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Wednesday

27

January 2016

50

COMMENTS

Much Ado About Center Field…..

Written by , Posted in General

The signing of Yoenis Cespedes brought about a barrage of articles calling for the demise of Dexter Fowlers free agent status.  It appears that at any point in the near future Fowler will have found his squad and what appears to be a healthy payday in the process.

I liked Fowler just fine…I don’t want him for the sum he will command or the duration of the contract, but on a short term basis, sure!

That being said, just about everybody has kicked the Dexter Fowler tires this off-season.  The Giants and Mets were said to be smitten, until they got more smitten with Span and Cespedes respectively.  The White Sox are said to be in, as well as the Angels but there are cash issues afoot for the Angels and the Sox just don’t sign large deals, especially for guys who do not light up the marquee.

The Cubs could sign him, but in what is becoming a large Bugaboo in free agency, they need the draft pick they will get if he signs elsewhere. The signing of Heyward and Lackey sucked two draft picks away from the Cubs and you could almost see the pain in Theo’s eyes as those picks slid away into the night.

However, I sit here wondering, is Heyward enough when you potentially have a reformed catcher playing left and Soler in right?

I would sleep better in late August if the center field option were one of sheer defensive pedigree.  I don’t doubt, based on history, that Heyward will be a fine outfielder, but I would love a “run it down and crash into the wall” kind of defender out there.  If I may be so greedy, one that can hit too?

Here is where I ask the baseball gods for a gift….

Many of you know by now that the Cubs have been rumored to be in trade talks with the Rays.  It’s hard not to find at least one update per day on the still simmering hot stove regarding the Cubs young, but expendable players, some Rays pitchers (who I would like to have too) and the occasional random position player thrown in.  Here is where I tell you who I want…..

Kevin Kiermiaer.  Yup, the gold glove outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays.  He doesn’t light up the scoreboard with his hitting, it is respectable (actually hit .263 two years in a row….on the button?), but won’t fill the shoes of Soler at the plate.  However, his defense is probably some of the best in center field and I think he is attainable.  He is also controllable, which is how we like to roll in Wrigley these days.  It’s crazy, I look at Twitter everyday expecting to see a trade between the Cubs and Rays, my biggest of hopes?

To see Kiermaier’s name involved.  So bizarre, call it a feeling, but the guy is the greatest sleeper pick ever!

Anyhow, that’s my take, what should the Cubs do with center field? Should we stand pat and roll into 2016 with what we have, which is not a bad option, or should we make one more deal? Who do you want?

  • Sherm

    Leave the outfield alone. If healthy, Schwarber and Soler will win more games with their bats than they lose with their gloves. Possibly a lot more.

    • CBPtOSU

      Everyone said the same thing about Soriano, yet they didn’t want to sign him. And then when I wanted Adam Dunn, everyone goes where will they put him? I said move Soriano to 2B, and put Dunn in LF. That’s 2 terrible gloves they said. But they hit a lot I said. They strike out too much they said.

      • Doc Raker

        Had they moved Soriano to 3b they would of been able to sign Dunn.

      • CBPtOSU

        But then where would Aramis have played in 2009?

      • Oh, I don’t know. Catcher?

      • CBPtOSU

        HA!

      • Doc Raker

        Trade him for a prospect like Chris Sale.

      • Go on…

      • CBPtOSU

        We would have made the playoffs in 2009 if we had signed Dunn instead of Hasbro

      • Not quite. In 2009, Bradley struck out 95 times compared to Dunn’s ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY SEVEN. Good luck getting to the playoffs with that.

      • CBPtOSU

        Triple slash line:
        Dunn: .267/.398/.529
        Hasbro: .257/.378/.397

        Games played:
        Dunn: 159
        Hasbro: 124

        Walks:
        Dunn: 116
        Hasbro: 66

        HR:
        Dunn: 38
        Hasbro: 12

        RBI:
        Dunn: 105
        Hasbro: 40

        I like my playoff chances a lot better with Dunn than Bradley

      • Oh, I suppose you have Theriot leading off then? Or Kosuke? Either way, you’re not making the playoffs with those strikeouts.

      • CBPtOSU

        Ok, Dusty! I’ll take that .400 OBP, playing every day, and not fighting with everyone and getting suspended over Hasbro’s low K totals.

      • That was hitting in the heart of the order with the Natties. Guarantee he doesn’t put up those numbers playing RF everyday batting 8th.

      • CBPtOSU

        He’d have been in the middle of the lineup with Lee and Ramirez.

  • Doug S.

    I’m fine starting the season with the horses we have and letting Maddon tinker away.

    • CBPtOSU

      Me 3

  • Adam Peters

    I know exactly where you’re coming from, Chet, but I *really* have a hard time parting with Soler after the postseason he had. At this point I think it’s best to see how Heyward does in CF and how the team chemistry is in general and, if need be, reassess in July. It would be nice to be better defensively in the outfield, but our infield defense is exceptional. Nobody has 8 gold glovers out there.

