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junior lake cubsYesterday, I wrote about Junior Lake’s time with the Cubs so far, evaluated his performance in light of an elevated BABIP, and tried to project his future value. This exercise, without drawing any hard conclusions, pointed out that it was going to be difficult for Lake to sustain the level of production necessary to be a quality regular in left field, even if his defense there became above average.

I briefly noted that Lake’s bat would play much better in center field – and there was a large discussion in the comments on that very issue – but, because Lake has been a mainstay in left field since Alfonso Soriano was traded (a trade that was partly precipitated by the need to open up regular playing time in the outfield for Lake), the focus was whether his production in left field would be sufficient long-term.

Later in the day, apropos of the discussion (though I’m implying no cause-and-effect here), Lake was flip-flopped with David DeJesus in the outfield, with Lake starting in center last night, and DeJesus starting in left. Suddenly, the discussion of Lake’s future value changes considerably.

For his part, Dale Sveum said the switch was primarily about getting a chance to see more of Lake in center field before the season ends, but it would be up to the organization whether it was worth trying to develop Lake as a center fielder, given that Albert Almora might be just a couple years away. (Per ESPN. The Almora bit is an interesting side note: it’s rare that you’d hear a Major League manager mentioning a low-A player as the future at any position, even if he’s “only” two years away.) I think that was a great move by Sveum.

Why not give Lake a little more time in center heading into the offseason? It’s where we saw him initially play when he was called up, and he did spend some time in center field over the offseason in the Dominican Winter League. The Cubs don’t have an obvious internal option to start in center field next year, with Brett Jackson still working out his offensive struggles at AA. The Cubs control David DeJesus on a $6.5 million team option, but he can play anywhere in the outfield, and isn’t necessarily a lock to start in center even if he’s brought back. The Cubs could also bring back Ryan Sweeney (free agent) or Brian Bogusevic (team control), but they are better used as fourth outfielders than as true starters.

Against that backdrop, and given the uncertainty of the offseason, the Cubs might as well see what they’ve got in Lake as a possible center fielder. Even if, as discussed yesterday, Lake’s BABIP regresses to where you’d expect it to be, he could easily put up a satisfactory (or better) line in center field, assuming he was playing adequate defense. And, on that defense, Lake has the arm, athleticism and speed to be a quality defensive center fielder if he takes quickly to the necessary instruction.

There’s very little to lose by giving Lake more starts in center field as the season winds down, even if it isn’t every single start. I’m glad the Cubs may have initiated that process last night, and I hope it becomes a relatively regular thing.

For planning purposes, having a good idea of what they do and do not have in center field could really help the Cubs heading into the offseason. One thing we all know the Cubs need is another big bat or two, and it’s a hell of a lot easier to find a big bat in left field than it is to find one in center. Further, you can find that big bat in left field without committing $100 million and a bunch of years (which is what it might cost to get someone like Jacoby Ellsbury in center).*

*And, yes, for you dreamers, opening up left field would leave open the possibility – although I cannot underemphasize how faint – that the Cubs could go after Cuban defector Jose Abreu, hoping that his bat could carry any theoretical deficiencies in the field (he’s a 1B/DH type by trade).

We’ll see how many starts in center Lake gets the rest of the way, and then we’ll see if he continues making center field starts during offseason ball, assuming he plays again in the Dominican Winter League.

  • LWeb23

    Is it a certain thing that Abreu waits until the offseason to sign? I would think he could command a lot more money from contenders before the post season. [i.e. How could the Red Sox/A's/Rangers (All could use a 1B/DH) afford to let one another get Abreu, and potentially change the course of the postseason?]

    • TheDondino

      The prevailing thought is that it will take at least three months for Abreu to clear all the hurdles before he is a full free agent and able to sign. He needs to establish residency in another country (he’s only just now gotten out of Cuba), the state department needs to clear him to sign a contract in the U.S. and MLB needs to declare him a free agent. All of that takes time and definitely won’t occur before September 1 when playoff rosters are set.

      • LWeb23

        Okay I didn’t think so. I just wasn’t sure because it seemed to be happening quickly compared to recent defectors (between us discussing a player here on BN and a player actually successfully defecting from Cuba).

    • Edwin

      Plus, teams would probably want to find out if Abreu can actually hit at the MLB level before counting on him for any meaningful post season at bats.

