In Defense of Derrek Lee
The last couple days have been pretty exciting around GROTA. There’s been plenty of healthy debate on Derrek Lee which has been fun to read and many people have brought up some good and valid points. However, there have been a few bold and assertive statements that have left me scratching my head. I’d like to go through some of these criticisms of Lee and offer a rebuttal to some of these interesting assertions.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> And here we go…
“Do you see Derrek Lee holding someone accountable for their actions on or off the field? Do you really see him get into Theriot's face for getting picked off base for the umpteenth time, or jumping down Baker's neck for not laying down a crucial bunt, or anything like that?”
· You’re right, I haven’t seen Derrek Lee get in anyone’s face…and to be honest, I’m not really sure I want to. I don’t think it’s a good thing to get in someone’s face in front of television cameras and probably causes more issues than it cures. I’d much rather something like that be handled in-house, like a professional…which even Rob admits that Derrek Lee is. Now, does Derrek Lee have a chat with Theriot, Baker and the gang after these screw-ups? I have no idea. Like I’ve said before, there are 24 hours in a day, and I watch the Cubs for three of them. I am not privy to any of the conversations that take place between Cubs players in the 21 remaining hours, and neither are any of us. It seems that a lot of the Cubs players think of Derrek Lee as a leader, so it remains pretty plausible that there is some factor that we are not aware of. Of course, this goes both ways, and Derrek Lee could be the biggest idiot ever who is completely incapable of leading a team…but I don’t think that is the case. In either scenario, whether he pulls his teammates aside or not, it’s outrageously unfair to say that Derrek Lee isn’t a leader because we can’t see him during the games causing a scene and throwing a tantrum. Derrek Lee has been described on all accounts as being a professional; it would be very fitting that his leadership style would match that characteristic; in-house, behind closed doors, and not through the media.
“Nah, just like McStiff, Lee wants to come in, put in his time, and go home. He could care less about competing, about winning.”
· …okay?? First of all, I find it interesting that Rob would say Lee should be idolized for his “decency and professionalism” and then say he would just put in his time and go home. It seems to be something a professional would not do, yet I digress…
· Again, I will say that NONE of us have any idea what the baseball habits of Derrek Lee are. I have no idea when he shows up to the ballpark, I have no idea what time he leaves, I have no idea how much film he studies, I have no idea how many scouting reports he reads, I have no idea how many cuts he takes in the cage, I have no idea how many ground balls he takes…sensing the pattern? He may do none of this; he may do all of it. Until we know for sure, statements like “Lee wants to come in, put in his time, and go home” make me very uncomfortable, and I think it is very unfair to say that. That being said, in his Chicago Cubs career, Lee has posted a slash line of .298/.371/.522 for an OPS of .893…with those numbers, I could honestly care less if you’re the last one to show up and the first one to leave.
· I also take issue with saying that Derrek Lee couldn’t care less about competing or winning….why? Because he rejected trades to the Angels and Rangers? First of all, the Angels are about as far out of first place as the Cubs, so let’s cut out that non-sense. So does rejecting a trade to the first-place Texas Rangers mean that Lee does not care about winning? Maybe…but you’ve got to jump over A LOT of reasoning to arrive at that conclusion. Possible reasons for not accepting a deal to Texas include but are not limited to: Lee is 34 years old with a family, perhaps he enjoys Chicago and doesn’t want to relocate them. Maybe he wants to be a Chicago Cub and wants to stay and help win a championship (that CAN’T be the case though…it displays too many leadership qualities…). Maybe he’s not exactly thrilled to be headed to Texas in July….doesn’t mean he’s not interested in winning or competing. To jump immediately to that conclusion would be an irrational decision.
“I have thought that DP Lee has done nothing but go thru the motions. EXACTLY like Crime Dog did. He shows no heart and no hustle day in and day out. Can he field his position? Sure he can and in his sleep too. When was the last time he busted his ass down to first base? I can't think of ONE! He jumped on BigZ because Big Z gives a damn about winning and called his non hustling non caring butt on the carpet! GOOD for BigZ! It's too bad that more of the Cubs don't have the same "wanna win" attitude! I think Brenly got it exactly right..... This has been one dead ass team most of the year!”
