With Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh, the Chicago Cubs guaranteed that they will finish over .500 for the first time since 2004. Though the first half is not yet over, the Cubs are 44-42 with one game remaining, meaning that the Cubs will be 44-43 at the worst.
Last year, the Cubs were 34-54 at the break trailing the division lead by 14 ½ games, but managed to lose only 3 games in the standings during the second half with a 32-42 record. In 2005, the Cubs the first half one game below .500 at 43-44, but a mediocre second half forced the Cubs to a 79-83 final record, finishing 21 games off the pace.
In 2004, the Cubs looked poised to take the Wild Card after going an impressive seven-games over .500 in the team’s first 87 games (47-40) and an outstanding 42-33 after the break. The club fell three games shy, however, because they lost 7 of the last 9 and Houston won the last 7.
There’s good news and bad news, though.
The 2003 season seems very similar to this year’s season.
Four years ago, the Cubs finished the first-half with a 47-47 record, three games behind. This year, the record will be better and the Cubs could pull within 3 ½ games of the division lead with a Cub victory and a Brewer loss on Sunday.
In 2003, the Cubs stormed the National League in the second-half posting a 41-27 finish to a division crown.
So what’s the bad news?
In 2003, the team was able to bring in players near the trade deadline. Key additions like Kenny Lofton, Aramis Ramirez, and Randall Simon really gave the Cubs team a kick start necessary for a red-hot second half. This year, with the ownership status the way it is, I wouldn’t expect the club to make many moves, if any. If the Cubs are to make the playoffs this year, the players that will lead them there are already within the organization.