2003 Chicago Cubs

The Offseason-A New GM and New Manager

the 2002 Chicago Cubs season was one to certainly forget, ending with a 67-95 record, Don Baylor was fired as manager.  The Cubs front office also saw changes as Jim Hendry was promoted to General Manager for the Cubs on July 25, 2002.

the Cubs were relatively quiet in the offseason leading to the 2003 season, but like most season's that go well, there are small moves that make a
big difference. 

On December 3, 2002, the Cubs signed Mike Remlinger, a late inning relief pitcher who proved to be very effective for the 2003 Cubs. 

Todd Hundley Traded

The very next day, December 4, the Cubs traded Randy Hundley's son, Todd along with Chad Hermanson to the Los Angelas Dodgers for Erik Karros and Mark Grudzelanek.  If I ever created a list of top player's with great expectations that disappointed, Todd Hundley would certainly be on
this list.  So, the move to trade Hundley helped the Cubs move past a bad move, but as a bonus, the two players the Cubs got back, Karros and
Grudzelanek both made significant contributions to the 2003 team. 

On January 8, the Cubs picked up pinch hitter specialist, Lenny Harris.

Dusty Baker

But now to back up the timeline, the most important 2002 offseason move going into the 2003 season was the hiring of manager, Dusty Baker on November 15.  Baker has since been blamed for over-working young cubs pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, but Baker's managerial style seemed to be just right for the 2003 Cubs led by Sammy Sosa (Baker had another big name star with the Giants in Barry Bonds) and the young pitching duo that created a lot of excitement in 2003.

2003 Cubs and Red Sox Connection

Nine days after the Cubs signed Dusty Baker, the Boston Red Sox made history by hiring the youngest ever General Manager, Theo Epstein.
The Red Sox, unlike the Cubs, were a team already showing signs of being serious playoff contenders winning 93 games in 2002. Similar to Hendry's offseason, Theo also made what seemed to be at the time, small moves that produced great results.  On 12/12/2002, the Red Sox signed Todd Walker, who had a great 2003 season for the Red Sox with 13 home runs and 85 RBI's.  On 1/10/2003, Theo signed Bill Mueller who won the 2003 AL Batting title hitting .326.  Than on 1/22/2003, the young GM made what may be the best he has made as a GM by signing David Ortiz.  At the time, Ortiz was not the big name player that he is today so it certainly appeared early on that Theo had the gift of picking player's that had not yet lived up to their full potential.  If that wasn't enough, leading into Spring Training 2003, Kevin Millar joined the team.  Millar became a clubhouse leader for the 2003 Red Sox with his fun-loving personality and he had a great year at the plate as well, hitting 25 home runs and driving in 96 runs in his first year with the Red Sox.

A huge mountain for both Dusty Baker and Theo Epstein to climb.  For Baker, it is ending 94 years without a Cubs World series championship (1908) and "the Curse of the Billy Goat" and for Epstein and the Red Sox, it is considered the "Curse of the Bambino" that has prevented Boston from
seeing a World Series champion in 84 years (1918).  For awhile, at least, the 2003 season looked promising for both teams.