On a day when Cubs fans across the nation rejoiced in the return of America’s pastime, the Cubs win and Hoffpauir’s grand slam were overshadowed by a former friend.
Mark DeRosa, who was kicked to the curb in favor of the significantly less productive Aaron Miles earlier this offseason, blasted a go-ahead three-run home run that should have been painful for Cubs fans.
Across Bleacher Report, Cubs writers are buzzing about the 2009 season and a possible World Series ring.
My advice to you: Just wait.
I think the Cubs are going to surprise a lot of people—they’ll be surprisingly bad.
With a lineup with big names like Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, and now, Milton Bradley, Cubs fans easily forget how inconsistent these players were at times last year.
At times when Soriano struck out on three pitches, Aramis couldn’t get on base, and Derrek Lee grounded into the most double plays in baseball (not to mention Fukudome’s atrocious second-half play), one player remained a consistent bright spot when everyone else failed: DeRosa.
Mark DeRosa was the Cubs MVP last year, and I don’t mean that in the sense of best pure player, but rather in the true sense of a most valuable player.
He did it all. He played virtually every position, hit throughout the batting order, and constantly produced.
DeRosa doesn’t care where you put him in the game; he has the ability to produce in every circumstance. Even in the playoffs, DeRosa was virtually the only Cub doing anything.
While the others floundered, he was hitting a homer and doing his best to carry the team while maintaining a playoff blog on Cubs.com. Furthermore, DeRosa was one of only three Cubs with more than one hit in the playoffs.
DeRosa’s .285 average, 21 home runs (more than the three-hitter, D-Lee), and 87 RBI (third on the team, despite DeRosa hitting predominantly in the seven hole) helped the bottom half of the Cubs lineup actually produce more RBI than the top half last year.
Why? Why did GM Jim Hendry ship out the most consistent player in the Cubs lineup and fill the hole with Aaron Miles, a utility player who is little more than a worse version of DeRosa?
Losing DeRosa will undoubtedly hurt the Cubs far more than anyone anticipates. As I noted in my season recap last year, the Cubs did need help in the outfield (Bradley, Joey Gathright) and perhaps need to give Mike Fontenot more at-bats. Check.
On the other hand, I don’t think anyone anticipated DeRosa leaving.
Unlike most of the Cubs, DeRosa simply doesn’t have any major holes in his game. He is a consistent under-the-radar, dark-horsem run producer. Furthermore, the Cubs received two mediocre pitchers who have no chance of making an impact in exchange for DeRosa.
Had the Cubs acquired Jake Peavy, I would feel better about the deal, but Hendry balked at the opportunity.
Losing DeRosa won’t help the Cubs. It just makes an inconsistent lineup even more inconsistent.