      • LWeb23

        Well acquiring him by the postseason roster deadline would give time to take care of that (if, he somehow was cleared by the government and signed by then).

  • ETS

    My tin foil hat tells me theo told sveum to name drop almora in an attempt to increase his trade value (just in case).

    • gocatsgo2003

      Your tin foil hat talks? Mine just sits there…

      • Darth Die hard

        Mine keeps getting all wrinkly. I’ve tried ironing it…

        • hansman1982

          I put mine in the microwave with a bowl of water to get the wrinkles out.

          • MoneyBoy

            I hadn’t tried that yet!! Great idea !!!

          • DarthHater

            That’s a shocking suggestion.

    • Bilbo161

      For some real fun try plugging it in. Talk to Tinker, Evers, and Chance.

      • D.G.Lang

        There is a Chance that might work but they must be Evers so careful when they Tinker with it.

  • Peter

    Cubs desperately need to pick up a bat in the offseason, of course the problem is that there are no strong bats and we have few positions open to put them. But Rizzo and Castro have proved they are unable to be the big bat the cubs need, time and time again they are both mediocre when it counts. The only person I can think of is brian mccann and he seems to be injury prone recently. Wellington castillo is nothing special and his defense sucks, mccann fits two needs with his bat and being catcher

    • ETS

      If you want to “buy” a bat then you can get alot more offensive production/$ in a position other than catcher.

      (also, obligatory comment on castro and rizzo’s age and about “when it counts”)

    • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

      I think I disagree with every one of your sentences.

      • gocatsgo2003

        ^^^ This.

      • On The Farm

        If I to agree with one it would be the first one. I would agree we are pretty desperate for a good bat in the lineup.

        • J.L.

          But the “few positions open to put them” still ruins the sentence.

      • mjhurdle

        Well, to be fair, i can’t really find a reason to disagree with this sentence:
        “The only person I can think of is brian mccann and he seems to be injury prone recently.”
        McCann does seem a bit injury prone, and i have no way of disproving that the only person Peter can think of is Brian McCann, so I have to take him at his word.

        I do disagree with the rest of the sentences though.

    • cms0101

      Still seems a little early to completely give up on Rizzo or Castro being “big” bats in the lineup. Both have shown an ability to learn from what their doing wrong, despite the bad press Castro seems to get. This was a learning season for both. Not sure where your Castillo rant is coming from. He’s clearly an above average defender and he has been the best right handed bat on this roster this season. McCann has been injury prone and is pushing 30. It really doesn’t seem logical for this team to spend big on a catcher that may start breaking down. Trying to bring Navarro back might be the better option, and cheaper. Even that might not make sense, as he should get more lucrative offers this offseason for potential starting spots. Keeping Sweeney and Bogusevic would probably be a good idea. Dejesus, Lake, and Schierholtz as starting OFs is serviceable. Maybe a RH bat or two that can play IF and OF could help against lefties. There won’t be any quick fixes in free agency in 2014, but this FO has proven they can sign off the radar guys that can produce. And if this team gets off to a good start, I’d look for the Cubs to be buyers next year, maybe grabbing the bats they really need for the long term via trade.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      “But Rizzo and Castro have proved they are unable to be the big bat the cubs need, time and time again they are both mediocre when it counts.”

      I think it is far too early to discount Rizzo’s power in particular (and even Castro’s potential) yet. As they get older and closer to reaching their major league potential I doubt we will be talking about how they are “mediocre when it counts”, but that is just my crystal ball guess.

      Castillo is consistent enough in an area of league-wide weakness, and a controlled player, so I don’t think you look to build this team by replacing him. We have (probably) enough infield talent coming up, that I wouldn’t want to spend money/trade talent to fill those spots. Our infield should be one of the most effective/cheapest in the league in a couple years.

      I think the focus should be filling a couple of outfield spots, and as Brett is intimating, those spots in left (and right) are going to be easier to fill with big bats, at a much lower dollar amount than that same bat would cost for an infield player on the free market.

      Welcome home Abreu…welcome home.

  • Darth Die hard

    “Later in the day, apropos of the discussion (though I’m implying no cause-and-effect here), Lake was flip-flopped with David DeJesus in the outfield, with Lake starting in center last night, and DeJesus starting in left.”

