Goatriders of the Apocalypse

A long article on why Fontenot over DeRosa was the right way to go

It's been an interesting day in the Shout Box.  We've got a running debate on whether or not Cub fans should feel "safe" with Mike Fontenot replacing Mark DeRosa - assuming that Aaron Miles isn't the defacto starter.

The argument against Fontenot can be summarized as this:

1. He's only ever been a pinch hitter/occasional starter, and his good numbers come from one good streak
2. If he was actually any good, he would have been a highly-toted prospect and he would have started last year
3. He's neither going to be as good offensively or defensively as DeRosa

I'm going to systematically address all of these points now.

1. He's only ever been a pinch hitter/occasional starter, and his good numbers come from one good streak. You know who else that used to be true of?  Mark DeRosa.  DeRo was 31 years old before he played a season in which he saw more than 309 at bats.  In 1,123 at bats as a pinch hitter/occasional starter, DeRosa had a lifetime batting average of .262, and he'd hit 25 homeruns.

Do you know why he's done so much better as a starter since then?  It's partly because it's really hard to have good hitting numbers while playing as a pinch hitter/occasional starter. This argument is bunk for that reason alone.  If Fontenot has managed to put up not just acceptable but flat-out good numbers, it's a testament to his ability.

As for this "one good streak" line of logic ... Fontenot was solid in all of 2008.  He had an OPS higher than .786 in every month but April.  He had a Pre All Star batting average of only .266, but his OPS in that time was still .864 - better than DeRosa's over the span of the season - and he just got better after the break.

2. If he was actually any good, he would have been a highly-toted prospect and he would have started last year. Actually, Fontenot was a first round draft pick - they don't get much higher-toted than that - who was traded to the Cubs as a 24-year-old.  He actually made his debut in 2005, where noted prospect-lover Dusty Baker only gave him 2 at bats before he was banished back to the minors until Lou Piniella came along.

Before he earned his way onto the 2007 team, the Cubs signed Mark DeRosa to a 3-year deal to mostly play the position that Fontenot calls his own.  In other words, he wouldn't have started because before he had the chance to prove himself, the Cubs had already filled his position with a very able veteran player.

However I need to point out that this argument comes from somebody who also wrote, "I don't follow hype, only performance."  This is ironic in two ways.  First, he'd already argued that the evidence against Fontenot as a starter ignores his performance as a major leaguer and stems from how Fontenot wasn't "hyped" - he was apparently not a hightly-toted prospect.  Second, the same reader feels that Felix Pie - a well-hyped former top center field prospect - should get to replace the outstanding production of Jim Edmonds/Reed Johnson despite the fact that Pie is a career .223 hitter in 260 major league at bats.  But apparently it should be easier to put up better production when you've only had 200 or 300 career at bats, since you're "only" playing as a pinch hitter/occasional starter.  I'm just pointing out the flaws in logic.

3. He's neither going to be as good offensively or defensively as DeRosa

In his career, Fontenot has seen 479 at bats - the equivilent of just under a full season.  He's a .290 hitter, with an OBP of .369 and an OPS of .826.  He's hit 34 doubles, 5 triples, 12 homeruns, and he's stolen 7 bases.

Let's ignore DeRosa's career offensive numbers and give him the benefit of the doubt.  Let's say that DeRo puts up the average of his past 3 years, despite the fact that he'll be 34 years old and may be at the beginning of a decline.  This is what he'd look like:

566 plate appearances - 509 AB, .291 AVG, 33 2B, 3 3B, 15 HR, 57 BB, 4 SB, .368 OBP, .821 OPS.

In 566 plate appearances, Fontenot projects to the following based on his career numbers:

505 AB, .290 AVG, 36 2B, 5 3B, 13 HR, 61 BB, 7 SB, .369 OBP, .826 OPS.

In other words, they would be very similar offensively, except Fontenot is 6 years younger and bats left handed.  But what about defensively?  To best determine this figure, let's consult Fangraphs and the UZR150.  UZR150 refers to the "ultimate zone rating" and it calculates the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs and error runs combined per 150 defensive games.

According to Fangraphs, DeRosa's UZR150 at second base last year was -3.2.  Fontenot's was 12.4 - a difference of 15.6.  It's conceivable that Fontenot won't have an UZR150 that high as a full-time starter, but Fangraphics writer David Golebiewski paints Fontenot "pessimistically" at half that total.

