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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The 2nd Annual Matt Stairs Award for Excellence in Mediocrity

Last year we introduced the Matt Stairs Award for Excellence in Mediocrity. This award, honoring perhaps the most beloved example of mediocrity in Cubs history, was determined to find that key player who, while not really being one of the better players on the team, earned a great deal of love from the fans for his general appeal as "just a good guy." The pre-season favorites last year, Reed Johnson and Ryan Theriot, actually took themselves out of the running by passing the .280 mark in batting average, the threshold for mediocrity. Fortunately Jim Edmonds swooped in, and with his picture perfect .256 batting average, 19 home runs, and 49 RBIs matched up well with Matt's own numbers as a Cub (.255, 17, 61) and snagged him the award. (Sure, you may point out that Edmonds .937 OPS as a Cub was anything but mediocre, but f*&k you!). So, with Edmonds hardware in the mail (we swear!), we take a pre-season glance at this years early candidates based on the following qualifications-

Position Players:
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

For Everyone: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.)

Last year, Jimbo met every requirement perfectly with a .256 average, 19 homers, 49 RBIs, 85 games played, a 46-39 record and a veteran minimum salary well out of the top ten range. So who qualifies for this years contest? Not counting the non-roster invites who might have an outside shot at making the team, here are this year's candidates (ranked in order of 2008 salaries)-

Kevin Gregg, RHP
Chad Gaudin, RHP
Aaron Miles, 2B-UTIL
Reed Johnson, OF
Aaron Heilman, RHP
Neal Cotts, LHP
Paul Bako, C
Carlos Marmol, RHP
Ryan Theriot, SS
Joey Gathright, OF
Mike Fontenot, 2B
Angel Guzman, RHP
Geovany Soto, C
Kevin Hart, RHP
Micah Hoffpauir, 1B
Koyie Hill, C

Because its my contest, and its completely arbitrary, I'm making Soto and Marmol ineligible for this award, as mediocre seasons from either one of them would be a damnable shame. I will try to be better this season (read: I will try not to disappear from the months of June-August) at posting the standings on at least a semi-regular basis. The above list is obviously not final, as any player, like Edmonds, who is picked up during the season and hits the requirements for appearances will be added to the list. So here's to an exciting 2009 season for all of the mediocre Cubs!

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