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, beginning today with the best Cubs and White Sox players from 1990-1999. If you didn't catch our first installment, check out our 2000-2011 team.
Tony: I was excited for this list. I was a product of the '90s, growing up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and DougQuail Man. And the '98 Cubs team will stick with me as long as I live. I remember Kevin Tapani being the ace of that pitching staff, winning 19 games. So I thought he would be a lock for this list. But on closer examination, he actually had a poor 1998 season, with a 4.85 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Steve Trachsel, meanwhile, was a stalwart in the Cubs' rotation. Mind plays tricks on you, I guess. It also proves how inconsequential a statistic wins are for pitchers.
JJ: The '90s were a great time to grow up. I just wish we could've put Good Burger or Heavyweights on this list.
JJ: Catcher was once again a point of debate for us, with our decision coming down to Rick Wilkins vs. Ron Karkovice. Wilkins had a nice OBP, although not the longevity of Karkovice, but we went with Wilkins anyway. See a pattern here?
Tony: On memory, I thought Kark would be the choice at catcher. Or maybe Carlton Fisk. But upon looking at the numbers, the choice was Wilkins, albeit by a very narrow margin.
JJ: We had to fit Mark Grace on the team, so while Frank Thomas played most of the decade at that position, we moved him to designated hitter to give Grace his rightful spot on the roster.
Tony: I was ready to fight tooth and nail with JJ to get Grace as the starting first baseman over Big Frank, but fortunately, I didn't have to. Grace had the most hits and doubles of ANY player in the '90s, a truly incredible feat. It doesn't hurt that he's my all-time favorite player, either.
JJ: There were quite a few easy picks: Second base, third base and the entire outfield were selected with no debate.
Tony: I'm glad Andre Dawson was able to make it on this list, but it's almost a shame he didn't crack the starting lineup over Sammy Sosa. But no way we could leave Sosa off, despite all the controversy that has surrounded in him seemingly every facet of his life. It is a baseball list, after all, and he was a damn good baseball player.
JJ: The last starter came down to Steve Traschsel vs. Kevin Tapani, both of which are pretty meh. But Trachsel was better in the ERA department and was a workhorse, albeit about the slowest pitcher in all of the decade.
Tony: It was also pretty cool to see how many guys played for both teams in this decade. Tapani, Assenmacher, Lance Johnson, Sosa, Matt Karchner.
To the list:
C: Rick Wilkins
1B: Mark Grace
2B: Ryne Sandberg
3B: Robin Ventura
SS: Ozzie Guillen
LF: Tim Raines
CF: Lance Johnson
RF: Sammy Sosa
DH: Frank Thomas
Bench: Andre Dawson
Bench: Magglio Ordonez
SP: Greg Maddux
SP: Jack McDowell
SP: Wilson Alvarez
SP: Alex Fernandez
SP: Steve Trachsel
CL: Roberto Hernandez
RH reliever: Bobby Thigpen
LH reliever: Paul Assenmacher
The final word
Chuck Garfien and David Kaplan weigh in on the list from Arizona (also, if you ever wondered what Kap's ringtone is, you can find out below):
Check back next Wednesday for the All-Decade team of the 1980s!