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Yesterday’s off-day was particularly ill-timed, given how the Cubs’ series with the Cardinals played out. Two insane, walk-off, comeback wins, followed by a deflating, “meh” loss. You really don’t want to sit on your hands after that. The Cubs get the Phillies, starting today.

  • For those harboring hopes that the Cubs will soon have both Bryan LaHair and Anthony Rizzo (who is destroying the PCL once again) in the lineup, Paul Sullivan notes that LaHair has yet to take even a moment’s worth of practice in the outfield this year. Clearly, the Cubs have no designs on making a move any time soon (which is what we’ve expected). LaHair’s been dealing with a crotchety back, but when I watch him in the field, I have a hard time seeing a guy who could plausibly handle a corner outfield spot. We didn’t see much of him in the outfield last year, either, so it’s hard to feel confident in his abilities out there right now. When Rizzo is ready, as nice as it would be to have both bats in the lineup, I think it’s more likely that the Cubs look to make a trade.
  • Dale Sveum on facing the Phillies this weekend: “They have one of the best pitching staffs over the last few years, so it’s going to be tough. Hopefully, getting into more of a hitters’ park, we can hit some home runs. You have to do that against those kinds of pitchers because it’s hard to string hits together. They don’t walk anybody either.”
  • The Cubs are monitoring Jeff Samardzija’s innings and pitch counts very closely this year. Although he bulked up and got into great shape in the offseason, he still threw only 88 innings last year, all in relief. He looks strong in the early going, but the Cubs will have to be careful not to overwork him.
  • Steve Rosenbloom wonders why Carlos Marmol is still on the Cubs, and I wonder why I just read something Steve Rosenbloom wrote. Well, except this time, he actually makes some reasonably useful points. But, as always, it takes two teams to tango. Recognizing that this team has no need for Marmol is only half of the equation. The Cubs, for their part, continue to talk up the virtues of Marmol.
  • Bob Brenly, who often jokes during Cubs broadcasts that he was a terrible hitter, actually wasn’t too bad. He was better than average, and may have been in the top 1/3 of offensive catchers all-time.
  • The Bricks and Ivy Ball raised $1.25 million for Chicago Cubs Charities on Wednesday night. I can only assume there are some pictures floating around somewhere of the Cubs’ players decked out in their fancies.
  • Baseball America’s Jim Callis says that the Cubs will take the best available player with their number 6 overall draft pick this year, rather than feeling forced to take a pitcher. I agree. I also agree with Callis that the best available player will probably be a pitcher when the Cubs’ turn comes up.
  • MLBullets at BCB, noting Carl Crawford’s now three-month UCL injury. No, I don’t think the Cubs will be able to pawn another outfielder off on the Red Sox.
  • Edwin

    Maybe we could talk the league into allowing the Cubs to use a DH this season. Then we could get both Rizzo and LaHair into the lineup no problem.

  • MSU

    Brett, unrelated to the post, but I can’t find anything on the progress of Vitters. Obviously a little early to call him a bust, but if he’s not in a Cubs uniform next year doesn’t that raise some red flags at the idea of him being a major league every day player?

    • hansman1982

      I don’t think so (and yes, I know my name isn’t Brett). He is still only 22 which means he could easily spend all of next year in the minors and be considered a prospect at 24 when he would, theoretically, get called up to the bigs.

      The interesting thing about him is he has a history of getting promoted, stinking up the joint for the rest of that year and then coming out the next year and hitting well. That, to me, suggests that he is constantly adapting his game as he progresses, which is a good sign.

      Now, if he is still in Iowa next season and doesn’t get a mid-season or September callup, then I would be more worried. Then again, considering his gross inability to get on base besides a hit, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him traded away before being called up.

      • MSU

        I guess sometimes I forget how young he is. Drafted out of high school and such. Kinda frustrating though when you imagine Heyward in right field, who was also drafted out of high school. (Although I realize he also has struggled at times with consistency)

        • Kyle

          Not only was he drafted out of high school, he was 17 when he was drafted.

          The Cubs have pursued a very aggressive promotion schedule with Vitters. On a more normal pattern, he might be busy crushing high-A pitching right now and people wouldn’t be in such a hurry to call him a bust.

