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nate schierholtzWhen the Chicago Cubs signed Nate Schierholtz on a modest one-year deal back in December, his role in 2013 was immediately the subject of protracted debates. He looked great as a fourth outfielder. He looked passable as the left-handed half of a platoon, depending on the other outfield moves. But as a full-time starter in right field? Eh. It’s possible he could be a quality option – particularly at his price tag – and no one’s ever really given him a shot. Maybe the Cubs were going to be the first to do it?

Given that Schierholtz reportedly had better offers at the time from teams who clearly viewed him as a fourth outfielder, it seemed pretty clear that the Cubs’ plans for Schierholtz – at least insofar as what they told him – leaned closer toward the “starting” end of the spectrum than the “bench” end.

Well, from Schierholtz’s mouth, it sounds like our speculation was probably correct.

“I had a long conversation with Dale Sveum, and they gave me every indication it was my job to win, and that I would have a great shot to play right field every day and show what I can do,” Schierholtz told Carrie Muskat. “That made the Cubs very appealing to me. That was one of my goals coming into the offseason was to find somewhere I could have an opportunity to play more and be on a team that was going to win games, too. I think the Cubs will be a good mix of those two things.”

So, while it’s definitely something short of a guarantee that he’d be starting every day, Schierholtz clearly received assurances that the Cubs viewed him as more than a mere bench guy. We’ll see how the rest of the outfield shakes out – the possible pursuit of a Scott Hairston continues to make more and more sense – but snagging a Michael Bourn type now seems even more intimately tied to an Alfonso Soriano or David DeJesus trade. Because if they’re still here, the outfield will be configured Soriano-DeJesus-Schierholtz from left to right, with spot starts for other-handed guys interspersed on a case-by-case basis.

The rest of that Muskat article, by the way, is worth a read – some very complimentary quotes about Dale Sveum.

  • Seth

    IS this what you were talking about Brett?

    “We had a couple really great conversations, and to be honest with you, I feel he was the reason I was so motivated to sign in Chicago,” Schierholtz said. “I’ve talked to many other general managers and managers, and there was something about Dale that felt right.”

    I like the sound of that. Speaks wonders of Sveum.

  • wiscubfan

    He will platoon with Hairston hes coming

  • Crazyhorse

    Nate Schierholtz is a decent player and that is it. He will not overwhelm with his offense . His defense is sound. He runs well. and in 5 years he will be forgotten.

  • itzscott

    Key words: “it was my job to win”.

    I don’t see anything in his comments which would indicate he’s already won the starting job.

  • Blublud

    Lord. If Shierholtz is the starting RF, my projected win total and excitement for next season just when flying out the window, in the middle of rush hour traffic at that. There is absolutely no way to retrieve it.

    • Marcel91

      So despite all the improvements the team has made over the offseason, getting a full year of Anthony Rizzo, improvement from other young players, built a very solid pitching staff, etc your going to give up on the entire year because Nate Schierholtz is in RF?………………………ok

      • http://Isa Voice of reason

        Please share the improvements the team has made.

        Why should I not give up on this year?

        • Carew

          Pitching depth, pitching depth, very solid pitching depth. It’s all about the pitching man

          • Voice of Reason

            Last year Ryan Dempster was in the race to win the E.R.A title.

            HOWEVER, his win/loss record was terrible. That is because the Cubs offense was the worst I’ve ever seen.

            That said, if it’s all about the pitching, why didn’t Ryan Dempster win more games last year? After all, almost halfway through the season he had the best E.R.A in the National League.

            The offense was non existent last year so the Cubs front office signs Nate Schierholtz to play right field. The only big addition to the offense, mind you. A man who couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper sack.

            The Cubs brass expect to lose another 90 games this year. Sure they signed some average starters and are rolling the dice on them. Hopefully one or two can stick with the team and/or be traded for prospects.

            Sure Rizzo is another year older and will HOPEFULLY progress, but remember that Alfonso is no spring chicken and might drop offensively this year. Other than those two, we had Castillo at short as the only other offensive weapon, period! What a joke! And, they have done nothing about it this offseason!

