2008 Preview - Sam Fuld
Who is Sam Fuld? A year ago today, most Cub fans would probably have been unable to answer that question.
It's not that his minor league numbers have been bad. He's performed well at every level, batting no lower than .290 right up until his first trip to Iowa last year, where he batted .269 in 52 at bats while posting a near .400 OBP. He doesn't hit a lot of homeruns, but Fuld does steal bases - 52 in 69 attempts over the span of 318 minor league games.
But why had we not heard of him until last season? Well, it probably has to do with his size. He's tiny. He's listed at 5'10", but I wouldn't be surprised if he was a lot closer to 5'6" or 5'7". I hear that, in the off-season, he spends his time doing little person MMA in Tampa Bay, FL bars. He worked as an extra munchkin in a Wizard of Oz remake. If you squint, you might see him in the Hobbit village in Lord of the Rings.
In other words, to be where he's gotten, he must have a lot of heart. And yet, even after having arrived in Wrigley last season, nobody knew him, and certainly nobody expected Fuld to become a hot prospect. What was it that changed everything for Fuld? Was it his prowess with the bat? No. He's yet to get a major league hit. Perhaps it was his defensive skill ... in fact, definitely, that was it.
On September 22nd of last season, in a game against the Pirates, Sam Fuld made one of the most spectacular plays I've ever seen. This amazing catch, which he turned into a double play, has made him an "untradable prospect" in the eyes of Jim Hendry, who now harbors a hope that Fuld is starter material. But don't take my word for it. Cubs fan Dr. Suess was there that day, and he wrote the following:
When they saw him take the right field spot,
"What a tiny man," they all thought,
"Sam Fuld can't cover all that space,"
"He's far too short to win a race!"
"He's far too short to play right there,"
"He's far too tiny to hold his beer!"
But they were wrong as time revealed,
When the ball was hit to deep right field!
Those who saw him make the grab,
Those who cheered as he took a stab,
They discussed the catch and they'd later say:
His heart grew three sizes on that play!
Since that time he's grown in fame,
Just say his name and they'll exclaim:
"Sam Fuld! Sam Fuld!" His story's told,
Forever remembered as we grow old.
Is Fuld really a major league caliber player?
Meh. Probably not. He's a modern day Doug Dascenzo in my opinion. He might get a few spectacular hits, and he will play his big heart out in the outfield, but the day Fuld becomes an All Star is the day I marry Charlize Theron.
On the other hand, he very well may crack the team at some point this season, and he might even break camp as the 4th outfielder - leaving Matt Murton to be traded, in all likelihood, if Hendry can find a suitor. He is defensively talented, he has incredible plate discipline, he might steal 15 or 20 bases in a season, but he'll probably never be a solid hitter at the major league level.
But, here's the deal. Every team needs an unlikely hero. Fuld could be ours, and I fully support him finding a spot on the roster and being used in a proper manner by Cubs skipper Lou Piniella.