I feel like I should be posting the lineup today. Season-long habits are hard to break, and there's always that empty feeling on the first day of the off-season, even though you're glad in a way the grind is over. Long about Christmastime, I'll get the itch for spring training.
While you're at it, check out my latest column, posted Monday night for Tuesday's paper:
That said, let's take a look a Cubs position players for 2009 and see if we can't unearth a nugget or two. We’ll look at pitchers next time. Let's go around the diamond, starting behind the plate:
C Geovany Soto: After a Rookie of the Year season, in which Geo hit 23 homers, drove in 86 and put up a hitting line of .285/.364/.504, he backslid badly this year, with 11 homers, 47 RBI and a hitting line of .218/.321/.381. That's a huge drop. Maybe a new hitting coach will help.
Nuggets: Soto's BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was only .251, suggesting some bad-luck hitting. His weighted on-base average (wOBA) was only .310.
C Koyie Hill: Teams always are looking for dependable backup catchers, and Hill established himself in this area. His hitting line of .237/.312/.324 isn't awe-inspiring, but the Cubs love the way he calls games and handles the staff.
Nuggets: Hill is 30, but his was his first full season in the majors. The Cubs were 42-27 in Hill's 69 starts. He threw out 20 of 50 basestealers, or 40 percent.
1B Derrek Lee: He's on my MVP ballot. His hitting line of .306/.393/.579 was a big jump from last year's .291/.361/.462. He hit 35 homers and drove in a career-best 111.
Nuggets: One projection system, CHONE, had Lee at .293/.376/.494 for this year with 23 homers and 77 RBI. PECOTA had him for .285./365/.463 with 18 homers and 86 RBI.
2B Mike Fontenot: With all the criticism of Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto, let's not forget the big slide suffered by Fontenot after the Cubs made him their second baseman. His hitting line of .236/.301/.377 in 135 games and 377 at-bats is a huge drop from the .305/.395/.514 he turned in last year in 119 games and 243 at-bats.
Nuggets: In May, Fontenot's line was .217/.277/.338. In June, it was .211/.296/.282. That's when Aramis Ramirez was out with his dislocated shoulder.
3B Aramis Ramirez: Maybe once and for all, people will realize what a potent offensive force Ramirez is. His season was cut to 82 games because of the shoulder. He turned in a hitting line of .317/.389/.516 with 15 homers and 65 RBI.
Nuggets: You may or may not believe there are "clutch" hitters, but Ramirez batted .425 with runners in scoring position (37-for-87). He was 5-for-11 with the bases loaded.
SS Ryan Theriot: This will be on interesting arbitration case if it goes that far. Theriot's line was .284/.343/.369. Last year, it was .307/.387/.359. Theriot hit a career-high 7 homers and drove in a career-best 54. Were all those homers earlier in the year and Lou's suggestion that Theriot "drive the ball" such a hot idea? Theriot also struck out 93 times while walking 51. Last year, he struck out 58 times and drew 73 walks.
Nuggets: Theriot had a .525 slugging percentage and an .864 OPS in May, when he hit 5 of his 7 homers. The other 2 homers came in June.
IF Jeff Baker: The Cubs may have found their “new Mark DeRosa” in Baker, whom they obtained from the Rockies on July 2. With the Cubs, Baker batted .305 (62-for-203) with 4 homers, 15 doubles and 21 RBI in 69 games. He can play first, second and third, and the Cubs may try him in the outfield next spring. His hitting line overall was .288/.343/.425, and with the Cubs, it was .305/.362/448.
Nuggets: Baker’s BABIP was .361, with a line-drive percentage 19.4, a groundball percentage of 45.1 and a flyball percentage of 35.4
IF Aaron Miles: Somebody has to be the worst player in baseball, or at least the worst veteran, and that dubious distinction may go to Miles, whose hitting line is .185/.224/.242. And to think he completed only the first year of a two-year, $4.9 million contract.
Nuggets: In Baseball Prospectus’ VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) system, Miles ranked 1,018th, at minus-13.4. At least he ranked ahead of Ronny Cedeno.
