Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Matt Murton

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/managed/grota/drupal/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

Here's to you, Matt Murton.

We may not have a Tyler Colvin tag here at GROTA, but we sure as hell have one for Matt Murton.

Murton was a good baseball player -- which is to say, he wasn't a great one. His power was unimpressive, his defense was sort of roundabout, and he wasn't exactly quick. But if Matt excelled at any of the five tools so often referenced in baseball, it was hitting for average.

In 160 plate appearances at age 23 (that is really, really young), Murton hit .321 with just 22 strikeouts. The next year, he hit .297 in 508 plate appearances over 144 games. Unfortunately, his MLB career would assume a downward trend from there, but the guy does have 272 more major league hits to his name than most people on this earth.

So if he's not in the major leagues anymore, why am I writing about him?

The answer is at this link.

Congratulations, Matt, on a job well done!

Reader Blog: Trade Winds

Jim Hendry has been the Cubs GM since mid 2002, so we’ve got a lot of trades to look at. I’m going to highlight one or two from each season that strike me as particularly important or illuminating.

2002: Cubs trade Todd Hundley&Chad Hermansen for Mark Grudzeilanek&Eric Karros.

Hundley is my least favorite Cub of all time. He was shitty.  He was overpaid. And he was a mean son of a bitch. The Cubs handed him a 4 year, $23.5 million contract before the 2001 season. In his two years as a Cub, Hundley totaled 579 plate appearances and posted an OPS below 700. For those who prefer batting average, Todd hit .187 and .211 in 2001 and ’02. He’s most famous in Chicago for flipping off the home fans while rounding the bases after a home run. He was like Fukudome without the production, pleasant demeanor or sobriety.

Somehow, Jimbo convinced the Dodgers to take this sad sack off our hands, and send us something useful in return. Both Grudzeilanek and Karros contributed to the division winning squad in 2003. Grudz became our starting 2B, and he could inside out the ball to the opposite field as well as any hitter I’ve ever seen. I’ll never forget watching Karros videotaping the playoffs from the Cubs dugout during the NLCS. It really felt like he was one of us. He wasn’t a bad platoon first baseman either.

Oh, and Hundley was pumped full of steroids for much of his career. So there’s that.

2003: Cubs trade Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback&a PTBNL for Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton&Cash.

Cubs trade Ray Sadler for Randall Simon.

2003 was Hendry’s finest season. The Cubs would not have won their division that season were it not for Ramirez, Lofton and Simon. Lofton and Simon are long gone, while Aramis remains as the greatest Cubs 3B since Ron Santo. And Hendry gave up practically nothing to get them. Thanks, Pittsburgh!

2004: Cubs trade Hee Seop Choi for Derrek Lee.

Cubs trade Brendan Harris, Alex Gonzalez&Francis Beltran for Nomar Garciappara & Matt Murton.

The Choi for Lee deal rivals the Aramis Ramirez trade for the best of Hendry’s career. Clearly, Jim was on his game in the early nineties. Choi never realized his potential, and is probably best remembered for being carted off the field after an in game collision with Kerry Wood.  Derrek’s achievements speak for themselves. He is my favorite Cub, and I will be sad to see him go if this is truly his last season here.

As much as the Nomar trade did not work out, I believe now as I believed then that is was the right move to make. The Cubs SHOULD have won their division that season and were trying to add the missing piece for a postseason run. Obviously things didn’t work out. Mercker bitched, LaTroy imploded, Sammy stepped out, and the Cubs massively underachieved and missed the postseason altogether. The following April, Nomar suffered the most excruciating injury imaginable, and that was that. He was on the DL until August, and by that time the only interesting question left was whether DLee would win the 2005 NL MVP. The Cubs finished 21 games behind the Ratbirds, who won 100 times that year.

2005: Cubs trade Sammy Sosa & Cash for Jerry Hairston Jr., Mike Fontenot and David Crouthers.

Cubs trade Ricky Nolaso, Sergio Mitre & Renyel Pinto for Juan Pierre.

