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Skip to m' Alou
by alex ciepley
Good riddance, goodbye!
Every trick of his you're on to
But fools will be fools
And where's he gone to?
After three years manning left field, it looks like Moises Alou will say his farewells to the Cubbie faithful. The Trib's reported that the Cubs will decline Alou's $11.5M option sometime this week. There is a "small chance" that he'll come back, but I don't see the Cubs going that route. The Tribune article says the team want to "add more speed" in the outfield (which is cool if the burner can also get on base), and Alou doesn't really fit that profile.
Alou's spent his career with several different teams, but I remember him most vividly from his time with the Astros. He was the guy who I feared most in their lineup. He always seemed to kill the Cubs, pulling doubles off that silly wall they have in left field in Houston.
I thought the Cubs overpaid for Alou when they signed him, but I was still pretty excited. Part of my happiness came from knowing Alou could no longer smash hits off the Cubs, but I was also thrilled to have a guy in the lineup behind Sammy who had just hit .330 with about 30 homers and 30 doubles.
Alou's first season was just awful. Left field is usually reserved for one of your most productive hitters, but Alou missed 30 games and hit just 275/337/419 when he did play. Both his on-base percentage and slugging percentage were exactly league average. It was a huge decline and a huge disappointment.
As I mentioned before this season began, the best thing about his 2003 season was his health. He was always in the lineup that year, and improved on his rookie Cubs campaign with a line of .280/.357/.462. Still not worth the money he was getting, but at least now he was above average.
In my preseason look at Alou, I mentioned that "a true cleanup hitter [Alou] is not." Well, funny boy decided to play a little trick on ol' Alex and make him eat his words. Alou had a great year this season out of the number four spot with the Cubs, setting career highs in both doubles (36) and home runs (39). With the sudden decline of Sosa, Alou really helped carry the Cubs offense all this year.
Unfortunately, Alou's power resurgence was served to Cubs fans along with some Fine Whine. I remember being surprised when Alou was all feisty in the fall of 2003 during that famed St. Louis five-game set. Alou ranted and raved at the umpires, and I remember thinking, "Wow, I rarely see Alou get this upset." Well, it was all downhill from there. He is the primary reason that, while I was happy with a lot that this Cubs team accomplished, I never found them all that likeable.
Alou's production next year will be hard to replace. Barring a Beltran coup, a Magglio find, or a DuBois surprise, the Cubs will take a hit at that position. It still justifies letting him walk, though. Chances are he'll revert to his 2003 line--or worse, 2002--and the Cubs simply can't afford to pay a player $11.5M for those services. Actually, the Cubs shouldn't pay 6 million for Alou either. It's a chance for the Cubs to either make a splash or let a youngster fill the role while applying the money elsewhere.