Chicago Cubs at New York Mets Series Preview

Two teams pinning their hopes on key off-season acquisitions kick off the 2003 season as the Chicago Cubs take on the New York Mets in a season opening series at Shea Stadium. The Mets are hoping to prove the 75-86 season of 2002 was an aberration, and the key off-season acquisitions following 2001 will eventually bear the fruits of post season triumph.

For this to happen, they will need a return to form of Roberto Alomar to future Hall-of-Famer status, as well as anticipated numbers from Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz, and Roger Cedeno, all huge disappointments in 2002. The Cubs finished 2002 67-95, last place in the NL Central, marking the fourth time in the last six years they have lost 90 or more games. They addressed that situation by hiring manager Dusty Baker away from the National League champion San Francisco Giants. Following the season-opening series, the Mets remain at Shea, hosting the Montreal Expos for three games over the weekend, while the Cubs continue on to Cincinnati.


As customary on opening day, the match-up features a pair of mound aces, with the Mets key off-season acquisition Tom Glavine (18-11, 2.96) taking the hill against Kerry Wood (12-11, 3.66). Glavine, who is 13-10, 3.20 lifetime against Chicago, has been one of the steadiest pitchers in the National League over the last ten seasons. Wood is still working his way back from career-threatening elbow reconstruction surgery following his phenomenal 1998 rookie season.

After a day off Tuesday, the teams are at it again Wednesday night, with Matt Clement (12-11, 3.60) taking the ball for Chicago against Al Leiter (13-13, 3.48). Although under .500 for his career, Clement has been a Met-killer since his Padres' days, with a career 2.74 ERA against the New Yorkers. Leiter has enjoyed similar success against the Cubs with a 5-3, 2.25 mark.

The series concludes with a Thursday matinee as former Cub Steve Trachsel (11-11, 3.37) takes the mound for the Mets against former number one pick overall and future star Mark Prior (6-6, 3.32). The Mets almost lost Trachsel to free agency during the off-season, but chose to resign him for another two years. Statistically, he has been their best starter since his demotion to the minor leagues in the middle of the 2001 season. Big things have been predicted for Prior since the Cubs took him with their first pick out of the University of Southern California in June of 2001.


Sammy Sosa enters the game one home run shy of 500 for his career…signed as a lark in February by Steve Phillips, David Cone has defied the odds and made the ballclub. Not only that, but with Pedro Astascio on the disabled list to start the season, Cone is now the fourth starter. His first start is Friday night against Montreal. Cone's last appearance in the major leagues was in 2001 with the Red Sox…The Cubs acquired Eric Karros from the Dodgers during the off-season. It now appears that Karros, and everyday player his entire career, will be in a platoon role with Korean-born and much heralded prospect Hee Seop Choi…Long time Met fan favorite and pinch hitter deluxe Lenny Harris has made the Cubs in a similar capacity…Phillips gambled on Jay Bell and Graeme Lloyd, signing both to minor league deals prior to spring training. Both made the ballclub…The Cubs cut 1998 star closer Rod Beck from the opening day roster and sent him to AAA Des Moines.

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