Therefore, it's pretty easy to conclude that while Fontenot may not match DeRosa's numbers offensively next year, it would hardly be a stretch of the imagination to think he's capable.  What's more, Fontenot is defensively superior.

Considering that Fontenot is much younger, far less expensive, bats left handed, and has shown the capacity to produce at the major league level, then dealing DeRosa and letting Fontenot start is a no-brainer even if money wasn't the impetus of the trade. The Cubs are now more likely to upgrade in RF - and Bradley would be a great upgrade - and be a damaging team offensively next season. It's pretty hard to question this line of logic, at least on my end.  Let's see how far the logic gets stretched, though, should this debate continue.

thank you

thank you kind sir, i have been saying the same thing almost all day long.

in that same article on fangraphs, it project fontenot to a 3.4 WAR compared to Derosa at 2. this is a no brainer to me. equal replacement that saves money

Oh, but you're only saying

Oh, but you're only saying that because Fontenot is a Cub and DeRo isn't.

It couldn't possibly be because your opinion is backed up by independent analysis or simple logic.

i know

what was i thinking. i am sorry can you ever forgive me.

seriously though this was the exact thing i was talking about. we cant see the players we have because our eyes are too water-filled over the players we let go.

statistically speaking fontenot is a more than adequate replacement.

And you all are coming to

And you all are coming to this conclusion from a player who hasn't started a half a season. Stop putting me as a big Derosa fan, as I am a Cub fan only (well, I am a big Ramirez fan). But I can't get rid of production, and say a role player WILL produce as much. I can hope, but that is it. If he has a horrid year, does that make me right? NO!! If he has a spectacular year, does that make you right? NO!! There is no right or wrong. There is only actual production vs. made up production. And I don't want to base the season on made up production. We got weaker at 2b..FACT.

"We got weaker at

"We got weaker at 2B..FACT."

Wrong. Simply, undeniably wrong. We've identified your opinion, your contradictions of logic, we've demonstrated evidence that Fontenot is more than just a player who had a hot streak, and like "feet69" you've got your head buried in the sand unwilling to acknowledge all the evidence against what you're suggesting.

Like I just said in another comment ... I've done enough to back up what I've been saying. You've just stuck to your guns ignoring every bit of evidence to the contrary. That makes for a good day of debate, but I'm over it, and done with the conversation. Good luck.

And 1/3 a season of

And 1/3 a season of 'evidence' is you logical reason that he will match DeRosa's full season? There is absolutely no way you can come to the conclusion that if he plays a entire season, the stats he attained during his 40-50 games will translate. If that was the case, what happened to Fukk? Why is ARam a notorious slow starter, yet ends up with MVP numbers? Feet and I have our heads engulfed in the actuality of seeing games, and not monitoring the stat tracker. You cannot simply justify with the stat machine what he has done in 1/3 a season of pinch hitting and/or a spot start, and come to the conclusion that he will either match or exceed what DeRosa has attained in an entire season. That, my friend, is illogical. Stats are used to ANALYZE THE KNOWN, not predict. It deals with the KNOWN; not the unknown. Your 'logic' is as logical as the phrase "if he keeps this pace up......" And I will again bring up the point that if he was that solid, why go get Miles, who I absolutely terrified will be the starter, just because I can't see myself cheering for any more ex-Cards. The bottom line, watching actual games, is Font is not very good defensively, regardless what his UZL/USZ/UHL/ whatever reads...he is slow up the middle, and not very quick on his feet. I think he has a good glove and a accurate arm. But is his bat enough to cover for his defensive flaws? I don't think so, but I don't get paid to think so... My opinion.... Yes, he surely deserves a chance, and I will have his back the whole way, just cause I like saying 'Font-Not. But stop trying to sell me on what he can do in a full season, with what he has done in a MINOR part time role. We can only hope he can come close to DeRo numbers, and that itself seems a bit far fetched; IMO.

