I know what you are thinking. This is just another Cubs article about going a full century without winning a World Series ring. You are wrong.
See, there is a different feat that I am interested in, for reasons I don't really know.
Most of you know that the Cubs last went to a World Series in 1945, in which they obviously lost. There is a feat that goes even further back, that I think the Cubs have a chance to accomplish in 2009.
In 1935, the Chicago Cubs went 100-54. Not since, even after adding eight games to the schedule, have the Cubs won 100 games in the regular season.
Many would say that this is a feat that doesn't matter, but I disagree. See, the Cubs have been doing a lot lately that they haven't done since this time of last century. I believe if they continue the trend, we are that much closer to the holy grail.
IMO, that DOES mean something.
So, in 2008, the Cubs went to the playoffs in back to back seasons since 1906-1908. They failed during the playoffs, because they were built for the long haul and not a short series, a la the reason they needed a strong left-handed bat.
After winning 97 games, the Cubs lost a few faces. Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa, the only two that I feel were valuable enough to miss, both landed in Cleveland. Two club house "leaders" are now gone, but I do not think they will be missed much, statistics wise, in 2009.
The only real "hole" I see with the Cubs, is a backup third baseman. Which, isn't a huge fear of mine, since Ramirez has been pretty dependable his whole career. So when people tell me that DeRosa could play first, second, third, and corner outfield spots, I kind of yawn.
Aaron Miles, who the Cubs acquired seemingly at the same time DeRosa was traded, can play second, short, third, or both corner outfield spots. He lacks the power Derosa has, but will likely hit for a similar or better average. The home runs will be made up by DeRosa's second base replacement, Mike Fontenot.
Miles is also not the only back-up infielder that can play corner outfield. Though he lacks the defensive prowless, Micah Hoffpauir makes up for it with the bat.
Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Reed Johnson, Milton Bradely, Joey Gathright, Micah Hoffpauir and Aaron Miles make one of the deepest and most capable outfields, offensively and defensively in the big leagues.
Now, the Wood loss looks a little stronger on paper, but I have a feeling Kevin Gregg is going to surprise a lot of Cubs fans this year. Outside of August 2008, his numbers over the past two years have been very, very dependable.
I have wrote about this numerous times, so search for past articles if you want them.
Another article I wrote, was about the impact a healthy Alfonso Soriano has on the Cubs win/loss record. When he was in the line-up, the Cubs had a winning percentage of about .645, which translates into 104 wins. Their winning percentage without him was about .520.
If those numbers stayed the same, he would only have to play 135 games for the cubs to win 101 games.
I personally think the Cubs will be a better team this year, when he is not in the lineup than they were last year.
Remember, the Cubs won't stick with Fukudome, whether they are winning or losing, if he doesn't hit. They have Rich Harden and Milton Bradely with Mitch Atkins/Jeff Samardzija and Micah Hoffpauir to pick up the load if/when injuries happen. Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot are one more year of experience.
All in all, I feel that this team is more than just a little improved. I think this team is 10 wins better than they were last season. Do I really think they will win 107 games? No, it is unlikely due to all the different variables. On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me.
So let's break one feat that has to do with 100 on our way to conquering the World (Series) for the first time in 100(+) years.