    • yield51

      Who would you prefer? Cubs are on Upton’s NTC, and it would cost too many top prospects to get him. Stanton isn’t available yet. Morse can’t play RF. Dominic Brown would cost the Cubs Soriano, and I don’t think he is that good to start with plus he hits LH. I understand that RF/3B are the Cubs biggest needs right now, but there isn’t much out there. The Cubs internal options are still a couple years away. I think the best case scenario would be starting the season with LF Soriano, CF DeJesus/Sappelt, RF Schierholtz/hopefully Hairston.

      • Blublud

        I would start Sappelt or Campana before this guy. Lets just remember, I felt the same way last year about Volstad and Mather. I think I was right. This guy is virtually the same. But oh well. Hes not a starter or a platoon guy, he’s a 5th OF AAA filler type.

        • DarthHater

          There’s no such thing as “a platoon guy.” Whether a guy should be platooned depends on how he stacks up against the the other guy you have to platoon with him. Schierholtz is better against right-handed pitching than Sappelt, so it would make more sense to platoon them than to simply start Sappelt, as you suggest.

          As for Campana, starting him over Schierholtz is just goofy.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            No such thing as a platoon guy?

            • DarthHater

              Of course. A platoon only makes sense if you have somebody from the other side who is better. You may have a guy who’s so bad against lefties that your offense will suck if you have to play him against lefties. That guy might be “a platoon guy” in the sense that he has little value if you have to play him against lefties. But you still shouldn’t platoon him unless the other half of your platoon is better against lefties.

        • frank

          Campana? Really?

          • Blublud

            Its funny how everybody scream metric on this site like WAR, but then when its stated that Campana has a higher WAR then Shierholtz in less playing time, then it means nothing. Campana is the better player.

            Plus, the one time acampans was given to start, he performed fairly well. If given a shot as the everyday CF, he would be minumum a slightly above average player.

            • Marcel91

              I’m not a “WAR is everything” guy but Shierholtz has a total WAR of 5.2 while Campana’s is 2.7.

              Nate over a 3 year span had WARs of 0.9, 0.9, and 1.5

              Campana over that same span 1.5, and 0.6(in minors other year)

              Shierholtz is by FAR the better defender, Campana has speed but gets terrible jumps on the ball, takes bad routes, and has a weak arm.

              It’s goofy to believe Campana is a better player than Shierholtz.

              • Blublud

                Last season Campana had a higher WAR.
                Campana .9
                Shierholtz .8

                Campana had 80 less AB.

                • DarthHater

                  To paraphrase The Graduate: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word — wOBA.”

                  • Marcel91

                    That too, Shierholtz was league average in that category last year while Campana was way below league average. Solves the debate right there. Campana is a below replacement level player overall.

                • Marcel91

                  Here’s a straight up comparison for you

                  http://www.fangraphs.com/comparison.aspx?playerid=4964&position=OF&page=0&players=6201

                  Now tell me again that Campana is the better player.

                  • Blublud

                    I dont care about any of that stuff. We had this same convo last year about how Joe Mather was a better player. Shierholtz = Mather.

                    If given a chance, Campana can be a good CF. Not a super star or a great player, but a very decent to good player. Shierholtz is maybe slightly behind him, but Campana has earned a shot.

                    I just don’t understand how this FO expect top free agents to wanna play here when they keep disrespecting the guys who have been here and earned the chance.

                    • DarthHater

                      Yea! Stupid facts! Always getting in the way!

                    • TWC

                      “If given a chance, Campana can be a good CF.”

                      No, he’s a terrible center fielder. He’s quite excellent at running fast.

                      “Not a super star or a great player, but a very decent to good player.”

                      No. But he is quite excellent at running fast.

                      “Campana has earned a shot.”

                      No. Because he’s sub-replacement level. He is terrible. But — and this is a big one – he *is* quite excellent at running fast.

                    • TWC

                      “… disrespecting the guys who have been here and earned the chance.”

