Okay, so "free preview" may sound a bit silly...but here is another of the 104 Reasons from my book: Beyond Bartman, Curses and Goats:104 Reasons Why It's Been 104 Years. This is Reason 79, and it comes from Chapter 7-Money Matters...it is just one of the Cubs' poor signings that oh so cleverly get labeled as "not so" free agents.
Oddly, after reading this chapter, one of my friends told me a funny story. He said that on a recent trip to Canada he saw a homeless man(that's not the funny part) wearing a Cubs' Jeff Blauser jersey. I wouldn't have thought there would have even been Jeff Blauser Cubs' Jerseys made? I guess if there were they have now made it to thrift shops and landfills...
Blauser was a truly forgettable Cub.
NOT SO FREE AGENTS III: JEFF BLAUSER
As a member of the Atlanta Braves, Jeff Blauser killed the Cubs:
CAREER VS. CUBS G AB R H HR RBI AVG SLUG OPS
Jeff Blauser 78 262 45 92 15 48 .351 .611 1.023
The above numbers don’t express just how amazing Blauser was against the Cubs. Consider some of these facts:
- Blauser’s 15 career homers against the Cubs were the most against any team he faced.
- Blauser’s .351 batting average against the Cubs was 89 points higher than his career average of .262.
- Blauser’s career OPS of 1.023 against the Cubs was 263 points higher than his career OPS of .760.
- Blauser had 48 career RBIs against the Cubs…he had six more (54 total) against the Reds…in 53 more games!
Against the Cubs, Jeff Blauser transformed from “scrappy little shortstop” into a Honus Wagner-type shortstop. When Blasuer became a free-agent after the end of the 1997 season, it made sense for the Cubs to pursue him. Blauser had hit well in Wrigley Field (insert own joke about facing Cubs’ pitching), was only 31 years- old, and was coming off of this season:
1997 Braves AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLUG OPS
Jeff Blauser 519 90 160 17 70 .308 .405 .482 .887
Blauser won the Silver Slugger award for shortstops and was an All-Star. The Cubs signed Blauser to a two-year, $8.4 million dollar deal after the 1997 season.
Apparently I blocked out Blauser’s 1998 performance (before embarking on this project I had even forgotten he was a Cub). I bet you can guess where the story of Jeff Blauser as Cubs’ shortstop is going:
1998 Cubs AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLUG OPS
Jeff Blauser 361 49 79 4 26 .219 .299 .340 .639
Yikes! That’s what the Cubs received for their $4.2 million dollar investment for the 1998 version of Jeff Blauser?! Ironically, the Cubs would face the Braves in the NLDS. Blauser was relegated to a reserve role in the series, and the Cubs were swept three games to zero. As he was watching his former team celebrate, I wonder if Jeff Blauser regretted taking the money and signing with the Cubs. Surely, Cubs’ fans were wishing he would have stayed with his old team.
In 1999, the Cubs used Blauser primarily as a platoon second baseman. In 200 at bats, Blauser hit .240 with 9 home runs. Blauser was released/retired after the season…he was 33.
Jeff Blauser was a solid player for the Atlanta Braves. He won a World Series title with the Braves in 1996. His terrible performances in 1998 and 1999 make Jeff Blauser a worthy nominee for our list, and his contract clinches it! In a year that the Cubs won the wild-card, Blauser’s $4.2 million could have been better allocated. (“Better allocated” is too kind, “not *bleeping* wasted!” is probably more accurate) After his brutal 1998, the Cubs had to pay Blauser another 4.2 million for 1999.
As poor of a decision as the Cubs’ signing of Jeff Blauser proved to be (Reason 79); it is doubtful that anyone could have predicted the rapid descent of Jeff Blauser’s career. Regrettably, it was the Cubs who paid $8.4 million dollars to watch it happen.