Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Food For Thought

With the 2007 season approaching August, Cub fans by now have undoubtedly developed their own opinions on the multitude of free agents signed by Jim Hendry in the offseason. One signing that I loved from Day 1 was the Mark DeRosa deal, although I was probably in the minority on that one. Now, I’m not trying to say that I knew something no one else did-- frankly, I think the deal has worked out better than anyone, including me, could have expected. At the time, there were plenty of people who felt like the Cubs were overpaying for DeRosa based off of one season that looked somewhat fluky. Given the discrepancy in his ‘06 and pre-’06 numbers, it was understandable where those people were coming from. But at this point, it seems like DeRosa can simply be chalked up as a late-bloomer. At 32 years old and in his first year with the Cubs he has been every bit as good as he was last year for Texas, if not better. His SLG% is down a little, which is to be expected considering he left behind one of the best hitters’ environments back in Arlington. But more importantly, he has shown an excellent approach at the plate this season; he’s on pace to set a career high in BB, walking in over 12% of his ABs. But in my opinion, what has made DeRosa so worthwhile has been his unselfish attitude and willingness to play almost anywhere on the diamond. No question, his versatility is an asset any team in the league could use. Personally, I love seeing DeRosa at third. Obviously whenever Aramis is healthy and ready to play, I’d rather have him there. But considering how often he seems to need a few days off, having DeRosa around is pretty nice. I feel like when I watch him play third, I’m watching a guy who’s been doing it his whole life. It’s really impossible to know for sure considering he only plays there occasionally, but I’d venture to say that DeRosa is the best defensive third baseman in the Cubs organization.

It’s been talked about so much at this page that further discussion of the Michael Barrett trade would just feel like beating a dead horse. However, with that said, the performance of the minor league outfielder acquired from San Diego in the Barrett trade is worth mentioning. Kyler Burke has put up some decent numbers since being assigned to the Short-Season Northwest League, while earning some good scouting reports. Normally I don’t get too worked up about the Short Season league, but it’s nice to see the Cubs score some potential talent in an otherwise fruitless deal. It’s worth mentioning that Burke was a first round pick just about a year ago, so as bad as he was struggling in the Padres’ system, there’s no doubting scouts saw something in him. Again, he’s 19 and it would be a waste of time getting worked up about him now, but the thought of the Cubs scoring first-round talent on the cheap is pretty nice. A few other guys playing pretty well for the Boise Hawks are catcher Josh Donaldson and outfielder Ty Wright—the Cubs’ 2nd and 7th round picks from the ’07 draft.

Alfonso Soriano fantasy owners, myself included, were probably pretty upset this past Sunday when a would- be two-run homer of his was ruled a double as a result of fan interference. When a Reds fan made contact with the ball that looked like it had cleared the yellow line, it bounced back onto the field of play, prompting crew chief Joe West to award Soriano only two bases. Naturally, this got me thinking about instant replay. Personally, I think it’s time that baseball integrates instant replay into the game. I don’t want to sound like I came to this belief based on one call that went against the Cubs—trust me I’ve felt this way for some time. I think if this kind of technology was used only on home run calls (fair/foul, over/under the yellow line, and fan interference arguments) that baseball would benefit greatly. This kind of usage just seems simple enough, and it would guarantee that the correct call is made, which is obviously what is most important.

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