What We Have

Alfonso Soriano – Good news!!! His contract is nearing the end. Oh wait, that’s Fukudome. Sorry Cub fans, Alfonso is going to be with us through 2014 at a bargain basement price of $18 mil per year. Look on the bright side. Economically, when you factor in inflation, his contract gets cheaper each year.

Tyler Colvin – He got his chance to play on an everyday basis and ran with it. Or did he? I don’t like to think of Colvin as a masher that isn’t going to hit for average. To prove me right, he needs to work on drawing more walks and becoming a more dangerous hitter other than just with his home runs. Ideally, I’d like to see him be a guy who hits 25 HR, but also hits somewhere in the neighborhood of .290 with an OBP in the .370’s. He’s scheduled for auto-renewal on his contract because he’s not accumulated at least three years of service time.

Marlon Byrd – For all the crap that Jim Hendry gets, he doesn’t get enough praise on some of the good signings he makes. Sure, the Soriano one sucks, but what about the Marlon Byrd signing. In 2010, he made the All Star team (though it’s not a hard thing when someone from every team goes), and was paid only $3 million for the year. That’s crazy low. He’s signed for two more years at a rate of $5.5 mil for 2011 and $6.5 mil for 2012. Those are good prices for a guy that plays hard everyday and gets the job done with the bat and his glove. Good signing by Jimbo.

Kosuke Fukudome – Byrd good, Fukudome bad. It’s not that Fukudome is a bad player. In fact, he had the highest adjusted OPS of all the OF last year on the Cubs. The problem comes in the way of his contract. We spent too much for what we’ve received. I don’t know many people that were saying that when we signed him, considering the scouting reports on his said he was a cross between Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. Perhaps they didn’t tell us what parts of those players he was made up of. I don’t like to give Hendry too much grief for this one because we had to take a chance. It’s not like we were the only one in the market for him.

As for his future moving forward, it’s a tough call. He’s one of the more available pieces that Jim has to work with this offseason when it comes to the trade market and it’s my guess we’ll see some interest. Whether or not it’s enough to warrant pulling the trigger on a deal is a different story. I don’t look and Fukudome as a salary dump and I don’t see 2011 as a rebuilding year. Those two factors in play, if you’re going to move him, the deal has to either make you better this year or be too good to pass up for the future of the organization. I tend to believe we won’t see Fukudome traded, which is why I’ve included him on my 2011 roster. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong.

What is on the Horizon

Sam Fuld – One of my favorite terms, though I never use them, are variations on the phrase “paint or get off the ladder”. There are a ton of them, and it seems like they apply to Fuld. Never before have I seen someone so hyped over nothing. He’s 28 years old and has never accomplished anything other than running into the wall at Wrigley and making a fantastic throw for a double play and then winning the AFL MVP award. Those two things seem to make him into a super prospect that just doesn’t get a chance. The fact is, Fuld is no more than a crappy fill in that can draw a walk and plays defense. Case closed.

Brad Snyder – I don’t know what to make of Snyder. Like Fuld, he’s an older prospect that just hasn’t been able to do enough to warrant consistent playing time in the Majors. He did get a brief look in September and struggled at the plate. Down on the farm, he was terrific at the plate in Iowa.

543   97 37  6 25 106 19  4 56 125 .308 .381 .568 .949

Baring any new additions in the OF, he’d probably be the first call from the farm should we need a corner OF. He’s a former 1st round pick of the Indians, so at some point people saw legit talent potential there.

Brandon Guyer – He was the Cubs minor league player of the year, playing for Tennessee and hitting really well. He’s a good base stealer and plays the outfield well. He’s ranked high on Arizona Phil’s list in my opinion, but he’s another prospect out of the 2007 class that has the potential to make a difference with the Major League team in the near future.

Brett Jackson -We’ve talked about him before. He’s the CF of the future. It’s up to Marlon Byrd to hold the fort down and then pass the torch. In my opinion, he’s the # 1 prospect in the system.

