The Chicago Cubs have announced their final roster decision, with the 38-year-old Kevin Millar being released in what Jim Hendry called a "tough" decision according to a Tweet from Paul Sullivan.
Making the cut as the team’s 25th man is Chad Tracy.
The competition had come down to Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld, Millar, and Tracy.
But with Hoffpauir and Fuld still having options available, the decision really was between the affable Millar and Tracy.
So why was the decision so tough?
Because Millar is a funnier guy than Tracy?
In an effort to impress Lou Piniella and Cubs brass, Millar was touting his ability to play third base and the outfield in addition to his primary position, which is first base.
But in watching him play, it really would not be fair to play Millar in the outfield. He has very limited range and should only be considered as an emergency outfielder at this point.
Millar has played only three games in the outfield since 2007 and a grand total of 37 since 2005.
While I didn’t get a chance to see him at third, reports are similar there also. It is doubtful that at age 38 Millar will ever be anything but below average at the hot corner.
In fact, Millar has played in only 32 games at third base in his entire career.
But it’s obvious that Hendry and the club like Millar’s presence in a clubhouse that was soured by the whole Milton Bradley experience last season.
It also hasn’t really been that long since Millar was a productive player. He was a starter as recently as 2008, but he hit only .234 that season, though he did draw 76 walks. In both 2006 and 2007 Millar posted decent OBPs.
Of course, he is best known as a key personality in the 2004 Red Sox clubhouse that was known for its “cowboy up” theme.
Still, while Millar helps a club stay loose, the Cubs apparently decided that Tracy can help them more with the bat.
Millar was used to being a starter, and his career numbers coming off the bench reflect that.
As a pinch hitter, Millar has hit .198/.309/.294/.602 in 149 games (126 at-bats) with 18 walks, six doubles, and two home runs.
His numbers coming off the bench are not that much better, at .217/.316/.336/.652 in 167 games (152 at-bats) with 19 walks, seven doubles, a triple, and three home runs.
Meanwhile, Tracy is much younger (30), bats left-handed, and has a career pinch-hitting line of .302/.384/.581.
While he is not great with the glove, he can actually play multiple positions.
Of course, this decision would not have been necessary if the Cubs had done the right thing and sent Tyler Colvin to play with Ryne Sandberg in Iowa. The man won’t take a walk, and all of the scouting reports say he is not a future starter.
But even if you do think that Colvin was not a reach for scouting director Tim Wilkin as a high first-round draft choice, he needs regular playing time, something he will probably be getting when he is sent to Iowa in a month.
Of course, he had those great spring training stats, and we all know how useful those are. Well, apparently Lou and Jim think they are.