nate schierholtz cubsPrompted by yesterday’s piece on Ryan Kalish and the plausibility of dreaming on him as a decent bench option, as well as a recent analysis of the Chicago Cubs’ projected outfield on FanGraphs from a fantasy perspective (which understandably uses a lot of phrases like “not drafting this guy in the top 40 outfielders” and “might be a good fifth outfielder”), I thought it worth discussing the Cubs’ expected outfield situation in early 2014. It’s kinda weird.

Thinking about the outfield mix, I’m struck again by something we’ve known for a while, but haven’t explicitly discussed: the Cubs don’t have a single obvious full-time starter in their outfield plans. Perhaps it was because of the way the offseason played out – maybe they’ll make another move! the Cubs clearly need another outfielder! – but we haven’t really addressed the simple fact that the Cubs will use a variety of platoons and rotations in the outfield this year as much out of absolute necessity as out of planning.

Because it’s extremely difficult to roster six outfielders, because there’s not a single clear full-time starter on the roster, and because of the unique makeup of the Cubs’ outfielders, it’s hard to argue that the impending platoon outcome has been entirely the product of design.

Consider that, among the four guys obviously making the team: the Cubs have two lefties for center field and right field (Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz), but only one righty who can definitely play those positions (Justin Ruggiano). However, Ruggiano projects to be the best of the four, if he were made a full-time starter. Junior Lake, who will hopefully see some time in center field, figures to be the least productive member of the outfield, but is the one whom you’d like to see getting the most time in a lost season (since he’s actually got some long-term upside to dream on). Since he’ll likely be starting most of the time in left field, the Cubs will have to bench one of Sweeney, Ruggiano, and Schierholtz regularly, even though there isn’t going to be an obvious, strict rotation that makes sense depending solely on the handedness of the pitcher (i.e., you’d want Sweeney and Schierholtz in there against righties, and Ruggiano against lefties, but you’d also want Ruggiano in there more than once or twice a week, and you’d rather not start Sweeney/Schierholtz against every lefty).

I’m not saying this is a problem – there will be another outfielder on the bench, too, to help – but this is going to be a constant shuffling process for new manager Rick Renteria. I don’t think there’s going to be an obvious, regular rotation at play here. I think Nate Schierholtz will almost always start in right field against righties, and I think Ryan Sweeney will start a whole lot in center field against righties. But, if you’re trying to win, you’re going to want Justin Ruggiano in there as much as possible – not just against lefties – and if you’re trying to find out if Junior Lake is the rare player who “plays up” at the big league level because of his athleticism and tools, you’re going to want him in there as much as possible, too.

If the fifth outfielder is a righty (like Casper Wells or Josh Vitters), at least the plan against lefties becomes clear (unless, of course, neither Lake nor the fifth outfielder can play passable right field). If the fifth outfielder is a lefty (like Kalish or Coghlan), the rotation is clarified further only if RR is content to sit Lake and Ruggiano against most righties. Is he really going to do that?

Good luck, RR.

  • Jason P

    If we’re really going to give up on this season before it begins, it would be nice if Jackson, Vitters, Kalish or Ha made the team instead of old no-upside Darnell McDonald or Casper Wells.

    • willis

      Have you looked at this roster? They have given up on this season before it begins. :)

      To that point I want to see Lake in there damn near every day. Sink or swim. The rest I could care less about other than the fact that maybe Schierholtz can bring back a B level prospect at the deadline.

      • Jason P

        Everyone keeps saying put Lake out there for 600 AB’s to see what we have, but couldn’t we accomplish the same purpose with, say, 350 AB’s? If he plays well, he could always earn more ABs.

        The same thing goes with Arrieta. The guy’s 27 with a career ERA over 5. Why not put him in the bullpen and force him to earn his way into a starting spot, sort of like how the Cardinals do it?

        • CubFan Paul

          “The same thing goes with Arrieta”

          He’ll have stiff competition from Grimm and Marshall in ST.

