Wild 2009 left Cubs looking to recharge
Slew of injuries, Bradley saga made for eventful year
CHICAGO -- What a bizarre year. Lou Piniella was issued a warning for jaywalking, Ryan Dempster broke a toe jumping the dugout fence at Wrigley Field and Milton Bradley forgot how many outs were in an inning.
The Cubs had high hopes for 2009 after a 97-win campaign in '08 and a relatively large turnover. The new faces included Bradley, Aaron Miles, Kevin Gregg, Aaron Heilman and Joey Gathright. As 2009 comes to a close, they're all gone.
Fifteen players went on the disabled list 18 times, adding up to 584 games missed. And when that list includes Aramis Ramirez (50 games), Carlos Zambrano (31 games), Miles (53), Reed Johnson (64), Alfonso Soriano (29), Geovany Soto (26) and Ted Lilly (24), it's hard to keep up in the division.
Piniella credits the players for rallying to finish second, the Cubs' third straight winning season. The franchise hadn't done that since 1967-71.
What was resolved was the team's ownership situation. In late October, the Ricketts family took control, paying $845 million for the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a share of Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The sale ended a drawn-out process that began in April 2007.
What will the new ownership and new decade mean to the Cubs? We'll see. First, let's look back at '09.
Detroit Red Wings kicked off the year on New Year's Day with a 6-4 victory over Chicago Blackhawks in the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, first NHL game at the ballpark. ... Cubs traded right-hander Jason Marquis to Rockies for reliever Luis Vizcaino. ... On Jan. 8, free-agent outfielder Milton Bradley signed a three-year, $30 million contract with Cubs and said he feels "blessed" to get his first long-term deal. "The opinion that he wouldn't be a good teammate or he would be a disruption in the clubhouse couldn't be further from the truth," GM Jim Hendry said at Bradley's introductory news conference. ... Kerry Wood thanked Cubs fans for their support in a full-page ad in Chicago newspapers after he signed with Indians. ... Cubs deal highly touted outfielder Felix Pie to Orioles for pitchers Garrett Olson and Henry Williamson. ... The Tribune Co. selects the Ricketts family as the winning bidders to purchase the Cubs.
Cubs deal right-hander Michael Wuertz to the Athletics for Minor League outfielder Richie Robnett and infielder Justin Sellers. ... Orioles acquire lefty Rich Hill for a player to be named. ... Carlos Marmol changes his mind and decides to pitch for Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic. Lilly and Soto also play in the event.
Zambrano named Opening Day starter for fifth straight year. ... Cubs announce they will retire No. 31 in honor of both Greg Maddux and Fergie Jenkins. ... Corey Koskie ends comeback bid after missing two years because of post-concussion symptoms. ... Mark DeRosa, traded to Cleveland, goes 3-for-3 against Lilly in a spring game, hitting two home runs and a double. Lilly vows revenge. ... On March 29, right-hander Kevin Gregg is named closer, beating out Marmol for the job.
Cubs end exhibition season by playing first games in new Yankee Stadium. ... Right-hander Angel Guzman and Rule 5 pick David Patton are final roster additions for Opening Day. ... On April 12, Soriano becomes 19th player in Major League history with 250 steals and 250 home runs. ... Johnson makes leaping catch at wall at Miller Park to rob Prince Fielder of grand slam and help Cubs post 8-5 win over Brewers. ... In his first at-bat at Wrigley Field on April 16, Bradley is asked to pinch-hit, argues a call and is ejected. He was issued a five-game suspension for bumping an umpire. ... On April 24, Soriano batted third. Two days later, Piniella announced Soriano will stay in leadoff spot. ... Zambrano falls a triple shy of the cycle in 11-3 win over D-backs. ... Cubs finished April with 10-11 record.
On May 3, Cubs retired No. 31 in honor of Jenkins and Maddux. ... On May 8, Ramirez suffered a dislocated left shoulder trying to make a diving stop. He would miss two months. ... Shortstop Ryan Theriot hits two home runs vs. Padres to set career high with seven for the season. ... Zambrano activated from the DL on the same day right-hander Rich Harden is sidelined with a back strain. ... On May 26, Lilly was ejected from the bench for arguing with home-plate umpire Bob Davidson. ... Two days later, Zambrano tossed for arguing a close play at the plate, then attacks a Gatorade dispenser in the dugout. Big Z, who was much more animated than Lilly in his outburst, was issued a six-game suspension. ... Cubs finished May with a 15-13 record.
On June 5, Zambrano won his 100th game with a victory over Reds. After the game, he said he'll retire at the end of his current contract, which runs through 2012. ... Cubs select Cal outfielder Brett Jackson in first round of First-Year Player Draft. ... Bradley had a day he'd like to forget on June 12 vs. the Twins when he hit a two-run double but also made a baserunning gaffe, lost a ball in the sun and was charged with an error. ... Gerald Perry is dismissed as the hitting coach June 14 and replaced by Triple-A Iowa coach Von Joshua. ... According to a New York Times report, former Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa was one of the 104 Major League players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003. ... Rookie right-hander Randy Wells picks up first win. ... Soto admitted he tested positive for marijuana during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He is not eligible to compete in international play for two years. ... Top pick Jackson signed a contract on June 26, and reported for work at the team's facility in Mesa, Ariz. ... Piniella sent Bradley home after shouting match in visitors' clubhouse during an Interleague game vs. White Sox. Piniella apologized the next day for a comment he made to the outfielder. ... Cubs went 11-14 in June.
