By Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz
This spring, we at Cubs Talk and White Sox Talk have decided to unify Chicago's two baseball teams into one in an effort to pick out the best players to grace each side of the city over the last 50 years. Each Wednesday during spring training, we'll roll out a different All-Chicago team, with today's version being the best Cubs and White Sox players from 1960-1969. Be sure to check out our 1960-69, 1970-1979, 1980-1989, 1990-1999 and 2000-2011 teams if you haven't already.
JJ: We cannot emphasize enough that this list only takes into account stuff that happened after 1960. We had to make that a hard cutoff date so we couldn't fudge anything -- and because of it, Mr. Cub got left out of the starting lineup. From 1960-1971, Ernie Banks hit .260.315.464 (a 111 OPS) with 284 home runs. From 1988-2000, Mark Grace hit .308.386.445 (a 122 OPS) with 148 home runs while winning four Gold Gloves. For comparison, Paul Konerko has hit 389 home runs since joining the White Sox in 1999 with a 123 OPS. While the main debate will be over leaving Banks off, the most vigorous one should be about Grace vs. Konerko.
Tony: I agree. It's tough to discount anything Banks did while in a Cubs uniform but it's not hard to see why Grace is the option here over the man affectionately known as "Mr. Cub." Konerko is one heck of a player and a fantastic leader so it's hard to leave him off as the starting first baseman, but Grace's defense takes the cake here.
JJ: There were plenty of easy position player calls here: Pudge, Sandberg, Santo, Williams, Sosa and Thomas. There could've been an argument made for Ozzie Guillen over Luis Aparicio based on longevity, but Aparicio was the superior hitter and defender even though he only played six years with the Sox after 1960. Center field was the toughest call -- we went with Chet Lemon, although as you'll see below, there's plenty of debate over that pick.
Tony: My idea to help quell some of the CF debate was to put Sammy Sosa in center, pushing Andre Dawson to right. Sosa played 158 games in center in a Cubs uniform, but as JJ pointed out, he wasn't very good there and that's not much of a sample size. When people think of Sosa, they think of him in right field. It would have been a loophole to place him in center, and would have created a whole other debate.
JJ: When I first suggested Carlos Zambrano for the rotation, Tony was a little apprehensive -- which I'm guessing is pretty indicative of Cubs fans given the starter's ugly departure from Chicago. But in his prime from 2003-2008, Zambrano had a 3.39 ERA and finished in the top five in Cy Young voting more times than Rick Sutcliffe (of course, Sutcliffe won the award, which is worth noting). Nasty breakup or not, Zambrano deserves a spot on this roster.
Tony: Yeah, I initially balked at the idea of Zambrano on any list besides the All-2000 roster. But JJ and I discussed it and I wound up conceding. This whole feature has been about the numbers and statistics and not about sentimental value. By numbers, Zambrano is a no-brainer. His longevity is a huge reason why. By sentimental value...well, he left a bad taste in Cubs fans mouth. I still cringe at seeing his name on this list, but I don't want to take away anything he did on the mound in a Cubs uniform.
JJ: There were plenty of good bullpen names to choose from, and those we left off -- Keith Foulke, Bobby Thigpen, Terry Forster, Sean Marshall -- deserve a mention. So here it is.
Tony: There were so many good relievers to choose from. We even had to leave off Bobby Jenks, the World Series-winning closer of the White Sox, along with the four guys JJ listed. Point is, there just weren't enough spots for all the quality guys. The same can be said across the entire roster. Thank God we expanded to 25 guys, otherwise these debates would have gotten downright nasty.
And now, to the roster:
C: Carlton Fisk
1B: Mark Grace
2B: Ryne Sandberg
SS: Luis Aparicio
3B: Ron Santo
LF: Billy Williams
CF: Chet Lemon
RF: Sammy Sosa
DH: Frank Thomas
Bench: Robin Ventura
Bench: Paul Konerko
Bench: Ernie Banks
Bench: Andre Dawson
SP: Fergie Jenkins
SP: Mark Buehrle
SP: Carlos Zambrano
SP: Rick Reuschel
SP: Greg Maddux
CL: Bruce Sutter
RP: Lee Smith
RP: Wilbur Wood
RP: Hoyt Wilhelm
RP: Carlos Marmol
RP: Matt Thornton
RP: Roberto Hernandez
The final word
Chuck Garfien: Ernie Banks is Mr. Cub and he is sitting on the bench?? He and Luis Aparacio are both in the Hall of Fame and belong in the starting lineup. Banks actually played more games at first base than shortstop. Put him at first. Mark Grace should be a reserve.
My all-time favorite White Sox player is Chet Lemon, but hard to believe you have him as the best centerfielder on either side of town in the last 50 years??!! I know there haven't been too many exceptional CFs, but there is one. Two words: Lance Johnson. He ranked first in triples every season from 1991 to 1994, led the American League in hits in 1995, was an awesome leadoff hitter, quick defender, and had a great nickname: 1-dog. Not sure how you guys missed him.
Carlos Zambrano and Rick Reuschel had long careers on the Cubs. They both had exceptional games, but none of them ever won a Cy Young Award. Lamar Hoyt did for the White Sox in 1983. I know he didn't last long, but he needs to make the team just for that achievement alone -- and also because he was in the trade that brought Ozzie Guillen to the White Sox.
And no offense to Matt Thornton and Carlos Marmol, but have they ever saved 57 games in a season? Bobby Thigpen did in 1990. He's gotta be in the bullpen.
Chris Kamka: First things first, at first base, Paul Konerko is my starter. Mark Grace was a fine player, and I'm aware that his WAR was better, but WAR is something to use in the argument; it's not the entire argument. I strongly disagree that Grace was more valuable to the Cubs than Konerko was, and is, to the White Sox. For me, Grace just wasn't able to produce the power numbers a first baseman should produce (no 20-HR seasons, no 100-RBI seasons despite hitting 3rd or 4th 74.9 of his career). Konerko was the main offensive cog of the Sox' World Series winning team, and could quite possibly retire as the Sox franchise leader in HR and RBI. Grace is certainly deserving of a spot on this roster; I'd just put him at one of the bench spots.
Another spot I'd make a change would be center. In another move that goes against the statistics, I'll take Jim Landis, whose numbers took a hit during an offense-suppressed era. Landis won five Gold Gloves (1960-64), and I once read a quote from the late Jerome Holtzman where he recalls a conversation with Ted Kluszewski in which they both agreed that Landis was a better center fielder than Willie Mays. I do like Chet Lemon a lot though, his offensive numbers are sort of similar to Carlos Quentin, with an OBP inflated by a large total of HBPs, only with a better contact rate (Lemon would also fit in nicely with Ozzie's 2011 Sox -- he had 45 SB and 48 CS while on the Southside).
Jack McDowell vs Greg Maddux is air tight. Maddux has the wins (133 to 91) and BB9IP (2.4 to 2.8), but McDowell has a better win pct (.611 to .543), ERA (3.50 to 3.61), ERA (117 to 112), H9 IP (8.4 to 8.8), and K9 IP (6.1 to 5.8). Can't really go wrong either way, but I felt it necessary to mention how close they are.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN. Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the current All-Chicago team heading into the 2012 season.