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Monday, December 10
Cook County Maulers

2001 record:
122-40 (.753); 1st place in AL Central

Major additions:
SS Rich Aurilia, RHP Roger Clemens, LHP Jamie Moyer, 1B Jeff Bagwell, OF Gary Sheffield, OF Ray Lankford

Major loses:
1B Carlos Delgado, RHP Chan Ho Park, DH Edgar Martinez, SS Julio Lugo

2001 Review:
Continuing its amazing run, Cook County posted its fifth consecutive 100+ wins season. In fact, Cook County has now averaged over 117 wins per season over this five-year stretch. During this period, the team’s 122-win campaign in 2001 was second only to its 123 wins in 1999.

The only negative comment some critics make about this string of dominance is that the Maulers have managed to win only one BRASSball championship (in 1998) during their run. Unfortunately for Cook County fans, this criticism held true once again in 2001. In the 2001 American League Championship Series, the Minnesota Mudcats upset Cook County in six games.

What these critics fail to realize is that its not easy to survive each BRASSball postseason when facing formidable opponents such as the 1999-2000 Box City Parcelmen (116 and 100 wins respectively) and the 2001 Minnesota Mudcats (106 wins). These teams were obviously no slouches themselves.

Cook County’s top players last season were AL MVP Vladimir Guerrero (.352, 61 HR, 179 RBI), AL Cy Young Winner Pedro Martinez (26-2, 1.87 ERA, 301 K) and AL Rookie of the Year Troy Glaus (.312, 50 HR, 131 RBI). This represented the first time in BRASSball history that a team had swept its league’s major awards by way of three different players.

2002 Outlook:
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Although the 2002 Cook County Maulers will have a slightly different look than the 2001 version, the results should once again prove the same. Its all-star lineup and powerful rotation once again makes them the class of the American League.

The off-season has been intriguing for Cook County, however. First, the team announced it had inked SS Rich Aurilia (.285, 19 HR, 76 RBI), RHP Roger Clemens (20-4, 4.38 ERA, 165 K) and LHP Jamie Moyer (5-11, 7.77 ERA, 69 K) to huge contracts. Some observers were more than a bit surprised at the size of the contracts handed out to Aurilia (since they still have all-star SS Nomar Garciaparra under contract) and Moyer (due to his horrible 2001 statistics). But one does not question the Maulers front office. You just assume they know more than you do.

Unfortunately for Cook County, though, they also lost some key players to free agency. Leaving the team were 1B Carlos Delgado (.334, 41 HR, 137 RBI), RHP Kevin Brown (16-5, 3.16 ERA, 233 K) and OF Brady Anderson (.257, 21 HR, 72 RBI).

Not ones to be left short-handed, Cook County’s front office quickly went to work. First the team delved into its farm system and traded three prospects to division foes Box City for OFs David Justice and Ray Lankford. The two should easily replace Brady Anderson’s lost production in the outfield.

Next the team needed a first baseman, so it traded from depth and sent RHP Chan Ho Park and infielder Julio Lugo to Gem City for all-star Jeff Bagwell (.282, 36 HR, 120 RBI) and infielder Desi Relaford. Bagwell will immediately replace Delgado’s production while Relaford will assume Lugo’s utility role on the team.

While another championship run is inevitable for Cook County, the clock may well be ticking down on the Maulers’ dominating run. Many of its impact players are guaranteed to be around for only this season and the next, and it is unlikely that the team can afford to keep all of them. Also, the team has traded away much of its farm system in recent years to maintain its level of success. If the team hopes to add a second championship to its mantle, it will need to do so now.

Projected lineup
LF Ray Lankford
SS Nomar Garciaparra
RF Vladimir Guerrero
C Mike Piazza
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
DH Gary Sheffield
1B Jeff Bagwell
3B Troy Glaus
2B Jay Bell

Pedro Martinez
Roger Clemens
Jamie Moyer
Robert Person
Terry Adams

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