    By this weekend, Sveum will be fired and replaced by Brett Taylor.

    • TWC

      ::purchases firebretttaylor.com::

      • hansman1982

        That’s a lot of t’s.

      • MoneyBoy

        That’s pretty funny!!

    • hansman1982

      Replaced by the BN Collective.

      • Darth Die hard

        [img]http://t.qkme.me/3ot1w4.jpg[/img]

        • TWC

          Nerd.

          • DarthHater

            Obvious comment is obvious.

        • Internet Random

          [img]http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k230/XMLCTkd76eTb/abc20f376236a918ea78849d91d051ef.jpg[/img]

          • DarthHater

            Nerd who can’t post images. ;-)

            • Internet Random

              It’s not the same if you can’t see the faces.

              • DarthHater

                [img]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5529/9503934168_28c61c3170_n.jpg[/img]

                • Internet Random

                  [img]http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k230/XMLCTkd76eTb/89XzRbhmEX.jpg[/img]

  • Patrick G

    Abreu would be considered part of international pool because he’s 26 correct?

    • On The Farm

      I think he wouldn’t be part of the pool because he is 26

    • Darth Die hard

      Abreu is exempt from international signing limits because he is at least 23 and played in Cuba for more than three seasons.

  • RizzoCastro

    I say trade Castro this winter in a big trade and let Lake start at SS next year. I really feel like Baez can be the SS in 2016. I think his power will be amazing to watch at the big league level at SS. I also think Castro will still bring a ton of value. I think you can do a deal with the Rays. Castro and Vogelbach for Price and Enny Romero. I know many of you think we aren’t going to go after Price this season, but I think this is just the type of move the FO may do. Baez still has work to do, but I feel he will be something special.

    • On The Farm

      Baez could be the starting SS by 2015, maybe even mid 2014 if there was no Castro on the team. I also don’t think playing Lake a SS is the right move.

      • RizzoCastro

        I meant 2015 I’m sorry.

      • RizzoCastro

        Why not let Lake have a chance at SS? Cubs going to win in 2014? Lake is a Utility guy who can play LF, RF, CF, 3B, SS, and 2B. I think letting him play SS wouldn’t be the worst thing the Cubs could do. Also if trading Castro could net us Price and a couple younger arms then I would take a year of lake at SS, until Baez is ready.

        • On The Farm

          No, but Castro will be what in 2015? 25/26? He will just be entering the the notrious prime seasons in his career and you want to trade that away for a guy who the FO won’t even put at 3B to play SS?

          • RizzoCastro

            Castro for Price. And Baez at SS in 2015. Yeah I would do the deal tomorrow. Lake has more power than Castro and I think he could play the position as well as Castro has to this point. I myself like Castro, but I would like to see us keep the top prospects when we/if the Cubs trade for Price. Plus Castro still makes to many errors at SS for me.

            • On The Farm

              “but I would like to see us keep the top prospects when we/if the Cubs trade for Price”

              Why do we need to trade for Price, there are about 3 teams in all of baseball that have the prospects to trade for him, and the means to sign him to an extension. He very well could reach FA.

              “Plus Castro still makes to many errors at SS for me.”

              He also gets to more balls than other SS. Also, you say Castro makes too many errors, but its not Lake was a minor league gold glove player, he made his fair share of errors too. Here is a crazy thought, play Lake in CF and play Castro at SS and figure out what to do with Baez when he is ready. That way you can keep all three.

              • RizzoCastro

                And then you still have no top of the rotation starter. You have to go get them when you can and this off season is when Price will be shopped. The Cubs have the money to sign him to an extension.

                • On The Farm

                  So you would rather trade the farm for him this season, pay him big money and no that 2014 isn’t going to be a WS team. Or you can wait because Boston isn’t trading for him and extending him (they just got Peavy and they like their SP prospects) so that only leaves the Dodgers who have the prospects and the money. I say wait until he only costs money, not prospects and money.

                • Rizzofanclub

                  How do you know that Price will be shopped? Everyone always says that but do you ever think the Rays might actually want to put together a World Series run? Chris Archer is looking very good and to go into next season with Price, Moore, Archer, and Cobb would be a pretty amazing rotation. Also you do realize that teams like Boston would be throwing prospects at them as well. I also don’t understand the hate on Castro, he signed a team friendly deal and you can tell he is working on so much stuff when he’s at the plate. Castro is not the Cubs problems and should not be dealt.

