Cubs History: Looking at the team’s Opening Day lineup from 10 years ago

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Barring a totally unforeseen set of circumstances that somehow wind up seeing Anthony Rizzo return to the Chicago Cubs once the lockout ends, the team will have someone other than Rizzo start at first base on Opening Day for the first time in a full decade this year.

The last time Rizzo wasn’t manning first on the inaugural game of the regular season? 2012, when the honors went to Jeff Baker as the Cubs embarked upon a 101-loss campaign – the organization’s first 100-loss effort since 1966. The one bright spot? The horrendous 2012 showing netted the team the #2 overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft – and, with it, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer selected future Rookie of the Year, MVP and World Series champion Kris Bryant.

But back to that 2012 team and the lineup manager Dale Sveum penciled in against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day. Right-hander Ryan Dempster got the ball to kick off the campaign for the second time in as many years – and held his own, pitching into the eighth and allowing just one run on two hits, striking out 10.

Behind the dish was former Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto, who, before the trade deadline, would wind up in Texas. Soto never recaptured the magic of his 2008 campaign and finished the 2012 season with a disappointing .198/.270/.343 slash line in 361 plate appearances.

Baker teamed up with Ian Stewart at the corner infield spots. Let’s just call this what it was – a stopgap measure as Epstein and Hoyer continued to tear this thing down to the studs before building it back up. Baker was a league-average bat who, unsurprisingly, was also traded at the deadline that summer.

Stewart came over in one of the most lopsided trades of the Epstein era, and one that I dubbed one of the three worst Cubs trades of the last 50 years recently. It cost Chicago future two-time batting champion D.J. LeMahieu and Stewart wound up getting released before the calendar even hit June.

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Up the middle, it was Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro. Barney, who was always a glove-first guy, actually brought home the NL Gold Glove at second base in 2012, while Castro just kept hitting. Coming off his 2011 season in which he led the league with 207 hits, the young shortstop earned a second-straight All-Star appearance for Chicago, playing all 162 games for the club.

From left to right in the outfield, it was Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and David DeJesus. 2012 marked Soriano’s final full season on the North Side and he provided the pop in the lineup, hitting 32 home runs and driving in 108 runs. The following summer, the Cubs traded Soriano to his former team, the Yankees, with whom he finished out his 16-year big league career.

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Byrd’s time with the club was also nearing an end – and in right, DeJesus was a nice little piece for a pretty awful team. Funnily enough, only two of these guys – Castro and Soriano – were in the Cubs’ Opening Day lineup a year later, further evidence of the dramatic change that was afoot in Wrigleyville.