Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
by Derek Smart
Sooner or later, we all knew it had to happen. Some things are unavoidable, like death, taxes, or Aunt Maimie's kisses, and like all these things, we understood that, despite the ridiculously consistent prowess and seeming invincibility, no matter how hard we might wish it otherwise, Derrek Lee would eventually go into a slump.
We are officially in the midst of it, and not surprisingly, it has coincided with a sizable dropoff in the overall productivity of the Cubs' offense. Granted, there are plenty of other folks scuffling at the moment - since July 24th the team as a whole has hit a paltry .250/.321/.373 - but up until now Lee hasn't been personally party to any extended lack of stick-wielding ineptitude displayed by his mates.
This time, however, he's leading the way, as during his last eight games The Savior has finally looked human, hitting .233/.378/.233, and looking mighty uncomfortable at the plate while doing it. But while it's bad news when your best overall hitter and best slugger has only seven singles to his name over more than a week, comfort can be taken from the fact that he's continued to walk - although since four of the seven passes were intentional, it's not nearly as comforting as I'd like.
I can't say I'm concerned yet. It's only a few games, after all, and it's not like there was any reason to believe Lee would go the entire year without looking a little ragged at some point. Still, I sure hope the day off yesterday fixed what ailed him, and the rest of the team as well, because a little regression is understandable, especially as the grind of the season begins to wear a body down, this is a team that can't afford to have its best player less than his best, understandable or not.