Well the Cubs filled their Center Field hole today with the signing of Marlon Byrd. Thus filling in the last piece for the Cubs every day lineup next year.
Projected 2010 Lineup
1. Ryan Theriot
2. Marlon Byrd
3. Derrek Lee
4. Aramis Ramirez
5. Alfonso Soriano
6. Kosuke Fukudome
7. Geovany Soto
8. Jeff Baker
While i am not thrilled with the Cubs decision to sign Marlon Byrd i realize that its probably the safest option. I had heard rumors of the Cubs trying to trade for Jacoby Ellsbury, Dexter Fowler, or Ryan Spilbroughs. I was hoping the Cubs would go that route just because as of now the team lacks speed at the top of the lineup. Another concern i had with signing Byrd is that the Cubs would be overpaying for a career year in a hitters ballpark (Arlington). But looking at the contract i think the Cubs got a good deal (3 years $15 mill). Based on the moves i have seen thus far in the offseason, i think the Cubs are trying to stay competitive and keep this core of players until the farm system develops. Help is on the way in the lower minors, so a few years of mediocrity might be worth it. All though i do think this Cubs team is being undervalued, there were high expectations last year and they failed to meet them, but this is still for the most part the same team that won 96 games in 2008. It is a solid core of veteran players who get along very well, the Cubs messed that up by bringing Bradley in, but Bradley has been replaced by Byrd who is the opposite. Byrd is a great club house pressence and he already knows Rudy Jarmillo. Lets take a look at each spot in the lineup.
1. Ryan Theriot - He has been the #2 hitter for some time, he changed his approach at the plate last year and was much more aggresive. It helped his power, but his contact declined, look for him to revert back to his patient approach if he is going to lead off. Theriot also has some speed, look for the steals to go up if he leads off.
2. Marlon Byrd - Had a career year last year, popping 20 HR, and driving in 89. Its doubtfull that he will post those numbers again, and if he hits in the 2 hole will be asked to be more patient. My guess is his average my rise closer to what it had been the 2 previous years in Texas (around .300) but his power to decline to around 10 HR.
3. Derrek Lee - Seems the wrist finally is healed, he regained his power that he had before his 06 injury popping 35 HR and driving in a career high 111 runs. He hit over .300 for the 3rd time in his Chicago career and should continue to put up solid contact and power numbers, but at 34 years old there is no where to go but down.
4. Aramis Ramirez - Suffered a seperated shoulder early in the season, but still managed to put up solid numbers. Hopefully injuires will not continue and turn him into another Eric Chavez. If he is healthy, he can put up a .300-25-100 stat line and is a great cleanup hitter.
5. Alfonso Soriano - He seems to always get forgoten when people are talking about the Cubs. His numbers did see a steep decline, and injuries have hurt him through out his Cubs career. But when he is on, he is one of the most dangerous hitters in the majors. Early on last year he was on fire, but his lack of patience killed him. I dont see how he could hit any worse, teaming up with Rudy Jarmillio should help him greatly.
6. Kosuke Fukudome - He can be an excellent hitter, but has fallen in the trend of starting hot and progresivly getting worse the rest of the season. He did improve from his rookie campaign though, his OBP jumped from .359 to .375, his slugging jumped from .379 to .421 and a move back to RF should benifit him. He could fit in the 2 hole if he can continue to keep a good OBP.
7. Geovany Soto - Had the epitome of a sophmore slump, hitting .218 and hitting only 11 HR, a steep decline from his rookie of the year campaign. After a horrible 2009 he has no where to go but up. Early in the season his swing was bad, but he seemed to correct it later on but an oblique injury prevented him from breaking out of his slump. Consider him an extreme break out canidate for 2010.
8. Jeff Baker - After not doing much in Colorado early in the season, he was traded to the Cubs and was outstanding. Hitting over .300 he earned himself the starting gig at second over struggling Mike Fontenot, his minor league numbers suggest he has more power than what he displayed last season (4 HR). His statistical potential makes me think of Todd Walker, an average to above average second baseman. He could also fit in the 2 hole, giving Pinella some versatility.