        • willis

          Well, my only argument is that winning isn’t going to happen this year and those two both have very high upsides, so since the franchise doesn’t give a crap about winning, at least play your highest upside question marks in high level situations. Just my opinion but I’d rather those two be playing every day (getting the ball every 5th day) at least to begin. And if they crash…then make adjustments.

      • Napercal

        Totally agree. I am amazed that everyone is so quick to write off Junior Lake. As a 23 year old with a half season at AAA, his numbers were no worse than Sweeney. Is it completely inconceivable that Lake, at 24, can improve? I think not. He sure won’t improve sitting on the bench. If he actually does improve, he would be a more valuable trade asset, or cause some other player in the minors to be a valuable trade asset, than any other position player on the roster.

        • Edwin

          It’s also likely that Lake doesn’t improve, or that his talent level remains relatively flat. I’m not writing him off, but I’m not expecting big things out of him either.

          • Napercal

            It is more likely that Lake improves than Sweeney, Ruggiano or Schierholtz. This is a lost season. Why not give Lake an entire season to play everyday. The worst thing that happens is you learn that he is no better than Caspar Wells or Darnell McDonald.

  • Edwin

    The Cubs have a number of OF candidates who could be good bench players in an NL Central only fantasy league.

  • Cerambam
    • Cerambam

      Hmm I wanted that to be an image not a link, but oh well.

  • Ron Swansons Mustache

    Yuck. I can’t imagine (or hope) any of these guys are starters on our 2016 team, although Sweeney and Lake could have value as 4th/5th OFs. Gotta imagine Nate is traded this summer if he is at all productive. Would also prefer Vitters or Kalish as the 5th OF.

    • CubChymyst

      I think the Cubs try to keep Kalish in the minors to start the year to get him regular at bats, could see him taking over for Scheirholtz spot if he is traded at the deadline. I think Wells ends up the 5th outfielder.

  • CubChymyst

    I think rotating Ruggiano around the outfield to give Lake, Sweeney, and Scheirhotlz the occasional day off against rights would get him enough at bats. The cubs outfield had over 2000 at bats last season. It will be tricky for Renteria and the outfield this season.

  • Rudy N

    Weren’t there reports that Junior was playing real well at CF this winter? If that’s the case I have to imagine his RF play can’t be that bad(…eventually). To me he profiles better there than in LF due to his rocket arm. Of course if he can handle CF his bat plays better there. Lets hope he can start tapping into that frame more and be closer to a 20 hr guy. That’s the only way I see him sticking long term.

    • CubFan Paul

      “tapping into that frame more and be closer to a 20 hr guy”

      With his doubles-speed I could see Lake slugging .425plus this year

      • Brett

        Maybe. He’d still need to OBP at least .315 not to be a drag in LF, though.

        Those numbers in CF with slightly above average defense, though? Want.

  • colinwaters

    Makes one wonder if a trade for a real outfielder might come at some point this year.

  • J. L.

    Here’s how I think the Cubs could get the most out of this mess:

    Schierholtz and Sweeney get every start in RF and CF against RHP, and Sweeney gets most starts in CF against LHP. Ruggiano gets every start in RF against LHP and several starts in LF against RHP. Ryan Kalish gets most starts in LF against RHP (and relieves Schierholtz and Sweeney against RHP if needed). And Casper Wells gets most starts in LF and several starts in CF against LHP.

    Now, that could be an unbelievably awful outfield. But with some luck it could be decent. And, most importantly, it allows Lake and Vitters to start the year in Iowa to get regular at-bats and actually learn how to play outfield defense (Lake in CF, Vitters in LF).

