The Once and Future Cubs
This one should be filed under the "Death's Whimiscal Trades" series. Really, trade speculation is like masturbation for baseball fans. It's all about fantasizing, creating impossible situations, and it ends in a brief gratification until reality sets in and you realize that it takes two to trade, and you're not even really one of the two.
But, what the hey, a blog is also about self-gratification, so why deny it?
As a team, the Cubs are second in the NL in homeruns. (Do they really miss production in left, then?) Yet, the Cubs are sixth in RBI, probably because they are a painful 11th in On Base Percentage. Sounds a lot like last year's Cubs, who finished the year first in homers, 7th in RBI, and, yep, 11th in OBP.
(Note to Dusty: the low OBP and the fewer RBI than expected are not a coincidence, big guy. Get a clue.)
So, how are the Cubs going to fix this? What amazing trade will Jim Hendry make that will solve our OBP problem, give the Cubs the lift they need in left, and put the team in position to take the Wild Card?
As much as I like Jody Gerut - and I do like him - he's not really any kind of solution. He's just a good bat and glove off the bench. And Felix Pie, who might be here by the start of August, also probably won't step in and become the star center fielder. Not this year. And the Cubs do need a center fielder. Since replacing Corey Patterson and leading off every day, Jerry Hairston Jr. has seen his batting average drop 13 points, and his OBP drop 11 points. Maybe leadoff is cursed for the Cubs. (The Curse of Brian McRae? Jerome Walton? Eh?)
Therefore, we can come to the conclusion that the Cubs need a left fielder, a center fielder, and a relief pitcher. And Neifi Perez needs to get run over by a bus.
The good news is, help is coming and Hendry won't even have to pick up his telephone to get it. Word has it that Nomar's rehab is moving along splendidly, as is Scott Williamson. Both players might be back during the first week of August, and that can't possibly hurt the team.
The bad news is, Nomar doesn't play left or center field, and the Cubs still need a leadoff guy.
I would like to direct you to two players. Neither are long term solutions. Both are old. Yet they're both probably available and could help the lineup immediately. To be fair, we almost certainly don't want one back this year, and we absolutely wouldn't want that same player back next year.
I'm talking about Kenny Lofton and Moises Alou, of course. But they should be Jim Hendry's dead end final solutions. If absolutely nothing else pans out, and the Cubs still need a left and center fielder who will provide steady production now and for the rest of the season, Alou and Lofton are our men.
If only one wasn't a jerk, and both weren't about a million years old. If only they wouldn't block play time for Pie, Murton, Gerut, and the rest.
If only the Cubs didn't need to win this year.
Kenny Lofton is 38-years-old. In a platoon role with Philly this year, Kenny is batting .342 with a .404 OBP. He's stolen 11 bases in 184 at bats. He's still a viable leadoff guy. The Cubs need him. I won't argue over that one. To me, he's the most obvious choice because he probably could be acquired, and he's cheap enough to be a 4th outfielder next year assuming his contract isn't out at the end of this season. In other words, he won't block Pie for long, and Pie is still young and inexperienced enough so it wouldn't hurt for him to play a bit longer in the minors. And hell, he might even be able to teach Pie a thing or two about base running.
Moises Alou is 39. He has an option to play next year. He's batting .320 with a .410 OBP and has 12 homers and 41 RBI. He's on pace to strike out 48 times this year. He has a .904 OPS. He is defensively attrocious, he's proven to be an over-sensitive jerk, and he pisses on his hands! In other words, acquiring Alou might hurt the team's chances next year and it might hurt the clubhouse this year. Which is why I can absolutely understand why we might not want the guy back. Which is why I hope he's our absolute last choice at 2 minutes to the trade deadline on July 31st.
But in the short term, these two batters could make the offense a little more frightening. They would make it a little more likely that the team won't be shut out again any time soon.
To me, they're the most obvious choices as Once and Future Cubs.
But I pray to the sweet lord that Hendry finds better options and is able to nab superior players. Regardless, something needs to be done, and there are worse somethings than Lofton and Alou.
Or are there?