So, we all remember when Brian Roberts was supposedly going to be a Cub? It was months and months ago, so long so that I had entirely forgotten about the whole sordid ordeal -- Roberts flirting with the Cubs; Andy MacPhail refusing to make a trade; Lou Piniella sort of stomping around and complaining; Jim Hendry trying his best to not mortgage anything on a pretty-darn-good-but-not-great second baseman like Roberts. Given that the Cubs had Mark DeRosa, an above-average bat at second base, the trade seemed more like something the Yankees would do -- adding a player more for the giggles than any actual need.
Anyway, some people really loved the idea of Brian Roberts moreso than they liked Brian Roberts, the living, breathing human being. One such person was, apparently, the Chicago Sun-Times's Gordon Wittenmeyer, who inexplicably felt like making this argument today:
First, they have no left-handed hitters whom opponents respect. If you don't believe that, ask yourself how many pitches a Dodgers left-hander threw against the Cubs in seven regular-season and three postseason games. The answer: none.
The second one is even bigger. And of all people, Alfonso Soriano alluded to it after Saturday night's elimination when he suggested the Cubs aren't built to hit in the postseason. That starts with Soriano and his all-or-nothing traits as a leadoff hitter.
Yeesh. Where to start with this? (Forget that Wittenmeyer, after introducing his thesis in the first sentence, immediately shrugs it off as untrue in the second.) First is the notion that Alfonso Soriano has some sort of special read on this Cubs team. Second is accepting that the Cubs are "not built to hit in the playoffs," which is one of the oldest and most nonsensical of baseball's cliches. Hitting is hitting, no matter whether the three-game series comes in the middle of July or the beginning of October. This isn't complicated.
Third is ignoring the idea that the Cubs didn't have a guy who could get on base. Erm. His name is Ryan Theriot? He OBP'd .387 this year, 40 points higher than Soriano. The reason he didn't lead off is of course because Soriano fancies himself a leadoff hitter, which is stupid and wrong, but which Lou Piniella can't really change because Soriano will pout and whine and intentionally be bad at baseball. Hands are tied; die are cast.
Fourth is making the argument that Brian Roberts would have somehow, say, narrowed the gap between the Cubs and Dodgers in Game 2. If you'll remember, the score was 10-3. Brian Roberts is a good second baseman, but asking him to account for seven runs in one game is an awful lot. Asking him to account for enough runs to suddenly reverse the Cubs' 0-3 fortune is wishcasting.
Brian Roberts is a good baseball player, sure. But the Cubs were a really good baseball team all year. They played another good baseball team in the playoffs. The Cubs did not play well. The other team did. Brian Roberts would not have changed that.