    • hogie

      I would say that he still has another year, maybe even two, before he is a bust. He is still only 22, one of the youngest players in AAA, and I have heard that his defense has improved this year. He has slowed dramatically from his hot start though. He has been in the system for a long time, but he is still young. I don’t think he will ever live up to the hype though.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He’s trailed off quite a bit after a hot start. He’s still just 22, so it’s not like emerging by 2013 is an imperative. But, that said, as he’s already on the 40-man roster, and would be repeating AAA in 2013, if he’s not really showing something by then, it might be too late.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        I think, worst case with Vitters, is he’s a back up 1B/3B through his pre-arbitration years.

    • Edwin

      I think there is a very good chance he’s a bust. He’s never really excelled in the minors. He’s been able to make enough adjustments over the years to keep moving up the system, but he never really figured out how to hit AA pitching. For some reason they moved him to AAA, but I don’t think it will go to well. He may be young for the league, but that doesn’t give him a free pass. His OPS the last three years has been .770, .717, and .770. If it’s simply an age thing then they should send him back to AA and let him work from there.

      I think his big problem right now is that he doesn’t have the fielding ability to stick at third in the majors, and he doesn’t have the bat to play corner outfield or first base. He’s worth keeping around for 1 or 2 more years as long as he’s not blocking a better prospect, but it’s probably only a matter of time before he and the cubs part ways.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        It can be very misleading to look at minor league numbers outside of the context of the league in which they were generated; numbers have to be compared to the league averages to really make sense.  Each of the leagues have a very different character  What is good in one league is awful in another.

        In the case of Vitters, the 2011 Southern League had a league average OPS of .739.  That puts Vitters well above average for the league – not bad considering he was young for Double A.

        He’s not looking like a future Hall of Fame guy by any stretch, but I don’t think there is any reason to think he can’t be an above average regular player in the majors.  His defense at third has improved significantly in the past year and a half or so, so I don’t really have any worries on that front.  I think his ultimate position, if he sticks with the Cubs, will be left field where his bat should be fine.

        That said, if the Cubs are convinced that Ian Stewart or Junior Lake are the short to medium answers at third, then it probably makes more sense to trade Vitters.

        • Edwin

          Luke,

          I’ll agree, numbers by themselves, without league/age context, aren’t always useful. But his numbers show how he has performed, and can give a decent indication how we should expect him to keep performing.

          In 2011, Vitters had a wRC+ of 99. He was about average at creating runs. His OPS of .770 ranked 3oth in the league. His walk rate was 4.5%, tied for second to last. His ISO was 20th, at .165.

          He hasn’t been terrible in the minors, but he hasn’t been great either. He’s always struggled at drawing walks, and his power has been just ok. I just don’t think his numbers project well as an MLB player. If he’s an average AA player, why should I expect him to be an above average MLB regular? Leagues get harder as you move up. If it’s an age thing, fine, send him down to the right level for his age, and let him prove himself there.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            There are some farm systems that lock a player into a league by age and never move him regardless of performance.  That approach makes no sense to me, and apparently it doesn’t to the Cubs either.  The Cubs approach is to, when and as possible and timely, challenge a prospect with promotions forcing them to continue to work to refine their game against increasingly difficult competition.  The Cubs are far from the only team that operates this way; I think the age-based station-to-station teams are in the minority, to be honest.

            Power is the last thing a young hitter develops; no worries there as yet.  The bulk of Vitters’ struggles have been with plate discipline and patience – two areas that were somewhat ignored under Hendry but are preached more heavily under Epstein.  He is already showing improvement in both departments, not just with a higher walk rate, but with a number of very good quality at bats.  And he is still one of the youngest players in Triple A.  He hasn’t even had 100 ABs in Triple A yet; that’s not enough time for him to be able to make the necessary adjustments against the more advanced pitching.

            I’m not saying he’s a future star, but it far, far too early to be considering giving up on this guy.

          • Kyle

            You *could* let him beat up on less challenging leagues, sure. But to what end?

            You get prettier numbers to drool over, but does that really improve the prospect long-term?

            A league-average offensive player at a premium defensive position while being one of the youngest players in the league? I’d consider that a successful season.

            The only problem with Vitters is his No. 3 overall pick status. He’s never going to live up to that and so be it. If he was a third-rounder, he’d be a trendy sleeper prospect that everyone loved.

  • Fishin Phil

    Agree that moving LaHair to left field would be a bad idea. I was not impressed with his defensive abilities last year. No range and a weak arm. I hope he is traded to someone who will really use him properly when the time comes.

    • ETS

      Trading our only decent bat seems like a poor idea.