2005 was the first year that Hendry really pissed me off.  These two trades, which neatly wrap around a lost season, signal a real change in Jim’s ability to maximize value on the trade market. Let’s tackle the Sosa deal first. Sosa was a diva who didn’t mesh well with his teammates. He was getting older and was obviously on the decline. He still hit 35 HR in 2004. He should have brought more in return than he did. I believe he would have, if not for the systematic way the Cubs undermined any leverage they might have had in trading him. As you all undoubtedly remember, Sammy left the ballpark 15 minutes into the final game of the 2004 season. This became public, and it shortly became obvious that Sosa would never be welcomed back into the Cubs clubhouse. When 29 teams know you have to trade a guy, 29 teams will not give you good value in return. Fontenot was the only piece worth mentioning here, and he’s a platoon 2B who was nearly DFA’d by the club this past offseason.

Then there’s Juan Pierre. Hendry’s worst trade as the Cubs’GM. Full disclosure. I despised him then and I still do. Maybe it’s because, along with Josh Beckett and Pudge Rodriguez, I still associate him with the 2003 Marlins. Maybe it’s because he posted a crappy OBP with zero power. Or his limp dick outfield arm. Or maybe it’s because we lost 96 games and I needed a scapegoat. Here’s why this trade still pisses me off to this day: Ricky Nolasco is awesome. He’s exactly the kind of player the Cubs need to keep if they are going to be successful. And Jimbo traded him for one subpar year of a crappy player on a terrible team. GAHHHHHHHHHH.

2006: Cubs trade Greg Maddux for Cesar Izturis.

This one is more emotional than anything else. Hendry traded Maddux to the Dodgers to give him a shot at winning a championship. Respect.

2007: Cubs trade Rocky Cherry and Scott Moore for Steve Trachsel.

WTF? Cherry and Moore were no great shakes, but I can’t begin to fathom what Hendry was hoping to accomplish here. Trachsel was old and finished. Trachsel made a few starts, didn’t pitch well, and was left off the postseason roster.

2008: Cubs trade Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, Eric Patterson & Josh Donaldson for Rich Harden & Chad Gaudin.

Cubs trade Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg.

Like the Nomar trade, the Harden deal was a well meaning, but ultimately failed attempt to improve the team for a deep postseason run. I saw Harden’s first Wrigley Field start in person. He was DOMINANT. If memory serves, he went 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 10 K. I was convinced he was the missing piece.  Two years later, the Cubs have no rings, and Harden struggles to get out of the third inning with fewer than 100 pitches thrown. At least it doesn’t look like those prospects amount to much.

Kevin Gregg was a disaster and I'm glad he's gone.

2009: Cubs trade Mark DeRosa for Jeff Stevens, John Gaub and Christopher Archer.

And the Trixies wept.

2010: Cubs trade Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva & cash.

Cubs trade Aaron Miles, Jake Fox & cash for Jeff Gray, Ronny Morla and Matt Spencer.

Two things are obvious to me about these most recent trades: First, it is far too early to say anything definitive about these deals.  Second, they were all about Hendry fixing his free agency mistakes from the previous offseason. That’s never a good thing for a GM. I was furious with Hendry for suspending Bradley for the last 15 games of the 2009 season, as it robbed him of any leverage he might have had in trade talks. I was furious all over again when the Cubs traded for Silva, who has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball for the last several years. Now I’m just sort of numb. I know Silva isn’t an ace, and his sub – 1.00 ERA is the product of small sample size. I’d be thrilled if he finished the year with an ERA under 4.50, and right now that looks like a possibility. As for Gray, at least he got AAron Miles out of here. Meh.

Conclusions:
Hendry made a number of brilliant trades early in his GM career. Since 2004, he’s been significantly less productive in the trade market. It’s not clear whether other teams simply got smarter, Jim lost his touch, or something else altogether, but Hendry hasn’t had an obvious win since the trade that brought Derrek Lee to Chicago. Hendry’s trades aren’t getting it done anymore. He should be fired.

Editor's Note: If you want to also write on the Readers Blog page of GROTA, drop us a line and let us know!  If you do a bang-up job, we'll even promote your article to the front page of the site!

And now, MY $0.02 about Dick Harden

What does XM know about mid-season pitching acquisitions, anyway?

