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Tab's Official Mea Culpa To Chicago's Derrek Lee

Tab BamfordSenior Writer ISeptember 24, 2009

I like to talk and write about baseball. I love it.

That passion is what helped me become a Featured Columnist covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Report. I just adore the game and the Cubs.

One of the perks of saying and writing a lot is that there are times when I can admit to being right and gloat about correctly predicting some things. My cap is tipped to you, Milton Bradley, for making my stating the obvious (he's a trainwreck and wouldn't last more than a year in Chicago) look like genius.

There is, however, the other side of the coin. Sometimes people make predictions, accusations, and comments that turn out to be off base.

As the 2009 season began, I made a few comments that have been proved to be wrong about Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee.

This is my formal "I was wrong" with regard to Lee.

Man was I ever wrong!

I've admitted I was wrong in the past; I regularly threw Bears GM Jerry Angelo under the bus until he traded for Jay Cutler. I admitted I was wrong then, and I'm admitting I was wrong about Lee as well.

As far back as last October, I questioned Lee's declining skills and pondered trade options. During Spring Training, I posed a few trade options for the Cubs in an effort to get what I believed was good value in exchange for their first baseman this year. Early in the season, I asked if Lee was washed up.

I was wrong.

As we look toward the last week of the regular season, a case could be made that no player in baseball has truly been more valuable to his team than Lee been for the Cubs.

Surrounded by injuries and idiots, Lee has quietly posted numbers that rank among the best of his career. He's batting .308 with a .396 on-base percentage, having hit 35 home runs and knocked in 109 runs. His OPS is an astonishing .980, the second-best of his career.

Let's put Lee's numbers into their proper context.

Bradley was a gross disappointment this year, as he was brought in to provide a left-handed bat in the middle of the order. He only drove in 40 runs this season.

The Cubs also had to deal with the offensive disappearing acts of Alfonso Soriano and last year's National League Rookie of the Year, Geovany Soto. They also missed middle-of-the-lineup mainstay Aramis Ramirez for 50 games in the middle of the season.

On paper, it's hard to imagine where the 109 runners came from for Lee to drive in.

And yet there he is, ranking in the top-five among National League first basemen in average, home runs and runs batted in. The man I called "washed up" and "past his prime" in October, December, and March has proved me wrong.

Consider this my formal apology to Lee. You've still got game, and proved it this year.

Well done.

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