Cubs send Minor League right-hander Al Alburquerque to Rockies for infielder Jeff Baker. ... Piniella is ejected July 2 for first time in 2009 after arguing close play at first with umpire Chad Fairchild. Lee drives in a career-high seven runs in 9-5 win over Brewers. ... Piniella dropped Soriano from leadoff spot on July 4. The left fielder was batting .226 at that point. ... Lilly is Cubs' only All-Star rep. ... On July 6, Ramirez, Johnson and Guzman all came off the disabled list. One day later, Dempster is placed on the DL with fractured toe suffered when he jumped over dugout fence. ... Soto went on DL July 10 with oblique strain. ... Lilly picked up his 100th career victory with win over Cardinals on July 11. ... Left-hander Sean Marshall is switched to left field for one at-bat in the ninth inning vs. Cardinals, then switched again to pitch. Bleacher fans chant, "We Are Marshall." ... Piniella met President Barack Obama at the White House. ... Piniella and Bradley have private hitting session in Philadelphia to try to get the switch-hitting outfielder on track. ... Lilly had arthroscopic surgery on left knee July 27. ... On July 30, Cubs acquired lefties John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from the Pirates in exchange for right-hander Kevin Hart and Minor Leaguers Jose Ascanio and Josh Harrison. ... Johnson is placed on DL with fracture suffered when he fouled a ball off his foot. ... Cubs went 18-9 in July.
Zambrano is placed on DL on Aug. 8 because of back spasms. ... Piniella is ejected for second time in 2009 on Aug. 9 by second-base ump Chris Guccione. ... Right-hander Jeff Samardzija mades his first big league start Aug. 13, and is roughed up, giving up seven runs in 3 1/3 innings vs. the Phillies, who romped, 12-5. ... For the second time in the season, Lee drove in seven runs in a game, doing so against Pirates on Aug. 14. ... How bad a year has it been for Piniella? He's issued a warning in San Diego for jaywalking. ... Gregg served up three-run walk-off homer to Kyle Banks in ninth inning on Aug. 18, as San Diego beat the Cubs, 4-1. It was Gregg's third blown save in five chances. Marmol is named closer for the rest of the season. ... On Aug. 21, the Ricketts family signed a definitive agreement with Tribune Co. to acquire a 95 percent interest in the Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent interest in Comcast SportsNet for $845 million. ... IF/OF Jake Fox, who was leading the Pacific Coast League in the Triple Crown categories when called up, hit his first big league grand slam in an 11-4 win over the Mets. ... Cubs finished August 11-17.
Cubs rapped eight straight hits off Pirates starter Zach Duke to begin Sept. 9 game, tying a Major League record. It was the sixth time a team has accomplished the feat. ... Soriano underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Sept. 15. ... Bradley is suspended for final 15 games of the season for detrimental conduct on Sept. 20. ... Outfielder Tyler Colvin, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in 2007, is called up and makes first start Sept. 21. ... Guzman is shut down for remainder of season on Sept. 22. ... Samardzija notched his first big league hit and home run with one swing Sept. 23 in Milwaukee. ... Bradley issued an apology in a carefully worded statement, saying he regretted certain things he said and did. ... Zambrano had his best game of the season Sept. 26 vs. Giants, outdueling Tim Lincecum with a two-hit shutout while driving in two runs in a 3-0 victory. ... Gregg is shut down for remainder of season on Sept. 29 because of crack in cartilage in left rib cage. ... Cubs officially eliminated from playoffs on Sept. 30; finished month 17-12.
Wells struck out 10 over seven innings in 5-0 win over D-backs. ... After 101 career Major League at-bats without an RBI, Sam Fuld homered in fifth inning on Oct. 4 to get his first. ... Cubs finished second in NL Central at 83-78. ... Lee named NL Player of the Month for September after batting .386. ... Rudy Jaramillo, who has been fixture in Texas for 15 years, hired as hitting coach for Cubs staff. ... The Ricketts family is formally introduced as the Cubs' new owners on Oct. 30 at Wrigley Field.
Lilly underwent arthroscopic surgery and debridement on left shoulder. ... Zambrano won third Silver Slugger award. ... Heilman dealt to D-backs for two Minor League prospects. ... Grabow signed two-year, $7.5 million contract. ... Lee finished ninth in NL MVP vote. ... Tom Ricketts and team president Crane Kenney traveled to Florida to meet with Naples, Fla., group that wants Cubs to move Spring Training site to Sunshine State. Earlier in month, Ricketts and Kenney met with Arizona officials to discuss sites in Mesa.
Cubs declined to offer arbitration to Gregg, Harden, Johnson and right-hander Chad Fox. ... Tom Ricketts met with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to discuss moving team to Florida for Spring Training. ... Miles and Fox traded Dec. 3 to Athletics for pitchers Jeff Gray and Ronny Mota and infielder Matt Spencer. ... Ryne Sandberg named Triple-A Iowa manager. ... Cubs selected right-hander Michael Parisi from Cardinals in Rule 5 Draft. ... Cubs acquired righty Arismendy Mota from Nationals for cash considerations. ... WGN Radio signed former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo to three-year contract extension. ... Bradley traded to the Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva and cash. ... Cubs signed free agent Marlon Byrd to three-year, $15 million deal on New Year's Eve.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.