The once great slugger of Chicago certainly has come down to earth the last few years.
After posting career numbers in 2005, he has slowly descended into mediocrity at the first base position. Cliche as this may sound, as everyone who has watched him may tell you, Lee is becoming less of a fly ball hitter and, instead, has been shooting the ball into the infield, grounding into a league leading 27 double plays.
This kills rallies, and kills Lee as a hitter, as it seems that every (good/elite) pitcher knows what to do when he steps up to the plate with a runner on first.
Couple this stat with his decreased power numbers, and you have yourself a has-been hitter who is a mere shell of what he used to be, prior to his injury with Furcal.
The Cubs are paying him too much money to be doing what he is doing, which is getting by. The contract they gave him in 2006 is still bleeding the Cubs, who could be using this money to bring in better players so that maybe, just maybe, they could make it to a world series.
Those critical of this article will likely point out that he is still a Gold Glove first baseman, and that he has still hit 20+ HR with 80+ RBI. While this is OK, it is not worth what they are giving him. This is also not mentioning that he is no longer a leader in the clubhouse anymore; you can tell from his demeanor and from the way others view him.
The younger players, Micah Hoffpauir in particular, said they look up to Dempster and Ramirez more than others.
Lee simply does not provide the spark needed anymore, and if he did not have that "No Trade Clause" I believe he would be part of a trade this year or next. As it stands, however, he is going to be with the Cubs until his contract runs out next year.
It is truly unfortunate when you think that they could plug Hoffpauir into first and trade Lee for someone who could help the team—I don't know, let's say Jake Peavy? Of course, additional players would have to be involved, but I am just speculating.
It is with my great displeasure that Lee will still be roaming Wrigley for another year and a half when the Cubs could be using him for much greater things, but then again I guess I am not a GM now am I.
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