  • Sherm

    If Soler reaches his potential – which is always a comment that comes with an asterisk, because any player can get injured, etc – but if what we saw is what he is? Don’t ever trade him.

    Google “right handed power hitters” and you’ll see a dozen articles in the last couple of years written on the subject of the LACK of them.

    This guy has insane bat speed and power – and he’s SO young. When it clicks for him, the sky is the limit. Forget defense for a minute – and try to think of who he might resemble as a hitter. A young Andre Dawson maybe? Gary Sheffield perhaps? When this guy squares up a ball, it’s frightening to be an infielder. I think you have to give that a chance to grow. No middle rotation pitcher and certainly no defense-first centerfielder is worth the risk of losing this player. I have faith that this FO judges young talent well – I hope they’ve done the same with Soler and that if/when he reaches that potential, he does it in a Cub uniform.

    • Eddie Von White

      What’s insane is the fact that trading Soler keeps coming up on this thread. I believe someone said it the other day: Just say no.

    • Doc Raker

      Ditto………….exactly what I say

  • cap’n realist

    If Heyward isn’t playing centerfield on April 5th in Anaheim, the Cubs hideously overpaid for him.

  • Doc Raker

    Aren’t light hitting speedy outfielders with good gloves easy to find? I find it hard to believe the Cubs don’t already have that type of player in their system. Don’t trade Soler, don’t even think about it.

  • Sherm

    plus – the Dodgers won a WS with Pedro Guerrero in RF…possibly the worst fielder at any position, ever. Granted, it was a strike shortened season, but the point is that the man could hit.

    Soler is a MUCH better fielder than Pedro Guerrero.

    Raker is a MUCH better fielder than Pedro Guerrero.

  • Brad Lyerla

    Chet, I worry about outfield defense too. I was kind of shocked at how uncomfortable Schwarb is in left field. You don’t notice is so much on TV, but when you see him live, it’s very apparent. I managed to make it to a couple of games in October and the poor guy looked like he would rather be anywhere in the world but in left field. On the other hand, he looked like a mighty warrior when his time to hit came. So there is that.
    I don’t doubt that he and Soler will win some games with their bats. My worry is that weak defense is really hard on a pitching staff. We need to protect our pitching. Even if we can win games late with offense, you can lose ground with your staff if pitchers are being asked to work harder because of extra outs given away.
    Having said all of that, the devil is in the details. I am not keen on any trade right now. I like our line up and our staff (with the proviso that I expect a move before the trade deadline next summer to add to the bull pen). But the right deal could be very interesting. So, I am content to wait and see.

    • Eddie Von White

      Your description of Scwarber in left sounds identical to that of Soriano out there.

      • Doug S.

        As long as Schwarbs doesn’t do that little skip while catching the ball.

      • CBPtOSU

        Didn’t Soriano once have to go on the DL because he did that stupid hop?

      • Doug S.

        As long as Schwarbs doesn’t do that little skip while catching the ball.

      • Brad Lyerla

        I think Schwarb and Soriano are different. Soriano had an excellent arm and actually had more than his fair share of put outs after he got acclimated. His issue was a concentration issue at times and the bad habit of making that little hop before delivering the ball back to the infield.
        Schwarb just does not know what to do right now. And he seems self-conscious that he does not know what to do. That can be corrected with reps and coaching. Then it will boil down to whether he has good tools. As Sherm has said elsewhere in this string, there have been many good players (I can’t think of any great players) who were not good defensively. Schwarb may turn out to be one of those guys. And you are happy to have them, though it strains your pitcher some of the time.

      • CBPtOSU

        Soriano did have a cannonball arm. He had 20 assists his first year in LF. And he was pretty accurate too on his throws. He just took bad routes and did that stupid hop.

      • Sherm

        Ted Williams – maybe the greatest hitter ever. Terrible outfielder.

      • CBPtOSU

        Boston loves him so much they named a tunnel after him.

  • Sherm

    A lot of great players – and a lot of good players – were not good on defense. Look at some of them: Bobby Bonilla, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso Soriano, to name a few. Matt Holliday is not very good in left field. Manny Ramirez wasn’t very good, nor was Greg Luzinski. They both won WS rings.

    Remember Dave Kingman? Horrible. Frank Thomas wasn’t a very good first baseman. Mike Piazza was way below average as a catcher. Adam Dunn couldn’t field. Bill Madlock wasn’t very good…but man could he hit.

    Jose Altuve is bad on defense – but plays 2B everyday for the Astros and more than makes up for it, offensively.

    Jose Offerman played short for the Dodgers – remember him? They used to say “do you know how to spell Offerman? With two “F’s” and 38 “E’s”

    Leave the corner outfielders alone…for now. I think if you asked the pitching staff what they would choose: great defensive outfielders who can’t hit that well, or two guys who’s fielding is not so good but who crush the ball and knock in runs? You’d be surprised at the answer. I think pitchers want runs. You think a few errors put extra pressure on a pitcher? Not when he has 9 runs.