  • Andrew

    I know there would obviously be a learning curve for him defensively but, whats to say we move LaHair over to 3B? Stewart isn’t the future third basemen for the Cubs, so we could see how LaHair handles it over on the left side…. just a thought

    • Noah

      If there are concerns that LaHair can’t handle LF, he certainly can’t handle third base.

    • JustSwain

      Have you watched the games? Lahair shows poor skills at 1st base, and Barney has had to shade his direction to get anything hit on the ground to the right side. He has no range, slow reflexes, and poor glove skills. 3B is the hot corner. You get the highest percentage of hard hit balls hit right at you, or very near you, and you need a strong accurate arm to hit your first baseman. No way Lahair has 3B skills.

  • Mrp

    Meh, I’d rather here here it come straight from Cubs brass on whether or not LaHair could end up in the outfield. He has played out there before so I don’t really think that Sullivan’s argument holds that much weight. It wouldn’t take all that much time to readjust to playing the outfield again. Not saying he is going to be a gold glover, but LaHair can’t be much worse in left then Soriano over the past few years. If he is still raking, you have to find a spot for him.

    If by some chance that Rizzo doesn’t work out it would be nice to still have LaHair around and playing everyday to take back over until Rizzo gets things figured out or the next 1B prospect is ready. Just a thought though.

    • EQ76

      I’ll say this, if LaHair hits 35 bombs this year, I’m positive management will try him in LF. It’s not like we have a gold glover in LF right now.

      • Deer

        absolutely, LH power – check, cheap option – check. Theo played Manny in LF for years, I’m positive LaHair is better defensively in the OF than Manny and can at least equal Soriano

  • Spoda17

    Brett, I’ll be at the game tonight in Philadelphia, I’ll tweet some pics… make sure you follow me @spoda17.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nice!

  • http://www.bleachernation.com John

    I figured that Marmol would be good trade bait to go to Boston. He is under contract through 2013 though which may me a hick up.

  • hansman1982

    After leaving the friendly confines on Wednesday I decided to head west on Addison (DO NOT DO THIS AT 5:00, horrendous traffic), about halfway to the interstate I hear sirens and see a state trooper flying up the eastbound lane. The Cubs were getting a full police escort to the airport and the Cops didn’t care if they had to run over a little old lady bringing home the cat food. It was kind of funny seeing coach buses swerving in and out of traffic, though.

    • Patrick

      Why would the Cubs be going to the airport if they had the Bricks and Ivy Ball at Navy Pier that night?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Might not have been headed to the airport – I do know that they were BOOKING it after the game to get down to Navy Pier. An escort sounds about right.

        • hansman1982

          I guess I wasn’t aware of the Ball – I was merely making an assumption based on my location and that there was a van truck following the 2 coach busses – whoever it was, was NOT messing around. That is Army convoy in Iraq stuff.

          Possible it was the support staff that follows the Cubs around and their gear or that it was the Lakeview children’s choir on their way to practice. I have no definitive confirmation that it was Cubs related.

          • EvenBetterNews

            So…. How did the game go with our Brett?

  • CubbieBlue085

    LaHair would be an adequate left fielder. If you look not too long ago we read an article by brett stating that soriano is statistically the worst outfielder in the majors the past few seasons. I know he isn’t extremely fast or anything like that but he obviously cant be worse than soriano. I would compare him to manny or carlos lee.. not going to blow your socks off with greatness but good enough to get the job done, plus offensively if he continues to hit I would take a bad play here and there for someone who can put the ball over the wall

    • Mrp

      Well said. I’d say Dave McKay could make a big difference for LaHair as well. Look at the improvements that Soriano has made from last year to this year. I’d think he would be able to get LaHair to improve as well.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      “If you look not too long ago we read an article by brett stating that soriano is statistically the worst outfielder in the majors the past few seasons.”

      You sure Brett wrote that? I think the advanced stats say Soriano is much better than the eye tells us…

      • chris margetis

        I believe there was a tweet the other day from Buster Olney basically that said, “here’s one of those times you can’t believe advance stats” which was refering to Soriano being ranked 4th so far this year for outfielders. Anyone believe he’s the fourth best outfielder in MLB? He isn’t the fourth best OF for the Cubs and that’s if they included LaHair!

