Last year when Aramis went down, the Cubs flailed at finding a replacement. We had brought Corey Koskie to camp, but he was unable to overcome his post-concussion problems. That left us with Bobby Scales, Mike Fontenot, and eventually Ryan Freel and Jake Fox. Lack of depth didn't kill us, but it sure looked ugly and probably added to the demoralization in the clubhouse.
With the additions of Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy, the Cubs have added two corner guys who have posted OPSs over .850. Sure, they may not ever do that again, but they have upside and ability. Health is their big question mark. The team's depth chart now looks a lot stronger at most positions. If Soriano goes down, Nady can move to full-time work. If Byrd goes down, the Cubs can split time between Dome and Fuld in CF. If Dome goes down, Tracy may be able to try RF again, or Nady. If Aramis goes down, we're not committed to moving Baker off 2B, but can go to Tracy. At 2B we have two guys who have shown exceptional bats in the past.
No, I do not expect all of Nady, Tracy, Baker, and Fontenot to work out. But that's just the thing - now they don't need to. They shouldn't ALL falter. That's the beauty of depth.
The one place we do not have depth is SS. An injury to Theriot leads to Andres Blanco and the temptation to call up Castro too soon. Perhaps Darwin Barney will show enough that he would get the first crack, but the Cubs are already talking about Castro in ways that suggest he might get rushed.
It's really astounding how this club has consistently cleared plausible competition away from Theriot at SS, a strategy that does not encourage excellence. Given that projections expect our starting SS to be the worst hitter on the squad, and given that it is possible that both our 2B flop, here's to hoping Jim Hendry adds one more depth piece to upgrade Andres Blanco.