In the pitching part, I discovered a few quality buys for the Chicago Cubs. Today, will explore the hitting side of the equation. Fielding too is important, but since Rizzo, Castillo, and Castro and Barney, are likely as not, going anywhere with their contracts, gloves, and age the reasons, that leaves all 3 OF spots, 3B, and backup catching.
Back ups & Catching: Cheap is the Route
Here is the dearth of the MLB, good catching. The options are always “good glove, no hit” or “power/high average but poor ass glove.” If you have a catcher like Posey, Mauer, and now, Yadi Molina, you count your blessings.
For all but the crazy risk takers, catching is at best, 125-135 game per season job. If a guy doesn’t rest at least 1 day per week, he’ll be wore out by end of August. Pretty much when pennant races are reaching the climax, a good catcher, playing every day, is gonna be spent. So like every smart manager does, they sign a backup that can either:
1) Hits, but doesn’t field well
2) A personal catcher for a ‘certain’ pitcher
3) Great field, can’t hit the Pacific with an aircraft carrier
4) Switch hitter or opposite of the plate from the starter
5) Or: Promotes up a catcher from the minors to learn for the next two seasons
6) Or lastly: Cheap, but old, before all the rest
Here’s your cheap options:
1) Brayan Pena is 32. Switch hitter. Makes contact. Very cheap fit. Not great, but he’s passable defense and offense. No pop, or OBP plus.
2) Carlos Ruiz? But he’s much older, and will likely want 10M plus.
3) Geovany Soto? walks over 10% in 2013. Has pop (ISO .221), but K% is 32%. Right hand hitter who knows Chi town. Will also want cash. May not like Chicago anymore.
4) Kurt Suzuki? BABIP was .245 in 2013. Makes contact, low K rate. Push with glove, could bounce back on the glove.
So those are your cheap options, but here’s your expensive ones.
The Veteran Corner Infielder: Kevin Youkilis
Center Field Platoon: Gutierrez and Grady, or more likely, The Rajai
The Corner OF Man: David Murphy
Cubs Infield in 2014:
In The End…
No plan is perfect, or without risk. The players must want to come, the injury bugs pass over your house, the guys start performing like its 1999, but this is a low-cost way to become competitive. Risk is spread out, not lumped into a $120M plus contract like Barry Zito, Alfonso Soriano, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mike Hampton, Denny Neagle, and that list grows longer, yearly.
With the influx of talent coming in the minors, you don’t lose much cash either if you put on waivers or trade away these vets on short deals. 2-3 years is all I would go on a over 30 guy. These guys will be lucky, and glad, to get these sort of deals.
And who knows? You might get a 1984 Cubs-like run with vets: Cey, Matthews, Eckersley, Sutcliffe, Bowa, and Hebner who all contributed with the young bucks in Sandberg, Durham, Dernier, Davis, Moreland, etc.