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          I saw that…4th best left fielder. He’s 2nd as of today in UZR/150.
          Thing is, UZR only compares him to other left fielders. And LF is usually filled with weak fielders.
          But I’ve lost some faith in UZR over time…

          • hansman1982

            the thing I don’t understand with defensive stats is that everyone is looking for the all-encompassing stat. UZR should be taken with scouting reports and range factor and errors and whatever else you can get your hands on. No different than OPS – a guy can have an .800 OPS but if he racks up 250 K’s or 40 GIDP or an OBP of .300 on route to 30 homers, does that mean he is just as valuable as a guy who has an .800 OPS but does well in the other categories?

      • CubbieBlue085

        By one advanced metric (Good Plays/Misplays), Alfonso Soriano has been the worst defensive outfielder in baseball over the last three years. Not much more to be said there. by brett march 18th in bullets

        • Kyle

          I wouldn’t exactly call some guy eyeballing and labeling plays “good” or “bad” to be an advanced metric.

          Soriano is a better defensive outfielder than he gets credit for, though certainly not a good one. He’s much better than LaHair would be. LaHair in LF would be a near-Hundley level disaster.

          I do find it interesting that the Cubs’ new regime agreed with my very amateur eyes on something about Soriano’s defense: That he’s much better at coming in on balls than he is moving laterally or back. They’ve got him playing deeper this year, and I think the result has been positive.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Some would argue that an eyeball +/- system is the *best* defensive metric.

            • Kyle

              And I would be glad to argue with those people.

              You want to give me a defensive scouting report? Go nuts.

              But splitting up plays into arbitrary buckets that you’ve arbitrarily decided to give equal weight to? Sounds…arbitrary?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Yeah, I’m not sure exactly what I wrote, but I know it depends on what stats you use. My eye test tells me he’s well below average, advanced stats say he’s decent. I’m not sure I’ve ever said he was statistically the worst in baseball. In fact, I’d be very surprised if I wrote that, because I don’t believe that’s accurate.

        • CubbieBlue085

          The only reason I remember you saying that is because in the headline you wrote about the maddux brothers and at the bottom you write soriano is the worst outfielder ever and it just cracked me up. So its stuck in my head and made for a good reference here

  • Cheryl

    If Rizzo doesn’t work out in terms of the majors, then the cubss have a problem. LaHair will probably be traded by the tme Rizzo is brought up. There is a pattern where Theo and company tend to go back to players they once drafted. LaHair has showed he is a power threat so there should be a market for him – Maybe Bily Beane wull come calling.

    • EQ76

      ehh… I wouldn’t trade LaHair unless we get top pitching back for him.. If he continues to hit like he has been, with the fact that he’s financially cheap, we’d better get a top tier pitching prospect back or 2 or I wouldn’t move him.. dudes that hit 30+ HR’s are hard to come by.

      • hansman1982

        Why hello Jim Hendry, good to see you hanging around Cubs fans still.

        If LaHair is still hitting well at the deadline, you trade him. Far more Casey McGeehee stories than Jose Bautista stories and with a guy like LaHair, you trade as soon as you can if he is performing especially since we have Rizzo.

        • Mrp

          I see what you’re saying but I don’t think he has any value this year even if he is raking all the way up to the deadline. I’d rather just keep him instead of getting a bag of balls in return and see what he can do in LF after working with McKay. It’s not like he is expensive or anything. Feels like that would just be dumping him to clear a roster spot.

          • hansman1982

            I knew I should have clarified after I posted it. I don’t want a used bag of balls where the bag has a hole in it but if you can get a B- prospect for him, I say go for it. Or if you can use him to move Soriano and save an extra few million a year, or to acquire an extra (organizational) top 10 prospect in a Garza trade, you have to pull the trigger.

          • TWC

            Keep him?  Through the deadline and to the end of September?  For what?  If he’s hitting well in July, he’s gone.  If he’s not, he’s sitting on the bench.  There is no Cubs future for Bryan LaHair.

            “Feels like that would just be dumping him to clear a roster spot.”

            Yup.

            • Mrp

              Oh yeah, I forgot we already have a gold glove, slugging left fielder that is blocking us from seeing what LaHair can do out there. My bad.

              Why not at least see what we have there after he has had a chance to work with McKay?

            • EQ76

              “There is no Cubs future for Bryan LaHair.” I didn’t realize a real life psychic is on the message board!!! I’m glad you all have figured out our future.. so tell me psychic, what’s the score of today’s game gonna be? I want to place a bet with my bookie!