            • Scotti

              “Plus Castro still makes to many errors at SS for me.”

              Castro (all of three days older than Lake) has improved his error rate every season in the big leagues (.950, .961, .964, .969) as well as his three stops at full-season ball in the minors (.933, .950, .953). FWIW, Ozzie Smith had a .970 fielding % as a 23-y/o. At the same age, Castro has a .969 fielding %. Learning to be consistent at SS generally takes massive repetition.

              Lake has a .924 career fielding % at SS in MiLB and he didn’t even play SS this year because he just isn’t a good SS (.921 last year). If the Cubs thought he could play SS he would have played there this year. While some guys play multiple positions in the minors to get ready for being a utility guy (Watkins comes to mind), Lake played multiple positions because he sucked everywhere they tried to put him on the infield.

              Apples-to-apples, Castro had a .944 career fielding % in MiLB and was .953 his final year down there (again, Lake .924/.921). To be fair to Castro, that minor league fielding % was through only 187 games while Lake played 418–more than double–without ever becoming remotely consistent. And Castro is still one of the youngest players in the league (roughly 10th) and still developing. Lake is just as young but never progressed at SS.

              If you don’t like Castro’s errors then you would HATE Lake’s. For comparison’s sake, if Lake had the same fielding percentage that he last had at SS (and consistent with his MiLB career) with the same chances that Castro has now, Lake would have 38 errors to Castro’s 15 (53 and 21 on a full season). 53 errors is nuts and WAY south of what you’re seeing in Castro.

              Re. Baez: He may someday become a SS who is consistent but he isn’t consistent this year. If he does develop, and you want to move Castro then, that’s fine. But there’s no reason to trade Castro now (forcing Lake, of all people, at SS). That forces you to play Baez there sooner than his development may warrant, find a costly alternative or rush someone else from the minors who currently hasn’t shown, to date, that he is a MLB SS (such as AA). Way too much risk involved.

              • cubsnivy56

                Nicely done, very interesting!

              • joseph

                Documentary on big screen while I am awaiting game tonight. Huge crowd of Iranians with the sport of dog fighting–to the death. Forced myself to watch it for a few minutes–multiple to the death fights. Just to appreciate the sport of baseball tonight and the civil intelligent sport fans here. We are so fortunate.

              • DarthHater

                Ozzie Smith at age 23 may have made an error on almost as a high a percentage of balls he got to as Castro has done at the same age, but Ozzie got to a lot more balls than Castro gets to.

              • On the Farm

                Too much logic..

      • Rebuilding

        Meh. Castro has struggled mightily this year at bat, but has improved quite a bit with the glove. He won’t be 24 until next spring training. If he can put up the 292/339/432 line he did in July consistently he’s a borderline All-Star. If he adds power as he fills out and enters his prime you have much more than that. I think you guys are giving up on him way too early

        • Rebuilding

          Also, Junior Lake can’t play SS at the MLB level and its an open question whether Baez will ever be able to

          • On The Farm

            If the FO even felt comfortable with him playing 3B they wouldn’t keep letting Murphy play 3B and leave Lake in the OF. I think you are right that SS is out of the question and they are hoping he can be a sub-par sub at 2B/3B if they need him to play there.

        • RizzoCastro

          What happened in Boston when Theo traded Hanley Ramirez to the Marlins? Boston got back a Becket and Lowell and what happened next? Castro to the Rays for Price with some other players in the deal would be huge for the Cubs. Baez has a power bat and I myself think he can be a better all around player than Castro. Just my opinion.

          • On The Farm

            Theo was on his hiatus when Boston made that deal actually, so Theo doesn’t get all the credit for the Beckett deal, but that’s another story.

            Beckett was a 25/26 year old pitcher (who needed a year of adjustment by the way), and a solid 3B. They were able to have Beckett under team control for realitivley cheap, and sign him to a team friendly extension. David Price’s extension will not be team friendly because he knows he is going to get paid. You can’t say just because the Cubs trade Castro it will work out just like it did in Boston, not every situation that is identical will have the same results.

            • jt

              Lowell was a hurt ineffective money dump forced on the RS if they wanted Beckett. That Lowell was to have had some great season in Boston was not foreseen at the time.

