Ladies and Gentlemen...Felix Pie

(AP Photo/Brian Kersey)
Big Z had another great start. ARam hit a big time HR that could have been the decider. And Ronny C had a HUGE 2 run single in the bottom of the 8th with 2 outs and 2 strikes to stretch a precarious 1 run lead into a 3 runner. All of those were huge factors in determining the result of tonight's game. But what I want to talk about is what I think will end up having the biggest effect on the Cubs 2008 season. Felix "Be My Cherry" Pie's first ever home run at Wrigley Field. (video)

Freaking awesome. I simply could not be happier for this kid or more excited about that HR and his entire AB. Pie entered the game in Top 8 as a defensive replacement for the swift footed Daryle Ward. Pie came up in the bottom of the 8th in the 9 hole and was the first batter to face Jorge Sosa, who had come on to relieve Aaron Heilman who, despite having nearly worked out of a bases loaded with no out jam, had just given up the Cedeno single. Pie took 2 balls out of the zone for balls and then deposited the 3rd pitch into the right center bleachers.

Only 3 pitches, but I am jacked about this AB. Pie hasn't seen a full game's worth of ABs since April 15 when he went 0-4 vs. Cincy. Pie hasn't started a game since and has had only 3 ABs in that time. During that time the Cubs, including former hitting coach Lou Pinella, have been working intensely with Pie on his swing. Pie has been spending a ton of time in the cage working with Cubs coaches on refining his swing and building consistency. They're hitting. They're videotaping. Hell, who knows, maybe they're doing the voodoo thing like Pedro Cerrano with Jobu from "Major League". Today they even flew in Minor Hitting Coordinator Dave Keller specifically to work with Pie on his swing. And tonight, all that work paid off.

Yes, I realize it's only a single HR. But if you can, watch that AB. Pie's swing is so much more compact and controlled now. He started off the pitches with his bat on his shoulder, clearly a reminder to himself to stay compact. Pie's problem has always been a long, looping cut that left a lot of holes. What the Cubs are trying to get him to do is to shorten that cut and sort of slap at the ball-hopefully producing more line drives and base knocks and less swinging strikes and pop ups. By this one AB alone, you can tell that the kid "gets it." The swing that resulted in the HR was NOT at all a HR swing. He stayed within himself and put a nasty charge into the ball. It got over the wall, but that hit was simply a blasted line drive, not a towering HR ball. Great AB, great cut, great result.

It's so easy to compare Pie to Corey Patterson. Both are one time big time prospects. Both are leftys. Both play CF. Both should be great top of the order hitters but tend to take these looping hacks that result in a couple HRs now and again, but more frequently in strikeouts and pop ups. Patterson never "got it." He was as dumb as he was stubborn and refused to listen to, well, everyone, and to this day continues to swing for the fences every AB. Pie is different. Check out this quote from the Dave Keller article:
"He's happy, he's really happy," Keller said. "The best thing about Felix is he'll work. He'll try as hard as he can, and he listens. He knows how close he is, and he wants to compete here. Sometimes you run into guys who make excuses as to why they can't do it, and that's not Felix at all."
People...Felix "gets it." You saw the fruits of all his recent hard work tonight. And you're going to see more. The kid has a total of 205 big league ABs. He's 23 years old. He's still learning. Let's chill out on the "send Pie to the minors" and the "we need Coco Crisp" talk and let this kid develop into his tremendous potential.

Fukudomania may be here now. But you better get on board with the Felix Pie train now, because it's the future.

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