Say what you will about Sori, but this was his best all-around season with Chicago. Despite a nagging knee injury, Soriano played in 151-games, hit 32 HR and drove in a career-high 108 RBI, leading the club in both categories, with little protection in the lineup.
He may not win the Gold Glove, but his fielding was the best it’s ever been and the guy earned every penny of his contract setting a positive example for the youthful Cubs both on and off the field.
Now it’s a matter of whether or not the Cubs should trade him this offseason? If so, how do the Cubs replace Soriano’s offensive production, or is it best to keep him for another season?
Honorable mentions: Darwin Barney (clutch fielding, leadership), David DeJesus (gamer, leadership), Anthony Rizzo (sparked lineup, solid defense), Shawn Camp (because Sveum says so!).
-Darwin Barney: A no-brainer. Set the NL record and tied the major league record for most consecutive games at 2B without a fielding error (141).
And despite the consecutive-games errorless streak, Barney continued to show solid range, dive after balls and make difficult throws from his position.
He started the second most games (146), turned the second most double plays (96) and his two miscues were the fewest of any regular starting second baseman in the National League.
It’s a crime if Barney doesn’t win the Gold Glove. And no, I don’t think the Cubs should trade Darwin this offseason…see above. Honorable mentions: Alfonso Soriano (12 assists, 1 error, .996), David DeJesus (8 assists, 2 errors, .993), Reed Johnson (3 assists, 1 error, .987).
All-around professional, quality at-bats, terrific defense, durable, team leader.
He’s been the Cubs’ best leadoff man since Juan Pierre in 2006 while leading the team in OBP (.350), finished second in triples (8), third in doubles (28) and fourth in hits (133).
There’s not a better player for the youthful Cubs players to look up to than DeJesus. He plays the game the right way–every day. It’s a blessing the 33-year-old returns for a second season on the North Side, even if he only lasts to the July 31 trade deadline next year.
Honorable mention: Shawn Camp (3-6, 3.59), 77.2 IP, 1.29 WHIP and tied for league lead with 80 appearances.
It recently struck me many of my long-time favorite Cubs are no longer Cubs.
Aramis Ramirez, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster: all gone. Reed Johnson: gone. Carlos Pena, albeit his short stay: gone. Heck, even Sweet Lou: gone.
I’ve grown to like Alfonso Soriano a little more each season, but he’s never been one of my favorites. And there’s not much else to choose from as far as tenure is concerned.
SO WHO IS MY FAVORITE CUBS PLAYER?
David DeJesus is a strong candidate. He’s always been a player who caught my eye, even before joining Chicago this offseason. I appreciate his game, his hustle, his professionalism, but chances are he’s gone by next July’s trade deadline or following the season.
The same can be said for Matt Garza.
Starlin Castro has been a lightning rod among Cubs fans–some want him traded, others want to him stay. I tend to side with the ‘keepers’ and think the Cubs should build around him.
Sure, I like Castro enough, think he’s a legit ballplayer, but not sure he’s a favorite just yet. He at least needs to clean up the mental errors for a start. (Who doesn’t hate mental errors?)
Bryan LaHair was a suitor until, well, he stopped hitting. Carlos Marmol? Dude just drives me insane.
It seems I’ll need to spend the latter half of the season determining who’s my next favorite Cubs player.
Who’s going to be the guy I can count on, the guy who sticks around long enough to see the rebuild through, and help lead our beloved Cubs back to glory?
Of course Anthony Rizzo is a clear favorite. Maybe Travis Wood, too. I’ve always had a soft spot for crafty lefties (I miss you Ted Lilly). Or is it time I switch to a power-throwing right-arm the likes of Jeff Samardzija?
What about Dale Sveum?
Maybe it’s a Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters who catches my eye? Perhaps Jorge Solar steals my heart? I have no idea.
So what if the Cubs stole one Tuesday night. Back-to-back walkoffs against the Cardinals, I’ll take it.
The Cubs not only earned its first series win in 2012, but also ended St. Louis’ streak of 13-consecutive series wins dating back to last year, including the postseason.
However, Chicago got two very questionable calls from the umpiring crew to go in their favor: DeJesus’ slide home in the first inning and Campana’s steal in the 10th.
Had the umps made even one of the two calls correctly were probably left sulking over another Cubs loss and yet another solid start by Samardzija wasted due to a lack of run support. Water under the bridge this time…
How about Soriano hitting a low & away slider hard enough to drive in the game-winning run. Everyone watching knew what pitch was coming, but who knew Sori could actually hit it?
Bryan LaHair has put together two terrific at-bats in crucial situations the past two games: a 12-pitch walk on Monday and a game-tying home run Tuesday, which also marks his first hit against a left-hander this season.
I love this guy’s moxie. LaHair’s proving he’s not just a Triple-A phenom, but a true threat at the major league level. Now it’s just a matter of seeing if he can hit consistently for a full season.
So much for Len & Bob as the Cubs best leadoff man. WGN’s dynamic duo has been unseated with the arrival of David DeJesus.
Right away it appears Epstein/Hoyer share a similar idea Jim Hendry had two years ago when the Cubs signed Joey Gathright–a speedy, left-handed hitting outfielder–to bat leadoff.
As you remember, the Gathright signing was short lived. Through 20 games he batted .214 with one stolen base, no extra base hits and six strikeouts. Hendry subsequently dealt him to Baltimore for Ryan Freel on May 8, 2009.
Freel was even worse than Gathright statistically posting a .143 avg. in 14 games with one steal, one RBI and seven strikeouts. And by July 2, 2009, Freel was DFA to make room for the newly acquired Jeff Baker from the Colorado Rockies.
Surprisingly, the Cubs have been without a typical leadoff man ever since.