              • RizzoCastro

                Agreed

              • On The Farm

                Okay, well that doesn’t change the fact that Beckett was younger, signed a team friendly deal once he was acquired, and David Price will not do anything near that. The situation doesn’t change because of what Mike Lowell did.

                • jt

                  “The situation doesn’t change because of what Mike Lowell did.”
                  –On the Farm
                  *
                  It might reflect on what the team might expect to get back in such a trade or even what else they may have to give.

                  • On The Farm

                    It is two entirely different senario’s, Hanley was a AA Shortstop, Castro is a two time All Star. Beckett was young and signed a team friendly extension, Price is older and looking for FA money.

          • Rebuilding

            I don’t disagree about Baez’s bat, but I think he is approaching or has surpassed 40 errors this year at SS. His bat is going to be ready way before his glove/arm/concentration in the field. To me the Hanley comparisons don’t ring true – you’re comparing a guy Theo traded when he was in AA to a guy who has played MLB SS for 3 years and is a 2 time All-Star.

            • RizzoCastro

              Sold? OK if you say so.

            • RizzoCastro

              Who has the most errors at SS in the NL? Yep that’s right Castro by 3. Also does his offense make up for his D? Not the this year for sure. He can hit singles all day, but the Cubs need a SS that’s clutch and can work a count. Power is a plus to have which Baez has. Yes Baez makes errors, but my point is who can give the Cubs the best value (WAR) in 2015? I guess we will all see.

              • On The Farm

                Why not put Baez at 3B or 2B, his numbers would be pretty good at 3B and damn good at 2B. I don’t see your all out lets trade CAtro mentality. Castro is a two time all star by his age 23 season and you seem to be calling for his head because of his defense. Who Baez (and Lake for that matter) have not played any better in the minor leagues. You say you have a feeling Baez will be better than Castro when he is ready in a few years. News flash, Castro is still getting better too, he can be a better SS by 2015 too.

                • RizzoCastro

                  I’m just looking at this from the stand point in a deal for Price. Castro I feel will be a good SS maybe a really good SS in 2 years but Prices don’t come along that often. I would like someone younger yes so I put the Dbacks in the trade discussion as well.

                  • On The Farm

                    The D-Backs just traded Trevor Bauer to get their future SS, I don’t see any reason they would trade their good SP prospects to have both Castro and Didi. As much as you want the D-backs SPs, you have to remember their are lots of other teams that want our positional players. Trading a 2 time All star because we have a good AA SS prospect is going to push the window further back, especially if we trade our all star for pitching prospects.

                • RizzoCastro

                  I like Baez at 2B. I just feel the Cubs need to work on the Pitching both SP and BP. I also think the Cubs need to spend a little on a true lead off guy.

          • Mr. B. Patient

            RizzoCastro, the trade the Red Sox made for Beckett can NOT be compared to the current Cub situation. That Red Sox team had Manny Ramirez, Kevin Millar, Big Papi Ortiz and Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon and Pedro Martinez. That is a very good base, and giving up a top prospect for a TOR starter was obviously worth the gamble. With ALL of our holes, I just don’t think it’s wise to trade too many players/prospects for one pitcher, no matter how good. In a few years, if some prospects turn out and you still want an ace, one will be available. You may have to overpay, but it may be worth it at that point.

            • RizzoCastro

              I see your point and I think you may be right.

    • frank

      You’d have to change your screen name.

  • Soler Power

    Could Rizzo play left if they hypothetically were to sign Abreu?

    • Patrick G

      I don’t think so. Rizzo is a good defensive 1B and Abreu is said to be just average at best(from what I’ve read). Putting Rizzo in LF and Abreu at 1st would just be a double whammy when it comes to defense. I’d think if anything they would risk the bad outfield play by Abreu and keep Rizzo at 1st

      • http://Jplgxk AlwaysNextYear

        You wanna see a real differance look at the Tigers and then look at the Marlins.

