|"8 year-olds, Dude. 8 year-olds."|
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer (it seems impossible to name one without the other) made their first acquisition in the mission to end the Championship drought that predates the birth of any Cubs fan. Although in reality there is no drought as everything resets at zero for the two executitve wunderkinds. The first free agent splash of the new regime: the one, the only, the inimitable...David DeJesus. Some Cubs fans demand a lot. More than a lot. They pretend the previous 103 years are all on their shoulders, though all any fan can lay claim to are those losing years starting at fanship. I feel no pride or accomplishment, no self-satisfaction or congratulation regarding the dominant 1906-1908 teams. Nor do I bemoan the failings of the 1946-1984 teams. They don't belong to me, nor most of the fans demanding success now. Epstein/Hoyer and comrades may yet extend themselves to the glittering prizes Pujols or Fielder, but right now this looks to be a fine move. A very fine one indeed.
DeJesus is no star. But the Cubs don't need stars right now. They already have one aged and useless was-once-foolishly-believed-to-be-a-star in Alfonso Soriano, and they have Starlin Castro, who will emerge to be a legitimate star if ego and tampering don't derail him. No, the Cubs need ballplayers. And David DeJesus is a ballplayer.
|You can't do this at Wrigley, but at least he'll want to.|
His numbers are not awe-inspiring: .284/.356/.421 is nothing to write home about, especially considering modern expecations for corner outfielders. But it is a marked improvement over Kosuke Fukodome, and DeJesus's style of hitting fits well into the thin Chicago lineup. He handles right handed pitching well, which the majority of Cub hitters do not. And he makes consistant contact, which a majority of Cub hitters do not. Soriano, Castro, Barney, and Soto all spend a lot of time missing the ball and have a difficult time advancing runners (I am slowly evolving into an advanced stats state of mind, but moving runners along the base paths is still important, though the sacrifice bunt is just silly 97% of the time). DeJesus handles the bat well, has a history of hustle and comraderie. More importantly he is a plus fielder. Right field at Wrigley is a bitch, with the sun during daygames making life hell out there, increasing the chances of crashing into the brick wall or forgetting that there is only about a toothpick's length of foul territory. Along with it being a particularly difficult position to play in Wrigley, it also demands an enigmatic player. Like left field in Fenway, right field is Wrigley's link to the fans. Sammy Sosa won the city with his spirited play out there; Milton Bradley lost his marbles with his. There is every indication that DeJesus will keep the Friendly Confines friendly with his hustle, solid fielding, and consistent (if only 2 WAR) hitting.
His contract is guaranteed for two years at about $10 million, an amount easy to swallow, especially considering some of the albatross contracts choking the payroll. This isn't a move for the future, which is the actual concern of Epstein/Hoyer. This is a move for the present, to provide a quality, hustling ballplayer, with no ego, that fans can root for as the organization comes around. It hasn't been stated by the men in charge, but the timetable for consistent winning seems to be about three years. By then DeJesus will likely be gone, along with Soriano, Zambrano, and Dempster. David Dejesus is a bridge player, towing the line until...who knows. Every team needs them, and Dejesus is a pretty darn good one. I look forward to watching him fight to win ballgames this year. I think he'll have a good one.