Even though Hendry, et al. are adamant about this trade is not a knee-jerk to the Sabathia deal, I did the math and I am willing to bet that Gallagher was not part of the deal until yesterday.  Billy Beane was lusting after him, for good reason.  Gallagher has guts, he does not give up when he doesn't have his best stuff (paging: the Marquis de Suck) and we are going to hate losing him.

I am very happy for Murton, as he is finally going to get the chance he deserves.  I wish him quite well in his endeavors, and we are going to hate the numbers he puts up in the next few years.

Lil' Strut can kiss my butt, and Donaldson is already a self-inflated headcase with a keen sense of his own worth.  I mean, they play Lupe Fiasco's "Superstar" when he comes to the plate already?  I guess he's big in Boise.  Don't be scared of losing him; this is NOT Dontrelle Willis here.

I am glad the trade went down this way.  If for some reason we completed our trade first, and then the Brewers countered with theirs, that would give them the clear psychological edge.  Some may say that the trade was reactive, but Hendry is correct when he says that you just don't pick up the phone, call Billy Frickin' Beane and ask "Hey, the Brewers just got CC.  What can you do for us?"

Some are also questioning Harden's health, that his last two starts were only for 5 innings apiece, that his most recent start against the Sux was one of his worst this year, and that Beane doesn't just give up on good players for no reason - he must be damaged goods.  Mmm hmm, yep, Dan Haren looks real shitty.  Beane's trading record has been excellent, but even he gives up value sometimes. 

All in all, I think Uncle Lou said it best when he noted that he is "...glad that Jim is so competitive.  The Brewers got a ace lefthander, and he went out and got a good righthander."  This is just what we needed.

Any takers on the Cardinals getting A. J. Burnett later on today? 

Rich Harden to Cubs

My boss just emailed me and said that Bruce Levine is on ESPN 1000 reporting the following:

RH Pitcher Rich Harden of A's going to Cubs per ESPN.

ERA is 2.34. Record is 5-1 I think.

Cubs giving up 4-5 players/prospects. Not sure who.

You can thank my boss for the scoop.

Update 5:33 pm: Matt Murton and Eric Patterson are involved.

Update 5:34 pm: Sean Ghallager, too.

Geez, this is going to be an expensive trade.

Update: 5:48 pm: The Hendry Press conference just ended. Here's the trade: Cubs get Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin (a RHP currently in the A's pen.) The Cubs give up: Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson, Matt Murton, and a minor league guy whose name was not familiar to me (Josh Donaldson).

Hendry basically said they've been discussing the deal for two weeks, trading names back and forth. The player that Billy Beane absolutely wanted and that Hendry did not want to give up was Sean Gallagher. Hendry spoke highly of both Murton and Gallagher's character but didn't take the opportunity to extend those remarks to Eric Patterson.

Lou's on, update to follow.

Update 6:08 pm Lou just finished up. He had some great quotes as usual but didn't add too much. Apparently Gaudin played for him in Tampa, but Lou didn't actively lobby for him as Lou didn't find out about the deal until today at 3:00.

When quizzed by one of the beat reporters (Hendry has been working on this for two weeks.) Lou laughed it off, "without me. Ha ha ha." Lou then went on to say that Hendry and he had talked on Friday and that Hendry knew they weren't going to be able to get Sabathia, but Hendry said there might be someone else.

The Quotable Lou Piniella

"Yesterday, Milwaukee made a deal for a real good left handed starter and today Jim went out and got himself a real good righty. It just shows how competitive he is." – Lou Piniella

"We gave up some kids for the present. As a manager you love to see an organization go out and help you." – Lou Piniella

"The Cubs are going to do everything in their power to help us win." – Lou Piniella

"This makes us better and we're very very pleased." – Lou Piniella

Matt Murton
Matt Murton shows off his arm in a game against the Giants.
Image courtesy of The Cubdom Photo Gallery

It's a sad day to see Carrot-top leave Chicago, but boy is that red hair going to clash with Oakland green and gold.

Cubs call up Murton, look for Hendry’s ADD meds

I love all the winning, but sometimes I find myself baffled by this organization. To wit:

Matt Murton will get another chance to prove he's a major-league player this week when the Cubs recall him from Triple-A Iowa before Tuesday's game at Tampa Bay.