    1-0 games put extra pressure on pitchers.

    • Brad Lyerla

      Big leads are great for pitchers. But 28, 29 or 30 outs add 10 or more pitches. That’s stretches a game out more than 10% of the average. Adds up. Wears people down. Never mind the demoralizing effect of making the hitter put the ball where you want him to, only to see your teammate kick it. Plus, ML pitchers know not to complain about bad defense. But if we could give them truth syrup, I bet every one of them would say that rule no. 1 is catch the ball.

      • Sherm

        For some reason, I crave pancakes. Anyway…

        I think if you asked an honest pitcher to choose behind a lineup that scores a lot of runs or a great defense – he’d take runs. Less stress going to the bullpen when it’s 9 – 3 than 3 -2 . Big leads afford managers to rest starters more often.

        If the pitcher’s primary concern is his team winning games? I think runs trump great defensive plays. I’m not downplaying great defense by any stretch – just saying that, in this case, for this team, I think that good enough…is good enough.

        We won’t have BAD defense. The infield is certainly above average, and Heyward is outstanding. We have two guys who are below average (although Soler has shown a strong and accurate arm) but both hit ABOVE average.

      • Brad Lyerla

        I agree with most of this and I look forward to our coaches addressing some of the shortcomings that we see currently with Soler and Schwarb.

      • Sherm

        Let’s call them the “gift horses”

        I won’t worry too much about shortcomings if I see a lot of long balls…

        (leave it alone, Seymour. It isn’t an old man joke)

      • CBPtOSU

        To make an error, means you made a play on the ball, which means you fielded it. A guy like Derek Jeter, has terrible range. He didn’t get to a lot of balls. So he wouldn’t make as many errors. But now a fielding wizard like Omar Vizquel, he got to a lot more balls than Jeter. So Vizquel bobbles the ball or pulls the 1B off the bag, he gets an error, while Jeter doesn’t get to the ball, no error. But the end result in both cases is the same. Runner on 1st.

  • Sherm

    A lot of great players – and a lot of good players – were not good on defense. Look at some of them: Bobby Bonilla, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso Soriano, to name a few. Matt Holliday is not very good in left field. Manny Ramirez wasn’t very good, nor was Greg Luzinski. They both won WS rings.

    Remember Dave Kingman? Horrible. Frank Thomas wasn’t a very good first baseman. Mike Piazza was way below average as a catcher. Adam Dunn couldn’t field. Bill Madlock wasn’t very good…but man could he hit.

    Jose Altuve is bad on defense – but plays 2B everyday for the Astros and more than makes up for it, offensively.

    Jose Offerman played short for the Dodgers – remember him? They used to say “do you know how to spell Offerman? With two “F’s” and 38 “E’s”

    Leave the corner outfielders alone…for now. I think if you asked the pitching staff what they would choose: great defensive outfielders who can’t hit that well, or two guys who’s fielding is not so good but who crush the ball and knock in runs? You’d be surprised at the answer. I think pitchers want runs. You think a few errors put extra pressure on a pitcher? Not when he has 9 runs.

    1-0 games put extra pressure on pitchers.

  • I won’t be able to spell Kevin’s name with all those vowels! Where does he bat in the Ray’s lineup!?

    • Right behind Jaiyems Louiney.

    • Doug S.

      Kind of the opposite of Szczur

  • Doc Raker

    I just asked Muskrat why the Cubs don’t make David Ross a coach since he can’t hit and Jon Lester describes him as a quality club house guy.

    This is an instance where the stats don’t reflect what Ross does for the Cubs.
    “Obviously, guys look at his statistics, and it’s not exactly what you want as a backup catcher,” Lester said of Ross, “but what this guy brings on a day-to-day basis in the clubhouse, in the locker room, it doesn’t have a price. No matter what he does on the field, what he does in the clubhouse with these young guys day in and day out is far more important than what he brings [on the field].”
    You can’t quantify that.

    So then make Ross a coach and give his roster spot to someone who actually has a chance to get a hit.

    • CBPtOSU

      Okay, Jay K. from Racine, Wisconsin!

      • Doc Raker

        Mine was a follow up question to Jay K. I am sure she won’t post it.

      • CBPtOSU

        Let us know if she responds to it

      • CBPtOSU

        Did she respond to your email?

  • And in summation, J-Hey will play CF and things will be great.

  • Adam Peters

    I think this thread can be summarized in one word: balance. Last season our offense was way too swing and miss oriented, so Theo went out and got Heyward and Zobrist and their high OBPs to balance things out and get some bodies on base for all those taters. The Cubs have 2 dudes who hit so damn well they need to find somewhere for them to play in the field. Our infield defense is great, and so is Heyward, so the Cubs can afford to have a couple of guys out there who aren’t gold glove caliber.