The Cubs Have Several Excellent 4th Outfielders and Other Bullets

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The Cubs Have Several Excellent 4th Outfielders and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

chris coghlan featureThanks again to all of you who’ve given so generously to Make-A-Wish to help give young Cubs fans a special experience. And, thank you for forcing me to blog for 30 straight hours at the Trade Deadline this year.

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  • Chris Coghlan homered twice yesterday, and has his line up to .262/.336/.438. That’s a .339 wOBA and a 112 wRC+, both solidly above average. Sure, you’d like to see more out of a corner outfield spot, but as a 4th outfielder, that’d be pretty damn good. Can Coghlan be that guy for the Cubs (or another team in trade later this month)? He’s 29, and hasn’t had an effective season in the big leagues since 2009, his Rookie of the Year campaign. Then again, he’s been dealing with injury issues ever since then, and is apparently finally healthy again. Obviously we’ve heard this story before, but sometimes it winds up being true. Coghlan is under team control via arbitration for a couple more years after this one if the Cubs did want to keep him. So long as you’re realistic about what he could be – decent 4th/5th outfielder – then I could see the merit in tendering him after the season. Then again, the Cubs also have Justin Ruggiano under control (with maybe a little more upside), and Ryan Sweeney for another year. And Sweeney was last year’s version of Coghlan/Ruggiano, and he has struggled this. That’s the thing with guys who have 4th/5th outfielder upside: that means they have replacement-level player downside.
  • Justin Ruggiano since returning from his early-season hamstring injury: .317/.391/.515 in 115 plate appearances.
  • Between Coghlan, Ruggiano, Sweeney, and – you could argue – Nate Schierholtz, the Cubs might have the best collection of 4th outfielders in baseball. That was something we half-joked-half-serious’d about before the season, but it’s true. I know none of these guys wants to be thought of as a bench guy, so maybe they won’t take it as a compliment. But I do mean it that way. It’s an impressive collection of guys that many teams would be really eager to have on their bench, or filling in for a little while in a pinch.
  • (Sweeney, by the way, still sports a crazy good 25.7% line drive rate to go with his ugly .220/.260/.285 line. So there’s probably some bad luck in there. Then again, his walk rate is way down and his power is way down.)
  • Starlin Castro has legit power. He geared up on a 3-1 pitch mid-game last night, put a good – but not Baez-esque crazy hard – swing on a fastball up in the zone. On the swing and on contact, you could tell he clearly missed it, getting under the ball. And yet the ball went all the way to the deepest part of left center, 380 feet. Two feet to the left, and it’s a homer.
  • The Cubs will have to make room on the 25-man roster for Dallas Beeler today, presumably by sending a reliever to the minors (I’d guess Blake Parker). For Kyle Hendricks tomorrow, the Cubs will have to do it again, unless they send Beeler right back down (in which case, he wouldn’t be eligible to return for 10 days – but we’ve got the All-Star break on tap, so that might not be an issue).
  • Speaking of which, a great read from Tony Andracki on the wave of pitching that’s arriving for the Cubs right now. No, they aren’t top tier arms, but all are guys who could succeed at the big league level. A really, really important quote from Iowa pitching coach Bruce Walton on the minor leagues, in general: “Every night, I fill out a game report with my comments, telling [the front office] what we’re working on, the progress of each guy, where they’re at,” Walton said. “For example, it could be a game where we went seven innings, gave up six runs, but three of the runs we gave up is because we were working on something and we didn’t execute it as well as we’re going to execute it in the future. But we have to start somewhere and we don’t want to start when they get called up. We do make some sacrifices here, where the line score probably could have been better if we had ignored some developmental things. But that’s not what we’re about. We’re about trying to make our guys major-league ready when they get there.” Remember that.
  • On Kris Bryant’s ejection last night, Jesse Rogers reports that all Bryant said was, “That’s on you,” to the umpire. It seems a bit much to boot a guy for that, but maybe the umpire wasn’t looking in Bryant’s eyes when he said it.
  • Fun story from the Tribune on how the Cubs wound up pairing with the Tigers on the Final Vote thing for the All-Star Game. (You can vote for Anthony Rizzo here, by the way.)
  • And if you missed the cookies, Arismendy Alcantara is coming up! Albeit for a very short Darwin-Barney-paternity-leave-induced stay, but still. It’ll be very cool to see him in action.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.