Jae-Hoon Ha – I don’t know much about this one, so we’ll defer to Arizona Phil, who recently posted his Top 15 prospect list that included him:

Ha was a catcher in HS, but was moved to the outfield after he signed with the Cubs in 2008 ($225K bonus). Then the Cubs moved him back to catcher at Instructs post-2009 and the experiment continued at Minor League Camp and Extended Spring Training (EXST) 2010, but it just didn’t work. Ha was moved back to OF and was promoted to Peoria at mid-season 2010 after hitting 350/376/575 at EXST. Moving from behind the plate to the outfield was like getting out of jail for Ha, as the Korean teenager hit 317/334/468 for the Chiefs while playing a stellar RF. He has a plus-arm and plus-bat speed with HR power, he has above-average speed and is a good base stealer, and (like Brett Jackson and Brandon Guyer) he plays an athletic outfield with absolutely no fear. He was moved to CF at Instructs post-2010 and made several outstanding catches as he displayed the range and defensive skills necessary to man the position. One area of concern with Ha is a tendency to double-clutch throws from the outfield (he had the same problem as a catcher), and the other is that he is a “hacker“ (a hyper-aggressive hitter who rarely walks). Ha will probably play CF at Daytona in 2011 and hit somewhere in the middle of the D-Cubs order.

Reggie Golden -Like Ha, the same applies to Golden, Arizona Phil says:

Golden gave up a chance to play college ball at the University of Alabama when he signed with the Cubs in July ($720K bonus), and then he missed most of the AZL season rehabbing a hamstring pull and a sore hand. He attended Instructs post-2010 where he finally got a chance at some regular playing time (hitting 263/364/500 with two HR and three doubles in 14 games), at least up until the last week when he suffered what appeared to be a right oblique strain. The stocky Golden is as strong as a bull and has as much power as any player in the organization (and he has HR power to all fields), he is a patient/choosy hitter who isn’t afraid to take a walk, and he has a plus-arm that plays in RF. However, he is a poor defensive outfielder, he has (at best) average speed, and he is an erratic base-runner who relies too much on instinct. Golden oozes self-confidence that borders on cockiness, and I’m not sure how coachable he is or will be, but if he can somehow smooth out the rough edges (outfield play and base-running), he should develop into a big-time middle-of-the-order run producer with 30+ HR power potential. If he can stay healthy through Minor League Camp, he has a reasonable chance of starting the 2011 season at Peoria.

Notable Names Available via Free Agency

Carl Crawford – The cream of the OF crop this year. He’d be a great fit if we didn’t have Soriano in LF

Jim Edmonds – I think 2010 for him was his last horrah, then again, I though his time with the Cubs was the end of the line as well.

Hideki Matsui – He would give Fukudome a playmate, but I’ll pass

Magglio Ordonez – For as much grief as he gets, he can hit.

Manny Ramirez – In a word: NO

Joe’s Best Course of Action

Do I think that bringing back the current crop of OF for another year is the best course of action? Probably not, but sometimes you’re not really given much of a choice. I’d love to see the Cubs look to move Fukudome and get a little cheaper in that 4th outfield spot. I don’t think it will happen, but it’s worth looking at it. Aside from them, you’re not moving Colvin and Byrd is too cheap to discard. That leaves Soriano, and he’s not going anywhere. What else can Hendry do? Best course of action is to play it close the belt on this one again see if there are any takers for Fukudome.

Three Questions for Discussion

1. 2010 saw Soriano play 147 games, virtually injury free. How many games will Soriano play in 2011?

2. Will Fukudome get traded this off-season? Should he?

3. What is your plan for the OF this offseason?

Joe’s Roster So Far

C – Geovany Soto /  Robinson Chirinos

1b – Adam Dunn / Micah Hoffpauir

2b – Blake DeWitt / Jeff Baker / Darwin Barney / Akinori Iwamura

SS – Starlin Castro

3b – Aramis Ramirez

OF – Alfonso Soriano / Marlon Byrd / Tyler Colvin / Kosuke Fukudome

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. 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 and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail