Thursday, November 10

Look, some news! Wait, not really!

The Sun-Times has awoken from a non-news slumber with this gem:

"Cubs finally put lead-off man on front burner"

It smacks of intrigue, excitement, and terrible obvious-ness. That's right, obvious-ness. It is the 2006 Cubs priority, and look for Furcal's house to be inundated with bouquets and chocolates over the next few days.

In all fairness, the article does bring up a couple of sad sack facts that are painful to read: the Cubs were the 2nd worst team when it came to lead-off BA, batting an NL-worse .245. Only the Texas Rangers with their .243 BA were worse.

Who had a crack at leading off last season?

Jerry Hairston Jr. - 76 games
306 AB, .265 BA, .344 OBP, 43 R, 8 SB, 8 CS as lead-off man

Corey Patterson - 29 games
128 AB, .211 BA, .263 OBP, 4 R, 5 SB, CS

Neifi Perez - 26 games
114 AB, .254 BA, .263 OBP, 11 R, SB, 2 CS

Jose Macias - 8 games
35 AB, .229 BA, .270 OBP, 3 R, SB, CS

Matt Murton - 2 games
10 AB, .300 BA, .364 OBP, 2 R

Ryan Theriot - 2 games
9 AB, .111 BA, .111 OBP, 2 R

(Matt Lawton, 18 games, and Jody Gerut, 1 game, also tried lead-off, but who cares about their stats? They're not with us anymore, so I left them out.)

It all amounts, as the Sun-Times could not possibly fail to recognize, to a gigantic problem. Our leadoff guys scored 83 runs this season, second-worst to the Dodgers (81), and it meant that our first innings were terrible - of the 699 runs we scored this season, 58 came in the first, while our opponents scored 89 in their first inning against us. It meant that far too often our rotation was chasing games, playing from behind, and that alone contributed to plenty o' losses on the ol' scoresheet. The only table that group should be setting is at Thanksgiving (groan).

So, with this being said, and the collective hunger in Cubdom for that lead-off position, who could play it this year? Consider that money is no object, and that our front office is acting without the duress of idiocy. Wait, scratch that.


1. Rafael Furcal, SS - Braves


Blah, blah, blah. I've prattled on about this speedster for ages, as has the rest of the CBA. Next!

Pros: Fast (stole 46 bases in 2005). Scored a lot of runs (100). Friends with Neifi Perez. Shares an agent with Neifi Perez (Paul Kinzer).
Cons: May have shared women with Neifi Perez. Has been on the wrong side of the law (2 DUIs), but then again, we need a loose cannon in the dugout. Price might also be a touch high, considering the shallow FA pool this offseason, and if the Mets get involved, we'll have to open the checkbook.


2. Juan Pierre, OF - Marlins


He's fast, he's young, he's coming off a down year that will affect his overall price tag. Had stellar back-to-back years in 2003 and 2004 (2003: .305 BA, .361 OBP, 100 R, 65 SB//2004: .326 BA, .374 OBP, 100 R, 45 SB), and despite a slight drop in 2005 production, he is there for the taking. Apparently, allegedly, the Marlins have offered us a trade already for Pierre: JP for Corey Patterson and Rich Hill/other good pitching prospect. We've already given them one All-Star SP (Dontrelle Willis), so what's another between friends?

Pros: Fast, young, aggressive, adaptable. Would fill an empty CF spot and lead-off all in one swoop. Could do well in Wrigley. Cheaper than he would have been in 2004, for sure. Can grow a sweet moustache if necessary. The Marlins want CP, supposedly. What more could be better?

Cons: The Cubs won't want to give up Rich Hill. This trade won't happen.


3. Corey Patterson, CF - Cubs



Pros: He's.... already.... ours? Could..... have..... improved..... swing?

Cons: He's Corey Patterson. Don't make me go any further.


4. Elroy Jetson, RF - Outer Space


Pros: Young, versatile. Has played in difficult environments, used to thin air.

Cons: A touch naive on defense, especially back on the warning track. Slightly underdeveloped in the power category.


5. Fast Eddie


Pros: The name says it all.

Cons: Still plays "like the olden days." Not in touch with today's game.


