Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Center of Attention

With today’s game almost certainly to be called off, it’s time again to look at the Cubs biggest weakness.

While he is a problem, this biggest is not Michael Barrett. As inconsistent as he is with the bat and as poor as he is with the glove, you’d figure that Jim Hendry would have given up on him by now. Instead, you get hints dropped in the news and notes section of the game day articles about how Barrett may be looking at a contract extension. Cub fans can only hope that the sale of the team is concluded and Jim is released from his contract before he can doom Cub pitchers to three more years of inadequate backstopping.

No, the biggest problem remains the outfield. The collection of Alfonso Soriano, Matt Murton, Jacque Jones and Cliff Floyd are not getting the job done, offensively or defensively. Now, one thinks that, sooner or later, Alfonso will turn it on. But the other three? No guarantee there. So, with the outfield potentially putrid (yesterday’s game ended with Alfonso misplaying the first ball hit his way into a run scoring double) with the glove and substandard with the bat, there seems to be an obvious improvement to be made.

Make the defense better and help the pitchers.

How can the Cubs do that? Promote Felix Pie and let him roam center.

If the Cubs do that, then who do they bench? Do you send Soriano to left and trade Matt Murton or do you send Soriano to right and trade Jacque Jones? The answer seems to be Murton. Trading Murton would be easier do to his age and salary. Because of that, the Cubs would receive more in return than for Jacque. And Soriano would be better in left than right having played left last year and knowing how difficult right in Wrigley field can be.

It’s time for some moves. Pie up, Soriano over, Murton out.

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