              • TWC

                6-2.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            I see a lot of people saying that he won’t have any value even if he keeps hitting up to the trade deadline, and I don’t follow the logic.  I don’t think teams are going to ignore what he is doing on the field against major league pitching now just because it took him longer than usual to get out of the minors.  He’s not going net a huge return in a trade, but I don’t see why he wouldn’t be worth what any other cost-controlled, slugging left hander with defensive limitations would be worth.

            • Mrp

              Ok, so what is guy with half a season’s worth of major league success worth these days? I personally think it is worth it to hold on to him for right now and let him build some value and we can revisit trading him next year. You said yourself that the return isn’t going to be huge. I’m not sure why some people are so hell bent on creating a roster spot by getting rid of him for a lower prospect.

            • Kyle

              It’s kind of a moot point, because he’s not going to keep raking.

              It’s nice that he’s having the patented MIcah Hoffpauir 125 PAs of Awesome, but just like Hoffpauir, the peripherals aren’t there and the crash back to earth is looming. (Also, I can’t remember how to spell Hoff-Power).

              Let’s go to the “Is it sustainable?” peripherals board:

              BABIP .522
              K percentage: 33.3%
              HR/FB ratio: 37.4%

              That BABIP is going to drop about 200 points, the HR/FB ratio will go down to the high teens, but the K percentage will stay the same.

        • EQ76

          hansman, You’re right.. who needs power hitting lefties who don’t cost much financially? That sounds just like Jim Hendry..

  • Mike

    I commented on Rosenbloom’s piece on Twitter. It makes zero sense. He spends the first half telling us how obviously inconsistent and unreliable Marmol is, and then asks why the Cubs don’t trade him for a valuable prospect? Maybe, uh, because no one wants to give up a valuable prospect for an obviously inconsistent and unreliable closer?

  • The Dude Abides

    speaking of LaHair what is Jake Fox upto these days?

    • Cubbie Blues

      Fox is with Pittsburgh in AAA. Only 5 plate appearances in 3 games with 2 doubles 1 BB 0 K (from Fan Graphs).

  • bob

    Moving LaHair to left with limited practice time wouldn’t be unprecedented: last year Blake DeWitt was thrown out there with no experience, and I don’t think Mark DeRosa had any OF experience when he started playng out there. Of course, the results were mixed: DeWitt may have been even worse than Soriano when he first started out there. I think the decision comes down to whether he will create more runs with his offense than he loses with his defense, which is almost a certainty. The list of bad fielders dumped into left field is way too long to go into here. The only roadblock is Soriano, and for reasons given here many times he’s not going anywhere.

    • JustSwain

      “DeWitt may have been even worse than Soriano when he first started out there” And take into consideration that Dewitt is a natural athlete (meaning he can run, throw, and catch better than the average person) Lahair is not.

      “I think the decision comes down to whether he will create more runs with his offense than he loses with his defense, which is almost a certainty” I’d argue this point. I remember facing Adam Dunn, and watching outs become doubles. Sure he’d crush a homer off us at some point during the series, but it was often a solo shot, and he’d improve the batting average of every right hander we had.

  • florida Al

    luke or brett does anyone know what happened to abner abreu the kid they picked up in the kossuke trade? i googled his name and milb says he is with daytona, but when i go to the daytona roster his name isnt on there? just curious….

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He was bounced after Spring Training. He hasn’t yet, to my knowledge, caught on with another team.

      • Cedlandrum

        Wow even I missed that one. I completely forgot about him.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Abreu showed some slight improvement last season, but he also made comments to the effect of “I’m going to just play my game my way and not worry about what the coaches say,” (not an exact quote).  Considering that his game consisted of striking out at a rate that would make Adam Dunn blush, I’m not surprised the Cubs cut him loose.

          Michael Burgess was a similar player at the plate, but he did make the adjustments the Cubs asked of him and is having a pretty decent year in Tennessee.

          • hansman1982

            so what you are saying is, the Front Office didn’t draft or sign him so they cut him loose just because they are petty…

            • Andrew

              I think it’s more along the lines of them cutting an uncoachable low-level minor leaguer in need of coaching in favor of keeping other low-level minor leaguers who are open to coaching.

            • Drew

              Yeah, where’s his Aunt on this one??? I’m sure She’ll blow this one up by the end of the day!

  • FromFenwayPahk

    “They don’t walk anybody either.” This is so important. Neither should we. This goes for the pen, too.

  • FromFenwayPahk

    I’ve heard more than one Boston acolyte seriously suggest that the Cubs closer this October will be Bowden.

