The Chicago Cubs 2006 season saw the team miss the playoffs for a third straight year. They also had a losing record for the second consecutive season. In 2006, the Cubs finished seventeen and a half games behind the leaders for a last place finish in the National League Central.
While the Chicago Cubs offense finished fifth in batting average, they finished fifteenth in runs batted in. The Cubs had the worst on-base percentage in the National League. The pitching staff did not fair much better. They had the fourteenth worst earned run average with a team average of 4.74. The pitching staff did manage to lead the league in walks and second in runs allowed. Those are two statistics that a team does not want to lead in.
The offense had some bright spots including third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez hit .291 with 38 home runs and 119 runs batted in. Jacque Jones proved to be a good addition with 27 home runs and a .285 batting average. Lead off man, Juan Pierre, hit .292 and stole 58 bases. The knock on Pierre is that he does not walk enough and that continued in 2006. He drew just 32 walks and his on-base percentage was just .330. Derek Lee played in just 50 games due to injury.
The Chicago Cubs best pitcher in 2006 was ace starter Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano threw 214 innings and posted an earned run average of 3.41. He also showed some power during his at bats. Zambrano belted 6 home runs in 73 at bats during 2006. The bullpen had Michael Wuertz finish with an era of 2.66 in 41 appearances. Bob Howry and Scott Eyre also pitched well out of the bullpen. Howry made 84 appearances and had an era of 3.17. Eyre appeared in 74 games with a 3.38 era.
Finishing so poorly on both offense and pitching showed the Cubs that they need to make so major changes for the 2007 season. On October 17, the Chicago Cubs announced that Lou Piniella will be the new manager of the team. Piniella agreed to a three-year deal with the Cubs. This proved to be the first of many moves for Chicago.
November 12 saw the Cubs reach an agreement with Aramis Ramirez to a five-year deal worth $73 million. Kerry Wood also re-signed with Chicago. The next move the team made was signing one of the most sought after free agent Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs signed Soriano to an eight-year contract worth $136 million dollars. A three-year contract was signed by Mark DeRosa. DeRosa will take over second base for Chicago. To improve the starting rotation Ted Lilly was signed to a four-year contract.
With all the moves made and the large amount of money spent, the Chicago Cubs are looking for a vast improvement to their overall record. The team hopes that Lou Piniella can get the Cubs to start playing some winning baseball. Anything is possible in a weak division like the National League Central.