IF Andres Blanco: A nonroster invitee to spring training two years in a row, Blanco played 53 games after coming up from the minors and put up a line of .252/.303/.341. His glove endeared him to Lou, who said he hopes Blanco can up his OBP. He could stick as a backup next year.
Nuggets: Blanco hit his first major-league home run on July 29.
LF Alfonso Soriano: There’s no doubt the knee limited Soriano, who turned in a hitting line of .241/.303/.423, with his OBP slipping below .300 at various points. He had 20 homers and 55 RBI. Last year, the line was .280/.344/.532. The Cubs are counting on a huge bounce-back next year.
Nuggets: In April, Soriano’s line was .284/.364/.,591 with 7 homers and 14 RBI. In July, it was .345/.409/.583 with 5 homers and 16 RBI. When right, he can carry a club for stretches.
OF Kosuke Fukudome: He went .259/.375/.421 after going .257/.359/.379 in his “rookie” season last year, when he fell off the face of the earth after July. He led the Cubs with 93 walks and 38 doubles. The off-season will determine whether Fukudome returns to right field, his better position, for good.
Nuggets: Fukudome was 9-for-55 (.164) vs. left-handed pitching. His “down” months this year were June (.169) and September (.202).
RF Milton Bradley: Some “stats” people have defended Bradley’s line of .257/.378/.397, but it was a far cry from last year’s 321/.436/.563 with Texas, for an AL-leading .999 OPS. In RBI, and value them how you will, Bradley had 40, trailing teammates such as Fontenot and Jake Fox. For all the reasons you’ve read about, this was a gross miscalculation on the part of the Cubs in signing Bradley for three years and $30 million.
Nuggets: At “negative” Wrigley Field, Bradley had a line of .296/.407/.485 compared with .214/.347/.299 away from home. He batted .231 left-handed and .333 right-handed.
OF Reed Johnson: A broken foot limited Johnson to 65 games, during which he put up a line of .255/.330/.412. Last year, it was .303/.358/.420 in 109 games. He made $3 million this year and will be a free agent coming up. His re-signing is a big uncertainty.
Nuggets: Johnson batted .324 (22-for-68) vs. left-handed pitching and .206 (20-for-97) vs. righties. At Wrigley, he batted .282.
IF-OF Bobby Scales: This was the feel-good story of the career minor-leaguer making it to the bigs. Scales’ line was .242/.312/.411. He’ll have to fight for a roster spot again next year.
Nuggets: Scales was 7-for-14 as a pinch hitter with 2 homers and 5 RBI. His 2 homers led all Cubs pinch hitters.
IF-OF Jake Fox: Just call him the people’s choice, as I got more e-mails about why he wasn’t playing more than I did for anybody else. A couple of us writers ran into Jake Monday in the parking lot at Wrigley. He’s hoping for more playing time, whether it be with the Cubs or with somebody else, maybe in the AL. There was no interest in Jake from other teams last year, but that has changed this year, according to those who know. His line was .259/.311/.468.
Nuggets: Fox’ isolated power (ISO, or slugging percentage minus batting average) was .208. Of his 58 hits, 11 were homers and 14 were doubles.
1B-OF Micah Hoffpauir: Hoffpauir broke camp with the Cubs but did spend some time in Iowa. His line was .239/.300/.427. He’ll be 30 next March.
Nuggets: All that “bench D-Lee and play Hoffpauir” talk was fueled by a strong April, when Hoffpauir went 10-for-33 with 2 homers, 8 RBI and an OPS of .878. He wound up with 10 homers for the year.
OF Sam Fuld: The fan favorite hit his first big-league homer and drove in his first major-league run in Sunday’s season finale. In 65 games, his line was .299/.409/.412. He could stick as an extra outfielder next year.
Nuggets: The left-handed hitting Fuld was 8-for-26 (.308) vs. lefties and 21-for-71 (.296) vs. righties. His OBP was .409, and his wOBA was .367. His BABIP was .326.