Manager Lou Piniella said Saturday the Cubs have lacked a corner outfielder and another right-handed hitter since Alfonso Soriano went on the disabled list last week. Murton fills the bill, and major-league sources said he received word on Sunday he'd be called up.

Murton's arrival means the Cubs are likely to send down infielder-outfielder Eric Patterson, who is 2-for-8 since being called up on Friday.

Really? You mean to tell me that a team where one of the two corner outfielders is hurt needs another corner outfielder? And our bench consists of three lefties who don’t hit very well, a backup catcher and Ronny Cedeno? (Note: when you’re willing to pinch hit for a guy with Ronny Cedeno, and that guy’s a first baseman – that’s not a good sign.)

Meanwhile, Eric Patterson was given all of eight at-bats to prove that he was, oh, I don’t know, better than Mike Fontenot. And Mike Fontenot is not a very high bar to get over. Here’s how I picture Mike Fontenot:

fontenot

The guy’s what I like to call a hamster. I mean, seriously, look at him and tell me you don’t see it.

I know Eric Patterson is a guy folks like to hate – and no small amount of it has to do with his brother, Corey – but he’s got some plus attributes to him, which is more than Fontenot has going for him. Patterson can play the outfield and he’s a great baserunner. But he’s not a left fielder, and he’s certainly not ready to be a major league leadoff man.

So the Cubs made this decision based upon information readily available when they made the Hoffpauir/Patterson callup. (Okay, to be fair – the Cubs aren’t going to just come out and SAY “There’s no way in hell that we’re going to let Edmonds bat against Kazmir, so we needed Murton so we can move Reed to center.)

The question is, will Murton play? The Cubs have apparently decided that one good game makes Johnson our new leadoff hitter despite pretty obvious evidence that he’s a platoon player at this point.

Trading for a pitcher - harder than it seems

Okay, I am pretending to be Jumbo Jim Hendry now, which is a mental exercise I go through nearly every day.  If only I enjoyed, say, the Bowflex or the LifeCycle as much.

I am extremely hesitant to mess with my team's chemistry right now, and thus my list of untouchables is much longer than Kyle's at this point.  Here is what I am willing to part with for a pitcher:

  • Column "A" - starting pitchers - Hill OR Marshall OR Gallagher
  • Column "B" - line drive hitters - Murton OR Hofpauir OR Colvin
  • Column "C" - middle infielders - Patterson OR Cedeno OR Fontenot

I would prefer one from Column "A", one from Column "B", and one from Column "C".  What do you suppose that would buy me?

I think it would buy me A. J. Burnett.  I also agree with most that believe that Burnett is just a slightly less xtreme Kerry Wood.

I do not think it would buy me Erik Bedard.  Maybe Bill Bavasi would have taken that bait, but the new guy is going to be a bit more hesitant, waiting for the big score.  He'd probably want TWO from Column "A", Colvin and Cedeno.  I'm not really willing to give him Gallagher AND Marshall AND Cedeno for Bedard.

I would give the Indians all that for Sabathia.  I am still unconvinced of Cedeno's baseball IQ, I don't think Marshall has more than 4th starter potential, and I'm not sure Colvin is what he thinks he is.  So sure, I'd give that up. 

But I don't think the Tribe is going to settle for that.  They are going to go into this, ultimately, wanting Soto - since Victor Martinez seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.  Of course, I tell them no plucking way, but now I am on the defensive.  They probably think they are entitled to two from Column A PLUS either Soulpatch Reed, Theriot or Marky Mark.

If this were the offseason, and I was guaranteed I could sign the Big Sunnybitch, I might give it more consideration.  But not now.  They can't have anyone out of my regular lineup when we are leading the MLB.  No way I phuck with that. 

So...harder than you think.  Most here would prefer that either Marshall comes back and takes charge, or Gallagher takes another step up and takes charge, or maybe Hill extracts his thumb from his ass and takes charge.  There is a certain 'retained value' to this scenario, true.  But I have always believed that deserving players should get what they deserve, and that their current team should do what they can to make sure that happens; to not stand in the way of their development.  I believe that RIGHT NOW Murton and Hofpauir deserve to play every day for an AL team, and Marshall deserves to start for an ML team, and that Cedeno deserves to play every day for an ML team. 

Just not mine.

