Well, A.J., it appears to me that the last three years, the Braintrust of Hendry, Bush, and Piniella likes to find a specific scapegoat for the previous year's failings, then make a singular and usually ill-advised move to remedy it. Then they rub their hands together, put up a huge banner that says "Mission Accomplished", and sit back with satisfied looks on their faces.
After the 2007 Division Series sweep, of course, it was announced that we were too right-handed, so we gave a four year deal to Kosuke Fukudome, so-called MVP of Japan, who (as it turns out) couldn't even start for Japan in the following year's WBC. When we were again swept in the 2008 Division Series, we still lacked left-handed pop, so we essentially laid bad money over bad by signing Milton Bradley.
Well, what are we blaming the abortive 2009 season on? Sure, injuries, brought on by poor conditioning, the advance of old age, and sheer bad luck, but we also sucked because the atmosphere was bad. No, not the actual atmosphere, comprised of 70% Nitrogen, 20% Oxygen, and some parts Hydrogen and Carbon Dioxide, but the psychic atmosphere of the clubhouse, the team plane and the team hotels, where mentally fragile jocks were knocked off kilter by a petulant spoiled misguided racist.
Of course, in reality, Bradley should not really be held to blame for last year's epic fail. Bradley is what he always was, and the guy to blame is the guy who handed him a three year contract, when nobody else was offering him anywhere close to that kind of commitment, thinking that somehow Don't Wake Daddy was a changed man. Yes, Jim, financial security, more often than not, helps a ballplayer focus and play more ferociously. Happens all the time. Just ask Silva the Hutt, who we ended up getting back in trade for the infamous clubhouse melanoma.
All of this is offered as explanation as to why it is highly likely that the washed up scab Kevin Millar will make the Cubs' opening day roster in 2010. Production wise, Millar has never really been what you'd call an impact player. He did compile a slugging percentage of .500 between 2000-2004, and at that time, would not have been a bad choice to plug into a corner outfield spot. But he has never been confused for an star.
Of course, he is most well known as the so-called catalyst of the 2004 Red Sox; it was he who coined the term "Cowboy Up", and as such is frequently cited as a prime example of the Scrappy White Player that certain types of sports fans seem to treasure. He's a "winner", it is argued. After all, didn't the Red Sox win 2 titles? And wasn't he a Marlin, also? Um, sure, but the Marlins won in 2003, a year after Millar left for Boston, and by the time Boston won their second title, Millar was toiling in Baltimore, where they won three straight titles. No wait, that's not right, they won no titles at all. They never even sniffed .500!
Last year, Millar put up a .223/.311/.363 with Toronto. Andres Blanco posted a .252/.303/.341 last year. Hmm. At 38 years old, all he can do is backup at first base and pinch hit. We already have someone 10 years younger who can do that, who presumably will only get better in the immediate future, and is at least 2 years away from even arbitration. So on a purely production basis, Kevin Millar has no business even being here, taking reps from Micah Hoffpauir and any other backup candidates we have.
Ah, but we now return to his clubhouse demeanor, the very thing which, recall, was cited as one of the two big reasons why 2009 was so stanky. Also recall that we placed Mr. Millar on the Florida Marlins of the early nineties. It was there that he became friends with two other young men named Dempster and Lee. And, surprise, those two young men are now the defacto leaders of the current Chicago Cubs clubhouse! Certainly both these guys are being relied on by the Braintrust to lead the team out of the doldrums of twenty-ought-nine. And you don't think they will do everything they can to bolster the chances of their longtime buddy?
Do you not recall Dempster and Millar making World Series boasts at each other a couple of years back during spring training? Why, this is the kind of camaraderie we are looking for Cubs V.2010! (Their words, kids, not mine).
I think that eventually this spring, Micah Hoffpauir is used as trade bait to bring in another bullpen arm, and I believe that they are only waiting to see how well Millar fares before they do just that.