Goatriders of the Apocalypse

On the fate of Derrek Lee

I just finished conversing with a friend of mine who shall remain anonymous, because the last time I mentioned his name in this blog he threw a fit.  For easy reference, we'll just call him Sheffieldave.  Sheff was telling me that the Cubs top priority this off season should be trading Derrek Lee.  It turns out that Lee is "the 4th best at his position in the division" (in his own words, "it is a problem having the 4th best player at a position in the division") and "the worst #3 hitter in baseball this year."  Apparently, "if Lee is still in this lineup next year we are not going to be a legit contender."

I tried to explain to Sheffy the following points:

  • Derrek Lee has a no-trade clause.  Unless the Cubs organization sets his car on fire and assaults his family, why would he agree to be dealt from a first place team in a city he appears to like?  Not to mention how his large contract and diminished returns would probably serve as an obstacle, as there are better first base options out there.
  • Lee is an under-performing #3 hitter, but he is perhaps ideal to bat #6 in the Cubs lineup.  He should be moved there and Aramis should be the Cubs #3 guy next season.
  • Without even having to check, I am confident that the Rays, the Red Sox, the Phillies and even the Dodgers have some guy in their lineups who's the "4th best at his position in the division."  Sorry, Sheffy, they can't all be All Stars or Future Hall of Famers.
  • Oh, and did I mention that Derrek Lee has a no-trade clause?

Sheffy makes some reasonable points.  Although he had a better NLDS than any other Cub possibly short of DeRosa, Derrek Lee is not an ideal #3 hitter anymore.  He just doesn't have the pop for the job.  However, the Cubs were such a complete team in 2008, they were so especially talented from #6-#8 in the order, that having an under-performing #3 hitter didn't really hurt them at all.  The problem is that in a short series, your #3 hitter should be the best bat on your team, like Manny Ramirez on the Dodgers.  That guy instilled fear in the hearts of Cub fans any time he was in the on-deck circle, and that was a huge advantage for L.A.

However, to say that the Cubs can't win with Lee on the team is just ludicrous.  Think about the ridiculous mindset you have to possess to say something like that.  The implication is that, no matter who else the Cubs have on the squad, this one guy is so terrible that he'll apparently cost the team a chance to compete.  Apparently, we should be angrier at the '98-2002 Cubs for not winning World Championships, because they failed to do it with the best #3 hitter on the planet in Sammy Sosa.  Except the problem was that Sosa didn't have a supporting cast.  Lee does, and that's why the Cubs won so many games this past season.  More to the point, the Cubs could have Neifi Perez batting third and they'd still have gotten into the playoffs this past year.  The rest of the team was just that good.

None of this mattered to Sheffy, who was involved in a different conversation than me, in spite of what I said.  I agreed with him immediately that Lee was an under-performer in the three-hole, and used the same Manny example I presented a little earlier in this article.  However, he insisted on spending his time trying to convince me that I was wrong in my defense of Lee.

...uh...right.  Then, to add injury to insult, Sheffy reminded me about how wrong I was when I told him before the start of the '07 season that Rich Hill would be better than Adam Wainwright - which was the case - and when I called him a closet Cardinals fan because he was convinced that the Deadbirds would dominate the Cubs and beat them in the standings.  Actually, I have to admit it was ballsy of him.  It takes guts to so blatantly rewrite history by saying "oh yeah?  You think I'm wrong?  Well what about that other time you thought I was wrong!  You're eating your words now, huh?"

Cub fans.  Sometimes we're just scary.

D-Lee

In Derrek's best season, 2005, 75% of his home runs were solo shots. That is over 30 home runs that were jacked up when no one was on base. For Derrek Lee's career, 62% of his home runs occur when no one is on base. Over the last two years, there have been a lot of occasions where there was runner on base with Derrek at the plate. Low and behold his home run production takes a dip. Part of it is due to his write injury, another factor is that Derrek see doesn't many fastballs. This doesn't mean he hasn't driven many runs in. The fact is that his 90 RBIs in 2008 is the fourth highest total of his career. Two of his other high RBI totals have come as a Cub. In fact, his only 100 RBI season happened in 2005. With that being said, he is not the scary number 3 hitter. Not many teams actually have that. However, the Cubs do need a scary number 3 hitter.At the same time, the Cubs need Derrek Lee's glove. To say that Hoffpauir is a better first baseman is insanity. If the Cubs get rid of Derrek Lee, the only justifiable replacement is Texiera. If the Cubs trade Lee, then you will see Aramis' errors go up. You will see a lot of low flying liners and ground balls speed past first base. Derrek Lee should stay. He is a great clubhouse guy. He doesn't mind dealing with the Chicago media storm. The only reason why Derrek Lee should leave Chicago is to spend time with his daughter, who suffers from a rare ailment. Truth is not a number 3 hitter, but the Cubs would be hard pressed to find someone to replace him in many ways.

Lee

I am new to this site and this is my first comment(not that anyone cares). I agree that Lee is not a #3 hitter but his defense is great. Aramis should bat third but then who do you put in the 4 spot?? You would have to trade or sign a #4 guy and I don't see anyone out there that would fit that role. Look, the Cubs scored a ton of runs this year so the offense wasn't that horrible but got exposed during the playoffs. The Cubs major weakness is they are a right handed heavy , fastball hitting team. So what did the Dodgers do?? They threw a bunch of right handed curveball pitchers at us and the Cubs struggle with that. Have you ever seen Soriano HIT a curveball?? He can't lay off of them either. Teams know that and all he saw was low and away. He could have walked everytime if he would have just kept his bat on his shoulder. Back to Lee. He was never a #3 hitter till he came to the Cubs. He battedd 5 or 6 for the Marlins and killed us in the playoffs. He did bat 500 against the Dodgers. Keep Lee(no brainer) and find a power hitting left hander for the #4 spot. Love this site. Well informed Cub fans. Keep up the good work.

Welcome aboard, WCN. We hope

Welcome aboard, WCN. We hope you stick around for a long while.

Technically, the Cubs have a great #4 hitter in Soriano. Soto wouldn't be a bad option either.

I'm spending this weekend writing up some serieses (seri?) I've been planning, but to summarize: the Cubs may need to pursue another right fielder with some pop, and allow for Fukudome to move over to CF.

sliders in the dirt

pretty much sinkers and sliders into the dirt killed the Cubs. Give Derek Lowe credit his sinker is deadly. Also, give the Phillies credit for being patient against him.

The Phillies and Cubs scored the same number...

...of earned runs against Lowe as we did. Seriously.

sure they did

but hitting two towering shots were pretty impressive, even if they wouldn't have been home runs at Wrigley or Dodger Stadium. Lowe only had two strikeouts against the Phillies. He had six against the Cubs. Granted 3 were due to Soriano and Fukudome.
The Phillies also did a much better job against Billingsley than the Cubs. It definitely helped that Myers did his best Zambrano impersonation.

Did you really spell obstacle

Did you really spell obstacle like this: "obstical"? I know the Cubs have us all in a dejected funk, but you're better than that Kurt.

There are certain words that

There are certain words that I am prone to misspell, obstacle being one of them. Another being relevant (which I sometimes want to spell relevent). I think we all have words that we commonly use and misspell, and while I always check for typos a few slip through the cracks. Eh, oh well.

spellings

Soriano has the same problem. Cannot spell discipline or take.

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