Tuesday morning Hoffsplooge
So far this spring, Micah Hoffpauir is doing everything possible to make Lou Piniella's job difficult. He's 7 for 19 (.368) with 2 homers and 8 RBI in 5 games played. Ironically, I can't help but think of the entirely forgettable Major League 2, starring Charlie Sheen, in which a rejuvenated Willie Mays Hayes comes to camp a "power hitter." Early on into the Spring he crushes some homeruns to which his skipper Lou Brown says "sure, but that pitcher's going to be stocking shelves next month."
Much as they were last September when he went on his run, Cub fans are talking about him like he could be the next offensive force, a 30 homerun hitting monster who deserves his chance to play in the bigs. But the skeptic in me keeps looking at a few other factors, like his age - he'll be 29 by opening day - and his slow rise in Iowa - he took three years to flat out dominate the way he did last season. Both of those factors paint The Hoff as a flash-in-the-pan.
Yet there he his, leading the Cubs early in hits, homers, and RBI. It's hard to deny that he's well on his way toward earning a spot on the team, and that would be fine with me. I certainly can't contest that he'd be any worse than Daryle Ward was last year; in fact he's bound to be better. I wouldn't argue that he'll ever be a good defensive outfielder, but if his primary use is as a pinch hitter/spot starter/occassional late-inning substitute/speller for Derrek Lee, then why the heck not?
I just ask that you keep your skepticism glasses on for a little while longer - assuming you were wearing some to begin with. It's early in Spring, where pitchers more often than not throw a lot of fastballs. Let's see where The Hoff winds up once the breaking pitches come into play, and don't be surprised if some points are shaved off his batting average between now and April 6th.
Admittedly, I've been extremely cautious about Hoffpauir, but I'm really hoping to be wrong. Having a bat of his apparent caliber on the team would be an outstanding addition to an already strong squad. However the keyword in that last sentence is - for now - "apparent." Let's not forget that, lest we get our hopes up over nothing.