Friday, June 26, 2009

Get the Motorcade Warmed Up

About the only thing that could possibly knock Michael Jackson's death out of the news right now would be the Cubs reacquiring Mark DeRosa.

I have said many times in the past that I do not believe that the Cubs woes are caused sheerly by the lack of a glorified utility player in the lineup. I do not believe that Mark DeRosa has the kind of talent that can single-handedly transform a lineup as Manny Ramirez did for the Dodgers last year.

That being said, it would not completely displease me to eventually see DeRosa in a Cubs uniform this year. Jason Stark, at ESPN, is saying the Cubs are inquiring about his availability.
  • The Cubs have considered trying to reacquire Mark DeRosa.
  • They've also done some preliminary searching for a bat, but they're not sure where they'd play a new hitter so that gives the versatile DeRosa extra appeal.
Though I cringe at the thought of a Beatlesesque squeal emanating throughout Wrigleyville if this deal is ever completed, it is not a terrible idea. It is becoming increasingly evident that the Mike Fontenot experiment is failing. He is not proving himself to be an everyday player in the major leagues, and it is now becoming debatable whether he will be able to resume usefulness as a role player.

Given that we have no clue what Aramis Ramirez is going to bring to the table when he eventually returns, we still have numerous gaping holes in the lineup that need to be addressed. Based on the composition of the roster, the position that is most likely to be upgraded offensively is second base.

Fontenot isn't hitting the way we hoped he would. Miles is only good at cashing his paychecks. Andres Blanco is a good fielding, weak hitting option. None of these guys are a better option than Mark DeRosa even when you worry about the lineup being "too right-handed."

I give Hendry credit for attempting to do the right thing in the off-season. It was very disconcerting to see an all-righty lineup get set down easily and often by strong right-handed pitching. He attempted to sell high on a player that had at least approached his peak performance, if not achieved it last season. He tried to bring in a fiery presence, and a bat that was capable of leading the heavy-hitting American League in OPS.

It all sounded reasonable on paper. It probably would have even worked on a team that was not the Cubs. But the right plays don't always work out. I won't bore you with the details of the entire hand, but when I was in Vegas playing poker, I pushed all-in with Ace-King with an ace on the board. I KNEW my opponent had an ace, and I KNEW he probably hadn't made two pair. So I pushed him to commit almost his whole stack. It was the right play because I figured I was over 90% to win.

He called me, turned over Ace-Queen, and promptly caught a Queen on the river to bust me. I lost that hand, and I had played it correctly. It happens.

The same type of thing is happening to Hendry. On paper, this team should be more dangerous than the team that won 97 games last year, especially when you consider that the Marshall/Wells combination in the fifth rotation spot has given more consistently quality outings than Marquis did last year. Instead, it seems the odds of a Cubs run scoring is about the same as me winning the lottery.

Every now and again, the baseball gods will provide an opportunity for a mulligan. After the 2005 season, the Red Sox traded backup catcher Doug Mirabelli to the Padres because they had a young prospect, Josh Bard, that they felt was ready to become Jason Varitek's backup.

It became clear as the season began that neither Bard nor Varitek could handle catching Tim Wakefield, the rotation's knuckleballer. Theo Epstein managed to swallow his pride and correct the move (even though he may have still believed it was the correct move to make in the off-season) by trading Bard to San Diego for Mirabelli.

"Josh was working really hard and going about it in a very professional way. But we just didn't necessarily have the luxury of time waiting to find out if things would get better so we made this move now while Doug was available at a reasonable cost."

Mirabelli received a police escort from the airport to Fenway so that he could step right into the lineup to catch Wakefield on the day of the trade. The return of Mirabelli was hailed in Boston unlike any kind of reception a back-up catcher should ever receive.

So there is historical precedence. The Cubs also do not have the luxury of time on their side. The window of opportunity is closing quickly, and they almost assuredly will need to make a move somewhere. The roster is aging. The sale is not going through any time soon, which means there will not be a huge spending spree to fix problems. Our veterans almost all have no-trade clauses, so blowing up the roster and starting over with quality prospects from other teams is not a probable option.

The time to win is right now and if that means trading for Mark DeRosa again, that is what it should be. Set up the parade route, arrange for the secret service to secure the field so he can take infield practice without having Dave Kaplan attempt to hump his leg. In fact, go ahead and have him helicoptered right into the ballpark so he can step out and assume his position at second without any issues.

There may be other options, but it is almost July, so it's time to start giving some serious consideration to swallowing the pride and trying to correct the issues.

Hoping and praying haven't really worked as a strategy for the last 100 years, and I'm doubting it will work this year.


Post a Comment

The easiest way to comment is to choose the Name/URL option from the Comment As dropdown menu below. You do not need to put in a URL for this option to work.

Sometimes upon submitting the comment, you will get an error saying there is a problem. Submit the comment again and it should work. I am looking into correcting this glitch.