The Only Benefit of the Doubt I’m Willing to Give
Submitted by Rob G. on Wed, 11/09/2005 - 6:47am
I am, as many others are, upset about the Neifi Perez signing. My feelings about Neifi are well-documented here, so there's no need to re-hash them, and Rob pretty much covered the potential problems, which we all assume will become reality, in giving Perez a two-year deal. Searching for any sort of silver lining, I grab onto the fact that Neifi and Rafael Furcal are buddies, and Neifi has already made a recruiting call to Furcal, trying to get him to come to Chicago. Furcal has had some well-documented troubles with the law, including two DUIs, the second of which led to actual jail time. In a discussion about this signing, a friend mentioned the possibility that Neifi had been retained to sort of keep Furcal on the straight and narrow. It's highly speculative, of course, but isn't that what the off-season is about? So here's where my thinking is right now: Maybe re-signing Perez helps the Cubs sign Furcal. And maybe having Perez around makes it easier for Furcal to stay off the sauce and concentrate on playing shortstop and hitting leadoff, two things he does well. If so, then I'm willing to write off the $6M that Neifi got. I'll even mentally add it to whatever contract Furcal signs -- if it's a five-year deal as rumored, then that's only just over a million more per year. That's walking-around money to a major league franchise. If Furcal comes to Chicago and as a result Derrek Lee sees more than the anemic 379 runners on base he saw last year, I'll consider it money well-spent. Lee came to the plate with 379 runners on base, and drove in 61 of them. That's 0.161 RBI per runner. Not a great rate, but a decent one. By comparison, Alex Rodriguez had a worse rate than Lee's (0.159) but ended up driving in 82 runners because he had 516 opportunities. Think about that for a second: A-Rod had 137 more RBI opportunities than Lee last year. That's almost one additional runner on base per game. Giving Lee (and A-Ram behind him) one more runner a game to try to drive in is worth six million dollars, I think. This doesn't address the issue of playing time, of course. Perez has been given "no guarantees that he'll be a starter," which brings the number of players on the Cubs roster signed to multi-year contracts without any guarantees of starting to two, and I'd say I believe it in approximately zero cases. Anyone who thinks that Dusty can be handed a loaded Neifi without expecting him to point it at the lineup hasn't been paying attention the last few years. I haven't figured out a way to justify the playing time, but there are still almost five months until Opening Day -- give me time.