Fantasy Baseball is back at Chicago Cubs Online with a very interesting topic….
Who would make your All-time Cubs Fantasy Team?
Ever wonder what it would be like to have had Fergie Jenkins, in his prime, pitching for the 1984 Cubs? Would that have led them to a meeting with the Detroit Tigers in the World Series? How would pitchers feel about facing a lineup with Andre Dawson, Sammy Sosa, and Ernie Banks batting one after the other?
With all the talk of Cubs Conventions, and various posts here on CCO mentioning players of yesteryear, my head has been swimming with memories of Shawon Dunston firing a 120 mph fastball at Mark Grace, or with Mitch “The Wild Thing” Williams giving the Cubs Faithful heartburn on the way to another save. So it seemed like the ideal time to dedicate one of my columns to putting together the All-time Cubs Fantasy Team! I would love to hear from CCO readers on what their All-time Cubs lineup and pitching staff would look like, so please feel free to check out my choices, and then state your case and post your own choices. This week I am going to give my lineup and batting order. Next week I will list my 5 starting pitchers, and 1 relief pitcher. Just for fun, I will throw in some honorable mentions as well.
There is always a great debate between fans of different generations about how Ruth, Mantle, Gibson, Aaron, and others would fare in today’s baseball era. I am going to admit to being biased, and I know most of my choices will reflect my childhood of watching the Cubs in the late 70s and beyond. Like many of the Cubs Faithful my age, I also have a lot of respect for the Cubs of the 1969 era, and have grown used to hearing about Banks, Santo, and Billy Williams. I don’t go much further back in time than that, so if there are some old-timers, or Cubs historians, that want to make a case for players earlier in the century, please be my guest!
Batting Order / Position
1. Lou Brock / CF
2. Ryne Sandberg / 2B
3. Sammy Sosa / OF
4. Ernie Banks / SS
5. Andre Dawson / OF
6. Ron Santo / 3B
7. Mark Grace / 1B
8. Jody Davis / C
9. Carlos Zambrano / P
Why Brock plays Center
I viewed CF differently than RF and LF, as the defense is more critical, and you can’t just put Sammy Sosa as your CF because you want to also have Billy Williams in your lineup. I was also realistic enough to realize I needed a leadoff hitter with some speed. Lou Brock didn’t reach his peak as a Cub, but his 938 career stolen bases can’t be denied here. How would the 1969 Cubs have done with his ’69 season of 53 SBs and .298 average? Honorable mention goes to Kenny Lofton, as we have seen first-hand how his leadoff skills can win you a division title….a real shame we didn’t bring him back!
Was there any doubt about Sandberg at 2B?
No. His naturally best hitting spot was at #2, and his combination of team-first, unselfish play, speed, power, and defense makes him a no-brainer. The recent Hall of Famer finished 5th all-time on the Cubbie HR list as well. Honorable mention? I honestly have no idea, so I will just go with Neifi Perez (you just KNOW that Dusty would agree with me!).
How could I put the evil Sammy Sosa in my lineup at OF?
Steroids or not, Sosa carried the team for years. His unbelievable years in 1998 and 2001 are mind-boggling. Remember 2001? He hit 64 HRs, 160 RBIs, and batted an amazing .328. A lot of players were on steroids in the past 15 years….but no one matched Sammy for 50 HRs in 4 straight season, and it would have been 5 straight if he hit one more homer in 2002. Honorable mention? Moises Alou….just kidding, people. I will pick my honorable mention for OF after I explain my choice of Andre Dawson.
Let’s play two! Ernie at SS!
Ernie Banks played about half his career at 1B, but since he qualifies as a SS as well, I want to put him there, because it allows me to put Grace (or Derrick Lee) on the team. Ernie hit 512 HRs as a Cubbie, with a respectable .274 average. He was on the downside of his career during the 1969 run….if they had Ernie in his prime, it may have put them over the edge….always fun to wonder, but there is no way to know! Probably one of the nicest and most-beloved Cubs players ever. I doubt Ernie would have been calling the pressbox in 2004 and complained about announcers like our group of whiners did! Honorable mention goes to one of my favorite Cubs of the past two years: Nomar Garciapparra. Nomar didn’t have his best years with the Cubs, due largely to injury, but he has the pedigree, charisma, and star-power to deserve a mention in my eyes.
