WHY, oh WHY, oh WHY WHY WHY does Sosa have to be such an ass? His declining production would be easier to live with if he weren’t such a bad teammate and didn’t get hit SO MUCH in the press for all the boneheaded things he did over the last two years.
We could still win a pennant (or at least a wild card) with Sammy and his bloated contract if he had the sort of personality that the other guys in the clubhouse could get along with, and if it were the kind of personality that he projected while things were all going his way back in ’98.
We could also live with him if Mr. Mystical Player’s Manager himself would suck it up and take one for the team by flying down to la Republica Dominica, giving Sosa some big speech about going out with a bang and how much we need him and how he loves him and needs his best and blah blah blah until Sosa’s steroid-and-ego-inflated head grows like the Grinch’s heart while the Whos down in Whoville are singing. Then it would require Sammy responding with an olive branch of his own by reversing his recent attitude and just playing ball.
Instead, Baker, who got the best out of surly Mr. Bonds all those years, can’t seem to coexist with Sosa, and Sosa can’t seem to coexist with anyone or anything except his wife, to whom he renewed his vows (aww…how romantic) recently. The glimmer of hope is that he was slummin’ with Mets GM Omar Minaya, who was invited to the re-wedding.
And about that production. In win shares, Sosa’s 14 was below the following outfielders:
Moises Alou (26; a big year)
Jason Bay (18; a rookie who makes about 1/27th of Sosa’s salary)
Corey Patterson (19)
Milton Bradley (17, and a man whose personality is as sunny as Sosa’s is sincere)
Reggie Sanders 16
Jay Payton 16
Marquis Grissom 16
Michael Tucker 15
Scott Podsednik 15
(Thanks to the Hardball Times for the data)
VORP? Sosa compiled a 27.9, below Juan Rivera (30.2), but because this has less to do with plate appearances, Sosa does much better. He’s slightly above Matt Stairs (25.1) and Reggie Sanders (23). The guys at the top of right fielders all kick his butt: Guerrero 88.5, Abreu 83.8, Berkman 83.7, Drew 83.7, Suzuki 80.9, Sheffield 63.4. He’s 13th overall.
(Thanks to Baseball Prospectus)
Sosa’s .277 Equivalent Average puts him 14th among right fielders with more than 400 plate appearances. Only the greats, such as Jeromy Burnitz and Juan Rivera, can beat that, and he was almost edged out by Jose Cruz, Jr. (.272), Jermaine Dye (.274), Brady Clark (.276), and B.J. Surhoff (.279 but 22 plate appearances short). (thanks to Baseball Prospectus again)
In other words, for 16 million a year the Cubs got Juan Rivera’s career year. They got a middle-of-the-pack right fielder. Now, if you had an excellent pitching staff, offensive production from some traditionally low-offense spots like SS (Garciaparra), 2B (Walker) and C (Barrett), good hitters at the other high offense spots like 1B (Lee), 3B (Ramirez), and LF (???????), a decent bullpen, and a couple of hitters off the bench, you could make the playoffs despite that handicap. If, that is, that handicap wasn’t such an ass that he manages to irritate his manager, the guys he shares the clubhouse with, and the fans.
The guy just broke the team record for homers — he oughta be riding out his declining years in a lovefest! The only reason he’s not is because of his defective personality.