Well, since nobody asked me, I guess I’ll throw in my opinion on the Corey Patterson situation. I’m sure it will shock no one that Corey Patterson can’t get out of Chicago fast enough for me. Corey’s problems are obvious: he has terrible strike zone judgement, he thinks he can hit any pitch out of the park(and he does), he is a terrible bunter and he has a very long swing, which negates his tremendous speed. On defense, he is capable of making terrific plays, but also makes more than his share of brutal ones. He doesn’t judge flyballs well in the outfield, relying on his speed and athletic ability to make up for the bad routes he often takes. However, he does possess that wonderful speed, and good power for his position, which is what has kept him with the team this long. Patterson teases us so much with what he could be, we overlook what he is. The worst overall outfielder on a team that played the likes of Jeromy Burnitz and Todd Hollandsworth in 2005.
Is it too soon to give up on Corey? Not for this team. Everyone on the Cubs coaching staff from Garry Mathews to Gene Clines to Dusty Baker himself have expressed puzzlement over Patterson’s struggles, and they’ve all implied, at various points, that Corey’s problems are in part due to his refusal to listen to any instruction. And while there might be a coach out there who could get through to Corey, the Cubs decision to retain Dusty Baker and all his coaches would indicate that Patterson likely won’t be unlocking his potential in 2006. Combine that with the fact that the fans will be calling for his head the first time he swings at a pitch in the dirt, and Chicago just doesn’t seem like a good fit for Corey.
So the question is, what do we do with him? As Mastrick pointed out, Patterson made $2.8 million last year, and will likely get a raise this year (the 25% cut is a nice thought, but it never happens). Corey simply can’t be in the plans as the opening day centerfielder, not if Jim Hendry doesn’t want to burned in effigy. He could be used off the bench, but most of the better bench players and pinch hitters are guys who know how to mentally prepare, and can do what the situation calls for, namely lay down a bunt, make contact with runners on, or draw a walk to start a rally. Patterson isn’t capable of such things, and $3 million-plus is a lot of money to spend on a guy who would be a far worse pinch hitter than Jose Macias. So I think the Cubs need to cut the cord here. Corey won’t command much in a trade (as evidenced by the fact that he wasn’t claimed off waivers before being sent to AAA last year) but sometimes you’ve got to simply cut your losses. Joe compared dumping Corey to building a dream house and giving it away, but I think a better analogy might be this. You’ve begun building your dream house, only to discover that the land lies on an abandoned coal mine, and the entire thing is sinking into the ground. Should you continue to build, or sell the land and try and recoup your losses? Neither decision is particularly lucrative for you, but it’s pretty obvious which course you should take.