January 1, 2009

Watch for Miles at Wrigley today, just in case he suits up for the Black Hawks

Losing my favorite Cardinal to free agency wasn't exactly how I wanted to ring in the new year.

Instead, the happiest folks in the Midwest have to be the Bleacher Bums on the North Side of Chicago, meaning today, and for the upcoming season.

Aaron Miles is now happily (as he should be) a Baby Bear, and may now hibernate another month or so before gearing up for Spring Training with former teammate, Jimmy Edmonds. For the moment, Miles can rest with the thought of having secured a $4.9 million contract to play for Lou Piniella over two years, over twice as much as the Cards gave him.

And best of all for a player who gave that proverbial 110% (plus loyalty) to whichever team he was playing, Miles may now find it easier to do so, since the Cubs have offered what the Cardinals would not.

Through most of the hot stove season, I've campaigned for Miles to be the Cardinals' everyday second baseman, but not many have seen it that way. It was numbers thing, I guess. But I'm old school, which places much value on "baseball heart," not to mention a degree of talent, and I simply felt that Miles had enough of both. There were good arguments on the subject from a variety of standpoints; it was just that mine favored Miles.

The Cubs seem to feel Miles is worthwhile, too, dumping Mark DeRosa and making it pretty clear who's going to take over at second base.

And here's another thing I thought Miles could do, or at least have a platoon role at: leadoff man.
It would not surprise me if the Cubs utilized that potential as well.

By failing to resign Miles, the Cardinals have now taken a step backward. Not because Miles was the game-breaker of all-time (although I may never forget his walk-off granny last season), but because of how how much depth he gave the team as a super-utility player.

Another need has been created where none had existed previously, making Tony La Russa's job that much harder. Believe me, you may not have always noticed Miles in St. Louis, but game strategy options have been reduced now that he will not be in Cardinal Red.

Once more, the Cubs have taken advantage of an obvious win-win situation. At less than $5 million for two years, Miles can play whatever role Lou desires; Miles is a bargain for ownership and a boon to the team.

I miss Miles as a Cardinal already.

But hey, you know what?

I'm going to tune in to that NHL hockey game from Wrigley Field today, because I wouldn't doubt it if Aaron Miles is suiting up to fill some role for the Black Hawks.

photo by Barbara Moore