  • Gutshot5820

    You want to know how bad the Cubs have drafted over the years? All home-grown teams only. Now that’s an ugly team. Thank goodness the Red Sox team looks awesome.

    http://itsaboutthemoney.net/archives/2013/08/12/the-all-homegrown-mlb/

    Chicago Cubs
    Starting Pitchers
    • Andrew Cashner
    • Jon Garland
    • Kyle Lohse
    • Ricky Nolasco
    • Jeff Samardzija
    Bullpen
    • Al Alburquerque
    • Jerry Blevins
    • Scott Downs
    • Rich Hill
    • Carlos Marmol
    • Sean Marshall
    • James Russell
    Catchers
    • Jose Molina
    • Geovany Soto
    Infielders
    • Darwin Barney
    • Starlin Castro
    • Ronny Cedeno
    • Josh Donaldson
    • Hak-Ju Lee
    • Josh Vitters
    Outfielders
    • Tony Campana
    • Tyler Colvin
    • Sam Fuld
    • Brett Jackson
    • Junior Lake

    • Crockett

      OMG the lefties in the pen! Cubs probably cornered that market, at least.

    • Cyranojoe

      That’s not nearly as bad as I expected, actually…

  • graham

    maybe the cubs could package a barney samadarjiza package for a top prsopect like taillon or archie bradley.

  • http://permalink toby taylor

    end of august fantasy– trade dar barney bring up baez and let him play- get used to working with castro Rizzo and valbuena–that way next yr inf can be olt, castro, baez and Rizzo OF of lake shierh and dej w Sweeney and valbuena coming off the bench as well as bogusevic and another c.

  • graham

    why trade for price? hes a 28 year old. the cubs already have a great prospect core. we should wait for the pitchers to evolve as well as our hitting prospects.

  • Kevin F.

    I got skewered a little on the previous Lake post, but I maintain that he doesn’t have the skills to play the corner OF much less CF. Can he learn them? Sure, he’s athletic enough and I’m assuming he’s baseball-smart enough. Should he? You’d have to dedicate the rest of this season and all of next to let him work his way through it. And even then you might not end up with a big league CF. If as a fan you’re OK with that have the patience, then it’s a worthy experiment. And remember, if he gets squeezed by talent coming from within, that’s a good thing.

    I also stand by my point that he’s got holes at the plate, and they’ve yet to be exploited. So you might be looking at a CF in 2015 who is inconsistent in all facets of his game.

    • Mr. B. Patient

      We’ll know more about his offense in about 6 weeks. He reminds me a bit of Alfonso Soriano defensively, so outfield seems to be his best option.

  • Bilbo161

    Lake in CF is a good idea. It’s easier to read the ball off the bat. If he can learn to react to the ball properly there then he may be able to switch to a corner once in a while and be a decent 4th outfielder when the big guns arrive. Hell, he might surprise the hell out of us and rake!

    • jt

      I don’t feel alone when I hear ML players say that it is harder to read the ball coming off the bat in CF than the corners.
      *
      Will Lake be an upgrade to DeJesus in CF? Can they find somebody better than DeJesus to play LF? If the answer to these questions is yes then they need to go for it.
      *
      They need to upgrade the RH side of the platoons at 3B, RF and CF. They need to totally upgrade the offense at 2B.
      Castro has to become more consistent than he was this year both on “O” and “D”.
      It would be nice if Rizzo improved.
      If they can improve upon Valbuena at 3B then they need to go for it.
      *
      Then there is the BP… but this is about the lineup?

  • Rizzofanclub

    Why not use Lake in CF and resign Sweeney (if healthy) for 4th OF job. Let Dejesus walk and use the 5 million in savings from him and Soriano to get Choo. Overpay if you must and I would even go 5 years 75 million to get him. Use Barney or Valbuena at 2nd until Baez is ready to take it over. That would be a fun team to watch next year and if they picked up a solid starter thats a team that could be in the playoff hunt.

    • Rich H

      This actually makes sense in the idea that Wrigley has the toughest RF in baseball. At home we can actually be better of with DDJ or Shierholtz in right as Lake learns CF. If we do not overpay for a RFer then Lake will some exp to play RF when Amora gets to Chicago.
      If we move Lake at some point he is more valuable as a CF than left field.

    • ssckelley

      I will admit I am not a big fan of Asian hitters, the little running swing they do drives me nuts. Choo’s production remind me a lot like Fukodome and we all remember how he fell apart after his 3rd season. Choo is going to be 31, coincidently the same age Fukodome was when he signed. I question if his production can be sustainable over the next 5 years worth the 75 million you are proposing. The free agent market is sick this year, someone will over pay to get Choo, I don’t think 5/75 would get him. If it was my money, and seeing what my minor league system should start producing soon, I think the best value is picking up DeJesus 6.5 option. Then look for another Hairston type outfielder to use as a platoon against left handed pitching.

