I apologize for not writing yesterday but school comes first. I noticed that there were only two comments and both were by the same person. This disappoints me because the Richie Sexson idea is not that common. Oh well, up next on my analysis is the second base position. You know itís funny, we have a team that narrowly misses the world series, which I never thought I would say, and yet there are really only a few positions on our team that are pretty much set in stone. We know that our third base position is set. We know 4 of our starting pitchers are set and weíre pretty sure that Alou, barring any unforeseen trade will be our left fielder. Thatís it!! Thatís all we know. Itís exciting but also nerve racking because we could go either way. We could completely drop the ball this off-season and sign a bunch of has been guys or we can build this team into a machine.

So at second base our main person who would be considered a starter would be Mark Grudzielanek. He is eligible for free agency this year so whether or not Hendry decides to bring him back. I believe that Grudzielanek probably would like to come back. The question will be if he will be willing to take a massive pay cut. I think that he is an ok fill in if we have a player that is close to being our starter for the next few years. For example, if Bobby Hill were still around, I would advocate possibly signing Grudzielanek for a one-year deal and using him to plug the gap. I donít think that weíre in that position just yet. Brendan Harris seems to be doing well in the fall league but because this team is very close to being over the top, we really shouldnít place our hopes on a kid. If we were in a rebuilding time or a typical Cub off-season, I would say let Harris play second base and see what he could do. My take on this though is that we need a legitimate lead off guy. We need that blazing speed that we enjoyed near the end of the year with Kenny Lofton. Because Patterson will be our CF most of the year, we will not have Lofton to leadoff. To fix this problem, I would go after Louis Castillo. I know that there are a lot of people that are not high on him at all but we need his speed in our lineup. He makes pitchers nervous and as a result they make mistakes. He can turn singles into doubles and has a pretty good glove at 2b. Castillo does have his shortcomings. He at times makes poor decisions when judging a good time to run. There were many times throughout the 2003 season that the Marlins would run themselves out of an inning. He also does not have a very high OBP, which is something that a leadoff hitter is ìsupposed to haveî. The fact is, Castillo makes plays. He gets the job done. I worry that Grudzielanek, who I have to say was a very pleasant surprise, had a career year and will not show up next year. Castillo is young and fast and also brings a World Series ring to the table. He has been there and has the experience.

Another option at second base that I wouldnít mind would be Todd Walker. He isnít as much of a playmaker as Castillo but I think he could add some decent power at the second base position this next year. I am not sure who would bat leadoff for us though. I really do not want to see Patterson bat lead off because of a few reasons. He is coming off a major injury so he is going to need some time to be able to get back into the swing of things. Also, because he went down and didnít get to finish last season, we need to keep building his confidence by batting him in the position that gives him the biggest chance for success.

So, for this off-season, the Cubs have some options. My feeling is that they need to sign Castillo. I think he can do more for this team than any other second baseman on the market this off-season.

Cubs 2003 2b Grade ñ B (Grudzielanek was a pleasant surprise, but donít look for it to happen again.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail