Thursday, December 28, 2006

Who can be centerfield?

One by one the Free Agent crop of centerfielders has slipped off of that list and onto various MLB rosters. Gary Matthews is now an Angel. Juan Pierre is now a Dodger. Dave Roberts has landed in San Francisco. Kenny Lofton has found work in Texas. Meanwhile the position that Pierre vacated with the Cubs remains vacant, or is it?

I know, I know, Hendry had a full plate going into the offseason. To be fair, IMO the Cubs General Manager has done a good job reshaping the Cubs roster and trying to turn the good ship Cubbie around in one offseason (still a near impossible task). With few options left what will Jim Hendry do with the centerfield position?

Jacques Jones
Jones wants out of Chicago. Apparently the Cubs brass wouldn't mind making this happen after Jones rocky season at Clark and Addison. With Soriano now slated to play rightfield and a Murton/Floyd platoon in leftfield, there appears to be only two options for Jones. Trade him or take your chances with him in center.

Jones has played center before. Early in Jones' career in Minnesota he played quite a bit of center. In his rookie year of 1999 he played 82 games in center and in his second year 63 games in center. Since 2001 he has only played occasionally in center.

Felix Pie
One of my least favorite topics in the world of Cubdom. You see I bought into the whole Corey Patterson "can't miss prospect" stuff. I ain't ready to buy another centerfield phenom as fast these days. Still with the offense the Cubs can put around Pie, maybe they can just ask him to go catch the ball. Wait, I just forgot, we're using that excuse for the all-glove/no-hit shortstop. The time is not now for Pie.

Alfonso Soriano
Would the Cubs actually move their prized offseason acquisition to centerfield? To be fair, rightfield is actually a harder position to play at Wrigley Field due to the large quantity of afternoon games with the sun playing havoc on many more experienced outfielders. When you look at it from this perspective and if Jones is still on the roster, Soriano may be the Cubs best option in both center and right. (That ain't saying much considering last year was his first year in the outfield).

Free Agent Leftovers
Aside from making a trade the Cubs only other options look to be 41 year old free agent Steve Finley and 32 year old, but often injured, Darrin Erstad. It really doesn't look like either of these players has much left. Finley in the last two years has hit .222 and .246. Erstad has not been able to stay healthy since he was a big part of the Angels 2002 team that won the World Series. In 2004 and 2005 he spent the majority of his time playing first for the halos. This season the former Nebraska Cornhusker kicker only played 40 games.

The pickings in centerfield are thin to say the least.

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