I see a “Hawk” out in LF!
What a season Andre Dawson had in 1987. It was similar to Sosa in 1999-2001, where he was one of the few bright spots to cheer for on otherwise forgetful Cubs teams. Dawson did play on the 1989 division winner, but his numbers were down that year a bit. Dawson was speedy earlier in his career, swiping 314 SBs, and combining that with the power he showcased in his 438 HRs. He also had a decent career avg of .279. Honorable mention goes to Hall of Famer Billy Williams, who hit 426 HRs with a .290 career avg. I picked Dawson for his edge in speed, and because I watched him as a kid.
Cheer up Ron Santo, the Cubs didn’t win, but you made my Fantasy team at 3B!
I am pretty sure Santo won’t care much for my “award” as all he really wants is a Cubs victory, and especially a Cubs World Series Championship in his lifetime! This unbelievable competitor should be in the Hall of Fame for his great defense, his longevity, and his consistency at the plate. Ron finished with 342 HRs and a .277 average. In addition, he is a true “face of the Cubs” as a player, a broadcaster, and a die-hard fan. We all feel Ron’s pain when the Cubbies lose, and his joy when they win…. Honorable mention goes to my main man: Aramis Ramirez! Aramis needs to stay healthy the whole year this year, and keep putting up numbers of about .300 avg, 35-40 HRs, and 100+RBIs….this guy is a stud.
Amazing Grace will play 1B for thee….
What happened to Mark Grace? He has a feud with Sammy Sosa (who at the time was the darling of Cubs management) and he is unceremoniously shown the door and we never hear from him again. Who can forget Grace and Will Clark of the San Fransisco Giants going at it in the 1989 playoffs? I think in one game the young Grace was 5 for 6 while the veteran Clark was also tearing it up at the plate. It was great to have Grace trying his best to keep us in the hunt to win that playoff series, and throughout his career with the Cubs he was one of the best pure hitters in baseball. He never hit a lot of HRs it seemed, but did you know he finished #11 in Cubs history for HRs? Grace is also #5 in Cubs history for hits. Derrek Lee is a stud, but he only has had one awesome year, and a few solid years so far. By the end of his career, Lee could very well swap places with Grace, but for now, I am content with Grace keeping the inning alive for my team with another clutch double. I hope we start seeing more of Gracie at Cubs Conventions or singing the 7th inning stretch, etc….
Jody….Jody Davis, a catcher without a peer!
Ok….this position is definitely up for grabs. You can make a case for Hundley (Randy, not Todd!) and Gabby Hartnett, and probably others. All I know is that Jody had a good 5 year run, and while he did not light the world on fire, his numbers were consistent for you. You knew he would get you about a .255 avg, 20 HRs minimum, and about 75 RBIs, and that is pretty good production from your catcher. I wish Todd Hundley would have lived up to his potential. Technically speaking, if I am making this lineup based on players that played for the Cubs, and I am allowed to use them in their prime, then Todd would actually be a decent choice. Unfortunately, for the Cubs, Todd made Corey Patterson look like Wade Boggs at the plate.
Zambrano? Why include a pitcher in your lineup?
Well….this is the National League, so someone has to hit in the 9-hole! Why not pick a 6-1/2′ tall, 250lb athlete that is a switch hitter to boot? Right now, I feel better about Zambrano at the plate then any other Cubs pitcher I can recall. Prior is pretty good, too, and Sutcliffe was good for a HR every now and then. With these other 8 guys, though, I doubt it matters much!
What do you think….who would comprise your All-time Cubs lineup?
Let me know, CCO readers, how you would do it differently, and why….I would love to see what others think are the All-time best Cubs.
Not much for rumors….I still think we are done for now, and are heading to camp as is. The only thing I could see happening is a “nothing” trade where we unload Walker (which I don’t think is a good idea) and we start Neifi (which I really don’t think is a good idea). Other than that, I think the only deals that will happen in 2006 will happen closer to the trading deadline, as the Cubs shore up for a playoff run!