Thursday, October 23, 2008

Straw Man Alert

As people start to think about 2009 for the Cubs, and how they'll get past the soon-to-be-Champion Philadelphia Phillies, thoughts turn to Derrek Lee.

Derrek had a lousy year with the bat once the calendar turned to May. After an April that recalled 2005, Lee went into the tank posting a .760 OPS the rest of the way.

Now, that production is survivable, but not from your #3 hitter. When you add in Lee's age next year (33), his contract requirements for the next TWO years ($26 million), and his declining power numbers, people are discussing getting rid of him. Rightfully so.

But these same people are assuming that the replacement is going to be Micah Hoffpauir. Kurt over at Goatriders plays on this theme:

There remain a loud minority of fans, on this website and others, who are advocating that the Cubs cut the cord with Lee. Jim Hendry apparently needs to convince him to waive his no-trade clause so the team can deal him in order to make room for what would essentially be a 29-year-old rookie first baseman next season, because apparently we should be impressed that a guy who's been in Triple A for parts of 5 seasons finally managed to figure out the pitching there.

Now, maybe Goatrider commentators are in love with the idea of Hoff over Lee. If they are, they're idiots for the reasons Kurt lays out.

But, Kurt. There are options other than only Micah. If the Cubs unload Lee and his salary, then that salary can be used elsewhere. Like for another first baseman. Like for Mark Teixeira. Teixeira will probably get in the $15 million range over 5 years. That's only $2 million per year over Lee. Mark is also 5 years younger, has only had one sub-.900 OPS season since his rookie year, and has won 2 gold gloves in his time with the Texas Rangers.

The straw man here is defending Lee from being replaced by Micah Hoffpaiur. Smart fans don't want that. But they do want Lee replaced by someone better. And someone better is available.

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