Originally posted at TrueBlue
Jim Caple disses the Sosa trade.
Think about it. The Cubs just traded their best, most popular player since Ernie Banks to the Orioles for Jerry Hairston -- and paid Baltimore more than $10 million to boot. And yet a lot of Cubs fans are happy about this.Jim, put on your thinking cap for a second: why are Cubs fans happy about this? Is it because of Sosa's overwhelming popularity?
I just don't understand this. Has any player ever gone from team icon to pariah so quickly? I saw this to some extent with Ken Griffey Jr. when he asked to be traded out of Seattle, but not this complete a turnaround, not this quickly. Good lord. Sosa hit 35 home runs in 126 games last year and people act as if he sprayed the Wrigley Field ivy with weed killer.Wrong again, Jim. The reason he lost favor wasn't by hitting 35 homers. The Cubs, and the fans, put up with Sosa's clubhouse issues because there was a time when he was spectacular in the batter's box. I'll quote four numbers for you: 116, 103, 62, 53. For good measure, I'll include four more numbers that are related to the first four: .328, .288, .279, .253. What are those numbers? The first set are his walks from 2001 to 2004. The last set are his batting averages during the same period.
Granted, Sosa had become a royal prima donna, surrounding himself with an entourage so large you might mistake it for Oprah's studio audience. He had become so self-centered that the simple act of lowering him in the batting order required a court order, an act of Congress and the express written consent of the commissioner of baseball.
But who tolerated his act for so many years, allowing his ego to grow so large he needed Velcro fasteners on his cap? The Cubs. They were perfectly happy to put up with Sosa when he was averaging 50 home runs a season, but as soon as he dropped to 35, it suddenly became too much to handle.
From 2001 to 2004, Sosa lost an astounding 105 points off of his on-base average. In a game where getting on base 4/10 tries is considered to be a very good performance, Sosa's ability to get on base dropped like a Kerry Wood curveball. Why did this happen? Only Sosa knows for sure, but it was probably a combination of two things:
(1) Sosa's desire to maximize his career home run numbers. He's swinging for the fences, and forgetting to hit the ball in the process.
(2) Sosa's refusal to stand near the plate after being beaned by Solomon Torres. Acceptable for a little leaguer, high schooler, or even a college player. Not acceptable for the highest-paid player in franchise history.
Jim Caple is so fixated upon the decline in home run statistics (which come because Sosa has started swinging at ANYTHING that makes it at least 55 feet from the pitcher's mound) that he totally ignores the fact that Sosa's production in other areas has declined even further.
That's understandable, but I'm sorry. I know Sosa could be a pain in the butt and he put himself above the team. But the reason the Cubs didn't win last year was not because he played his boombox too loud.I agree. The reason the Cubs didn't win last year was that the "franchise player" was too busy thinking about Hank Aaron and Barry "Cream" Bonds to worry about the Expos, Mets, Reds, and Marlins while batting .230 in September.
Walking out on the team was just the sour icing on a bitter cake.