In wake of Soriano's injury, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture

owww...that's gotta sting a liddle...From Jump Street, let me state that I do not think losing Soriano is a good thing at all.  Colin whips out the numbers that clearly state that there will be a short term dropoff while Soriano heals.  Obviously Murton/Hoffpower don't produce what he does on an annual basis - if they did, then it would be they making thee eight-figure salaries!  What really sucks is that he just got his legs back.  And Kurt ventures that in the long run, Cubs players of late have not had much luck recovering their power from broken hands, particularly from Soriano, whose main gift from God is his wrists, and this particular fracture metacarpal is closely adjacent to said Wrists of God.

I knew, sitting here watching my guys, Our Cubs, run off the best record in baseball, that it was too good to be true.  Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Sammy Sosa...all too good to be true.  Several times I thought and mentioned that the only thing that could stop us in 2008 is injuries.  When you saw Pujols get hurt and Yovanni Gallardo get hurt, as a hypersensitive, oversuperstitious Cubs fan, you had to wonder...Where's Ours?

Hopefully, this is it.

I honestly think, though, that it could be worse.  I have stated on here time after time that I think Alfonso Soriano is nothing more than a backup generator - a failover system that occassionally - nay, frequently - can carry a team for weeks at a time while everyone else struggles.  There is NO 2007 Division Crown without his September.  And yes, when taken on an annual basis as Colin has, the man produces abundantly.

Thing is, though, is that his contributions are not consistent.  He differs from, say, Ramirez, who pretty much produces at the same rate every day.  You know that, if you write him in the lineup for a week, that he will give you hits three times out of ten, probably a homer, about four RBIs, and he'll walk a few times.  Managers and teams tend to LEAN on people like Ramirez, they count on him, and when players like him lose time, the loss is quantifiable.

With Soriano, on the other hand, you just don't know.  He HAS been giving us more consistent production the past couple of weeks, yes.  But you honestly don't know what we're going to miss out on the next six weeks.  Might he hit 12 bombs and drive in 30?  Or might he hit .150 and chase every pitch thrown at him?  He isn't going to be there, probably the rest of the year, to pick us up when we need it...that's the great loss with Soriano.  Our Plan B is gone for 2008.  However, it isn't the end of the world if Murton plays there the next six weeks.  We could still play winning ball, if...

.Dempster's big blue Cubs balls..we don't forget about the pitching!  Sure, Dempster whipped out his big brass nutts last night and went the distance, and for the moment, you have to feel confident that Wood and Marmol are rested enough.  For now. 

Lemme ax u a question - consider Z's last two starts, do YOU feel confident that he is going to go out there today and mow them down? Do you feel confident that the offense is going to keep bailing Lilly out from under his early-inning catastrophes?  July is only three weeks away, do YOU know where your Marquis de Suck is?  Still with US, that's where he is.

They're talking up Sean Marshall as the next  callup, saying that he has made the most progress in Iowa.  His last start?  Five runs in six innings.  But hey, he only walked one.

We can't lose sight of the fact that we still need a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy, to minimize the amount of time we have to see Wuertz and Lieber and Hart and yeah, even Marmol and Wood.   

How will Soriano’s injury impact the Cubs?

Soriano is going to to the DL for six weeks with a broken hand.

The return of Micah Hoffpauir a day early won’t be the end of the roster moves:

Infielder-outfielder Micah Hoffpauir will come up today from Class AAA Iowa to take Soriano's place on the roster. The Cubs need another hitter for the American League parks coming up.

It's possible they could recall either outfielder Matt Murton or infielder-outfielder Eric Patterson from Iowa by Friday. Currently, the Cubs are carrying 13 pitchers.

Mark DeRosa moved from second base to left field Wednesday. Expect DeRosa to see significant time in left during Soriano's absence, which will be about six weeks or even longer.

So, I’m operating under the assumption that two of Patterson, Hoffpauir and Murton will be called up. Hoffpauir has the least baseball talent of the group, so of course he’s the only one that’s guaranteed a callup.

