March 15, 2009

Finally, a German a Jew could actually like

First off, let's be honest. The name is irresistible. (For those of you who are unawares, the last name is pronounced "her-MAHN," most likely so we would know he's not a Nazi.) Esteban German. Rolls off the tongue like a modern-day Angel Echevarria.

But why else would I be in like with a Royals castoff? Well, unlike the previously-signed Joey Gathright, German actually, you know, gets on base. Despite last season's pitiful .303 OBP, German's career mark stands at .359. Going into last season, it was at .370 in 849 PAs. Add in a .393 OBP in a whopping 3,859 minor league plate appearances, and I believe that German is exactly the kind of guy you'd want pinch hitting, especially in a bases-empty situation, so that he could commence the process of clogging them up. Plus, he has played almost every position on the diamond, though mostly 2nd, 3rd, and left. Granted, at 31 he doesn't have a whole lotta upside left; still, he seems to be a great utility guy for NL play, especially given Piniella's affection for the double-switch. He is a much better option to be "this year's Mark DeRosa" than Aaron Miles, who has been touted as such. Of course, German probably won't make the team.

Because the Cubs would most likely rather keep the aforementioned Gathright (.328 OBP, 68 OPS+ in 1296 PA vs. .359/95/1091 for German). Look, they already have Reed Johnson as a backup CF. Assuming they are going to keep way too many pitchers (12), as is the trend now -- yes, I know, some teams ridiculously carry 13 -- and a backup catcher, you're only left with four bench guys. Johnson is a lock. With the trade of Ronny Cedeno, Miles is the only guy who can play a (barely) passable shortstop, so he is too. Hoffpauir should be. That leaves one spot. Instead of choosing between another backup outfielder in Gathright and a guy of questionable health who can only play one position (third base; I assume just about anyone can play first) in Corey Koskie -- who has by far the best career numbers of any of them but hasn't played since July 5, 2006 -- they should just keep German. Which is why I'm quite certain they won't.

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