Tuesday, November 8

Neifi turns two

Neifi's happy. I'll be happy once the guy to his left is gone.

As Lazlo pointed out, the Cubs have resigned Neifi Perez to a 2-year deal which makes him a Cub until the end of the 2007 season. With Nomar filing for free agency, it looks more and more unlikely that he'll come back (Good! Send him to the West Coast!) so we grabbed back the cheaper SS of the two.

But what will this ultimately mean?

Neifi has said countless times, in person and in print, that "any way I can help them [the Cubs] out, I'll help them out." This is the perfect sentiment for a 32-year-old, career .270 BA/.301 OBP/.380 SLG hitter. His defensive range is solid, and he did show flashes of excellence last year.

However, it makes me worried that now we've re-signed him, Dusty will work him into the everyday lineup at the expense of Cedeno. Neifi is great 2B/SS/3B cover, and he works well as a PH for the most part, but he should not be playing everyday, but if Nomar does depart, I'm afraid that Baker will panic and use him on a full-time basis.

This is not smart. Why?

He's a long way removed from being that everyday guy.
In 2005, his best months were April (.368 BA, .403 OBP, 11 R, 12 RBI) and August (.347 BA, .388 OBP). Why? Because those were the months in which he played the least (68 ABs and 75 ABs respectively).

In every other month where his ABs were considerably higher, a natural occurrence if playing every day, his numbers were dreadful:

108 AB, .259 BA, .283 OBP, 11 R
109 AB, .229 BA, .248 OBP
103 AB, .233 BA, .245 OBP
102 AB, .255 BA, .274 OBP

Neifi's notoriously streaky; when he's hot, he's unstoppable and when he's cold, he's abyssmal. Playing him everyday, as tempting as it may be for Dusty considering that he's part of the Veterans Club (aka "favourites in the dugout"), will be detrimental to this team, and I guess we'll find out soon enough based on how hard we chase Rafael Furcal to fill the SS hole.

The last time he played more games than he did in 2005 (154) was way back in 2000 (162 for Colorado), coincidentally the year he won the NL Gold Glove.

It's time for him to serve in the role for which he is best suited in the Cubs organization: serious depth on our bench. Having exercised our option on Todd Walker (maybe to use him as trade material, and the Indians might make another run on him), a ready young guy in Cedeno, and an expected run on acquiring Rafael Furcal, the Cubs will go from shallow to deep at those infield spots.

Thankfully, Neifi is ecstatic to be a Cub again, and he is one of the more unselfish guys you'll see around. This won't be a problem at all for Neifi or for the Cubs on the whole, depending on Dusty's managing of the situation in 2006.


At 6:18 PM, Blogger Jim said...

JT, you're depressing me.

I have no further comments at this time.

At 6:33 PM, Blogger JT said...

What did I say that was so bad?

Considering what I've written this season, I thought this post had a pretty sunny disposition.

At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

I also do not want to see Neifi be the everyday short stop, but I think he could get plenty of game time relieving our everyday players. If we don't get Furcal or sign Nomar (which is unlikely at this point anyway), then Cedeno will have to put together a good spring training and get a decent start in April to ensure a starting spot. Otherwise, who knows? There really is no assurance that he is ready for the bigs, but he looks it to me.

Personally, I'm not ecstatic about the idea of Furcal coming to the Cubs, but if Baker can keep him on a short leash, and we can have one of the rookies be his designated driver (or maybe Neifi, since they are "close") we could be in okay shape. Still need a right fielder. What's being done about that?

Also, will the Cubs be chasing any pitching, relief or starting? I think we've got solid starting pitching provided we can play some defense and score some runs, but more starting is never a bad idea (though going after Matt Morris wouldn't seem advisable considering his home run problems).

At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

By the way, yes, it would be nice if Macias could make way for some other guys on the bench, but who do we have to fill in outfield spots then? That's the problem at this point. Are you gonna bring up Pie just to sit on the bench when he could be a possible starter? What about Greenberg? His defense is supposed to be pretty good, but he doesn't give us that switch hit element. The problem with Macias is primarily when pitchers realize that a good breaker is his nemesis. Didn't as much of that this year as 2004, so lets hope they all forgot or something.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Jim said...

I waited all last year for Macias to play a game in which he played at all nine positions for one inning each. He volunteered to catch, but didn't get the chance, and we all know he pitched a winning game outside of the major leagues.

Come on, Dusty, give my main man a chance. Let's start the chant now: "Macias at all nine! Macias at all nine! Cubs lead division by 25! Macias at all nine!"

At 9:32 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Yeah, I read early this season that he pitched 3 innings in a Central American world series game(where was it? Dominican? Puerto Rican? I can't remember now) and got the win. I think he's got a knuckle ball. If we've still got him next year, play him at every position. Why not? I think I'd start him at catcher and put him at pitcher when the 7-9 guys are coming up.

At 10:32 PM, Blogger JT said...

I've never laughed harder than when Todd Zeile took the mound in 2004 for the Mets. He pitched the 9th of a game in which they were getting shellacked, and he actually wasn't the worst hurler in a Mets uniform that night, although his line was rough:

IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 2 BB

I would love to see Macias get the same opportunity.

Jim, as one friend to another, I'm slightly perturbed about yr fondness for Macias. Professional help?

At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

There have been more unusual choices for relief. How 'bout Kevin Millar or Mark Grace? Not exactly guys I would thik of as pitchers. It's been done. I still think Jim could come in from the stands and throw his ulra changeup. Right after they just got done looking at Zambrano.

I agree with Jim's original comment, that baseball news lately is depressing. Nomar leaving and Furcal coming to the Cubs are equally depressing notes, though I will do my best to talk myself into liking either event if they occur.


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