They’re done. And for some inexplicable reason they seem to be getting worse, not better! This is off the cuff (who has time for a .500 team?) but here are my thoughts and grades for this year: In no particular order of importance or anything else:
1. Alfonso Soriano: I don’t like him. Never really have, and less now than ever before. Bottom line? I think he’s probably just an idiot, not a bad guy. Hate the home run admiration. Hate the hop. Hate his Efense (there’s no “D” in it.) Hated the Jon Cena “can’t see me” hand thing. Hate the fact that if I threw a ball right now, in my office, into the ground? He’d swing. And miss. I know that we have a big, bad contract issue with him and that there are not too many solutions with happy endings. Why isn’t VJ asking him to try a lighter bat? Anyone else concerned that his decline in productivity and “healthful resilience” might be related to PED testing of recent years? This guy should be hitting his stride right about now…he can’t even hit that. If he’s not healthy — fine. Take the rest of the season off and let’s see him come out strong in 2010. Not sure that his hitting woes are health related, however. Grade: for all that $$$ and all those K’s? F+
2. Kosuke Fukudome: He’s had a decent year. He’s done a decent job in CF — not his natural position. Unfortunately, he’s being paid to be more than decent. Thankfully, he’s been better than last year — especially in the second half. He really does not have the power or the speed we were told he did when they signed him. Not his fault — he is what he is. A pretty good player who works hard and gives his all. Above average, but not by too much, in my opinion. He has done a better job at the leadoff spot than I expected. We’re stuck with him, too. Grade: C+ that would have been a B if he were making $8M and not $12M.
3. Milton Bradley. Um, surprise? Don’t like him. I dubbed him Milkit Badly on the first day of spring games when he drew a base on balls and hurt himself walking to first. I don’t take it back. For the record, I don’t think he’s an idiot, just a bad guy. At least he’s bounced back — somewhat — offensively since that God-awful start. Let’s see. I should say something nice. Oh, okay — he has a good eye. I don’t think he’s a clutch hitter. It seems to me that he is worse with men on base than otherwise. Stupid comments notwithstanding, he’d be okay if the rest of the supporting case were all on their game. Since they aren’t, and haven’t been, way too much has fallen on this guy’s shoulders — and he doesn’t have the shoulders to bear that weight. He should be a number 6 hitter for someone — probably a small market team that doesn’t get the national microscope that the Cubs do. He’s probably not tradeable. Hopefully, he’ll adapt and be much better next year. Defensively, he’s been okay. Not great, but not bad, and he catches the balls he’s supposed to which in my mind is the most important thing. Grade: C- (C as in Can’t shut up, Can’t drive in runs, and Coming on strong when it doesn’t matter)
4. Derrek Lee: I apologize to DLee for anything I said, wrote or thought about him that wasn’t entirely positive. Except for calling him out early on when he was sucking, because, well, he was sucking. But good Lord, he’s be outstanding since then and deserves the team MVP — if they give such awards on teams that grossly underperform. I have to think that his wrist is finally healed — he’d been rolling it for almost a year and a half and hitting grounders…now he’s driving those same pitches with authority. Sorry Derrek. You are the man. Also a good teammate and person, from what I can tell. Go ahead and trade Hoffpauir to an AL club. Lee will be here a few more years. Grade: A
5. AAndres Fontebaker: Okay, this is a tough one.
5a. AAron Miles could not hit water if he fell out of a boat. Period. Piss off, AAron. No one here wants you. Grade: F-
5b. Andres Blanco: He’s the guy I want out there. For one half of every inning. Just the defensive half. If Blanco and Miles had a bat fight no one would get hurt. Keep this guy as a late inning defensive replacement. And teach him to hit. Grade: C (A for defense + F for offense)
5c. Mike Fontenot: Not the guy. I wanted him to be the guy. Really, I did. But he’s not and he never will be. He’s just not that good. He’ll never be a starter — or at least shouldn’t be — because he’s just not that good. This experiment should be officially closed. Trade him. Grade: D
5d. Jeff Baker: Just the name, Baker, makes me cringe, but he’s done fairly well after a slow start for the team. Plays with some gusto and has starting hitting the ball. Hasn’t been here long enough to deserve more space in this post. Grade: B-
6. Ryan Theriot: This is it. We’ve seen the best of Ryan Theriot. Period. He isn’t getting any better. Ever. If you like what you’ve seen, than fine. If not, tough. The organization likes him and he’s the guy, for now, at short. He’s worked hard to become a fairly good hitter, and is a serviceable shortstop, despite the girl’s arm. Grade: A (because it’s the best he can do. It’s an A for effort. Which I’ve never understood, because there is no A in effort. You could say it’s an A for Affort, but that’s stupid, because affort isn’t a word. You could say E for Effort, but that’s equally stupid, because everyone knows that there is no E in the letter grading system.)
7. Aramis Ramirez: Clutch guy, even injured. He’s an important piece of the Cub puzzle, and I wish they’d shut him down now and fix that shoulder for 2010. Has turned himself into a solid defensive 3b and is truly one of the better hitters in the game — especially when it matters. Kind of the anti-Milton, in that regard. Not much to add. Grade: I’m giving him a B because he’s missed so many games, but his performance when he’s in there is obviously “A” work.
8. Geovany Soto: Let’s be blunt. Oops, sorry, Geo. Could it possible be that he’s fallen this far because Henry Blanco wasn’t there to watch over him? Just wondering. It’s got to be something, because he’s not the same guy who won the ROY last year. Let’s write it off to world’s worst case of sophomore jinx and move on. I won’t be so kind if you repeat this year’s performance next year, though, Geo. Grade: F
9. Koyie Hill: I think he’s done a great job as a backup catcher. He’s not a starting catcher — on any long term basis for a team that has post season aspirations, but as a backup? He’s great. He works hard. He tries hard. He’s not much of a hitter, but many catchers nowadays are not. He’s decent defensively. Grade: B (for Backup…who was thrust into the starting role. Can’t really complain about the way this guy has played. They should add a “no power tools” clause to his contract, though.)
Let’s see…who else is there?
10. Reed Johnson: The Ryan Theriot of the outfield. Except older, slower and less talented. The broken foot didn’t help. I don’t see him on the team next year. Grade: I (Incomplete. Remember that one?)
11. Sam Fuld: This has to be the shortest team ever assembled and he subtracts from it. I like him as a fourth outfielder, pinch hitter, pinch runner, shoeshine boy, etc. He’s always going to give you 110%. Which for his size, is like 85% from everybody else. But whatever. Grade: C+
12. Jake Fox: Despite all the negative press on his defense, he doesn’t completely suck. Don’t get me wrong. He sucks, but not completely. I’d like to see what kind of offensive numbers he could put up if he actually played everyday. He’ll probably need to be in the AL for that to happen. The man has power and can drive in runs. Grade: A (because he’s had to play a number of positions, which isn’t easy, and has performed very well at the plate despite periods of inactivity between starts.)
13. Micah Hoffpauir: Ah, who cares? He’s trade bait.
I’ll discuss the pitching staff at another time. This has gone on way longer than I had hoped.
BTW — whatever happened to Gordon?
More later. Or not.