The right field conundrum
Having signed Ryan Dempster, Jim Hendry's attention will now likely turn to right field. The current rumor is Mark Teahen, a Royal who is circling the drain of diminished returns. My take on Teahen is basically that he was good for about 400 at bats 3 years ago and has seen decreased productivity ever since.
I've run through a list of them before, but for kicks let's look again at various RFers of interest. First, the free agents:
Bobby Abreu - 35, .296 in 609 AB, 39 2B, 4 3B, 20 HR, 100 RBI, 73 BB, .371 OBP, .842 OPS
Abreu is the sexy choice. He has excellent plate discipline, he's a good hitter, he has some pop to his bat, he steals bases (22 last year and 318 in his career), and he's a run-driver-inner. He is also getting old and is defensively mediocre. From the 2000 season through 2005, Abreu averaged 25 homeruns a season. The past 3 years, he's averaged 17, although he's also batted .292 in that span.
My rule of thumb is that, generally speaking, players over the age of 35 should be avoided. Abreu might be special enough offensively for that rule to be broken, but he will likely be costly and he might not provide the pop that the Cubs want from RF.
Ken Griffey Jr - 39, .249 AVG in 490 AB, 30 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 71 RBI, 78 BB, .353 OBP, .778 OPS
Remember my rule about not pursuing old dudes? That rule definitely comes into effect with Griffey. I only mention him because some Cub fans are hot for him because rather than see his age, injury history, and batting line, they see this: 611 HR, 1,772 RBI, .288 AVG, .919 OPS. Sorry kids, if career numbers meant jack then we'd be getting Hank Aaron to come out of retirement ASAP.
Eric Hinske - 31, .247 AVG in 381 AB, 21 2B, 1 3B, 20 HR, 60 RBI, 47 BB, .333 OBP, .798 OPS
Hinske played like 50 games in right field last year. He's a journeyman at best, he almost certainly doesn't have the defensive skills necessary, and his batting average is not exactly enticing. Actually, he's the kind of player that our bestest friend Al Yellon should want - he's a Kevin Millar who actually has a shot at being productive. Besides, he's been to the World Series two years running, so he has experience on winning ballclubs! Boo-yah!
Pat Burrell - 32, .250 AVG in 536 AB, 33 2B, 3 3B, 33 HR, 86 RBI, 102 BB, .367 OBP, .874 OPS
Burrell has never, ever played a single game in RF. However, he did have 12 assists in left last year, which leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, he's got the cannon necessary for the position. He's never had a great batting average, but he smokes the ball, he's got great patience, and no matter how hard they've tried they were never able to tie him to those dead hookers they found in his basement, oven, and bedroom. I'm just saying, a guy like that could go a long way on the Cubs.
Adam Dunn - 29, .236 AVG in 517 AB, 23 2B, 0 3B, 40 HR, 100 RBI, 122 BB, .386 OBP, .898 OPS
Ahh, Adam Dunn. How he loves to hit the homer, especially in Wrigley Field. Over the span of his career, Dunn is a .247 hitter, but he's batting .286 at Wrigley Field with 23 homeruns in just 217 at bats. And while Dunn is not a left fielder - or any kind of fielder, really - by nature, you should take comfort in the fact that he played in RF 23 times for Arizona in '08, and has a whopping 82 games played in right in his career. Considering his age, his staggering power, the fact that he bats lefty, and his tremendous ability to put the hurting on the streets outside Wrigley Field, I personally would love to see Dunn don a Cubs uniform. But will it happen? ...eh, he's probably going to be too pricey.
Milton Bradley - 31, .321 AVG in 414 AB, 32 2B, 1 3B, 22 HR, 77 RBI, 80 BB, .436 OBP, .999 OPS
Bradley is a tremendous hitter, with equally tremendous ability and rage. Hey, maybe his rage fuels his play. Regardless, if Hendry's next right fielder comes from the free agent market, Bradley might be the likeliest choice because he mixes a fine combination of talent and mental instability, meaning that he should come cheaper than most players with his skill set. He's also a bit of an injury risk - but he's played 151 games in RF in his career, and he should do a fine job if he can stay in line.
Now, having considered the free agents, here are a list of players who play in RF who Hendry would have to acquire via trade:
Mark Teahen - Kansas City, 27, .255 AVG in 572 AB, 31 2B, 4 3B, 15 HR, 59 RBI, 46 BB, .313 OBP, .715 OPS
The latest name in trade rumors, Teahen - as previously mentioned - is not a great choice offensively. His AVG and OPS have dropped each of the past 3 years and while he's young enough to get better, I don't think he's the best choice for a team looking to make a dramatic offensive improvement in right field.
Brian Giles - San Diego, 38, .306 AVG in 559 AB, 40 2B, 4 3B, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 87 BB, .398 OBP, .854 OPS
While the Padres exercised their option to keep Giles, some thought is that it was done to deal him. From 1999 through 2004, Giles averaged 32 homeruns a year. Since '05, he's averaged 14. He's still a good hitter with great plate discipline, but his power has "mysteriously" evaporated and he's old. I wouldn't consider him my first - or fifth - choice.
Andre Ethier - Los Angeles, 26, .305 AVG in 525 AB, 38 2B, 5 3B, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 59 BB, .375 OBP, .885 OPS, 1 Food Blog
Just wistful thinking here. No way are the Dodgers crazy enough to deal this stud. He's only going to get better.
Jeremy Hermedia - Florida, 25, .249 AVG in 502 AB, 22 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 48 BB, .323 OBP, .729 OPS
Hermedia was the subject of early off-season trade rumors to the Cubs. His age is a bonus, his numbers last year a negative, but he's young enough and has enough promise to make him a player worth trading for. But would the Marlins actually deal him? Do the Cubs have the necessary tools? Is Florida craving a slice of Pie?
Elijah Dukes - Washington D.C., 24, .264 AVG in 276 AB, 16 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 50 BB, .386 OBP, .864 OPS
As a kid, Dukes coined the phrase "here comes trouble." He's so erratic that the Nationals basically have a 24/7 cop who escorts Dukes around. He's like a younger Milton Bradley with ungodly upside. Would the Nationals actually deal him? Unlikely, but looking at his promise I wouldn't be able to resist asking about him.
Luke Scott - Baltimore, 30, .257 AVG in 474 AB, 29 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 65 RBI, 53 BB, .336 OBP, .808 OPS
Not exactly the best option, Luke Scott is a lefty with some power and right field experience. Maybe Baltimore would part with him, maybe not, but I would suspect that if Jim Hendry does in fact try again to trade for Brian Roberts, he might push for Scott to be a throw-in. He'd probably be reliable but not a stand-out.
Chances are, if Hendry grabs anybody it'll be one of these guys, unless he makes a trade for a flashy right fielder - I mostly tried to list borderline guys with upside. Now a question for the Goat Rider Army - does anybody have a preference? Who and why?