Cubs 2007 Report Card, Part II: The Infield

Now its time to look back at the season that was, and review how the various Cub players fared. The TMS Cubs Report Card will break down each player's performance with the hard-hitting analysis that only the Saloon can bring you. We also give them all a letter grade, an idea I can only describe as 'incredibly original'. We covered the catchers last week, so today we bring you the infielders. We have a special guest joining us this time around, as Bad Kermit from your second favorite Cubs blog, Hire Jim Essian has offered his own assessment and grades of the Cubs infield. The Hundley also brings his insight to the table, with myself rounding things out.

Derrek Lee
G 150, AB 567, R 91, HR 22, RBI 82, SB 6, AVG .317

Notes/Grades:
BAD KERMIT: If you're one of those people saying that Derrek Lee had a "terrible" year, you're a moron. I'm sorry you had to find out this way. Yes, Derrek ended up being only the third-best offensive first baseman in the division. Yes, his power didn't arrive until the second half of the season. Yes, he ran and hid behind Lou Piniella after swinging and missing Chris Young's face several times. But now, Lee is more than a year removed from Scott Eyre ruthlessly shattering his wrist, and the fact that his power trended up throughout the course of the year bodes well for 2008. Lee also played his usual spectacular defense (though there was more than one play that made me think, "2005 Derrek Lee has that ball"), and he had his hottest month in September, just when the Cubs needed him. Perhaps because he finally realized that every damn pitcher in the league was going to throw him breaking balls low and away until he proved he could hit them. Still, 82 RBIs from the Cubs' number three hitter is a bit disconcerting. Say what you will about Alfonso Soriano's inability to get on base, but you know the RBI opportunities were there. In 2005, Lee seemed to cash all of them in. In 2007, not so much. Grade B

THE HUNDLEY: Lee put out a typical Lee-type year, sans the power numbers we've all been hoping for. He was a bit streaky at the plate, but proved (yet again) to be the most consistent hitter. I wish he would take more of a vocal role in leading this team, but I suppose you can't have it all. Need to have him back as an everyday player. Grade B

CHIP: I can't argue with the B grade. There are very few 1B out there I'd rather have than Lee. Looking at his pre and post-all star break splits I think it's safe to say his power has returned. I think we can look for him to hit 30-35 homers next season. The disparity between his stats at home versus away is a bit odd, namely his AVG (.371 at home compared to.265 on the road). I'm not sure what's up with that. Grade B

Daryle Ward
G 79, AB 110, R 16, HR 3, RBI 19, SB 0, AVG .327

Notes/Grades:
BAD KERMIT: What can I say about Daryle Ward that hasn't already been said? Daryle Ward needs to eat something before he blows away! There. I did it. Ward showed Cubs fans what a professional pinch-hitter is supposed to look like, and it was nothing like Lenny Harris. Ward showed patience and power at the plate, and if Lou had ever, ever left him on the basepaths, he would have swiped at least forty bags. A Cardinal killer, Ward hit two of his three home runs off the Cardinals, the biggest one being a grand slam at Wrigley to put the Cubs up 5-0 in a game they would eventually win. Daryle was one of the few Cubs to bring his bat to the NLDS, which was awful decent of him. When he was sparingly used in right field and to cover for Derrek Lee, Ward didn't humiliate the city of Chicago, which is something. He wasn't brought in to play defense, anyhow. He was brought in to rake, and rake he did. You guys know he lead the team in OPS, right? Of course you do. You all love Daryle as much as I do. Grade A Beef

THE HUNDLEY:
Could we really have expected anything more for Ward? I can't imagine how hard it would be to be a professional pinch hitter, which he pretty much was this year. When he did get spot starts, he came through. Grade B

CHIP: I can't honestly remember the last time we had a bench guy that I was happy with. Ward provided a great bat when called upon and made us easily forget the lazy days of Jose Macias and John Mabry. Also I always took joy in watching Daryle try to leg out a double. Grade B+

Mark DeRosa
G 149, AB 502, R 64, HR 10, RBI 72, SB 1, AVG .293

Notes/Grades:
BAD KERMIT: Admit it. Unless you have a vagina, you were pissed when the Cubs signed DeRosa in the offseason. You thought, as I did, that Jim Hendry was foolish enough to sign yet ANOTHER guy to a hefty contract right after he put together a career year in a hitters' park. Let me be the first to say that you're a stupid jerk. DeRosa performed far better than I expected and, for much of the season, it looked like DeRosa might end the season with more home runs and RBIs than Derrek Lee. DeRosa is the most talented "utility" guy the Cubs have had on the roster in years, filling in more than adequately in the outfield and at third base when Aramis Ramirez was injured. More importantly, he was one of the few Cubs who swung at strikes and took balls (hee hee!) for most of the season. It's a shame he put together one of his worst at-bats of the season with the bases loaded and one out against Livan Hernandez in Game Three of the NLDS. DeRosa left a bitter taste in all of our mouths (snort!), but expect him to be the full-time second baseman starting with Opening Day next season. Grade A-