                      And, see, this is where I just don’t get you, John Jay. Sports are a meritocracy. You seem to feel that trying really hard, sticking around a team, “putting in your dues”, “sticking with your team” (blah blah blah) “earns” you something. It doesn’t. If you are a crappy baseball player, like Tony Campana, you don’t “deserve” anything — especially playing time! Nate Schierholtz is a demonstrably better baseball player. Thus he merits the playing time over Campana.

                    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                      Campana is not subreplacement. I don’t know where people got this idea. There’s something between “He’s a scrappy white hidden gem who should be starting!” and “He’s a plague on the roster who shouldn’t even be at AAA.” I mean sheesh, he’s not a starter, but he’s not Ian Stewart.

                      Just for fun, since Fangraphs was already linked in this conversation, their Fangraphs’ WAR 2011-12:

                      Schierholtz, 2.0 in 631 PAs
                      Campana, 2.1 in 347 PAs

                    • http://Isa Voice of reason

                      Blubud you are exactly right on everything you posted!!

                      Keep everyone in line!!

                    • DarthHater

                      Kyle:

                      I don’t think Campana is a plague or sub-replacement and never said that (though others have). I do think that if you compare pretty much any batting metrics at all, Schierholtz is a significantly better hitter than Campana. The WAR thing is based on a small sample size for Campana and, if it proves anything, it may be that WAR overvalues steals.

                    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                      Well, yeah, if you compare them only on the thing that Campana is terrible at and Schierholtz is sort of OK at, then Campana’s not going to look so good.

                      But WAR definitely doesn’t overvalue steals. Steals are one of the easiest valuations in baseball.

                      The main area where WAR has a lot of fuzziness is defense. It likes Campana’s defense a decent amount and Schierholtz’s not so much.

                      But you’re right, Campana’s able to rack up value in his primary skill set. It’s easy for a fast guy to rack up a decent amount of value per appearance if he’s just pinch-running. Put him in as a starter every day and his bat would have to carry more of the load.

                    • DarthHater

                      Right. Because comparing baseball players based on their ability to hit a baseball obviously has no validity.

  • Dustin S

    I will say if it’s one thing we learned from Sveum last year, other than Castro, Rizzo, and maybe to a lesser degree Barney…he’s not afraid to mix-up the lineup and play matchups or give guys days off. So he should consider it his job to lose, but he won’t probably get over 400 AB. There are too many other guys to get ABs in the OF (especially if we get Hairston), and if they’re out of it in the 2nd half we’ll see another round of Jackson, etc.

  • Marcel91

    He might surprise. Alot of Giants fans always felt that if he was ever given 500 PA that he would put together a very solid year. He’s a breakout candidate but even if he doesn’t go all Josh Reddick this year he still provides an upgrade over Dejesus on a cheap contract.

    no risk/possible high reward. He’s athletic, plays good D, has good power just hasn’t found that stroke yet. Why not?

    • Mike

      I agree with you Marcel91. He needs to be given a chance to play more/break out. I love his defense as well. Anyone who wants to check out Schierholtz on defense, check out you tube video “nate’s gonna gun you down”. Great video.

  • Hee Seop Chode

    Barf. You all might be excited about no risk high upside guys, but a corner outfielder who hit 6 HR last year makes me want to barf.

    Who would have been better? Anyone with MLB corner outfield power. This is why many people (myself included) didn’t like his signing.

    Another observation: there is risk to starting bench guys. They may suck, and you are spending one of the few assets the Cubs do have: playing time.

  • Fastball

    I wasn’t happy when we signed Shierholtz and it was rumored right away he was going to start in RF. Then I thought he was the 4th OF and I was kinda okay with that. Now that he might be the starter I am feeling like we are in bad shape in RF. No to Campana he isn’t good enough to be on the 40 man roster.Campana will not make the 25 man unless there is a rash of injuries in ST. The OF will be Soriano, DeJesus, Schierholtz, Sappelt and Judy – Theo’s admin.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    “Nate Schierholtz plans to start in RF”

    I also plan to bang Taylor Swift and be the subject of her next Top 40 hit.

    Neither of these things are likely to happen.

    • Stevie B

      Taylor Swift? Looks like a 12 year old boy with a wig on…pass.

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