Derrek Lee is on a mission. Winning 97 games and helping the Cubs reach the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the 1st time in 100 years just isn’t enough. The single goal is to win the World Series. As Lee puts it: “We want to win a championship bad, we all want rings, we know it’s been a long time in Chicago. We know how bad the fans want it. But you can’ttake all that with you. Nothing should change in the playoffs. You should just go play. That’s the lesson we have to learn apply.” Lee went on to say that he thought the Cubs may have pushed too hard last fall. Coming off of a disappointing sweep the year before against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Cubs felt like they had a lot to prove during the playoffs in the fall of 2008. Unfortunately, the team ended up collapsing under the stress and burden of trying to win that world championship for the city of Chicago and Cubs fans everywhere.
Lee is hoping to play more consistent offensively throughout the entire MLB season. Lee put up respectable numbers in 2008 – .291 batting average, 20 home runs and 90 RBI’s – but he only hit 5 homers after the All-Star Break. In addition, this is the 2nd consecutive year in which his power numbers have declined – in 2007, Lee hit 22 homers and drove in only 82 runs. Compar those numbers in the 3 years preceding his 2006 broken wrist injury, and you have to think that the injury caused some decline in his bat speed or strength (2003 – 31 home runs and 92 RBI’s; 2004 – 32 home runs and 98 RBI’s; and 2005 – .335 batting average champion, 46 home runs and 107 RBI’s).
Lee’s mission is to maintain a more consistent offensive flow during the year and try to carry that offensive production into the post-season. Lee knows that the Cubs still have a good team and believes that if the 25 guys can come together at the right time in September and October, it is very realistic to believe that the Cubs can win that elusive World Series. “We had three bad games. That doesn’t change the fact that we had a good team and a good season. The best teams get to the playoffs, but the hottest teams win it. We have to find a way to be the hottest team at the right time. ”
We hear ya Derrek – go get ’em in 2009, and this time around, make sure you get ’em in October too…