  • jim

    If cubs dont take a pitcher in draft, i will be shocked!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      It depends on who falls.  I suspect the best player on the board when the Cubs pick will be a college pitcher, but odd things can happen in the draft.  If the best player is a shortstop, then that’s who the Cubs will pick.

      All signs so far point to them expecting to draft a pitcher, though.

  • Dan Fredrickson

    Many of you here are convinced that LaHair can’t move to the outfield and, hence, he must be moved to another team. But what about Rizzo? If the Cubs want LaHair and Rizzo in the same lineup (and I’m thinking that I actually hope they DO), then why has there been no message-board discussion about how well Rizzo would do in left field? It’s all been about moving LaHair.

    • Dan Fredrickson

      And maybe the best time to call up Rizzo is when the Cubs start a road trip to American League parks. Then they can both be in the lineup without Sveum’s having to make a decision like that.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The reason is because Rizzo is considered a Gold Glove caliber first baseman, and is just 22. He’s a really big kid, and the only other spots he could even plausibly play are LF and RF. Rizzo best serves the Cubs long-term by being an excellent first baseman. LaHair is merely passable at first and isn’t a long-term solution anywhere, so moving him would make more sense, if the Cubs are going to move one of them.

      • JustSwain

        I agree Brett. The skills that make a Gold Glove first baseman are completely different than the skills to create an elite outfield defender. A first baseman needs to be good on ground balls, stretches, reaction plays on liners, defending the line, and pulling balls out of the dirt. Outfielders need speed to get to balls, a good read off the bat, a good arm, and a good read of where caroms will end up. Rizzo is going to rock 1st base when he comes up. It will make the entire infield look better, and save Castro about 5 errors a year. Plus Barney will be able to play further up the middle with nobody on, rather than having to cover most of Lahairs ground.

  • BD

    I think DHing LaHair would be the best, since the NL should have it to keep pitches from trying to use a bat.

    However, if LaHair produces offensively, Moneyball would put him in LF. Because defense doesn’t matter.

  • ETS

    Keep Campana in Center and DeJesus in Right. Those two can cover a big chunk of the field. So what Lahair is a slight liability in Left. I doubt he can be worse than Sori, unless his back thing is worse than I realize.

    • JustSwain

      I think he can be much, much worse than Sori, especially the way Soriano has been playing left this year. Even when he was playing on an injured knee I bet Soriano was a half second faster to first base than Lahair (remember when he was in the 40 40 club?) Soriano had horrible outfield skills his first few years, but there was little arguing that his natural abilities were there. He is fast and long, and even has a decent (though inaccurate) arm. Any reason to think Lahair has any of those things?

      • Cubbie Blues

        “Any reason to think Lahair has any of those things?”

        Well, I haven’t seen him throw much but he could be just as inaccurate. that’s one thing that they could have in common.

        • JustSwain

          Heh:) Conceded.

  • cubsin

    The Cubs have a long, inglorious history of playing hitters who don’t belong there in the outfield. Remember Henry Rodriguez, Glenallen Hill and Sosa? For the other seniors out there, how about Hank Sauer and a very old Ralph Kiner together with poor, worn-out Hal Jeffcoat in center?

  • art

    i respectfully disagree, IMO, i don’t buy the he (LaHair) can’t play (good) the OF thing. if guys like Kingman, Fox, Dunn, Soriano, etc can play (put there) LF, so can LaHair.

    i agree he is not an OF’er but, if you want his bat in the line-up with Rizzo, that’s where you hide someone like LaHair. he can’t be any worse than Soriano on defense.

    remember the nut Quade put him in RF when he came up last year without any practice. bad fielder’s who can hit are put in LF all the time. and i’m not alone on this one, lol. everyone invited to my BBQ this weekend.

    • ETS

      ETS likes this.

  • rcleven

    Everybody is so high on Rizzo being called up. Kind of makes my head spin. Until Rizzo gets a little better hitting left handers I don’t see even bringing his name up as a mid season call up. He is tearing up right handers at a .460’s clip but he is only 4 for 23 against leftys. With 4 errors to boot he still has a lot to accomplish at the AAA level.

