The Cubs have some strange ideas regarding foreign players.
I mean, first there was Mr. Zero, brought in to babysit Kosuke as he assimilated to this strange new American culture. Zero, of course, was the reading on Shingo's gas tank as he never sniffed the Cubs' roster. He was a truly useless player by the time he found his way into the Cubs' camp. And now we have So Taguchi in to take care of Kosuke (who, conveniently enough, is touring the world with team Japan. Not sure what So's doing, exactly). So's pretty crappy too. Not much on-the-field help there either.
Seems kind of silly, no?
But the whole Japanese companion thing has seemed pretty acceptable to most fans. "Hey," the fans say, "he's Japanese. Who *knows* what he and So talk about." But less generally accepted are the rest of the little "helpers" brought in to aid those new to the Americas.
Alfonso Soriano brought in to babysit Aramis Ramirez was odd, but worked out pretty well.
Fontenot holding Theriot's hand...that worked out quite well.
And now we have the strangest member of the All-Chaperone team: Corey Koskie. Li'l Ryan Demspter struggled last year with the 2008 Cubs, failing to win 20 games for the 10 straight year, and most attribute his struggles to a general inability to fit in south of the Great Lakes. And so that's where Corey Koskie, a fellow mounty, comes in.
Sure, Koskie's kind of a long shot. Out of baseball for a couple of years, Koskie's unlikely to return to his former sorta-glory with the Twins, when he was a sure bet for 15-25 homers and a solid walk rate. But stats aren't why Corey Koskie has come to the Cubs. They have players who can bring it on the field.
No, Koskie's here for what he can mean to Canadian Ryan Dempster.
Now Dempster has someone with whom he can discuss his strange ham-bacon food and yak fur hats. Someone with whom he can argue the relative merit of Abies amabilis versus Abies lasiocarpa. Corey Koskie won't laugh when Ryan rides a moose into the clubhouse (like that insensitive bastard Derrek Lee).
You see, the "fans" who see Dempster as some kind of jokester aren't there to see the tears that well up when the crowds disperse. What they don't get is that mocking foreign cultures is a shallow, shallow form of humor and hurts the subject of the joke. That's just not something you can understand until you've felt the sharp sting of a mocking American.
Corey Koskie knows. And I think that's going to make all the difference.
I did not realize we had signed Corey Koskie. Heck, I didn't realize that he'd been out of baseball since 2006, when he suffered a serious concussion as a member of the Brewers. Koskie has always been one of those guys you pretty much take for granted.
He was also a hell of a player for several years, he is playing well for Team Canada (yep, another hockee fan) and if he is all the way back, wouldn't he make a swell left-handed hitting backup 1B-3B? His career OPS+ is 113. He gives Uncle Lou the versatlity that GoatFave Micah Hoffpauir does not. Should The Hoff be worried?
Perhaps. Or perhaps Joey Gathright should be worried. These are good problems to have - to have 30-32 bonafide major league talents in your camp. God knows there were many years where we were lucky to have almost 20 bonafides on our roster. If Koskie is all the way back, I can't see how we can keep him off our roster for long. Maybe he puts in a little time in Iowa.
But, once again, if he's all the way back, it just frees up more of our surplus talent to use to go after You Know Who. My wife says that I don't seem to remember much anymore, but once an idea gets in my head, it is impossible to shake.
Kudos to Jim Hendry to giving Koskie one more chance - it could pay off huge, with absolutely no risk.