Remember, Mark DeRosa got an ovation during practically every at-bat when he returned to Wrigley as a member of the Cardinals. Lee is twice the player DeRosa is (almost literally - DeRosa has averaged .87 WAR over his career while Derrek has averaged 2.1 WAR in his) and played for the Cubs over three times as long. It should follow that Lee would get at least the same reception that DeRosa received.
But DeRosa was traded at the height of his value and his popularity, whereas Lee was traded during his worst season since 1999 (yes, he was technically more valuable in 2006 with the broken wrist and all). I know I'll applaud him when he bats on Saturday for the first time.
Plenty of other Cubs blogs have weighed in on Derrek's departure in the past couple of days:
- Another Cubs Blog - MB21 looks at Derrek's place in Cubs history (spoiler: he was really good).
- Desipio - Dolan will kind of miss Derrek and his bad back.
- Waxpaperbeercup - ccd waxes nostalgic on Lee with a little help from gaius marius.
- A League of Her Own - Julie's son bids his hero farewell.
- And Counting - Adam is eloquent as usual in his take on Lee's time with the Cubs.
- Goat Riders of the Apocalypse - Kurt is pretty happy to have Lee and his double plays out of here.
Yet, I'm still sad. Someone said on Twitter that it is the end of an era. I kind of laughed at first since his era included a two week collapse at the end of 2004, death march seasons in 2005, 2006 and now 2010, and zero playoff victories. In a way, however, it is the end of an era.
Upon Lee's arrival after the near-miss in 2003, the expectations of the Cubs were to be contenders. Sure they usually weren't, but even 2005 and 2006 seasons were greeted with hopes that Wood and Prior would be healthy enough to power the Cubs to victory. After the 2006 disgrace of a season, the Cubs were clearly not contenders, but then Hendry opened up the wallet and bought Piniella, Soriano, Lilly and Marquis and expectations rose again. In 2008, they were national favorites to win the national League Central and compete for the World Series, and then again in 2009. Even though the team was starting to crumble, people felt that the 2010 team could compete if certain players like Soto and Soriano could even get close to where they should be.
Most of the hopes of all of those years centered around having Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez in the middle of the Cubs lineup. The infield defense was not considered a horrible monstrosity because Lee was anchoring first and keeping throwing errors to a minimum.
Now all that is gone. In reality, the era was slowly dying throughout the year after it became apparent that Lee just hasn't been right all along, but the trade to the Braves was the final pillow over the face.
So as much as I knew the day was coming and that the end was probably a good thing, the final reality still gets me a bit down. Thanks again, Derrek.