    But I don’t think that’s what they’re gonna do…

  • Transmogrified Tiger

    I don’t think this is as much of a conundrum as Brett does. Ruggiano may project the best of the 4(ZiPS disagrees), but even if he does there’s far from a consensus. To wit, those ZiPS wOBA projections for the 4 are .327, .321, .318, and .297 (Lake). All 4 of the options are a bit of a muddled mess, and I don’t think that’s a problem. Ruggiano projects better than Lake, but we know Lake is a wild card and giving him playing time is signing up to see where he falls on that wide range of possibilities. In the aggregate Ruggiano may be a better option, but it’s not some chasm that becomes an obvious winning v. development decision.

    Moreover, there’s so little that’s certain that it can pretty quickly become a meritocracy. If Lake doesn’t hit then it’ll be clear he’s not ready/not good enough, and there’s options to replace him. Same with Sweeney(who I think should be the opening day LF). If Kalish or Roberts or some other NRI starts hitting and doesn’t stop, there’s little friction from giving them more time unless it’s the good problem of having 4 productive OF.

    The OF is the weakness of the team in terms of expected production, but I don’t think there’s an inherent problem with its construction.

    • J. L.

      I think, given that there are three outfiled positions and generally only five spots on the roster for outfielders, an outfield without a single everyday starter does have an “inherent problem”. That’s not to say the situation can’t be managed if you have some versatile players (which the Cubs do), but it’s very tricky.

      • Transmogrified Tiger

        Because it’s a bit muddled there’s certainly room for disagreement, but the current rotation seems pretty straight-forward to me. Sweeney in LF, Lake in CF, Schierholtz/Ruggiano in RF. Ruggiano would be first in line for more ABs if any of the other starters falter, and Kalish/Roberts etc could play themselves into more at bats with good performance over the first few months.

        I don’t think everyone has to agree with that vision of the outfield, but at the very least it’s a pretty reasonable outcome where there isn’t really a dilemma. Sure there’s adjustments to be made with PT as the season progresses, but that’s part of why the manager exists, those types of situations happen on most every roster in MLB.

  • mr. mac

    Without researching this, it looks like the worst Cubs outfield in my 37 years of existence. Yikes! Can anyone think of a worse Cubs outfield than what this one projects to be? And maybe it won’t be as bad as it looks, but it does look ugly.

    • Edwin

      Just for fun, I researched this on Fangraphs. I just went quick, so I don’t know how accurate this is.

      Worst Cubs outfields since 1977:

      #1: 1981 OF with -1.7 WAR
      #2: 1986 OF with -1.1 WAR
      #3: 1990 OF with -0.8 WAR
      #4: 1980 OF with 0.1 WAR
      #5: 1977 OF with 0.4 WAR

      Best OF since 1977:

      2004 with 13.7 WAR.

      • mr. mac

        Ha, wow, thanks! That 1981 outfield featured Leon Durham in right field, I think.

        Still mad about 2004.

    • RoughRider

      George Altman, Lee Walls & Walt (Moose) Moryn got most of the starts.

  • pfk

    While it is a theoretical conundrum, its all part of the “hold on until the kids get here” plan. No sense worrying about it this year – at least the first half. The second half of 2014 or for sure 2015 figures to have 1 or 2 of the kids coming up and 2-3 of the infielders. And we will get an idea of how some of the others are progressing down on the Farm. When that happens, the FO will know where there are legit holes and begin to make serious moves in preparation for being one of the VERY competitive teams for 2016 and beyond. Actually, I think by the send half of this year we will see some excitement build and us being very competitive by the second half of 2015.

    • DCF

      Having one or two kids come up will take the Cubs maybe 10% of the way to being competitive and that’s only if these kids really turn out to be gold. I really do agree with the approach as such, but as of today, the starting Cubs team of 2014 will feature Castro, Rizzo and maybe Shark as the only players that can be considered valuable pieces that will help to turn the Cubs into contenders. Everything else is still work in progress and I guess this amount of work is not a matter of 1 or 2 years, but maybe more like 3 or 4 years.

      • pfk

        Very true – for this year and maybe even into early 2015 but as one who has waited 60 years I’m willing to wait and enjoy the journey because I know it is leading to a really good place. I’m 100% behind what ownership and the FO are doing.

