Washington, D.C., USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano hits a solo home run against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
The Cubs lost 11-5 to the Nationals in Washington Tuesday night. The Nats thoroughly dominated the game, leading 5-0 after two innings and 8-1 after three. Washington hit six home runs in the game -- the most that franchise has hit in a game since they moved to D.C. from Montreal in 2005. It was the first time a Cubs team had allowed that many home runs in a game in more than two years, since July 4, 2010, when the Reds homered seven times off the Cubs in a 14-3 game.
But more importantly, a team record that had stood since 2000 was broken Tuesday night when Jaye Chapman (making his MLB debut), Miguel Socolovich and Anthony Recker (the latter two making their Cubs debuts) all appeared in a Cubs uniform for the first time. That made 52 different Cubs (and 29 different pitchers, also a record) who have played for the team this season, the most in team history. All seven of the pitchers who appeared in Tuesday's game for the Cubs were rookies; just one (Rafael Dolis) was on the roster on Opening Day.
Props to one non-rookie: Alfonso Soriano, who drove in three of the five Cubs runs. He now has 88 for the year and a real shot at 100. He also threw out a runner, for his 10th outfield assist of the season. That's second in the NL to the Diamondbacks' Jason Kubel. Soriano has a legitimate shot at a Gold Glove this season. Now tell me you saw that coming.
Back to that 2000 Cubs team. It might be instructive to look at the players who were on that club and what happened the following year. Follow me past the jump for exactly that.
Of the 51 players on the 2000 Cubs -- a team that, up to now, had the most losses (97) of any Cubs team since 1980 -- 15 of them never played a single game in the major leagues after that year:
Willie Greene, Jeff Reed, Jeff Huson, Brant Brown, Tarrik Brock, Cole Liniak, Rick Aguilera, Daniel Garibay, Steve Rain, Jamie Arnold, Brian Williams, Jerry Spradlin, Matt Karchner, Joey Nation, Danny Young
Yes, I know. You had blissfully forgotten about just about all of those players. Just one of them (Aguilera) had any sort of significant MLB career, and most of that wasn't with the Cubs. Four others (Greene, Reed, Huson and Brown) had at least one or more decent MLB seasons. The rest were roster filler.
There were nine others who never played for the Cubs again after 2000:
Shane Andrews, Jose Nieves, Ross Gload, Raul Gonzalez, Ismael Valdez, Scott Downs, Tim Worrell, Andrew Lorraine, Oswaldo Mairena
Of those, only Downs -- still active as a situational reliever with the Angels -- had any sort of long, productive career. Gload was a decent pinch-hitter for a while. Worrell had a few years in MLB bullpens. Valdez succumbed to injuries.
So that's 24 of 51 who never saw a Cubs uniform again. In the offseason of 2000-01, the Cubs signed or traded for the following players:
Bill Mueller, Jason Bere, Julian Tavarez, Jeff Fassero, Tom Gordon, Todd Hundley, Matt Stairs, Ron Coomer
Of those, only Gordon and Hundley would have been considered "big names" at the time. All of them (except Hundley, whose tenure with the Cubs probably goes best undiscussed here) had at least one productive season with the team. Overall team payroll went from $60 million to $64 million (ranking 13th in 2000 and 14th in 2001).
The 2001 Cubs were surprise contenders; they won 12 in a row in late May/early June to take over first place and stayed there until mid-August.
Note: I am not saying the Cubs have a chance to do that in 2013. What I am arguing is that Theo & Jed have to identify those kinds of veteran players to add to the young players the Cubs are trying to groom into regulars and possibly stars. It's very likely that, as in 2000-01, nearly half of the players you have seen perform for this year's Cubs won't be back next year and many of them will never put on a major-league uniform again.
The Cubs won't contend in 2013. But they can certainly put a better team on the field. As I've been saying all along, it will be an instructive offseason.