Back in 2001, the Cubs made a terrible baseball decision when they put infielder Miguel Cairo and outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. on waivers and kept infielder Augie Ojeda on the active roster. Cairo and Matthews were quickly snapped up by other teams, and Ojeda was of little help as the Cubs fell short in their bid to win the NL Central.
Fast-forward to 2009. It seems Matthews wants to move out from the L.A. Angels with two years and $23 million left on the five-year, $50 million contract he signed before the 2007 season:
The reason this has come up is that the Cubs are trying to unload outfielder Milton Bradley, who has two years and $21 million left on the three-year, $30 million contract he signed last January.
The Cubs should pass on Matthews, and it appears from all indications that they’ll do so.
Matthews’ numbers have declined severely since he left Texas and their former batting coach, Rudy Jaramillo, after the 2006 season. You know where Jaramillo is now. In ’06 with the Rangers, Matthews had a hitting line of .313/.371/.495 for an OPS of .866 and an OPS-plus of 121.
Here is how it’s gone since then:
2007: .252/.323/.419 for an OPS of .742. The OPS-plus was 93.
2008: .242/.319/.357 for an OPS of .675. The OPS-plus was 77
2009: .250/.336/.361 for an OPS of .697. The OPS plus was 82, and his weighted on-base average (wOBA) was .313. Matthews hit only 4 homers. On top of it, this speedy player's groundball percentage fell from 59 percent in ’08 to 42.2 percent this year. His flyball rate jumped from 26.5 percent in ’08 to 38.9 percent this year. (On another topic, most of you also know that Matthews has had to fight off charges _ which he vehemently denied _ of HGH use.)
Matthews’ decline in production prompted an article on fangraphs.com to describe Matthews as the “most delusional man on the planet" for his assertion in the L.A. Times that "when I'm playing every day, I feel I can be a top-of-the-line center fielder, and that, I would think, is what a lot of teams want."
Just for comparison’s sake, Bradley’s line this year was .257/.378/.397 for an OPS of .775. His OPS-plus was 101.
Statistically speaking, you’d rather have Bradley. Of course, for myriad reasons, the Cubs are going to trade Bradley this fall. But there are better options out there than Gary Matthews Jr. The Cubs don’t want to err twice with him.