  • http://BN Sacko

    I think the core Schierhotz, Sweeny Lake are to be used most often with Sweeny better against lefties, Ruggiano getting most AB’s platoon with Schierholtz. In addition if Ruggiano has a bigger upside then expected will see more at bats and try to flip him and Schierholtz.
    Then the cluster of whats left for OF can be sorted out after that.

  • Orval Overall

    This is a brutal outfield. Reminds me a lot of the 2008 Washington Nationals, whose regulars consisted of Willie Harris (UT, 424 PAs, mostly LF and CF), Lastings Milledge (CF, 587 PAs), and an Austin Kearns/Elijah Dukes platoon (combined 691 PAs, mostly RF). Throw in 206 PAs from Wily Mo Pena in LF, and that’s what it looks like to have an entire outfield constructed of borderline starters, utility players playing out of position, and toolsy prospects who have not quite put it together (and likely never will). Oh, and that team won 59 games.

    Maybe the comparison will look arbitrary, but to me 2008 Kearns = Schierholtz (guy that could earn a place on any roster, but is miscast as your best OF), 2008 Dukes = Lake (toolsy, tons of upside, very little polish), 2008 Milledge = Kalish or Jackson (former top prospect that had already flamed out), and 2008 Harris = a different version of Sweeney/Ruggiano (versatile guys that hit just well enough to justify a spot on the team but will get way to many PAs). What this team doesn’t have is an equivalent to Pena, the guy with light-tower power but hands of stone in the OF. I guess that makes us better?

  • D-Rock

    “Good luck, RR.” IS RIGHT. Holy Cow!

  • V23

    I disagree with the notion that Lake is the “least productive” member of the outfield. In his limited time, he showed he could drive the ball, steal bases and hit with a better average than the others.
    Scheirholtz did very well, until he played against lefties too. Sweeney, dove and is at best a .280 hitter with light power. Ruggiano is light hitting and light on-basing.

    I don’t get the Lake hate. To me, he’s the only full-timer on the roster.

    I said this yesterday, but best case is a Vitters/Sweeney/Scheiholtz share of the 2 corner spots with Vitters only manning LF….maybe with Ruggiano out there once in awhile. Then with Lake starting everyday.

    I really believe Bryant will be ready by mid-season and my guess is it will be in RF, with Olt taking over 3b.

  • Blackhawks1963

    The “plan” for the outfield is for one of Javy Baez or Kris Bryant to be playing out there within a year. The “plan” for the outfield also assumes Albert Almora and Jorge Soler enter the mix within two years.

    Schierholtz is the best outfielder we have right now. Even he is a platoon type who probably is flipped at the trade deadline. Lake, Sweeney, Ruggiano, Coughlan are just placeholders. Not expecting Vitters to make the club, now or ever. Maybe Szczur enters the spare outfielder equation soon enough. Maybe Kalish and Ha too.

    • V23

      1963- you don’t know that about Baez or Bryant….because the Cubs don’t even know that.
      If Olt still can’t hit, than Bryant will be staying at 3b. Many scouts say he’s more than capable to be a better than average defender there.

      No sh** about the Soler and Almora, that’s why you find out what Lake is this year. If it’s going to be a wasted year, then how about figuring out what assets the Cubs have?

      By what fricken metric or standard is Schierholtz the “best outfielder” that the cubs have now? He had 3-4 good months last year, until he had to face lefties all the time, then absolutely stunk.

      • Blackhawks1963

        Schierholtz is clearly the best outfielder among a dubious projected group that includes Sweeney, Ruggiano, Coughlan and Lake.

        There is also strong possibility that either Baez or Bryant winds up in the outfield. Only one of them can play 3rd base and Alcantara has the makings of being a solid contender for the 2nd base job soon. Unless Castro is traded, Baez or Bryant is headed to the outfield. Hell, both of them could wind up out there if by some miracle Olt turns his career around or Villenueva presses the issue soon enough. Both Olt and Villenueva are plus defensive players at the hot corner.