What I’ve done is taken a player’s minor league numbers and figured out their Major League Equivalency – essentially an estimate of how they would have performed in the majors. Then, I combined those numbers with their MLB numbers. All of those numbers were then fed into the ZiPS projection tool, which uses those figures (in combination with their career numbers) to come up with a projection. (I also did a projection on Soriano for the rest of the season, based upon his numbers to date. Here’s an explanation of how projection systems work.) Here’s the table:

Eric Patterson
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
AAA
181
27
59
13
3
5
26
10
41
10
0
.326
.361
.514
.875
Translated
184
20
50
9
2
4
19
7
44
8
0
.273
.301
.408
.709
MLB
6
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
3
1
0
.000
.000
.000
.000
Total
190
20
50
9
2
4
20
7
47
9
0
.263
.289
.395
.684
Projected
325
40
85
15
3
8
37
22
64
13
6
.262
.308
.400
.708
Micah Hoffpauir
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
AAA
62
12
19
4
0
3
15
1
12
0
0
.306
.308
.516
.824
Translated
62
9
16
3
0
2
11
0
13
0
0
.259
.268
.417
.685
MLB
14
4
8
3
0
0
1
1
6
0
0
.421
.450
.579
1.029
Total
76
13
24
6
0
2
12
1
19
0
0
.316
.325
.474
.798
Projected
191
21
52
12
0
8
33
13
36
1
0
.272
.319
.461
.779
Matt Murton
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
AAA
177
25
55
10
1
1
14
28
16
3
2
.311
.411
.395
.807
Translated
184
18
47
8
0
0
10
21
17
2
2
.254
.330
.316
.646
MLB
14
2
3
0
0
0
4
1
2
0
0
.214
.267
.214
.481
Total
198
20
50
8
0
0
14
22
19
2
2
.253
.327
.293
.620
Projected
286
39
79
15
0
8
35
31
37
2
1
.276
.347
.413
.760
Alfonso Soriano
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
MLB
211
36
60
11
0
15
40
15
46
7
1
.284
.330
.550
.880
Projected
341
57
97
21
1
21
63
23
76
13
5
.284
.330
.537
.866

All three of them represent a sizable falloff. Hoffpauir is the one most capable of replacing Soriano’s power in the lineup, but that’s really damning with faint praise here. Murton is probably the best hitter of the group, given his superior on-base percentage. (Although his projected advantage over Hoffpauir is mighty slim.)

Of course they still have to play defense. So let’s look at some defensive projections, measured in runs saved/allowed versus the positional average. Murton projects as a +3 corner outfielder over the course of a season, Patterson as a +8. (Soriano projects as a +6; the projections don’t know about his leg injuries this year.)

Hoffpauir’s defense is an absolute cypher. We can look at minor league defensive numbers – Hoffpauir played 13 games in the outfield last season at AAA and was just off the charts bad. But he only played in 13 equivalent games in the outfield, hardly enough to pass judgement on.

What we do know is this. Hoffpauir has been a first baseman pretty much since his days in college. That tells me that, up until Lou Piniella saw him hitting this spring, nobody involved in talent evaluation saw much of a future for him in the outfield. Based on a charitable set of assumptions – that he’s an average defensive first baseman, and that he has the tools necessary to play the outfield – you’re looking at a –5 fielder. Again, that’s the charitable view.

Let’s assume that Soriano misses 36 games, and let’s assume that whoever fills in for him will average 3.1 plate appearances per game. That’s 112 plate appearances. We can figure out runs above average on offense and defense over that period in time. So, put it together and what have you got?

wOBA
Defense
Offense/112
Defense/112
Runs/112
Soriano
.367
6
2.82
1.03
3.86
Murton
.337
3
-0.10
0.52
0.42
Hoffpauir
.336
-5
-0.19
-.086
-1.06
Patterson
.311
8
-2.63
1.38
-1.25

Again: I'm making some charitable assumptions on defense for Hoffpauir. Even still, he lags significantly behind Murton, even while they're basically tied as hitters. The problem is that a lot of Murton’s value is wrapped up in his walks, while Hoffpauir’s value comes more from his low-wattage power.

That’s assuming that any of them were to be filling in for him in left field. There are two other players on the Cubs who could be filling in in left: Reed Johnson and Mark DeRosa. That requires a bit more chaining to figure out, because then you have to also look at who’s playing center or second while those two are playing fill-in. I’ll take a look at that later.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award