  • Sam

    If you look at LaHair’s numbers in LF in the minors he was actually above average defensively and had an Rtz of 11 with 8 outfield assists to only 2 errors in 135 games there. If his back heals, he could definitely handle it while being less below-average than Soriano currently is…

  • Cheryl

    This is kind of a strange discussion if you compare it to the talk about four or five months ago, I would say about 70 percent of the posts then were knocking LaHair. He was a liability etc. Five months later the talk is “what can we do to keep him in the lineup?” Somebody then said I had a thing about LaHair. But he is now producing. What’s best for LaHair? Probably to be traded. What’s best for the cubs? Keep him at least to July and if he hits 35 homeruns this season? That’s a question for Theo. But if he continues like he is he shouldn’t ride the bench. But knowing the mistakes the cubs have made in trades before and if he does well elsewhere just mark it up as another bad trade.

    • Kyle

      He’s still a liability long-term. It’s easy to get caught up in early season results, but even bad hitters can have hot streaks. The same people worked up about LaHair’s start are the ones who were dying to see Neifi Perez handed a full-time job after he put up a nearly 1.000 OPS in a late-season run with the Cubs in 2004.

      Baseball fans have short memories, and they fall for this stuff every time.

      • Cheryl

        Maybe he is a liability, but time will tell. Right now I think he’d have a better chance to make it elsewhere and I want him to have a chance to prove he’s no liability. But you could be right, Kyle. He is certainly messing things up for people who once regarded him as a disaster.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Not sure what the grand plan is for LaHair but I find it hard to believe they would trade him just because Rizzo would be ready to move up. This team has nobody who is ready to move up and play outfield except Jackson. There is no way LaHair is worse than Soriano. Plenty of teams make the sacrafice to have a big bat in the outfield corner spots in order to get power and run production. There simply is nobody in the organization who could out produce LaHair if he is moved to the outfield. What the Cubs need to do when the time comes is send Reed Johnson to the DFA list. He is old and has no future. The Cubs need to focus on figuring out what in the hell they are going to do about third base. How long does the Ian Stewart experiment continue. He can’t hit at all. He sucks at the plate. I’m calling this a bad trade. Epstein made a bad trade for him. He proved what he was with Colorado… nothing.

  • http://cubsrumorsandnews.blogspot.com/ HotStoveCubbies

    I just checked out Bryan LaHair defensive minor league stats and while his defense at 1st is a better he fairs well in the outfield. He has 191 minor league games in the outfield with only 4 errors in 337 PO and also has 16 assist in those 191 minor league games. Has roughly a .989 fielding percentage in those 191 games which put his minor league(although smaller sample size) defensive stats better than Jay Bruce, Garrett Jones, Johnny Damon, Jeromy Burnitz, Cliff Floyd, and Jason Bay minor league fielding percentage/stats. Those are just to name a few.

    I think it would be a shame if the Cubs brass did not start playing him in LF starting in May because of the bat he brings and plus he is insurance if by some strange reason Rizzo does not pan out. We have seen our own share of flops from the minors named David Kelton, Bobby Brownlee, Felix Pie, Corey Patterson, etc the last thing we need to do is trade away a guy who is showing he is a late bloomer and that goes for Rizzo as well. LaHair is inexpensive, left-handed power bat, showed he can handle 1st and OF in the minors, and most of all will not be a free agent until 2018. Why would you not want LaHair and RIzzo both in your lineup, especially if LaHair fairs better defensively than Soriano out there.

    LaHair is a guy you keep on a rebuilding team and if he flops so what. I am saying the value he provides to the Cubs is greater than the value that another team will be trading away for him.

    Theo and Co. need to see if he has what it takes to play LF or even RF before making any decision but just trading him away before finding that out would be a big mistake.

    • Kyle

      You cannot tell how good an outfielder is by counting errors.

      • Cheryl

        Then, how do you tell?

        • Kyle

          Counting how many balls he gets to.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Scouting reports…

    • JustSwain

      Whats his range factor?

  • Kyle

    I know I’m pounding this point home today, but those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.

    There was once a AAA first baseman who ripped the cover off the ball in Iowa. He was considered not much of a prospect, but he finally got his cup of coffee at age 28 and hit .342/400/534 in 80 plate appearances as a Cub.

    He got himself a major league job the next year, and hit 303/333/545 in April. Surely he was legit, right? Sorry, he turned out to Micah Hoffpaiur and washed out of baseball very quickly after that hot 125 PAs.

    And if we go back a little further, there was a AAA first baseman who ripped the cover off the ball in Iowa. He was not considered much of a prospect, but he finally got his cup of coffee and hit 294/342/544 in 70 plate appearances. That earned him a major league job the next year. Legit? Nope, Julio Zuleta.

    Zuleta=Hoffpauir=LaHair. He’ll be washed out of major league baseball this time two years from now, and we’ll all feel foolish for having talked about him having a long-term future and possible trade value.