      • Rizzofanclub

        You may be right that 5/75 or 5/80 might not get him and if he needs the 6h year I would walk away and turn my attention toward Pence,Morse,Granderson, or Cruz. Comparing Choo and Fukudome is not really fair, Choo will age really well as a player considering he has only had an OBP under .350 once since 2006. He’s not going to just forget how to take a walk when he’s 33 or 34. You say wait on the minor league system that could mean another 2 full years, the only one that I could give you is Soler and he won’t be ready until 2015 at the earliest (can replace Schierholtz,) Almora will probably be 2016, Bryant half way through 2016. Thats a long time to ask a fan base to wait on a competitive team. With the amount of money the Cubs have to spend in the offseason if the roll out a lineup of DJD,Lake, and Schierholtz in the OF I will be pretty pissed off.

        • Cyranojoe

          Choo has also been playing in the MLB for a while (8 years), unlike Fukudome.

        • ssckelley

          Fukodome never had an OBP under .350 either as a Cub, when he went to the AL it did appear that he forgot how to take a walk. The comparison to Fukodome is mainly because both are asian and both have that funky running swing. This FO has proven that they do not invest in long term contracts for anyone over 30 years old, a one or 2 years guaranteed with maybe some option years seem to be what they favor.

          I am not a big fan of DeJesus at all but I am guessing this FO would rather pick up the 6.5 option than let him walk for 1.5 on a buyout. Even if they do pick up the option the Cubs still should be players for a outfielder that hits from the right side. Sweeney and Bogusevic are both left handed hitters and I think the Borbon and Sappelt experiment is over. Even if they decide Lake will be a regular at left or center they still need another right handed bat. Morse could be a good “value” signing and possibly even Granderson and Cruz. I doubt the Cubs go anywhere near Cruz if the Rangers make him a qualifying offer.

          • Rizzofanclub

            I side with you on the fact that Dejesus will probably be picked up and if i had to make a bet it would probably be someone like Morse on a 2 year deal (even though I do like Choo.) I am a big fan of Ellsbury but I think his price range goes a little crazy in the offseason and he could get 7 years. I see it being a bidding war against the Mariners and the Mets who both fall in the categories where teams over pay for a player (GM on the hot seat, a ton of avail money, and both are desperate with no one in the minors)

            • ssckelley

              I love the idea of Ellsbury being a Cub as well, it would be nice to have legitimate speed at leadoff. But he is going to be 30 so the Cubs will not go crazy on him, and the thing that concerns me is the fact that 2 years ago he came out of nowhere to hit 32 home runs and then went back to hitting single digits. I guess he just turned on his home run stroke for 1 season.

      • bbmoney

        You’d need to find someone to platoon with Choo anyway, so I agree. Choo’s splits against lefties are horrendous. The only good thing he does against lefties is draw walks. He’s got a .175/.321/.204 slash line against lefties this year. So the OBP actually is fine, but that .29 ISO hurts.

        His career numbers against lefties are slightly less terrible. But that’s mostly because he was fine against lefties in 2008 and 2009. Since then…..blah.

    • KidCubbie

      Is nobody really that interested in trying to get Ellsburry this offseason? It would be nice to have a legit leadoff guy for a change and hopefully his contract would be up when Almora is ready if the FO gets him on a short enough deal. I’d like to see them grab at least one impact position player this offseason and it would have to be in the OF anyways.

      • On The Farm

        It looks like there are only two games seperating us from the #10 pick, which would be protected status. If they Cubs want any chance at signing Ellsbury it will need to be certain the Cubs 1st round pick will be protected. I wouldn’t mind signing him for the right cost, but I think his contract will be longer than I would like.

      • ssckelley

        Had the Cubs traded either DeJesus or Schierholtz then I could see the Cubs being all over Ellsbury and the only way I think they consider it is if they buyout DeJesus in the offseason for 1.5 million. Otherwise you are adding yet another left handed bat to a crowded outfield. If they did let DeJesus walk and went after Ellsbury then they still need to go after a right handed outfielder, I am sure we can all agree that Sappelt and Borbon are not the answers. Rizzofanclub mentioned Morse and I think he is the type of “value” type of free agents the Cubs tend to go after.

