season, or at least the average number of games he usually does anyway, the Cubs would have won at least the 14 games they needed to match last years record. While the Cubs did not lose all the games that Ramirez missed, he would have helped them win some of the games they did lose.
Do you need more proof that this years team is not as bad as fans have made them out to be? Look at our pitching staff. This years pitching staff, as a whole, were better then the 2008 team’s, even with Kevin Gregg blowing saves. The ERA was slightly better this year, posting a 3.84 ERAA, as opposed to an 3.87 the year before. This years club also struck out eight more batters, in one less game. Keep in mind that the Cubs top four starters each missed at least two starts, some missing more. As a whole, they likely missed about 12-15 games combined. While they didn’t lose all the starts that their replacements made, they would likely have had better outing and brought the team a few more wins.
Am I being a bit of a homer here? You could easily say that I am, But at the same time, I am being completely honest. This ball club was nowhere near as bad as people are saying. Sure, Hendry traded away some fan favorites and made a few mistake signings, but they did not make this team bad. This team had the talent to compete, and would have lasted a lot longer in the divisional race had they not been completely decimated by injuries. You can say that the Milton Bradley signing doomed this years ball club, you can say that the trade of Mark DeRosa killed this ball club, but that is not the case whatsoever. This years team was just as good as last years team. In fact, you could even say that this years team was, in fact, better then last years team. If Ramirez, Soriano and all the pitchers were healthy all year, the Cubs would have surpassed last years win total. You can deny that all you want, offer up all the reasons and all the excuses you can think of; but you know that I am not far off base.
The end justifies the means, so yes, this years team was worse then last years. You can also use what ifs for every team in baseball to get whatever message you want across. Perhaps that is what I am doing, but my logic here is very realistic. The 2009 Cubs should have had a better record then the 2008 version.