Given this most recent development, along with your comments in the ShoutBox, I thought I'd ask:
1) Of the players currently under Cub control, who should start at 1st and 3rd? Does the handedness of the starting pitcher change your answer?
2) Same question for 2011.
3) Same question for 2012.
Have at it, y'all.
The Cubs made their final roster cuts yesterday when they decided to keep Chad Tracy over Kevin Millar. Both A.J. and Rob talked about their takes, but I wanted to look at the bench as whole and show a few trends for the 2010 squad. Before we can move forward, we need to look back at last year's group:
Koyie Hill, C: We will cover Hill with with the 2010 group.
Micah Hoffpauir, 1B-OF: Besides having a cool name, "The Hoff" doesn't bring much to the table. He really didn't hit that well last year, and doesn't have a spot that he plays well on the infield or outfield.
Aaron Miles, IF: I was taught not say anything about a person then I shouldn't say anything. Holding my tounge....holding my tounge.....holding my tounge......Really, this was Jem Hendry's answer to Mark DeRosa. Really, Hendry should have his GM free agent signing card revoked from him. Miles and Bradley in one year.
Joey Gathright, OF: Another stellar signing from Hendry. Ir really seems that Baltimore quites like the man that can jump cars (really, its on youtube)! He went to Baltimore last year, wasn't resigned. He was then signed by Toronto and was cut a few days ago, only to be signed to a new deal by Baltimore. Ah...the power of speed and no hitting.
Reed Johnson, OF: I always like Reed, but last year was a not a banner year for the SWG of the Cubs. He broke his foot and was out for much of the year. It really was no surprise that he was let go this year in favor of more youth.
Now, here is the 2010 group of bench guys:
Hill, C: Hill really is the perfect backup. He's cheep and plays good defense. He doesn't hit much, but that's ok with your backup catcher as long as he doesn't have to play much.
Chad Tracy, 1B-3B: Tracy locked up the final spot yesterday, and I feel it was the right choice for the job. He's lefthanded and provides another backup option off the bench for Lee and Ramirez.
Jeff Baker, IF: Baker reminds of DeRosa, just without all the home runs. Of course, DeRosa didn't hit a lot of home runs until later in his career. Baker does provide some insurance and might end up in a platoon with Fontenot before the season ends.
Tyler Colvin, OF: Here is the biggest surprise of the year. Colvin was not supposed to make this team, but he hit a ton and now the Cubs are going to give him a shot. Colvin needs at bats, and doesn't really walk much, so he will come down to earth very quickly. He's hit for power and has some speed, so he should be useful. At least, it gives the Cubs another option should Kosuke Fukudome or Alfonso Soriano be out for a long period of time.
Xavier Nady, OF: I love the Nady signing. Here is a guy that is coming off a surgery, but has shown he can hit for major league teams. If he could play the outfield without walking the ball to the infield would be nice, but he should be a solid option once he can throw again.
We can only hope that the bench will lead to a few more wins this year, but in the end I hope we don't see them too much.
My instinctive reaction was that Millar had no place on this team, and that Tracy's ability to back up at third (along with his handedness) made him a potential asset on the bench. I thought that Millar was old and washed up, and that Tracy was unlucky health-wise and still might have some value.
At least I was right about their ages. Millar is just this side of 40, while Tracy is just about to turn 30 himself (which makes him younger than both Ryan Theriot and Micah Hoffpauir). But even though it's generally a telling statistic in baseball, in this case the old adage rings true: for Millar and Tracy, age is indeed just a number.
Tracy has managed to take about 750 total at-bats over the past three seasons, appearing in 270-something games. That's 500 fewer at-bats and 100 or so fewer games than Kevin Millar over the same time frame. And even when he did hit, his performance wasn't much better than Millar's; their OPS numbers are pretty much the same since 2007, with Tracy claiming a slight lead.
With Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Byrd, Soriano, and Soto starting every day, and Nady and Baker on the bench against righties, you'd think Tracy's ability to hit left-handed would be valuable for the Cubs (he's got an OPS against righties of .841 in his career). But Millar as certainly outhit him this spring, and the need for two second basemen and five outfielders might leave him off the team.
If the Cubs open the season with 11 pitchers, Tracy might get the 25th spot on the roster. Even then, it's hard to see him getting a ton of at-bats this year.