Let's Begin The Season - The Chicago Cubs led the National League in hitting (.261) and had four of the league's top 10 batters in 1988 and still managed to play under .500 ball. The team was 77-85, 24 games out of first place in the NL East. Greg Maddux was the bright star of the pitchers going 18-8, 3.18 ERA. Only 23 years old, Maddux appears destine to become a big league star.
First baseman Mark Grace had a remarkable rookie year in 1988 hitting .296. Gold Glove second baseman Ryne Sandberg busted 23 doubles, 8 triples and 19 home runs.
Worth Watching For In 1989 - Manager Don Zimmer is counting on pitcher Calvin Schiraldi to improve on his 9-13, 4.38 record, and rookies' Mike Bielecki and Les Lancaster to supply the team with much needed starting pitchers. The Cubs acquired reliever Mitch Williams during the off-season and are expecting him to be their top closer. Williams saved 18 games in '88. Team Veterans - At age 35, Andre Dawson is still one of the best right-fielders in the NL. He batted .303 in '88 but his power numbers slipped a little to 24 HRs and 79 RBIs. Shawon Dunston played shortstop like a rocket-scientist - one day he's Mr. Baseball and the next day - he looks awful swinging at breaking balls a foot outside. Vance Law, acquired in early '88, hit .293, 11 homers and 78 RBIs.
Needs Improvement - The Cubs' catchers have been sub-par the last few years but Damon Berryhill (.259 in 95 games) looked impressive in '88. This season they will bring up rookie Joe Girardi to team up with Berryhill. Girardi had a fine year at Pittsfield and was regarded as one the top defensive catchers in the minor leagues. The team will need a much better performance from mound mainstay, Rick Sutcliffe, 13-14, 3.86 ERA, if they are to be serious contenders. baseballhistorian.com - manager's notebook.