Credit where credit is due
In the interests of balance, it is appropriate for me to point out that Derrek Lee has been doing a great job at the plate lately. He will never return to anything even remotely close to his 2005 self, and he will be hard pressed to get his 20 homers this year.
All else being equal, each given 650 PA's at first base, perhaps Micah Hoffpauir or Jake Fox would end up with a higher OPS than Lee. But all else is not equal, because not only does Lee play an above-average first base, but for better or worse, he is the "team leader" for these 2009 Cubs. Nearly everyone else looks to him for cues, and he needs to be out there, producing the best he can. He should never return to the 3rd hole in the lineup, but it is clear that in his case, his lack of production was not a matter of effort, but of ability to deal with injuries to his hand and neck. His hand will never be the same, but it appears he and the training staff have figured out a regimen that may relieve the pain in his neck.
A healthy, productive Derrek Lee will go a long way to determine the eventual success of the 2009 Cubs. As with Geo Soto, Lee's contribution to the team far exceeds his 1/25th share of the roster, or even his 1/9th share of the starting lineup. His role as "leader" makes it that much more important that he be whole and healthy.
All in all, a good win last night. An important win, to be able to get the clutch hit in the 11th from Hoffpauir. The Cubs need to realize that they CAN win extra-inning games on the road, with clutch hits and reliable closing.
Oh, yeah. Good eye, Geo. Way-to-be-a-hitter.