THE HUNDLEY: I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think DeRosa was the MVP of this team. A consumate professional, he did whatever was asked of him, played all over the place, and was always positive. A pro's pro, frequently sporting a faux-hawk in bench shots. Grade B+

CHIP
: I'll admit it took me a while to warm up to this guy, but by the end of the season he was probably one of my favorite Cubs. Nothing flashy about him at all, but you can count on him to always give you a little something almost every game. In games where multiple guys would go hitless, it always seemed like DeRosa was putting up 1-3, 2-4 type of games. If this time last year you would've told me that our starting 2B would be Mark DeRosa I would've probably groaned and bitched that we can't ever get anyone decent to man 2B. Now, I'm quite happy with him possibly being our starter in '08. Grade B+

Aramis Ramirez
G 132, AB 506, R 72, HR 26, RBI 101, SB 0, AVG .310

Notes/Grades:
BAD KERMIT: Despite what Barry Rozner would have you believe, Aramis Ramirez was the best hitter on the Cubs last year. His defense, for the most part, has steadily improved in his years with the Cubs. The guy could be the 2007 version of Santo out there though, for all I care, with all the goodwill he built up by collecting huge hit after huge hit. Statistically, Ramirez has turned himself into a consistent .300 hitter with about a .360 OBP and somewhere in the neighborhood of a .560 slugging percentage. In 2007, he was even better than that with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, posting a .300/.455/.567 line (1.021 OPS, if you can't add). I remember talking with one of my friends in early September about the very real possibility that the Cubs would not have a single hitter with 100 RBIs or more after having only one such hitter in each of the last two years (Aramis in 2006, Lee in 2005). Aramis shut me up by blasting 8 home runs in September and driving in 21 RBIs to put him at 101 for the season. He's simply become the guy you want at the plate with the game on the line, and if you don't recognize that, you're as stupid as Rozner. Plus, without Ramirez, we would have never heard Len's, "Oooooooh, BABY!" call. See if you can live with that. Grade A

THE HUNDLEY: We all knew about his hitting, but what really impressed me this year was his fielding. He made quite a few memorable plays that it seemed he would have booted in years past. Solid at the plate, but again had problems hustling, not to mention the NLDS vanishing act. Grade B

CHIP: Aramis always confounds me. He's probably our best all-around slugger on the team, yet I doubt many fans would say he's their favorite player on the team when asked. A-Ram Ram did everything he was supposed to this season. He hit for average, he hit for power, he drove in runs, and he played solid defense. Also anytime you can hit a walkoff homer and make Len Kasper's voice crack like a pre-pubescent Peter Brady, you're alright in my book. Grade A-

Mike Fontenot
G 86, AB 234, R 32, HR 3, RBI 29, SB 5, AVG .278

Notes/Grades:
BAD KERMIT: Fontenot's 2007 season went something like this:
First half: "Hey, this little Muppet can hit!"
Second half: "Hey, Mike Fontenot sucks!"
He doesn't suck, per se. He just sucks against lefties. Very, very, very badly. He's certainly a useful player who, if he wasn't absolutely terrible in the field, would be a nice platoon partner with Ryan Theriot. Unfortunately, you'd be better off putting Daryle Ward at shortstop than Fontenot. Still, Fontenot put together some nice at-bats against righties and provided the Cubs with a bit of a spark when he came up in May.
Grade D+

THE HUNDLEY: A breath of fresh air and a god-send when A-Ram went down. He excelled (overachieved) in his everyday PT, and then faded quite a bit down the stretch in his decreased role. Glove was very suspect at times. Grade C

CHIP: You know what, even it was just for a 28-game hot streak before the all star break, I was still happy that we got a little more out of the Sammy Sosa trade other than just Jerry god damn Hairston (although Kevin Hart may turn out to be the real gem of that deal). Good bat in the early going, not so good with the glove, but he did reunite with former LSU teammate Theriot to form The French Connection in the middle infield for a time. That has to count for something. Grade C-