        • Eternal Pessimist

          Baez is ‘t going to the outfield.

      • Napercal

        Agree 100%

  • V23

    Brett, there are concerns with any young, unproven player. That can literally be said for every single player on the Cubs roster (besides maybe Rizzo and Castillo)

    Lake was the best player on the Cubs once he got brought up. Now, can he handle CF defensively? I’m not sure.

    Who would you miss in the OF if Lake played everyday? I would say no one. This way, we can see what he can do everyday.

    Personally, I see him as a swing positional player like the Cardinals seem to always find. Not a guy who’s gonna play full-time, but a guy that gets the majority of the starts. However, on this team, he deserves every start possible, besides rest.

    Many “scouts” have been big detractors of Lake, and all he has done is produce.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Personally, I think Lake is in for a big fall and finds himself back at Triple A by June 1st. I think the league will figure out how to get him out quickly. I’m all for giving Lake a chance to carve out a major league role…but I’m not expecting much.

      • V23

        Nothing I hate more than watching a re-building team throw scrap heap guys out there instead of playing young guys. I have no need to see Ruggiano, Coughlan, MacDonald or any other guys who should be AAA depth guys only.

        • Blackhawks1963

          If Lake sucks, then he sucks. If McDonald or some other scrap heap player can perform better, then you go that route given lack of options otherwise. This isn’t rocket science.

        • Javier Bryant

          That’s the only problem I have with signing guys to minor league deals, seeing too many of them on the major league club.

        • Eternal Pessimist

          Scrap heap guys allow us to continue developing our you g guys in the minors without starting their Arb clocks…a very undervalued roll, especially in a “throw-away” year.

  • josh ruiter

    I see one of a few scenarios playing out for the OF in ST. First off, I have no pipe dreams of a playoff run this season… but I do think the future arrives this season in a big way. I can totally see the huge advantage of playing Lake, Ruggiano & Schierholtz regularly. The perception is there league wide that the latter two could bring back prospects via a midseason trade. I think Sweeney settles into the 4th OF role quite nicely and looking at splits from last year, could spell any of the three on any given day. Then you have 3 games a week for Sweeney, and 5/6 a week for the other three…rotating a day off or for a slumping guy. Kalish needs some time to get back on track with regular AB’s after 3 injury riddled seasons, but could be up midseason.
    If they deal Ruggiano and Schierholtz, they can call up Kalish and start him Sweeney and Lake for another down 2nd half…or the prospect of the three up and comers at AAA (Bryant, Baez, Alcantara) may force the FO’s hand…IF they all play extremely well in the first half…you could see Alcantara at 2b, Baez at 3b and Bryant in RF…with one of Sweeney or Kalish out there and the other serving as a 4th OF. I know that is dreaming big…but as of now the prospects have done nothing to show they couldn’t pull that off.
    I think it is a pretty solid situation in knowing what you have in Schierholtz/Ruggiano/Sweeney and letting Lake play. Puts us in a solid place to not have to force anyone out for one of the prospects, but also not blocking them.
    Remember all, they are only 1 step away now.

    • Blackhawks1963

      You can’t put lipstick on a pig. The sobering reality is that the projected outfield is probably going to be real bad. It’s the worst projected outfield in baseball right now. Again, I’m okay with this for the interim because all 5 outfielders are merely short-term placeholders.

      • brickhouse

        This is the 3rd season of putting in placeholders. The only long term solution found so far is Rizzo and that was in year 1 of the rebuild. Having an entire outfield, 3b and 2b filled full of placeholders in year 3 is not great progress.

  • cubsfan1594

    Do teams typically keep 12 or 13 positional players on the active roster at a time?

    • Blackhawks1963

      The norm in the 1970’s and early 1980’s was to go with a 10 man pitching staff. Nowadays the norm is a 12 man staff.

