Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Lou wants an extra infielder...Jason wants a pony

Regardless of how much some of us here love lil' Fonty, Uncle Lou isn't sold on the idea of his being the backup third baseman.  (Maybe because he's the starting second baseman).  Lou isn't sold on Aaron Miles over there either.

In Lou's words, hell, I don't blame him.

So Lou wants a guy who presumably can "backup 1B and 3B".  Translated, this means a power hitting someone who can play third, because since time immemorial, third basemen are expected to hit for power.  Incidentally, this has never seemed truly fair to me.  Sure, power hitting first basemen are great if you have them (See: Santo, Ron, and Ramirez, Aramis), and sucks when the other guys have them.  (See Schmidt, Mike, and Roid, A.).  But in my mind, the position is as hard to play as shortstop, or damn close, and we never seemed to mind when our shortstops don't break the double digits for homers, career.  In the Steroid Era, certainly, even our shortstops hit homers, everyone hits homers, pitchers hit homers, bullpen catchers hit homers, beer vendors hit homers, even Frank Pellico came down from the organ loft and hit a dinger in 2004, I believe. 

Soory, as Kurt's future in-laws might say, that was a digression.

Fact is, Lou wants another guy that can hit like Hoffpauir off the bench, yet can fill in at third about once a week.  Too bad Hoffpauir himself can't do it.  But he CAN'T do it.  The other day, I wondered if Corey Koskie could do it.  It seems to me like he would be ideal, if he were completely healthy.  However, we must assume that perhaps Koskie is not all the way back, because Lou is publicly beseeching his boss for outside help in this regard.  Presumably he's looking to trade for a Bill Hall-type figure - not that Milwaukee would send us Bill Hall, even if he were the last backup third baseman on Earth, but someone like that.   Hey, is Russell Branyan still alive?

Anyway, our recent history indicates that if Lou wants something, Jim Hendry will get it, so be looking for that real soon.  Personally, I back Lou up in this particular endavor.  What's Eric Hinske doing with himself lately?

My point of business today is - how does this fit?     I'm sure Lou wants to carry 12 pitchers - he has carried at least that many throughout his entire tenure here.  I'm sure Lou wants a backup catcher for Soto.  (minor laugh intended).  The numbers start to dwindle.  That's 13 position players, then 11 non-catchers, then 4 non-catching-non-starters.  Miles is one.  The Hall-esque figure discussed above is another.  The third would be the CF-platoon-player-du-jour, either Johnson or Fukudome, depending on what arm the starting pitcher brushes his teeth with. 

How about that fourth guy?  When I was discussing Koskie the other day, I was wondering who should be worried about him, whether it was Joey Gathright, or the aforementioned Hoffpauir?  It sounds like they shouldn't worry about Koskies, but they should worry about this new mystery meat Lou wants to bring in.  And out of the two?  If I'm the quick guy who can jump over cars, steal bases and chase down gappers, I'm not as worried.  Lou loves guys like me, because I can play all the outfield positions, I can pinch run, and if I ever get caught in a rundown, I can just jump over fools.

The Old Skipper in the Sky knows I loves me some Micah, as only a big solid free-swinging lefty can love another.  But the more I hear from Band Camp, the more it appears that he isn't going north with us.  If we had the DH, or a 26th man, he's in, but Lou has convinced himself that the problems we've had all boil down to Not Enough Rest for the Regulars, and thus he needs versatile, multi-positionals on his bench.  Since Hoffpauir's three best positions are DH, 1B and Post-Game Spread, he seems to be odd man out.

It doesn't make much sense for another team to accept him in a trade for this Theoretical Healthy Corey Koskie-esque figure, so I figure it will take a portion of our pitching depth (Heilman/Gaudin) to pry this asset loose. 

UPDATE - Robothal seems to think that Micah can rest easy, that the Battle of the Bench has been fought and won, that every last word I wrote here is a big fat lie.  Well, while I would be happy for my guy, it might not be the best thing for the team if Hendry stands pat with what we have.

To conclude, it also sounds like our best LOOGY in camp is...Kevin Gregg?  Well, that's not gonna happen.  Lou doesn't appear satisfied with Cotts or Stanton thus far (once again, who can blame him?) so perhaps our beloved Hoff is the price we will end up paying for a man who pitches to single solitary left-handed batters for a living, a man named after phlegmy spittle.  Mom, look at the LOOGY I left on the sidewalk!!   

FUTURE in-laws, Sloth. The

FUTURE in-laws, Sloth. The big day is June 27.

well

maybe you yourself have taken up saying 'soory', 'battrees' and 'past-a' instead of 'pah-sta'

If Jim Hendry and Lou

If Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella really wanted a loogy, they could still get Joe Beimel. He's quite available.