And no, I am not a Dero fan, and Font didn't steal my girl. Unless this trade was made with the intent of using the assets attained or money saved for 2 more moves (Peavey/Bradley), I believe it was a bad trade getting rid of DeRo...

computer projections

please stop quoting fangraphs as no computer can accurately tell you what a player will do.It will give you an educated guess at best. Last year Josh Hamilton had over 100RBI before the all-star break but did that project to 200+RBI? NO IT DIDN'T Just because a player puts up good nos. in limited PT doesn't mean he'll be Babe Ruth with more time. Conversely, bad nos. in limited time(Pie) doesn't always translate into bad yearly nos. that, gentlemen, is why they play the games


computer generated production aside

we will give pie a chance based off of his "real" production of a .230 average and not fontenot based off his "real" production of 9 HR in 240at bats?

neither of you are making a whole lot of sense.

how are you coming to the fact that we got worse at 2nd base if in fact we haven't "played the games" to find out if we got worse.

this is a fallacy at the highest level.


I'm not against Fontenot, I just am not sure about what he will do as are most people. Pie, I simply want to see more before I judge. I have no stats to back up my opinion but that's why they call it an opinion.

Well, maybe this will make

Well, maybe this will make sense to you: We want to see Pie given ample opportunity because even batting .230, he can win some games covering Soriano/Bradley. He has a ton of range in the OF. I told you I would be ecstatic if he could hit .270-.280. And he has hit this at every level, with a little pop. He just hasn't adjusted to MLB pitching. And the only way to adjust (or fail) against MLB pitching is to face MLB pitching.

And with me, it is not about what Font may or may not be able to do; it's about what DeRo did do, and can do for a couple more seasons. I am all for the move if it was a monetary move, and they get a FA RF, and Peavey (hopefully). Otherwise, they took away one of our most productive players. They are not in a rebuilding mode...they could have gone back with the exact same team and tried again. Did any of you think the team that ended last year wasn't the best team in the league? I know I didn't!! Only question in my mind was who they would play in the series. If the season started Jan 4th, with what we have lost up until now compared to what we have gained, we are not as strong of a team.

So it has NOTHING to do with Fontenot or Miles with me...it has everything to do with the strength of the team right now. And that is including Wood and Marquis. As Feet will tell you, I am not a patient man when it comes to sports. If we are down to the Pirates at home in the 5th inning, I am already cussing and calling for Lou to get fired....

Sorry, but I used fangraphs

Sorry, but I used fangraphs to demonstrate defensive ability only because they have a very complicated, detailed way of measuring it beyond misleading range factors. In terms of actual projections, I did that on my own using simple common sense.

Let's be realistic here. You will not acknowledge the possibility that you could be wrong although there is plenty of evidence that you might be. You want to take the head-buried-in-sand approach to your views and you cannot back them up with anything beyond your opinion.

Good luck with that, but it won't get you very far. I'm done arguing it, though, I've done enough to prove my point.


Sorry, but I base my opinions on actually watching the games, not looking at a bunch of stats and projections. My head is above the sand while yours is buried in transistors and data bases

"In terms of actual

"In terms of actual projections, I did that on my own using simple common sense."

Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo..... you can get ACTUAL projected numbers using simple common sense? I think of 2 things here... 1) If Fontenot starts, and bats as many times as you say, he will come up with those ACTUAL projected numbers, and 2) If Fontenot comes up with those actual projected numbers, I would like the actual projected IL big game numbers....

WOW!!! You know you should have just said "going by what he had with 240 at-bats, his numbers, IF HE STAYS CONSISTENT, could end up............"
Simple common sense....LMAO!!!! Doubling up isn't...aww, never mind....

This is a line up...

that consists of some thumpers: Soriano, Lee, Soto, Ramirez and most likely a run producing FA right fielder. If Theriot is steady and Johnson/Fukudome puts up even 'average' numbers, Fontenot can struggle a bit offensively yet gain the experience without the team sacrificing too much. Plus he's that extra lefty bat.

THANK YOU!!! Now that my

THANK YOU!!! Now that my friend, is the REAL LOGIC we can all come to grips with... HOPE!!

I'd like to officially

start the "Thunder Mike" fan club ,but with the abysmal results turned in by our red headed stepchild Murton, I'll revise that nickname to "Might Mike" with hopefully better results.

LOL... As banned as that

LOL... As banned as that whole debate got me from PSD, I hope Fontenot does a ton better that that joke...

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