Given that we now have Juan Pierre as our everyday CF and Matt Murton as our everyday RF, we need to obtain some power from the corner OF spots. This need is only exacerbated by the fact that we are currently staring a Cedeno/Perez double play combo in the face, meaning we cannot make up for any lack of OF power in the middle infield. This rules out many of the other OF options discussed previsouly on BCB - namely Joey Gathright, Ichiro Suzuki, Kenny Lofton, and Raul Ibanez. Milton Bradley has already been scooped up by the A's, as has Brad Wilkerson by the Rangers. The asking price for Abreu seems to be too high for Hendry to stomach, and moving away from the Western US seems to much for Shawn Green to stomach. This leaves us with not much more than Aubrey Huff as a stomachable option for our everyday RF. I think Huff has a lot of updside, and would pan out well in Chicago (an acquisition of him would remind me of the Cubs' acquisition of Aramis Ramirez in many ways). I'll state here that if the price is right, i'd like to see Huff in a Cubs uniform. However, given the lack of success teams have had in trying to pry OFs away from Tampa Bay, i'm going to suggest the Cubs go in a different direction... specifically, a platoon.
If you look at the next tier of available corner OFs, you'll find many of them have something in common: they can all mash either lefties or righties, and most do considerably poorer against pitchers of the other handedness. Below are some splits for currently available OFs (i post 3 year splits from ESPN.com's player pages). The stats are given as name/v.(LorR)age/avg/obp/ops
We can get great production out of a RF platoon based on these figures. For example, we could trade for Craig Wilson and Geoff Jenkins. Then we'd have a RF with the following production history:
versus lefites: .284/.413/.575/.988
versus righties: .297/.371/.545/.916
That is excellent production out of the corner OF spot. Additionally, Wilson could occasionally spell D.Lee at 1st and even act as an emergency catcher, along with John Mabry. This has the added benefit of preventing Jose Macias from finding a way back onto the roster. Our bench would be solid, as we'd have either Wilson or Jenkins coming off it every day. I'm not sure what it would take to get this done, but I'm thinking Todd Walker and Corey Patterson to Pittsburgh for Wilson, and Wellemeyer and another pitcher (Williams?) to the Brewers for Geoff Jenkins. We would be spending a total of $11 million on the right field platoon, but would be getting an excellent return on that investment. If we prorate their ABs to the number of times Derrek Lee faced lefties and righties last season, then the total RF numbers would look something like:
That's pretty awesome! The best comparison to this from last season i could find was Jason Bay:
I'm not sure what it would take to acquire Jenkins and Wilson, but if we can do it for a moderate cost in prospects, i think its work the $10 million in salary. Certainly, an older, slower, worse fielding version of Jason Bay would be worth that much on his offensive prowess alone, and that's about what we'd be getting.
What do you all think? What RF combos would you be in favor of? Its time to go shopping at the junkyard!