I am also nearly certain Hendry will not move Heilman. He and Miles both have gotten press as being "Hendry's type of guy." Those two will be here for all of 2009, I believe.

If Hoffpauir is not the 25th man, my guess is he's got to be moved.

Rich Aurilia really would have been a good addition for this role. Doug Mientkievizc works too. Wes Helms, Robb Quinlan...

What's Jon Mabry doing these days?

Also - Scott Rolen or Lyle

Also - Scott Rolen or Lyle Overbay from Toronto?

3B backup

Right on ajwalsh....Aurilia ended up signing a minor league deal with SF and will only make $1M if he makes the team, if memory serves. He would have been the perfect backup for the corner IF spots and a fourth option in the middle infield in a pinch. He also kills LH pitching and the Cubs have become very LH dominant all of a sudden. Lou is also leaning towards Marshall for the 5th spot in the rotation, and realizes that won't leave him with anyone in his bullpen that can get lefties out. Sure, Cotts throws with his right arm but he doesn't get anyone out with any consistency, and is no better versus lefties than he is against righthanders. Dennys Reyes would have been awesome, yet the Cubs never expressed any interest in him and he signed with St.Louis for two years at only $1.5M per year. Now that they are finally getting a clearer picture of what many of us already thought to be a problem weeks or months ago, they will have to hope to catch some lightning in the form of waiver wire bottles. Not good for a team trying to kick the door down.

patience

As constructed, this team WILL get to the playoffs. These warts that everyone seems to worry about can be treated up until July 31 and beyond. I really think that Hendry will do what he needs to sometime down the road and likely after the new ownership is in place. I just don't feel any sense of urgency.
Remember this: the Cubs don't have to be perfect. They have to be a little bit better than the other playoff teams and/or get hot at the right time. I like their chances.

25 man roster

Hoff will be on the roster, but I do like the Russel Branyan idea. maybe we could trade Miles for him!

You mean... ... ... "Trade

You mean...

...

...

"Trade Aaron Miles!" ?

Why not just bench him?

actually do't think we can get Branyan

He signed as a free agent somewhere, Seattle or someplace like that.

But the more Lou talks about wanting that 'extra infielder', the worse things look for The Hoff. Man CAN hit, yes, but he isn't versatile, and Lou wants versatile more than anything. He'll sacrifice some OPS for it.

Fielding Progression

Order of battle for fielders goes

SS/2B, C, 3B, CF/RF, LF/1B.

So, a SS could feasibly play any spot but pitch, etc. Some folks debate the insertion of catchers into the mix (justifiably) but the bottom line is that the available pool of competent fielders to back up Aramis is larger than expected (SS, 2B, C, 3B).

The Hoff's get very little service time so he can always be designated for assignment, right?

Hinske signed with the Pirates this offseason as one of their bigger deals, ensuring they suck again (as he was, in fact...one of their bigger deals).

I wanted Hinske back in October

But that was back when we had DeRosa, so there wasn't any need to worry about a backup third baseman.

Point is, Hoff is gonna get the short end of this deal, again, and I'm not sure if he has an option left with us or not?

I agree with you about

I agree with you about Hinske: dude is versatile.

The assignment issue is always confusing. Hoff was drafted in '02 so presumably he has one year of assignment left as he's nowhere near the ML service cutoff.

spot on

I think you're spot on, Rob, but I won't be shocked if this move is made in July and may even be part of a bigger trade if management identifies other needs. If it's slow to happen, maybe Hoff proves his worth in the meantime. One can hope....

I like your thinking,

I like your thinking, SWAGer. I think the infield roster, as it stands now, is good enough to get us through April and May. We'll see where everyone is (3Bs, Peavy, Ramirez, Miles, Fontenot) after a couple months, and make moves from there.

In other words, there are no 1b/3b backup free agents available. Because of that, let's establish some values with a couple months of playing time before we go trading folks.

Hoff

Since Hoff can't play 3B, coupled with the fact that they need some RH power off the bench, the ideal situation will be if Koskie can come back strong to back up 3B and provide the LH pop off the bench. Then Jake Fox could provide RH pop off the bench and backup 1B, the corner OF spots, and be a third catcher. Then of course, Reed Johnson and Hill/Bako take two other bench spots. Assuming they go with 12 pitchers, that leaves one more bench spot. Personally, I think having one more middle infielder is far more important than having Gathright as a fifth outfielder. Find a defensive oriented speedster who can steal some bases when needed and serve as a late inning replacement at SS or 2B. An Augie Ojeda type, only with more speed. Gathright is expendable with Fox backing up LF and RF. Problem is, there isn't anyone within the system that fits the bill as far as the middle infielder. Time for Hendry to go catch some lightning.

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