Miles into the fray
Goat Friend Paul Sullivan made a very interesting remark about Aaron Miles in an article today. I'll extrapolate so you don't have to go find it. He wrote, "Holy crap, this guy is a light-hitting second baseman who sucks balls!" Clearly, Sullivan is looking to get fired from the Tribune before they crash in a ball of flames from being in tons of debt.
No, actually he wrote that Jim Hendry may or may not be considering the possibility that "Miles would replace Alfonso Soriano as leadoff man, though it gives Piniella the option to change."
I apparently have garnered a reputation as not being a "stat man." This reputation probably stems from my belief that if statistics and projections were the end-all be-all, then we wouldn't need to actually play the games; instead we could just run a simulation that would play the game for us. However, statistics are a great indication of the likelihood of future success - although they fail to project accurately just often enough to be annoying. If Miles's history means anything, then I can only hope that either a) Paul Sullivan was writing about some other journo's question to Hendry regarding the leadoff possibility or b) Sully was drunk writing before he sent that article off to press.
Miles is a career .289 hitter coming off of a season in which he batted .317. His OBP last year was .355, but in his career it's a meager .329. In fact, Miles has never drawn more than 38 walks in a single season.
Two other things should be considered. In the past 3 seasons, Miles has had 230 at bats from the #1 spot in the batting order, where he batted .230 with an OBP of .265 and an OPS of .578.
However, in the past 3 seasons, Miles has actually led off an inning 313 times. In those 313 at bats, he's got a .316 AVG with an OBP of .357. But I will submit to you, the faithful Goat Reader, that a guy who has only had one season in which he hit 20 or more doubles, and only one season in which he has stolen more than 4 bases, and only one season in which he has had an OPS higher than .697, is a player who belongs in the everyday Cubs lineup about as much as Mickey Effin' Mouse does.
I hope with total sincerity that Miles is used correctly next year. That's not as a leadoff hitter; it's not even as a starting second baseman batting 8th - or 9th, as he was used at times by LaRussa - but instead as a crafty bench star who can keep an inning alive with a slap single and can play almost any position on the diamond.
But if he starts, and especially if he leads off, then the Cubs will be playing a lot of games in 2009 at a disadvantage. They have better options, and Lou is smart enough to know that. Let's just praise Allah that Piniella doesn't automatically play his veterans with the bigger contracts.