      • cms0101

        They won’t sign Ellsbury next year because of the draft pick implications. Not just because of the picks themselves, but the dollars in the draft pool that would disappear with losing a pick. This front office calculated and spent every pool dollar and most of the 5% they were allotted to go over their budget without losing a draft pick. If they give up a 2nd pick next season, that’s still a big chunk of pool dollars. They will continue to focus on guys that won’t cost them draft dollars in free agency, I have not doubts about that. Maybe there will be a perfect time when a free agent with draft compensation attached makes sense for this team, but that isn’t in 2014.

  • tbone

    Excellent post Brett and this is fun stuff to think about!

  • cheryl

    It seems like a good idea to give Lake an extended look on centerfield. But with what’s coming up in the minors it would appear that the FO is going to have to make some difficult choices. I said over a year ago that they might have to make a choice between hitting and defense. This may be the choice that’s facing them two years from now if Vogelbach continues to develop. Do you trade him? If he is better at hitting than Rizzo, what happens with Rizzo. The same question could apply to Castro. What do you choose? Imo both could be traded. They have team-friendly contracts

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    As much as we’d like to get a big bat, the current biggest offense woe is OBP, as we are at .303, with only the Sox, Marlins, and Astros worse (both in the standings and in OBP)

    If we do overpay on a FA, I’d rather it be for OBP than SLG, as OBP is at least 2X as valuable as SLG.

    To put this in perspective: Mark Reynolds, just released, has a .307OBP tied with Cody Ransom (who has actually slugged better)
    Castro and Barney are well below are team’s current avg – and we traded Soriano, another low OBP.

    So if Lake holds down CF, all the better.

    • Kyle

      Lake projects to be a low-ish BABIP guy longterm.

      • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

        Wow, good to know, Kyle. ;)

        • Kyle

          Derp. I meant “OBP.” The opposite is true of what I said before.

          • Rizzofanclub

            Hey Kyle who do you think the Cubs will/should go after in the offseason?

  • Garrett

    I know everyone says Abreu won’t be able to play outfield, which makes sense he is a bigger guy, but how bad would Rizzo be in the OF he is a young athletic kid who as long as he hit would only have to play mediocre defense, ala Brian lahair

    • Kyle

      I think he’d be fine in left field. Not great, but adequate.

      UZR says he’s worth about +12-13 runs a year at 1b. The difference in offensive expectations would be about five runs, so he’d be worth about 7-8 runs a year less as an average defensive OFer than he is as a first baseman. Not ideal, but something you’d live with if you thought you had a chance at an elite bat at 1b.

    • Patrick G

      Abreu is smaller than Puig so I don’t see why he couldn’t play the OF

  • Theo the Savior

    Does anyone else think that the Cardinals system/philosophy is the perfect organization to follow. Groom as many home grown players as possible, then a sign a few big names (I.E: Beltran and Holliday).

    With that being said, are there are any big names like those that are projected to be free agents in 2015 or 2016 that the Cubs could snag for a few seasons while many of these “Mega Prospects” are starting to emerge?

    Just something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

    • On The Farm

      Also figure out how to only trade prospects that wont pan out. The Cardinals always get rid of their “busts”

  • Aaron

    Do not criticize Dale Swine on Carrie Muskrat blog. She tore into commenters this morning. Carrie likes that un-shaven homeless look I guess.

    • Cyranojoe

      Or maybe she considers whining about the fashion of strangers to be an inappropriate topic for a sports blog?

      • Aaron

        Nope. They were criticizing managerial decisions and Rob Deers handling of hitters. My own opinion is since Dale was Brauns hitting coach that he should be more hands on with our guys. Braun was MVP

        • Cyranojoe

          And suddenly you sound reasonable. :)

    • DarthHater

      Cannot imagine why anybody would take exception to such insightful commentary as calling the manager swine and saying he looks like a homeless guy.

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  • Coal

    I haven’t seen a lot of Lake up close, but on that snowcone catch he made last night in center it did seem that he had a much smaller glove than the typical MLB outfield glove. Anyone else notice that?

  • SenorGato

    No to Lake in CF. They should probably just sign Ellsbury.

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