Last week, I was given the opportunity to send questions about the Cubs to Will Carroll, who was going to forward them for responses to Christina Kahrl, who writes BP's Cubs chapter.
There's bad news and good news. The bad news is, Will lost the questions I originally sent him (the ones you all posted here last week). The good news is, when I re-sent them last night, he answered them himself. This isn't meant to diss Christina at all, but as you know, Will is greatly respected himself, and, as he described himself to me, "an ex-Cubs fan ... it's like a bad relationship. They could only hit me so many times before I had to leave."
Well... all of us have been hit in that way, I suppose. But we're still here, and here are Will's answers to our questions.
Q: We already know that Rich Hill has locked down a rotation spot, and that we know Wade Miller is still battling with Angel Guzman for one, and that Lou Piniella has been making a lot of encouraging OBP-like noises this spring training camp, does all of this mean that Lou may have "gotten religion" about modern statistics?
Q: Do we know any details about the specific injury (shoulder) that Oneri Fleita said affected Felix Pie's batting in Winter Ball this year? Should we discount his terrible Dominican League statistics, or be worried that there might be lingering effects?
Q: Who would be a good comparison player to Angel Guzman--hurt in the minors, but with good stuff, and trying to enter the league at age 25 or so?
Q: Do the Cubs need to acquire a different shortstop to reach the playoffs this year?
Q: The Cubs were horribly shallow at first base last year. When Derrek Lee went down, we saw a lot of bad hitters in the lineup. At what positions are the Cubs weakest this year? Are there any minor league players (e.g., Scott Moore) who could surprise if thrown into action due to someone else's injury?
Q: Will the Cubs get anything of value in return for their excess relievers, or will they just hang onto guys like Novoa and Wuertz long enough to lose them for nothing?
Q: What's best for the Cubs line-up, to have Alfonso Soriano leading off, or in the middle of the line-up, where he can drive in more runs and perhaps allow an OBP guy like Matt Murton to lead off?
Q: Are solo home runs and low OBP skills at the top of the order offset by his stolen bases or does it make more sense to put him in a position to drive in more runs? It's not only Soriano's generally weak obp skills that need to be compensated for, we're also going to have a weaker bat than his in the middle of the lineup. Will 40 or so stolen bases make up for all that?
Q: Will we lead the league in solo home runs this year?
Q: How is jerking Soriano around the outfield going to affect him, if at all? Last year he played left and now he's going to be the center fielder. Yet we all know he's headed to right as soon as Jacque Jones leaves and Pie is going to take over in center.
Q: Would the Cubs have better spent their money filling a need rather than throwing money at a name player with relatively ordinary offensive numbers for a corner outfielder (Soriano)
Q: Which, if any, of the Cub offseason acquisitions are most likely to retard the development of the team and do not help toward winning now?
Q: Why does PECOTA seem to love Pie so much, calling for a 20 HR campaign this season if he were to play in the majors? He's yet to show that kind of power at any level previously, does he share any similarities with Hanley Ramirez with regards to potential vs. output in the minor leagues?
Q: Assuming that Zambrano, Hill, Lilly and Marquis are the first four starters, who should be #5? Miller or Guzman or Prior?
Q: Do you maintain any metrics that show how accurate or bad your preseason predictions are after the season is over?