Another feature of our Cubs coverage this year will be the 1st Annual Matt Stairs Award for Loveable Mediocrity. For those of you who did not watch the 2001 Chicago Cubs, or have weak memories, Matt Stairs was a hefty, .250 hitting 1st baseman whose "hustle" and work ethic endeared him to the Chicago fans, especially when compared to his replacement, the lazy, statue-like, "defense? I don't play no stinkin' defense" bastard Fred McGriff. So in honor of this portly hero:
We have decided to initiate an end of the season award that will be given to the Chicago Cub who meets (but dares not exceed) the standard of mediocre statistics and yet inexplicably winning behavior set by Stairs himself.
The following Qualifications must be met in order to compete for this award:
1. Must appear in over half of the team's games (81).
2. Batting Average must fall in the .250-.280 range, while home runs cannot exceed 20 and RBIs may not exceed 70, as the Matt himself batted .250 with 17 homers and 61 rbis during his campaign with the Cubs.
1. Must make at least 20 appearances.
2.ERA must be between 4.00 and 4.99
3. The Cubs record in the player's appearances must be over .500. (Matt in 2001: 71-57)
4. The player cannot have one of the top 10 salaries on the team, as we're not here to reward underachievement by the superstars, but mediocrity by the little guys. (True, Matt himself was #9, but considering that the Cubs payroll was far smaller in those days and Sosa's contract counted for like, 6 of everyone elses, we'll make 10 the bar.)
Based upon the salary factor, the following players are eligible:
Henry (Hank White) Blanco, C
Daryle Ward, 1B/PH
Michael Wuertz, P
Matt Murton, OF
Ronny Cedeno, SS/2B
Rich Hill, P
Ryan Theriot, SS
Sam Fuld, OF
Felix Pie, CF
Kevin Hart, P
Jon Lieber, P
Sean Marshall, P
Billy Petrick, P
Neal Cotts, P
Carmen Pignatiello, P
Geovany Soto, C
Erik Patterson, OF
The list will of course be trimmed after Spring Training to remove those players that do not make the final roster. Standings will be posted at the end of each week, ranking the players based on their performances. The final award will be made after the last game of the regular season.
Now on to the previews themselves, which I will count backwards, 25-1, from the worst player on the roster to the best. Once more, these are my guesses as to who will actually be on the 25 man roster after cuts, so if I miss one or two, who cares, it'll be the shitty players anyways.
Roster Spot #25: Mike Fontenot/Sam Fuld
I'm really not sure which one of these guys will make the final roster, so I'll just do a brief bit on both.
Height: 5'8'' Weight: 170 lbs Bats: Left Throws: Left
2007 Stats: .278 avg, 3 hrs, 29 rbis, .336 obp, .402 slg, 5 stolen bases.
Fontenot was acquired in the 2005 trade that Sammy Sosa to the Orioles. He saw actions in a few games that year, spent the 2006 season in the minors, and was called up to the Cubs on May 15 after batting .336 for the AAA Iowa Cubs. During his first month in the majors Fontenot went on a tear, batting .397 with a .422 obp during the month of June. Fontenot hit all 3 of his homers in that month and 25 of his 29 rbis. But that would be the last month of the "good" Fontenot.
Fontenot followed up his blistering June with July, August, September/October averages of .211, .208, .233, with 0 homers and 4 rbis. 4! In three months!
This spring Fontenot has tried to boost his chances of making the team by expanding his range and trying to play shortstop, third base, and the outfield, and is batting .429 with a homer and four rbis.
OF- Sam Fuld #27
Height:5'10'' Weight: 180 Bats: Left Throws: Left
2007 Stats: .000 avg, 0 hrs, o rbis, .333 obp, .000 slug.
Fuld has become a "fan favorite" at Wrigley Field after his brief 14 game stint with the team last September. By "fan favorite" I mean women love him because he's "dreamy" and nonsensical Cubs fans who wouldn't know a stat book if it hit them in the ass love him because he "hustles" and had one amazing catch last year. One. Anyone who really thinks this guy, whose minor league numbers (especially power numbers) are nowhere near as impressive as Felix Pie's and who has ZERO career hits is a better option as the starter in center field represents whats wrong with most Cubs fans. You don't score runs with grit, hustle, or "sticktoitiveness" damnit. These are the same people who defended Alex Gonzalez, Corey Patterson, and Kyle Farnsworth. I hate you all.
Honestly, Compare the numbers:
Fuld (Minors):318 games, .296 avg., 12 hrs, 106 rbis, 52 stolen bases
Pie (Minors):541 games, .300 avg., 51 hrs, 257 rbis,106 stolen bases
Granted, Fuld's minor league stats are nothing to laugh at and he may make a solid leadoff hitter someday. But also so might Pie. A leadoff hitter with more speed (Fuld's only really viable asset) and more power. Even if one projects Fulds stats out to the same number of games played as Pie his numbers dont come close. So please people, quit plugging for Fuld.