Nomar could undoubtedly excel again
If healthy, Nomar Garciaparra could return to being an elite players again for the Cubs in 2005.
There's nothing like short-term memory loss to change the perception of a player.
So it is with Nomar Garciaparra, who, less than a year ago, was regarded as one of the top dozen or so players in the major leagues.
Suddenly, Garciaparra -- to hear some say it -- is an average performer, not even among the best at his position.
How quickly we forget.
In his first seven seasons in the big leagues, Garciaparra never hit below .301, and except for his injury-shortened season of 2001, never hit fewer than 21 homers or knocked in fewer than 96 runs.
In his other six seasons, Garciaparra never failed to score 100 runs or amass fewer than 190 hits. As recently as 2002, he led the American League with 56 doubles. In 2003, he had 13 triples.
Do these figures represent those of a suddenly average player? Hardly.
Even this year, when he missed the first 2½ months of the season and by his own admission, was never fully healthy, Garciaparra posted strong numbers.
In 43 games with the Cubs -- or just about the equivalent of a quarter of the season -- Garciaparra hit .297 with four homers and 20 RBI with 14 doubles.
Pro-rate those figures over a full season and you'd get something close to .300 with 15 homers, 75 RBI and 55 doubles. And remember that this was a period of adjustment for Garciaparra, switching cities and leagues after 7½ years in Boston and the American League.
Don't forget, too, that Garciaparra continued to struggle with an Achilles heel problem that affected him at the plate and in the field. It was obvious that Garciaparra didn't have his usual range in the field or full ability to drive the ball at the plate.
Cubs fans are likely to see a rejuvenated Garciaparra this season, one intent on proving himself again. It's easy to forget, too, that Garciaparra is just 31, with another half-dozen seasons ahead of him. Garciaparra keeps himself in outstanding shape, and if anything, has been guilty of overtraining in the past.
Preparation and commitment won't be issues.
In re-signing Garciaparra, the Cubs are keeping a good defensive shortstop with outstanding -- especially in the context of the position -- offensive output.
Sean McAdam of the Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.