Last week I mentioned having a “short list” of players who I would like to profile here in my little corner of VFTB. Let me tell you that the list is no longer very short. Thanks to many of the staff and comments left by the readers that list is growing more and more every week. So much so, that choosing just one person to write about on a weekly basis, is hard. Yet, every week a name seems to magically pop out from the field as being “the one”. What I have found is that the current events of the Cubs, and baseball in general, usually helps guide me along my way. Either it is something in the news, or something that is mentioned during a game, or even simply just hearing a name I haven’t heard in a while can lead me to my choice. This week was no different. After watching the Cubs play the Mets over the weekend, and then seeing our left fielder come up lame between the bags, I couldn’t get one name out of my head.
Moises Rojas Alou comes from baseball stock. Not just any baseball stock either. His Dominican lineage is more of a legacy. Not only does he have several uncles and cousins who played baseball professionally, his father Felipe is noted as the first Dominican born player to have played regularly in major league baseball. Felipe Alou would spend 17 seasons playing pro baseball and another 14 managing. With that proud heritage it is no wonder that Moises would enter pro baseball in 1986 and still be playing today.
Drafted in 1986 as the second overall pick in the January amateur draft, Moises Alou became a Pittsburgh Pirate. He would spend a good part of his minor league time bouncing between A and AA ball. Despite Alou’s solid numbers at those levels, the Pirates had a pretty decent outfield and names like Van Slyke, Bonds, Reynolds, and Bonilla blocked the way. Finally in 1990 he would make his major league debut. He played just two games with the Pirates, before being used as the ‘player to be named later’ in a trade with the Montreal Expos.
With the Expos playing in the old N.L. Eastern Division, older Cubs fans may remember the young Moises Alou tearing ass through the division in 1992. He would finish second in the Rookie of The Year voting. I got to see Alou play a few times that year, mostly on television but also a couple of times in person too. I remember that he looked like a hell of a ball player. He could hit for power and average, and he was fast too. Late in 1993, September 14th to be exact, I was thrilled when I got the chance to meet Moises Alou. He was having a pretty good sophomore season and he had just missed hitting for the cycle that night. I was disappointed to find that he was an ass and very rude to everyone around him. Regardless, I remember the day very well because I would also be at the game two days later, when he would catch a cleat on the turf at Busch Stadium and suffer an ankle injury that would alter his career. Alou recovered from the injury but never quite had the speed he once did. In 1994 Alou would put together a mammoth season, only to suffer more bad luck. He would be a silver slugger, third in MVP voting, and a first time all-star. Sadly, it was all for naught. Moises and the very talented Expos finished with the league best 74-40 record in the strike-shortened season. The work stoppage would cancel the entire post-season and prevent the Montreal Expos from finding out what could have been for a young and talented team. Sadly enough the very next year the team began releasing and trading their young stars. After the 1996 season Alou was granted free agency and left for the Florida Marlins.
Alou would spend one season with the Marlins. He would be an all-star again and finish tenth in the MVP voting. He would be a key component in the Marlins winning the world series. Despite all the success, both individually and with the team, he was once again on a young and talented team that would be dismantled. The Marlins traded Alou the very next off-season to the Houston Astros. Once again though, Alou would become a thorn in the side of Cubs fans. In all three of his seasons with the Astros Alou would receive MVP consideration, and not coincidentally he would be an all star in both of the seasons that Houston made post-season play during his tenure. Maybe that is why the Cubs signed him as a free agent in between the 2001 and 2002 seasons. In his mid-thirties Alou was playing some of the best baseball of his career.
Unfortunately for Cubs fans Alou’s 2002 season with the Cubs would not yield the same success his previous changes in scenery had offered. During that season Alou wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t the same Moises Alou that played in Houston the year before. Then came 2003. At 36 years old Alou remained a tough out, a solid hitter, and a decent outfielder. He would be a key component to the Cubs division title and his post-season play was fantastic. Not only because of the quality of Alou’s play, but also because of that one key moment in time that will forever link Moises Alou in the indelible history of futility that the Chicago Cubs share with the rest of the sporting world. Enough said! In 2004 Alou would hit 39 HRs and have over 100 RBIs. He would return to the all-star game and he would once again receive MVP consideration, all at the age of 37 years old. Despite Alou’s resurgence and no heir apparent in the Cubs organization, the Cubs would let Alou go in free agency in 2005.
Although his home run and RBIS numbers have never quite returned to what they were in Chicago, Alou continues to enjoy baseball success at the age of 41. In the last two years, Alou’s age, durability, and lack of playing time have diminished his production. Alou has continued to hit, with a .300+ batting average since leaving the Cubs.
This past weekend, when I saw Alou playing for the Mets, I had almost forgotten that he signed with them in the off-season. He’s only appeared in 40 of their games this year and he was on the disabled list for a while. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. Yet, when I saw him play this weekend I remember thinking that he is still a good hitter. Urine toughened pee hands and all. I believe that the Mets are a team to be dealt with in any NL team’s playoff aspirations. I also believe that Alou can be a big part of that for them. My only hope is that the Cubs can get one more chance to prove me wrong.
As we drive on, that’s my look Through The Rear View.
Through the Rear View appears every Wednesday. If you have a topic to suggest, send Tony an e-mail.