  • cjk123

    I also do not know why everyone is so down on Lake. We have to remember that he was more highly sought after than Castro was. He has just taken longer to develop and is still a young kid. He has all the tools and yes there are question marks but the more playing time, the better off he is going to be. I would love to see Kalish succeed and become what they thought he could in Boston before his injuries. If in a couple years we could have Lake and Kalish both be very productive outfielders and then the rest of our prospects start coming up, we will have nothing holding us back from going and spending big on players at weak positions to help put us over the top. By that time it appears our main concern will be a clear cut number one and maybe number 2 starter. From our farm system plus grimm, arrieta, jackson and wood we should be set up to have great 3-5 rotation with a guy or two still in Iowa to come up in case of injuries. Jackson could be our number 5 in a couple years if things go right.

    • Blackhawks1963

      When you get to be my age (50) you’ve lived through many cycles of prospect hype and failure to gain a dose of realism. Wishing that a reclamation project like Kalish turns into gold…or that BJackson figures things out after striking out in 30% of his at bats during his third tour of Triple A duty…or that Vitters isn’t a flat out bust…or that a toolsy kid like Lake then very few baseball experts think well of is…well…a boatload lot of wishful thinking.

      • josh ruiter

        realism=pessimism hear blackhawk…I get fool me once, fool me twice methodology. But come on bro, Lake has a ceiling that is above what he has done. I think hoping on a reasonable progression is not other worldly. No one is saying he is the second coming of wille mays…hell he may never be a willie mays hays, but to be a .280/.340/.775 guy could be in the making at that isn’t a BJackson remake or CPatterson or Felix Pie. For every amount of busts there is a redemption story…not saying that Lake or Kalish are that, but hey there is a shot at it.

        • Patrick W.

          Wait, are you saying Lake could slug .775 or .335?

          • Patrick W.

            Er .435?

        • Jon

          If Junior Lake = Corey Patterson I’ll take that all day. CPatt was really good for a while(before the Dust got in his head)

  • cjk123

    I am hopeful Kalish does well, not only for the cubs but also for the story it would make for him. BJackson is absolutely done and I have no wishful thinking on him other than wishing we make sure he gets out of the way of the real prospects. Vitters is not a lost cause yet, giving him another year or so after his position switch, he has not fallen like Brett Jackson and I still believe in Lake more than all of those guys. I have always liked Lake’s upside and have not bought into all of the hate on him, sure he could flop and end up being just a 4th or 5th outfielder but I think he deserves the opportunity to be a full time starter this year.

  • Patrick W.

    So Rob Neyer is chatting at Fox Sports and I asked a question and he answered.


    Comment From Patrick
    Who’s closer to winning a World Series (from the 6 last place teams): Cubs, Marlins, Astros, Blue Jays, Rockies, White Sox?


    1. Cubs
    2. Astros
    3. Blue Jays
    4. Rockies
    5. Marlins
    6. White Sox

    Probably not fair to White Sox!

    • Blackhawks1963

      This is a tallest midget question to be quite honest. That said, I’m 100% supportive with the Theo strategy. It’s just going to take time. After 100 plus years of being a laughingstock franchise I can wait a few more years for the payoff. Which yes, I do see coming.

      Neyer is underestimating the White Sox. Rick Hahn is quietly and rapidly getting things turned around there. He needs to build the farm system and they are making good inroads into that. I’m not a White Sox fan by any stretch, but I do find it sadly humorous how some Cub fans attack that franchise. A franchise that actually WON a World Series in 2005 while we have operated for decades under the marketing banner the Luvable Losers.

