I Like Chris Coghlan, But I Don’t Like Like Him

Cogs are wheels with a series of projections on their edges that transfer motion by engaging with projections on other wheels. They are subordinate but integral parts of a machine. Not very sexy, but you don’t have to be George Jetson to know that they’re incredibly important. Okay, his expertise was more in sprockets, but I think you catch my drift.

The Cubs have some cogs, namely Cogs. Chris Coghlan is yet another addition to the motley crue of cast-offs the Cubs have accrued to surround their burgeoning core of talent. And how ironic (or perhaps the pedants out there will point out that it’s mere coincidence or circumstance) that such a key role-player was himself once a diaper dandy.

Yes, the former Rookie of the Year fell far enough from grace to find himself in the former house of Grace. Coghlan has been a revelation thus far in 2014, particularly after his spectacular afternoon on Saturday. That is, if you consider 4-4 with 2 home runs and a double, 3 RBI, and 3 runs revelatory. Oh, he also walked once if that matters.

Prior to his explosive day, Cogs was slashing .275/.341/.423 with an OPS of .764. That’s pretty good, though the latter number puts him just a bit above the baseline for average, according to FanGraphs (.730). After the big outing, his line was .283/.349/.449 and .798, which puts him just about in the above average category.

Before I go on, I’d like to regale you with yet another of my seemingly-endless supply of anecdotes. This might not be the story you deserve, but it’s the story I need to tell you in order to somehow make my circuitous analogy work. You see, as a kid, I was a little on the nerdy side. Yeah, I know, hard to believe.

It probably would’ve been nice to have been perceived as something more than just a really nice guy, but I understood that life was about far more than just high school in my hometown. I actually made a conscious decision that I didn’t want to have a girlfriend or become involved with someone in my little berg. Granted, it’s not as if I had to make much of an effort in the pursuit of that goal.

Then there was college, where things were different and I was able to come out of my shell at little bit. And I know I’m not alone in that regard either. But while some in that situation will latch onto the first person who gives them the time of day, others maintain a greater level of discernment.

You see, years of futility have served to fashion the Cubs into the mold of a small college stuck pretty close to the middle of Nowhere. Particularly if the citizens of Nowhere patronize a bar called Johnny Reb’s and tolerate “Rebels” as a high school mascot despite residing in a Union state. Okay, moving on.

Aside from a couple players, we’ve not seen much from the Cubs to indicate that the guys on the roster were worth holding over from year to year. As a result, we’ve significantly lowered our standards for what should be acceptable in terms of a starting-caliber major league ballplayer. And this is where my dulled point is starting to come to fruition.

Chris Coghlan is a really nice player. He’s done okay in the outfield, despite taking some pretty awkward paths to the ball at times, and he’s definitely acquitted himself at the plate. But as much as I like him and what he’s done for the team this year, I don’t like him like him. Viewed through beer goggles, he’s an All-Star; but lean on him as a starter and you’re liable to be doing the Walk of Shame the next day.

Listen, I know it’s hard to look at the Cubs lately and expect the best, but that’s exactly what we, and more so the team, need to start doing. It’s not enough to be happy with being considered good in comparison to our atrophied standards. No, the Cubs should shoot higher; they need to shoot higher if this long-running experiment is to work in the end.

Please don’t take this as me being down on Chris Coghlan, because I’m anything but. I just think that his best fit, his most valuable contribution to the team, is as a fourth outfielder. He’s a guy who has seen the highs and lows of the league and who can relate to the guys the Cubs have brought up and will bring up. He’s a good dude, but he’s not a GUY.

If you’re a Cubs fan, you want your team to reach the point at which a player like Chris Coghlan is just a role player. Because when that happens, it’ll mean that everything you’ve been waiting for has happened. So don’t be content with just being good enough, with being the nice guy, or with settling for someone who’s simply better than what’s come before.

That said, I’ll be damned if I wasn’t high-fiving my son while driving up the interstate listening to Pat Hughes’ call of Cogs’ game-winning homer. And watching the video clip below makes my entire post feel more impotent than usual, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it.

Because I’m not saying that Chris Coghlan can’t be part of the future; on the contrary, I believe that he can be an integral part of it. I’m just saying that, as good as Cogs has been, the Cubs can and should do better still. And that, my friends, will be a helluva fun time.

Final note: it’s a good thing Anthony Rizzo is better than Chris Coghlan at delivering shaving-cream pies to the face.

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