Look at that form!
A passing comment on Twitter has led to my next pet project. I’ve compiled a 25-man roster of the best bad Cubs of my time. Let me clarify a few things right off the bat. I looked at stats, but I really don’t care about your stats-based argument. This is supposed to be fun. Calm down. As you’ll see as the roster develops, personality wasn’t as big a factor as it was for the Bottom 126. However, watching a bad player play well as a Cub made generally made him pretty likeable. I’m starting with the bullpen, then I’ll do the bench, then the starting pitchers, and finally the starting eight. HERE is the roster so far.
As you can see from the above-linked tweet, Cody Ransom was the inspiration for this list. At the time, Ransom was batting a respectable .250 and slugging .574 with a .905 OPS. That was less than two months ago. Ransom ruined my grand plans to start him at third base for this team. Such is the danger of picking active players for a list like this. It’s a similar danger to buying a Mark Prior jersey while he’s still active. YOU NEVER KNOW. Alas, I had to slot in one of my alternate guys and add Jake Fox to my bench. Yes, I had alternates. This list is SERIOUS BUSINESS. So, congratulations to Jake Fox. Like a right-handed Brant Brown, he swung for the fences, hit some bombs, and struck out a shit-ton. That’s good enough to beat out Cody Ransom for a slot on the bench of the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time.
Fox was born to be a Cub. He was a pudgy white guy from Indiana who went to Michigan (like Rich Hill!), could hit the ball far, and couldn’t touch his arms together in front of him. So it made all the sense in the world for the Cubs to select him in the third round of the 2003 amateur draft. Fox hit fine in the minors, with good power numbers and a decent OBP. So when the Cubs traded Cesar Izturis to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007, they called up Fox to take his place. Not a very high bar to set for the slugger.
Fox made his MLB debut on July 19, 2007 against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field. Fox pinch hit in the 8th inning and grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. The Cubs went on to win 9-8, however, because Carlos Marmol and Bob Howry were, at one point, really good. Plus, Ted Lilly threatened to murder Bruce Bochy’s friends and wipe his seed from the earth if the Giants won.
Fox appeared in only seven games during the month he was up in 2007, hitting .143/.200/.286. He was bad enough to not see Major League action until 2009, when he was called up in May. Fox’s 2009 was significantly more impressive. In only 82 games, he hit 11 home runs and drove in an absurd 44 RBIs. Of course, he also struck out 47 times while walking only 14. He ended the year with a .259/.311/.468 line. I think it’s safe to say he was a…contributor to the Cubs’ 83-78, second-place finish that year.
Certainly to the chagrin of the four-letter site, the Cubs traded Fox after the 2009 season along with Aaron Miles to the Oakland Athletics for Matt Spencer, Ronny Moria, and Jeff Gray. He was bad in Oakland, so they sent him to the Baltimore Orioles a month before the trade deadline for Ross Wolf. He played 65 games over parts of two seasons in Baltimore, compiling a .230/.279/.441 slash line with the Orioles. He struck out 31 times while drawing only 7 walks, and he managed only 7 home runs and 16 RBIs in 161 at bats.
Fox just caught on with the Arizona Diamondbacks, as they signed him last month for the stretch run. He hasn’t fared well in AAA Reno, hitting only .147/.237/.206 in 38 plate appearances. Suffice it to say, Fox had his best moments, fleeting though they may have been, as a Cub.
Plus, as you loyal readers have so creatively pointed out, it’s fun to play with Fox’s name! He can be Jake Fox, Jay Kvox, or Jake Vocks! I don’t know why you all do that, but I guess it passes the time.
Greatest Cub Moment: Beating the Cardinals is always good, even when the Cubs are bad. So September 20, 2009 was a good night. The Cubs were in St. Louis, and Carlos Zambrano and Adam Wainwright gave fans the pitchers duel they expected. Both pitchers allowed only two earned runs, and the game was tied 3-3 at the end of 9 innings. Fox had pinch hit for Kevin Gregg in the top of the ninth inning and drawn a walk (GASP!). He came up again in the eleventh with one out and Andres Blanco on first. Fox launched the second pitch he saw into left-center field for a two-run homer. The Cubs scored another in the frame and beat the Cardinals 6-3 after a nice, clean Marmol-pitched bottom of the inning. That may have been the last clean frame he had.
Worst Moment as a Human: Fox had one of those days on June 24, 2009. Rich Harden and the Cubs were in Detroit to face Rick Porcello. Fox was starting at third base, batting sixth. To say he had a frustrating game would be an understatement. In the top of the second, Fox came up with no outs, no score, and runners at first and second. He promptly grounded into a weak 5-4 double play. In the top of the fourth, he came up again with runners on first and second, this time with two outs and still no score. Again, he hit a weak grounder to third. When he came up with a runner on first in the sixth with the Cubs trailing 2-1, he managed a single. But then he had two crucial at-bats. In the top of the seventh, the Cubs were trailing 4-2. Fox came up with bases loaded and one out. He managed only a sacrifice fly. But, hey, at least he didn’t hit into another double play. Finally, in the top of the ninth with the Cubs trailing 5-3, Fox came up AGAIN with runners on first and second and one out. He flew out to center. All told, Fox came to the plate with a total of TEN guys on base, and drove in only one of them. Ugh.