Writing about the Mark DeRosa trade reminds me how wrong I was about the other moves the Cubs made in the offseason between the 2008 and 2009 seasons. For example, I was sure Milton Bradley could hit right-handed pitching from the middle of the Cubs order and drive in runs, even if he did miss 30 games due to injury. (To be sure, Bradley's .379 OBP and .151 ISO as a lefty gave him a wRC+ of 104, if you're into that sort of thing, despite his .234 average. But 40 RBI in 473 PA... Yeah he sucked.)
I was also sure that trading Mark DeRosa was a good idea, and for a number of reasons: not just because it saved money, and not just because it brought back interesting young arms, but also because it opened up a spot for Mike "Lil' Babe Ruth" Fontenot. Prior to the 2009 season, Fontenot had hit .290/.369/.457 over 549 plate appearances. And, like always, the Cubs were pretty sure they needed another left-handed hitter, which Fontenot was. So, perfect! Great move! Go get 'em Fonty!
Needless to say, Mike Fontenot's audition for the role of everyday Cub second baseman did not go well. And now, two years later, here we are again, needing to consider our options at the keystone. (And for all you Darwin Barney fans out there: .274/.303/.305 since May 1. The Purple Evolutionist is not the answer.)
So take me at my word: I will not do with Blake DeWitt what I did with Mike Fontenot. With Mike, I saw a youngish (he was actually 28 in 2008) infielder with some decent enough stats, that might be able to improve in a full-time capacity. I thought he deserved a shot as a starter.
DeWitt is also young — 25, as you should know by now, since we seem to mention the fact in every other blog post. And he's shown some major league skills, with walks in about 10% of his plate appearances prior to this season, plus about 40 extra-base hits per 500 at-bats. So maybe he could win a full-time job? Maybe?
Then again, he's got a .276 on-base percentage this year, with just three walks in over 150 plate appearances. And his ISO is sitting right under .100, making him one of the lightest-hitting batters on the roster. Yes, he may get better with more playing time or whatever, but 1000 at-bats in... Basically, the kid needs to start generating results pronto.
So next time you see me talking about Blake DeWitt as a potential Opening Day starter for 2012, slap me. Or just say, "Remember: Mike Fontenot!!!" Sigh.
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