  • nilodnayr

    The solution is pretty easy when you look at career RC+ splits (vs R/L) for the guys who have at least a decent sample size (ie: not Lake). (Past performance future performance, yadda^3)

    Sweeney (103/67)
    Schierholtz (101/85) -the 85 comes with a 323 BABIP over 357 PAs
    Ruggiano (92/127) -the 92 comes with a 323 BABIP over 646 PAs
    Cunningham (58/95) or
    Wells (73/115)

    Verdict: Sweeney and Schierholtz should never start against a lefty. Ruggiano should start against all lefties and may not kill you against some righties. Cunningham or Wells should be the 5th outfielder as they both are passable against lefties. Lake doesn’t have a large enough ML sample, but since he has the potential for the most future value to the team, you’ll want to play him as much as possible, while protecting him a bit and keep him at one position to allow him to concentrate on hitting.

    Simple Solution:

    Vs lefty starters
    Lake/Ruggiano/5th OF

    Vs righty starters
    rotate evenly Ruggiano and Lake/Sweeney/Schierholtz

    • mportsch

      I agree completely – this is the exact same solution I came up with, even down to Casper Wells getting the nod as the 5th OF.

      You’d end up with plate appearances breaking down something like this:

      RF Schierholtz – 500 PA (all vs RHP)
      CF Sweeney – 500 PA (all vs RHP)
      LF Lake – 400 PA (250 vs RHP, 150 vs LHP)
      LF/CF Ruggiano – 400 PA (250 vs RHP, 150 vs LHP)
      RF Wells – 150 PA (all vs LHP)

      Everybody has a defined role, you protect the platoon splits for the guys that really need it, and you might even end up with decent overall production.

      FWIW, here’s what you get when prorating projected 2014 ZiPS by the above plate appearances:

      RF – 1.8 WAR
      CF – 2.2 WAR
      LF – 1.2 WAR

      The LF projection would improve a little if you gave Ruggiano more of Lake’s ABs (ZiPS really doesn’t like Lake), but that’s still an almost decent outfield. The pickup of Ruggiano will look really smart if he hits the way the projection systems all think he will.

      • J. L.

        Alright, that sounds better than what I proposed above. Well done.

      • mportsch

        That projected 5.2 WAR for the 2014 OF compares favorably with the total WAR for the 2013 Cubs OF, which was 4.5 WAR. That’s not saying much, but it’s at least good that the front office has put together a similar outfield at a fraction of the price.

        Of course, last season’s total would have been a lot better if Scott Hairston and Dave Sappelt hadn’t combined for -1.0 WAR in 190 PA, and it’s entirely possible that the Cubs’ 5th OF in 2014 (whoever it ends up being) does something like that.

  • woody

    Certainly ST performance will play a part in setting the outfield depth chart. As long as Lake gets his chance I will be satisfied. We can go back and forth on his value and potential, but that will be decided very soon. I like the guy and he tore it up down in the DR this winter. Considering we have Almora and Soler in the pipeline and a surplus of infielders which pretty much assures that one outfield position will be filled from that situation, means that none of these guys will be anything but bench players in the very ner future. And may I add that I am 62 years old and this is the worst outfield I can remember in my lifetime. And probably the worst team too. Back in 1969, my senior year in high school, I would catch the games in the afternoons on WGN. Really it takes a strong stomach to accept what’s going on here in Chicago this year. And I don’t mean just from a player personell standpoint. This whole renovation drama is a total cluster f@@k. I think that people from around the nation have to be thinking the worst for the city of Chicago. Every time that FOX or some other network broadcasts a game at Wrigley they attest to the charm and history that goes with the cubs. The rooftops have a legal contract and it appears they are going to hold Ricketts’ nuts to the fire. And add to that the worst team in recent memory. It’s sick when more people are paying attention to the farm teams than the big league club. And hasn’t it been made pretty clear that if and when those extra revenues from the signage come into play them “MAYBE”, there will be money for FA aquisitions. Lip stick sales must be booming in cub land because everybody wants to put some on this pig. Let’s not sugar coat it this is a blatent act of folding to get another top 5 draft pick. Yuk!