6. Air Bud (Circa "Seventh Inning Fetch"), CF - Angels


Pros: Unbelievable range in the outfield. Career 1.000 FPCT is just the trick in windy, spacious Wrigley. Has that magic about him that makes him a playmaker. Looks good in blue.

Cons: Light on power. Might not be a friend of the groundskeeper come late-August.


At the end of the day, whether this is old news or not, it's something. Who would you like to see in the lead-off slot?


At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

You forgot another Jetson Pro: Antigravity equipment! I mean, come on!

Furcal's personality and legal record are what worry me the most. He's a little too "fiery", and seems extremely immature. I could take this from a prospect, but it's hard to justify bringing in from outside of the organization. Also, if we get furcal I would not be extremely surprised to see Cedeno leave the organization. I know they're talking about moving him to second, but I think he could be a great short stop. I think I'd like to see Cedeno at short next year.

Pierre would probably work, but I don't want to trade away pitching, and honestly, I'm extremely curious to see what's gonna happen to Corey Patterson in the next year. Pierre is a good player, and he would probably do our team some good, but I just don't think he's gonna be with the cubs. Also, the defense isn't exactly what I would like. I think I throw about as well as Pierre, and that's nothing to brag about.

Corey Patterson, at the moment, is not an option for leadoff. He's an option to play in centerfield and to bat 7th or 8th, or 9th if Z is pitching, but until he puts together some quality at bats and gets his OBP up, he's not a top of the order guy. On the Pierre side of things, it would probably be good for CP to go to Florida and deal with a brand new organization and a spacious ball park. I bet he would put up better numbers there.

Who else is an option? Cedeno is an option. Murton also, but he's got enough power he could be a number 2 or 5-8 hitter. We still haven't got our right fielder yet, so that could be an option. Walker could even be a leadoff man, but he doesn't have much speed.

Interesting note, Jerry Hairston did the best job in the leadoff spot. Who'd have guessed it with his swing? But that OBP was so much higher than everyone elses. Still, he's not the ideal leadoff guy. Why can't anyone on the cubs steal a base? The guys who could rarely get to first, and the guys who get on base seem to lack the knowledge of how to take second. If Derrek Lee steals as many bases as your speedsters, something is wrong. He should be giving lessons or something.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Finally some entertainment news! I liiiiike it!

Juan P.? I can throw the ball further than him, and I can't throw a ball further than 120. Honestly! I mean it, too!

At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Cubs prospects in AFL haven't looked too promising. Murton was the only one who ended the season with a great average (well over .300, again. Man is this guy consistent). Patterson had a good last week, but like his brother he needs to learn to make more contact.

Guzman's Era was respectable, under 4.00, but nothing that jumps out at you after having heard so much about him. Lets hope they all improve a bit over the winter, since some of them will be seeing the big leagues next year.

Aardsma is dissapointing. I hope he's really not this bad.

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

All Quiet on the Northern front? I need baseball news!

The only thing that's really been stated in the past week or so by the Cubs is that Jim Hendry told Nomar and his agent that they should consider all their options. Wow. I'm glad enlightened me to that situation. I never would've gotten that from Nomar filing for free agency and the Cubs oranization expressing interest in using Cedeno or going after Furcal. Thank you. I want baseball. Football season is so boring.

At 6:02 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Derrek Lee finished third in MVP voting. THIRD. Behind Jones. That's a joke. Anyway, maybe he'll get it next year, though I bet Aramis has a fantastic year in 2006 and gives him competition. I don't especially expect Lee to do as well as he did this year, either, but I think he will bat a lot better than he has prior to 2005, and the defense will still be there. Still, I'm angry Jones passed him up.

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Jim said...


The dumb Braves made it into the playoffs; the Cubs did not. That's the name o' that game.

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...


I've got some news you'll no doubt be happy to hear. No, it's not as good as the Cubs have turned Corey Patterson into a relief pitcher and sent him back to single-A to work on his slider, but it's close. The Cubs have traded Jon Leicester to the Texas rangers. For who you may ask? For a player to be named later.


I realize that is why Jones passed him up, as well as why Pujols won MVP despite Lee being hailed as the best offensive (silver slugger) and defensive (gold glove) first baseman in the league, but it doesn't make me any less angry.


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