    • Cheryl

      And those who are afraid to go in a new direction remain in the same rut. But, time will tell as it id with that first baseman. But what if you hadn’t tried him? Then, you would never know he didn’t have what was needed. What if LaHair hits in April, then May and ito June? Is he still aflash in the pan?

    • KyleNovak

      Kyle,

      I agree it is way to early to proclaim LaHair as anything beyond a stopgap, I mean. . the rest of the Cubs are hitting incredibly pathetic as a team, so it makes him look even better than advertised.

      I’m going to play devil’s advocate here.

      What about a guy like Casey Blake? Matt Stairs? Michael Morse? Jack Cust?
      All late-bloomers who played great in the minors, had cups of coffee in their mid-twenties, didn’t stick with their respective clubs, and *finally* played their first full MLB-season at age 27 or 28. With the exception of Morse (the jury is still out on him), you could say that all of them had serviceable to solid MLB careers.

      You could say that LaHair has a Jack Cust-like comp, with more power and a lower-walk rate. Remember that Cust (and his league-leading freakish K totals) was a 2.5-3 WAR player for a two-year span during his age 28 and 29 season.

      You’re guilty of not looking at the *SITUATION* behind Zuleta and Hoffpauir.

      Zuleta was platooning with Matt Stairs, a proven MLB-commodity at the time. The Cubs get Fred McGriff for the stretch run (which ultimately failed), and play him the following season. Dusty Baker comes along in 2003 and plays Eric Karros (another MLB-veteran) and Randall Simon (ditto, and . . . a guy who surprisingly did not suck as a late-trade acquisition despite being below replacement for his career) Hee-Seop Choi becomes your younger new first-base prospect du jour, Derrek Lee gets signed in 2004, and the rest is history.

      So. . . Zuleta had 118 bad PAs and a .246 BABIP (which would be considered a small-sample size) and due to the circumstances (a string of free agents) was done in the majors.

      Hoffpauir is a little more comparable to LaHair (and for the record, I stated this in a post last year), but look at the fact he had *no* place to play regularly, since Derrek Lee was still the regular first-baseman. So he got Frankenstein-ed into the lineup, playing in the outfield (if anything, this is an indictment to prevent playing LaHair in the outfield). Cubs execs saw Hoffpauir was expendable since they had Lee and he didn’t fit into any plans anywhere else.

      LaHair’s minor league track record has shown all the positives, steady walk-rate, steadily increasing power. His situation is ideal. He gets to play first (with a minimal platoon) on a regular basis and the Cubs have the luxury to see his MLB abilities until they decide to call Rizzo up from AAA. He should be getting 350-450 PAs, a much better indicator of his worth than the 100-250 PAs in a season that Hoffpauir and Zuleta had on much better Cubs teams.

      Sometimes it isn’t just the player, but also the situation. A lot of stat-guys/bloggers/analysts/armchair GMs like to use toss haphazard comparisons and chime in “Small-sample size!” when it benefits them while avoiding it when it doesn’t. And sometimes the business of the game prevents some people from getting more than a dreaded “small-sample size” chance.

      • KyleNovak

        Speaking of small-sample sizes, just for kicks:

        Carlos Pena in 83 PAs .284/.422/.522, .366 BABIP (.279 career in MLB), 8 XHB, 15.7% BB, 26.5% K

        Bryan LaHair in 54 PAs .364/.463/.727, .522 BABIP (no minor league BABIP under .327) 8 XHB, 16.7% BB, 33.3% K

        They’ll both regress (LaHair a lot more) to BABIP norms, but you have to admit, those are pretty comparable.

        Also, we forget that the Cubs have already seen Washington, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Miami, and will be seeing Philadelphia, all playoff-contenders with average to plus pitchers. You have to factor in the Colorados, Houstons, and San Diegos of the world too.

  • Jeremy

    Anyone know what the chances are the Kyle Zimmer ends up being the BPA and the pick at number 6 in the draft? Been reading up on him a bit and I like what I read. Seems to be the type of kid this team could use in the future.

  • Kyle

    BABIP has been as horrible to Ian Stewart this year as it has been kind to Bryan LaHair.

    Stewart isn’t good, but he’s not *this* bad.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      By the way, for whatever it’s worth to folks: BABIP has been unkind to Jeff Samardzija, too. His FIP and xFIP (small sample size, yadda yadda) are both excellent.

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