Only four more positions are left on the Best Bad Cubs Team of- HOLY SHIT, LOOK OUT! MAN, YOU ALMOST GOT NAILED BY THAT BAT AS IT HELICOPTERED THROUGH THE AIR! Anyhow, we only have the outfield and shortstop left to go, and if you- OH MY GOD HERE COMES ANOTHER I THINK THAT’S STRIKE TWO! Whew! That one just missed you. As I was saying, I’m almost done with the list of Best Bad Cubs and- HE ALMOST HIT THAT OLD LADY IN THE FRONT ROW! HER 95 YEARS ALL JUST FLASHED BEFORE HER EYES! Our final infielder was accidentally one of the most dangerous men in baseball. If you attended a game at Wrigley Field in 2000 or 2001, you were as likely to walk home with a souvenir bat as a souvenir ball. You see, Best Bad Cub shortstop Ricky Gutierrez had pine tar issues that- JESUS HE’S LIKE A TODDLER PLAYING WIFFLE BALL! THAT GUY IS DEAD!
In the late ’90s to about the mid-2000s, there were a weird number of players that the Cubs and Boston Red Sox swapped back and forth as they both sought to avoid 100 titleless years. Jimmy Anderson, Shane Andrews, Terry Adams, Rod Beck, Damon Buford, Frank Castillo, Matt Clement, Jeff Fassero, Cliff Floyd, Chad Fox, Gary Gaetti, Nomar Garciaparra, Geremi Gonzalez, Tom Gordon, Mark Guthrie, Ricky Gutierrez, Chris Haney, Bob Howry, Damian Jackson, Sandy Martinez, Wade Miller, Bill Mueller, Troy O’Leary, Darren Lewis, Ron Mahay, Pat Mahomes, Orlando Merced, Kent Mercker, Mike Remlinger, Rey Sanchez, Matt Stairs, Chris Stynes, Julian Tavarez, Jermaine Van Buren, Todd Walker, and Scott Williamson all played for both historically horrible franchises around that time. The swapping worked for the Red Sox. Not so much for the Cubs. The starting third baseman on the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time was one of those guys. Many Cubs fans blamed Dusty Baker for mismanaging Mark Bellhorn and not handing him the starting third base position during the 2003 season. I’m all for blaming Dusty Baker for everything. But I don’t think this one was on him. Bellhorn was awesome for exactly one season. Fortunately, that season happened when he was with the Cubs. Unfortunately, it happened in 2002, when they were absolutely terrible. Nevertheless, Bellhorn’s Cub career was enough to earn him a spot on this team.
If there’s one thing Jim Hendry was good at during his tenure with the Cubs, it was eating an entire sleeve of Oreo cookies without using his hands. If there were two things he was good at, the second one was getting weird career years out of mostly-bad middle infielders. Mickey Morandini lives here. Mark DeRosa made the BBC team as a bench player. And overall, DeRosa was a better player in Chicago than Mark Grudzielanek. However, screw Mark DeRosa. More was expected of him than Grudzielanek, and he had nothing to do with the Cubs being able to throw Todd Hundley on a tire fire, where his booze-soaked sweat went up like kerosene. Plus, Grudzielanek played on a team that actually won a playoff game. Plus, just look at him playing chess against Eric Karros. Shove your Ivy League education, DeRosa. Also, I’m just going to say it. Grudzielanek has piercing blue eyes, and if memory serves, he had a really hot girlfriend/wife when the Cubs clinched in 2003. Because that somehow affects me, and I’m ignoring the existence of Heidi DeRosa. For those reasons, Mark Grudzielanek is the starting second baseman on the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time.
This was a tough position. There are quite a few good/bad first basemen who have played for the Cubs. Julio Zuleta, Phil Nevin, Eric Karros, Manny Trillo (1987 ver.), Carlos Pena, Xavier Nady. And go ahead and cry for Randall Simon, crybabies. It’s my list. If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the past 9ish years, you’d know there was only one clear choice for this position. Hell, you might even ask yourself if the only reason I started this list was to have a reason to write an article about the greatest Cub player of all time, DARYLE WARD. And I shan’t provide an answer to that musing, good sir. Daryle Ward is an awesome, lovable teddy bear, and he is the clear choice for the starting first baseman on the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time.
The Cincinnati Reds finally figured out what the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs already knew. Dusty Baker is a cartoonish, narcissistic oaf who can’t manage baseball teams or personalities. The Reds fired Baker today, which would be hilarious if the Cubs weren’t looking for a manager. (HT: Pre) Unfortunately for the Cubs, not only are the Reds another suitor the managerial candidates out there, but also it’s going to be hard for the Reds to hire someone worse than Baker. Though I think they could probably pry Bobby Valentine away from Sacred Heart. The biggest winner in today’s firing is Johnny Cueto’s arm.
With the goateed Matt Clement, we reach the end of the starting rotation of the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time. And how. For while Matt Clement initially got a bad reputation after the 2003 playoffs when rumors abounded that he refused to go to the bullpen in the NLCS, we all know that Dusty Baker was the mismanaging nitwit behind that decision. And here’s the thing. Without Clement, the Cubs wouldn’t have been in the 2003 playoffs at all. Not a bad contribution for a player who was a gamble in the Antonio Alfonseca trade. So Matt Clement rounds out the starting rotation of the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time.
Glendon Rusch may not be the worst overall player on this roster, but when he was signed by the Cubs prior to the 2004 season, he was certainly coming off the worst season of any of the guys on the roster so far. His 2003 season in Milwaukee was nothing short of atrocious, and Cubs fans had no reason to expect that Rusch wouldn’t be the main reason for the collapse of the 2004 season. Rusch, contrary to all of our expections, had the best year of his career in 2004. The fact that he was not an asshole on a team more full of them than r/gonewild made him even more likable. So he becomes the fourth member of the starting rotation on the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time.
This pick is sure to bring glee to loyal reader Section 242, who is a bigger Kevin Tapani fan than even you are, Mrs. Tapani. Not only was Kevin Tapani not very effective in his thirteen MLB seasons, he wasn’t even particularly good as a Cub. Yet, somehow, in 1998, he just. Kept. Winning. Only 9 times in the HISTORY OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL has a pitcher compiled 19 or more wins in a season while also posting an ERA north of 4.50. It hasn’t happened since Tapani did it in 1998. Tapani has the third-highest ERA in the history of Major League Baseball for a pitcher who won 19+ games. The #1 guy was named Bobo Newsom, so GUESS HOW RECENTLY HE PLAYED. The #2 guy, Ray Kremer, won 20 games in 1930. Listen to this. In 276 innings pitched, Kremer struck out only FIFTY-EIGHT GUYS. That’s ONE strikeout every EIGHTEEN INNINGS. But unfortunately for Bobo, he was a Cub way before my time. And unfortunately for Kremer, he was never a Cub. So neither of them have the honor that Tapani does of making the starting rotation of the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time.
Finally, we get to the beef of this roster, and Mike Harkey isn’t even the beefiest member of the starting rotation. Harkey made this roster nearly by virtue of being one of the only 1990s Cubs starting pitchers still drawing breath. He also made it by being a godawful pitcher with flashes of brilliance in a Cub uniform. Though the big lug was oft-injured and definitely infuriating, he was lovable and his eyebrows were the EXACT SAME CUT, COLOR, AND SIZE of his mustache. Seriously, look.