A reasoned evaluation of the shortstop situation
OH HELL NO! NOT NOMAR! THE SEASON IS OVER! THE SEASON IS OVER! AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHH! DAMN GOAT!
That was yesterday, now it is time to take a level-headed approach, evaluate the shortstop situation, and begin making plans for what we need to do.
Lets begin by looking at the production the Cubs got out of shortstop for the first 15 games of the season.
Table modified and taken from ESPN.com
So, if you want to know why this team is only playing .500 ball, you need look no further than the paltry .169/.225/.185 (Avg/OBP/SLG) line that we are getting at shorstop. Or, perhaps the better interpretation is this: If you want to know how this team has managed to play .500 ball so far, you need look no further than the .417/.500/.717 production from first base.
However, the Cubs cannot reasonably expect Derrek Lee to continue hitting as well as he has. The Cubs were banking on Garciaparra warming up a bit. Had Nomar not been hurt, this lineup was going to start scoring some runs.
With Nomar hurt, what can the Cubs expect out of Neifi? I think a reasonable expectation would be his career .269/.301/.380 line. This is signficantly better than what the Cubs have been getting, but probably not good enough to play much better than .500 ball.
When the injury announcement came out, the press was reporting two to three months, which had me concerned for many reasons. You see, a three month injury in April is doubly bad because 1. most of the bad teams haven't thrown in the towel, making a trade difficult and costly 2. Getting a top-line replacement player leads to a problem when the healthy player gets back in late July/early August.
However, with another day, some more details have come out. Nomar has two options, one is to try and heal it naturally which may or may not work (and will take 2-3 months). The other option is surgery which could put him out the entire year.
I think both the Cubs and Nomar would probably be better off if he elected for surgery. This should strike you as a slightly bedeviling comment since Nomar is only signed through this year. For this reason, the Cubs would rather get any production out of him that they can get... but this logic ignores the concept of an opportunity cost.
It is my belief that as long as Nomar has a reasonable chance of returning, the Cubs will be tempted to try a patch job instead of looking for a real solution. This approach cost the Cubs a playoff berth last year as we paraded out the likes of Damian Jackson, Rey Ordonez, and Neifi Perez. To win this year, the Cubs need to upgrade at shortstop.