Ryan Theriot
G 148, AB 537, R 80, HR 3, RBI 45, SB 28, AVG .266

Notes/Grades:
BAD KERMIT: As much as I'd like to believe that the Cubs have their answer at shortstop in 2008, they don't. I'm sorry. I like Theriot. He plays good defense, he is one of the few players on the Cubs that has a clue what they're doing before they step into the batter's box, he led the team in steals with 28, he walks as much as he strikes out, and he prevented Ronny Cedeno and Cesar Izturis from taking the field. The only problem is that Theriot kind of sucks as an everyday player. The kiss of death for a Cubs player is if the girls in pink Cubs jerseys cheer for you more loudly than the guys with scorecards when you step to the plate. Call it "The Augie Ojeda Curse." Theriot had it. OPS is certainly not a perfect statistic, but it's a pretty good one, and Theriot had the 3rd-worst OPS of all qualifying shortstops in the National League in 2007. Of the 26 qualifying shortstops in the MLB, Theriot ranked 22nd, behind Juan Uribe. What's more, Theriot completely disappeared in September, putting up an absolutely embarrassing line of .202/.257/.263. The good news is that Theriot hits lefties as well as Fontenot hits righties, making for an absolutely perfect platoon situation. If the Cubs can upgrade only one position next year (see how I qualified that?), I think the smart money would be spent upgrading shortstop, platooning Theriot and Fontenot at 2nd base (ideally, you could get close to an .800 OPS out of that platoon), and putting DeRosa in the outfield. Grade C-

THE HUNDLEY: The resident Cub "grinder". Theriot performed admirably once he got some everyday PT. More than anyone else, he seemed to have the knack for getting the big hit or getting on base in the late innings. He faded down the stretch with the bat, but his glove and his footspeed were consistent and much needed. More than any other Cub, it will be interesting to see if he can adjust next year to the 162 game schedule. Grade C+

CHIP: Sorry. Next to Thunder Matt, Ryan The Riot is the one player I hate to crap on. I have to give him credit for a few things. One that he finally gave us stability at shortstop after the failed Cesar Izturis Project. Secondly, he filled in admirably in the leadoff role when Soriano was out, batting .300. I blame his decline late in the year to him just wearing down given that it was his first real full season in the majors. Hopefully he can come back strong in '08 as our starting shortstop or even as more of Mark DeRosa type utility player. Grade C

Ronny Cedeno
G 38, AB 74, R 6, HR 4, RBI 13, SB 2, AVG .203

Notes/Grades:
BAD KERMIT: He's just a terrible, terrible baseball player, folks. He's so terrible, in fact, that Cesar Izturis was actually a better option off the bench than Cedeno. Since Izturis is gone, however, expect Cedeno to be back with the team next year unless the Cubs are able to upgrade the shortstop position and have Theriot play the part of backup shortstop. Grade F

THE HUNDLEY: Cedeno still has not shown anything in the last few years that lead me to believe he will ever be a factor in the MLB. Augie Ojeda you are not. Grade D

CHIP
: At what point do we cut our losses with this guy? He's my pick to be the next guy shipped off to Pittsburgh or Baltimore, since those seem like our favorite dumping grounds of players we no longer like, want or need. I'd flunk him but I'm giving him a little credit for getting his AVG back above the Mendoza Line before the season ended. Grade D-

Cesar Izturis
G 65, AB 191, R 15, HR 3, RBI 8, SB 3, AVG .246

Notes/Grades:
BAD KERMIT: Izturis was slightly less terrible than Cedeno, and he gave us the most hilarious celebration of all time, as he wiped Aramis Ramirez's ass for him after Aramis' walkoff homer against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. For that alone, I'll pass him (barely). Grade D-

THE HUNDLEY: Good riddance? For an ex-Gold Glover, he sure booted quite a few early when he was inexplicably our everyday shortstop. A punch-and-judy hitter at best, I'd take him as a defensive replacement, but definitely not a starter. Grade D+

CHIP: Totally worth ditching Greg Maddux for. Ugh. Only two positives I can make about Cesar this past season. 1) Cesar got traded. 2) I enjoyed giving away my Baseball Reference page sponsorship to WHYGAVS. Other than that, Cesar is dead to me. Grade F

Scott Moore
G 2, AB 5, R 0, HR 0, RBI 0, SB 0, AVG .000

Notes/Grades:
BAD KERMIT: Was on the Cubs in 2007. When you're looking up at Rob Bowen's .065 batting average, something is wrong. Still, the guy only had 5 at-bats. I'm sure they're expecting huge things from him in 2008 at NSBB because, you know, they're a bunch of morons. Grade Incomplete

THE HUNDLEY: Who? Grade Incomplete

CHIP: I wonder if the NSBB morons know he plays for Baltimore now? Here's a fun fact: Scott was the 8th overall pick by Detroit in the 2002 draft. For the record, guys taken after Moore that round include Jeremy Hermida, Khalil Greene, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, James Loney, Jeff Francoeur, and Matt Cain. Although he seems like a guy that will eventually come around and be good, and we'll look back and think, "Wait, we gave up this guy for Steve frickin' Trachsel?!" Grade D- (I'll give him credit for batting .255 for Baltimore after he got traded this season)

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