  • Steve

    Im SICK of people casting Lake off as a sure fire miss.
    This kid has amazing potential, and only time will tell…I guess people have to make a living with predictions, but dang, people, let em play to see what they can do.

    • Edwin

      I’m sorry, which person cast off Lake as a sure fire miss?

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Cubs outfield is going to surprise a lot of people. Ruggiano and Lake could steal 25 plus bases. If they keep Schierholz away from the lefties, he is a solid 2-3 WAR player. And check out Sweeney against lefties last year. He stood in there great, often a key sign to a player breaking out. I see a big season for him with excellent defense across the board.
    Kalish might have the best stroke of the bunch.

    • nilodnayr

      Sweeney had a 350 BABIP against lefties last year (83 points higher than his mark against righties and 61 points higher than his career against lefties). If you normalize for that BABIP, then he wasn’t so hot. If you dig in deeper, you find a really weird batted ball mix. Only 9.8% of his batted balls were line drives and 63.4% of them were ground balls. If you use some available xBABIP formulas, you’ll actually find substantiation for that 350 BABIP (given that a high percentage of grounders are expected to turn into hits), but to me, a guy who hits so few line drives and so many ground balls is not “standing in there great”.

      Rather, we’re only looking at 53 plate appearances (which tells you nothing) and literally a few seeing eye grounders can make a big difference. Turn three of those grounders into outs and his avg drops from .313 to .250 (which happens to be his avg vs righties). (using avg as a proxy to show the impact because its easy to calc, not supporting it as a good stat).

      Still think Sweeney should be starting vs lefties?

      • cubfanincardinalland

        Certainly deserves the chance. Be careful scouting with just stats. But if you need a stat, look no further than a much reduced strike out rate against lefties last year, and certainly an uptick in extra base hits against them. He was taking the ball the other way and making good contact. Often a big precursor to a player breaking out and showing improvement across the board.

        • Brocktoon

          Sweeney had 53 PAs against lefties last year. I’m not going to weigh those 53 PAs that heavily to cancel out the other 385 he’s had in his career.

          • Eternal Pessimist

            I would expect (don’t know if it’s true) that most players will have a significantly higher BABIP against an ‘opposite-handed’ pitcher. Much harder to make solid contact on ‘same-handed’ pitchers which likely leads to far more light liners/dribblers, reducing the BABIP.

            • nilodnayr

              Sorry, but you are the one who needs to be careful looking at stats. His “improved” K rate over 53 PAs is nothing to hang your hat on. If he would have K’ed 3 more times, he’d be at his career avg. I’m not meaning to play the what if game with Ks and seeing eye grounders, but trying to show you exactly how huge of an impact a few plays can have on such a small sample size.

  • Steve

    “Totally agree. I am amazed that everyone is so quick to write off Junior Lake. As a 23 year old with a half season at AAA, his numbers were no worse than Sweeney.”

    Napercal shares my sentiment, along with a few others- The consensus is that lake is a non factor….Why??

  • ColoCubFan

    I feel so sorry for Renteria, trying to manage one of the worst teams in the history of the game!

    • TWC

      One of the worst teams in the history of the game. Riiiiiight.

    • DarthHater


      Gee, no sign of the Cubs. It’s almost as if you don’t know WTF you’re talking about.

  • Bobby_doerfler

    ‘However, Ruggiano projects to be the best of the four, if he were made a full-time starter. Junior Lake, who will hopefully see some time in center field, figures to be the least productive member of the outfield, but is the one whom you’d like to see getting the most time in a lost season (since he’s a) usually got some long-term upside to dream on).’

    Lost season – Then we should not play any of these outfielders (except Lake).
    We should be playing/coaching/teaching Bret Jackson, Josh Vitters, and Ha.
    Anyone with upside potential.

  • bushybrows74

    I think Baez follows Soriano career path. Terrible second baseman moves to LF. Hits 400 career hr, but plays excellent LF for many years

    • YourResidentJag

      I think this is a good observation.