· From watching Lee play, I have never been under the impression that he has been going through the motions. It seems to me that he has always put forth a solid effort, but that may just be my bias. As for the “heart and hustle” argument, and as I’ve previously posted, Lee was the recipient of the League’s “Heart and Hustle” Award voted on the MLB Alumni Association, last season, which is one of the seasons in which you questions his effort.
For the record, Lee also went for .306/.394/.579 for an OPS of .973 that season…which I don’t think you accomplish while “going through the motions”
· I hate to be “that guy”, but to be honest when was the last time you saw anyone bust his ass down the line these days?? The only guy I watch regularly who does this is Marlon Byrd. So if we’re going to levy that criticism, let’s be sure to spread it out proportionately among Aramis Ramirez (who has taken some nice jaunts down the first base line himself) Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot, etc…
· The only response I have to your Big Z reference is this; do you really want another Carlos Zambrano on this team? Do you honestly think that would be a GOOD thing?? On that note, for some reason even though Zambrano has a much bigger contract than Lee, and has come NOWHERE CLOSE to living up to it the way Lee has, I almost feel that Lee takes more criticism. Not to say that Zambrano doesn’t take his fair share, but to me it doesn’t seem proportionate. The absolute LAST thing this team needs is another guy throwing tantrums like Zambrano. That’s not a “wanna win” attitude, that’s being an infant.
· Bob Brenly is 100% right, this has been one dead ass team all year. Why is this all Derrek Lee’s fault? Sure he has to shoulder some of the blame because he’s not having a good season, but this is a team effort. Again, we have to distribute blame proportionately.
“Once again Rob nails it. Please someone tell me one instance this year DP Lee wins a game. A walk-off ? Every must have RBI situation seems to end in a nothing. Rally killer RBI monster when we are up 5-1. Show me when you hit it. Now you won't leave like a fungus”
· And let the beating of the dead horse commence…Derrek Lee has not had a walk-off, game-winning hit this year. Neither has Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Tyler Colvin, Ryan Theriot, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker, or Mike Fontenot. The Cubs have had three walk off hits this year; two by Ramirez and one by Fukudome. Again, if you’re going to go after Lee for this let’s go after everyone else.
· I’ll be the first to agree with you that Derrek Lee is not having a good year, but I have to be honest, I’m incredibly sick of the notion that Derrek Lee is not a “clutch hitter” (even though I’m not a big fan of clutch statistics to begin with, but that’s a whole other thing…). Let’s take a look at what Derrek Lee has done in “clutch situations” in his seven-year Cubs career.
o In “late and close” situations: .312/.402/.547 .949 OPS
o In tie games: .291/.383/.497 .880 OPS
o Within one run: .292/.382/.504 886 OPS
o Runners in Scoring Position: .309/.412/.536 .948 OPS
Those are some pretty impressive numbers. So yes, while Derrek Lee is not having a great year in those categories, let’s not forget that he has shown himself to be a very impressive hitter in big situations for the Cubs. Any notion that is made to Derrek Lee “not getting the big hit” is completely false, and a total joke. Why are we calling this guy a fungus again??
There is NO accountability on the Cubs - nobody is calling out anybody. Otherwise, why would the same mistakes be made game after game after game?
· I got to see the Cubs clubhouse once when I was on a tour, didn’t get to go in but I got see it and that was pretty neat. Again, none of us are close enough to the situation to definitively make the statement that “nobody is calling out anybody”. It may be true, but we have no way of knowing. Also, the assumption that getting in someone’s face repeatedly will fix a particular problem is not always true…
Anyway, if you’ve read this far I’ll offer you both my apologies and congratulations, because it is now mercifully coming to an end. What I’m saying is this; LET’S BE CAREFUL ABOUT THE CONCLUSIONS WE REACH. Let’s not make bold and assertive statements about things that we don’t have the slightest idea about. And God forbid, if we can use actual statistics to support our arguments, please do so. Just saying that Derrek Lee is not “clutch” is not good enough. In fact, it’s completely wrong.