A few more thoughts on Derrek Lee
Let's consider a couple of things quickly:
Line 1: 11 at bats, 6 hits, 3 doubles, 2 runs scored, .545 AVG, 1.402 OPS.
Line 2: 12 at bats, 4 hits, 0 extra bases, .333 AVG, .718 OPS.
These are Derrek Lee's career stats in the post season with the Cubs. In 23 career post season at bats as a Cub, Lee is batting .435 with 3 doubles, 3 runs scored, and, glaringly, 0 RBI.
There remain a loud minority of fans, on this website and others, who are advocating that the Cubs cut the cord with Lee. Jim Hendry apparently needs to convince him to waive his no-trade clause so the team can deal him in order to make room for what would essentially be a 29-year-old rookie first baseman next season, because apparently we should be impressed that a guy who's been in Triple A for parts of 5 seasons finally managed to figure out the pitching there.
Don't get me wrong - at this moment, The Hoff is my first choice to replace Daryle Ward as a bench player/outfielder, but if you think it's a good move to send Lee packing for him, then you are living in fantasyland. However, what is true, what is absolutely true, is that Lee is an under-performing #3 hitter on the decline. I think that the solution to this problem, however, is not hanging our hopes on a career minor leaguer, but instead moving Lee to a different spot in the lineup next season.
Besides, if you think Hoffpauir can outperform Lee, as apparently some of you do, then I'm sure you'll agree with me that a first baseman making the minimum who can do better than a .291 AVG, 41 doubles, 20 homers, 90 RBI, and a .361 OBP might have some great trade value - in fact, he would have much more trade value than Lee, right? Keeping in mind that line of logic, then it would be safe to assume that Hendry would deal him to a team desperate for his clearly superior talents, or that any team trading talent to the Cubs would insist that he be included in any trade. Which won't happen, by the way, because Hoffpauir is a midling talent at best.
Going back to the playoff numbers I presented earlier, it seems clear to me that there is another, more urgent problem. The team's #3 hitter, who actually appears to have hit the ball quite well these past two Octobers, failed to drive in a single RBI. I wonder if that's ever happened before in playoff history? But before we blame the guy who's batting .435 in October for the Cubs, let's consider a more likely culprit - the complete and total failure of the players batting ahead of him in the lineup.
Therefore, my friends, I suggest the following: Jim Hendry's priority this off season should be to find a better leadoff and #2 hitter - and this is actually something he might be able to do by looking within the organization. I can think of one glaringly obvious example of a #2 guy - Mark DeRosa. Why Lou Piniella has failed to use him in that capacity astonishes me. But if DeRosa had been batting in front of Lee this past NLDS, the Cubs may very well have scored a few more runs. It's just food for thought.
But all this talk about dumping Lee and turning to Hoffpauir is ludicrous. Players like Hoffpauir are abundantly common - and none of them could do the job Lee does. Instead, let's hope that the Cubs focus on the right problems - choosing the right batting order for the 1-3 players in the lineup.
UPDATE: Rob decides to piggyback Kurt's post right here:
I'm not sure if Kurt is including me in the "Dump Lee" camp, because I have come out several times this year in criticism of Lee, and because I do belong to the Hoff Power Fan Klub, although I am not the president, as is rumored.
I do believe that he provides a level of production, although probably not up to par with his current compensation.
I do believe that he has no more business batting third in the lineup.
I do believe that Hofpauir deserves, at the very least, to escape Des Moines, Iowa.
I do believe that Lee, having only one year left on his contract (Editor's Note: Lee is locked up for 2 more years, in fact) and being a Gold Glove first baseman who also hits .300, gets on base 35% of the time, and hits 20+ homers, could be packaged (NOT SHOULD) for either that elusive All-Star leadoff man or a front-of-the-rotation starter.
Unfortunately, the guy I want plays for a team that already possesses an All-Star first baseman, namely the Padres. Therefore, they have zero need for Lee. I'm not in favor of trading him for Matt Cain. I would package him in a deal for Lincecum, as would all of you, but the Giants would never do anything THAT stupid. Right?
I would NOT actively shop Derrek Lee. If somebody has something really shiny for me, and they ask about Lee, I would at least listen. But I would not DUMP him, and neither should you want to. Period. Sentence. Paragraph. Story.