Friday, February 27, 2009

In which we learn the abilities - and limitations - of Aaron Miles, millionaire pro athlete

Okay, so maybe saying "Aaron Miles sucks" is harsh. After all, the 32-year-old switch hitter batted a career high .317 last year before he was snatched up by the Cubs. He must be doing something right.

But let's take a closer gander at those career numbers. It's really a tale of mediocrity, but he gets just enough singles and is perhaps just short enough to get away with it. Over the span of his career, Miles is a .289 hitter. Not bad. And yet, while he would be a no-brainer to bat lead-off for Dusty Baker, the reality of it is that Miles is very much so a one-dimensional player. He's never drawn more than 38 walks in a season. He's never slugged higher than a Neifi-tastic .398. If you took his career numbers and averaged them out to one season's work, you'd have a player who'd hit 20 doubles, 4 triples, 4 homers, 31 walks, and 6 steals in 10 tries. That's not exactly starting material - unless you play for the Royals or -- again -- Dusty Baker.

But Kurt, you protest. Surely he must be a defensive whiz. There has to be a redeeming fact that will make it okay if Lou names him the opening day starter! The regrettable answer is "nuh-uh." Miles is a passable second baseman, but his only real defensive strength lies in his versatility - he has experience playing everywhere on the diamond but first and catcher. Hell, the guy has even pitched before.

Really, the more we look into it, it becomes evident that the one thing he really seems to have going for him is his height. The Cubs seem to be infatuated with short and scrappy white ballplayers. From Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot to Miles himself, the Cubs are loaded with little'uns. In fact, the Cubs are just a Sam Fuld away from having the necessary components to load up their gear and journey to Mount Doom where they can destroy the One Ring of Power. That's great theater, but not great baseball.

So, let's review the facts. Aaron Miles hits a lot of singles and nothing else. He's a jack of many positions but a master of none. He's short and scrappy. In other words, we can conclude from this in-depth look that Aaron Miles must not start.

A bench player? Yes. A sometimes-starter? Absolutely. A pinch hitter impervious to pitching changes? Check. But not a starter. Never a starter. Mike Fontenot may not be taller than Miles, but in baseball Fontenot is in all other ways better than him. And so ends our lesson for today - the Chicago Cubs must bench Aaron Miles.

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