Monday, May 09, 2005

for the good of this team

it begins tonight for jason dubois, as the kid gets his chance to play everyday -- and cub nation rejoices. it's hard to believe that dubois can't do something to contribute which will exceed what the cubs have gotten out of todd hollandsworth thusfar (.221/.295/.337 through 86 AB), and given the overall quality (or, rather, lack thereof) in the outfield (the other members of which have managed a paltry collective .298 obp), this is probably the time to see what he can do.

just what he can do is another question. dubois' start seems nice on the surface -- .300 with 3 HR and 9 RBI in just 30 at-bats. he's demonstrated apocalyptic power, which gets everyone interested. but offense is more than how far you can launch it, and dubois' shortcomings are going to be apparent (if familiar) early.

the kid's got a young man's swing, full of holes -- and pitchers know it. dubois has fanned 20 times in 53 career big league at-bats, a rate that puts even patterson to shame. worse still, whatever eye he exhibited in the minors hasn't transferred to the bigs -- just two walks stand against all those Ks. for all they hype, dubois isn't likely to get on base very much at all. not for a while, at least, while he learns to adjust to what pitchers are doing to him.

on a team with a lot of people getting aboard, few wasted plate appearances and in need of some pop, starting dubois would be a positive move. but on the 2005 cubs -- a team 14th in the NL in on-base percentage, where only one regular (derrek lee, of course) sports an obp over .350, but is already surfeited with power -- dubois is quite frankly more of what is already drowning the cubs.

this team was misguidedly constructed without a core of players who get on base consistently such that they can score consistently -- and the difficulties in scoring runs are not going to abate until players are found who can make consistent contact and take a walk.

as such, the guy who really needs to see more at-bats for the good of this particular team isn't dubois -- it's jerry hairston. hairston will be infamous foreverafter as the man who was traded for sammy sosa, and he's far from perfect -- or maybe even good -- but he is part of a solution for what ails the cubs. in his last 587 at-bats, hairston has struck out just 68 times and walked 61. he is seeing the field plenty with nomar and walker down, but that isn't enough. when walker comes back (rumored to be around may 20), hairston should continue to see the field daily and hit leadoff for this club. that means eventually sitting dubois down.

whether or not this actually happens is another thing. and possibly dubois will surprise and tear through NL pitching the way he did the florida state league. but if he does not, hairston should be ready to claim left when walker returns -- for the good of this team.

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