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Filling Out A Lineup
by Phil Bencomo
As is, the Cub lineup is not overly impressive. Geovany Soto will catch, the infield corners are locked down by Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot will again man their respective positions, and then it gets fuzzy. And that should be enough to give anyone pause. From the Trib:
The Cubs left baseball's winter meetings Thursday with two new relievers, walking away gingerly so as not to drop all those eggs they are putting in Kosuke Fukudome's basket.
What the Cubs are doing hoping the outfielder chooses to leave Japan and then opts to come to the Cubs is a huge gamble, although general manager Jim Hendry claims he has fallback trade plans that would cost young talent as well as money.
If Fukudome (that name must give radio and TV execs nightmares; I'm sure producers will have their hands near that magic kill button every time the outfielder comes anywhere near the action) spurns the Cubs, where does that leave them? Soriano in left, Felix Pie and all the questions about his readiness in center, and ... Matt Murton? Sam Fuld? Hardly an imposing outfield. I would very much like to hear more about Hendry's fallback plans.
I'd be much less worried if the Cubs land, as rumored, second baseman Brian Roberts (112 OPS+), moving Mark DeRosa (102 OPS+) from second to, most likely, right field, where he is better than all current competitors. Of course, the ideal would be to both sign Fukudome and trade for Roberts, thus relegating DeRosa to a super-sub role. And if Pie proves incapable in center, Fukudome could move over from right, and DeRosa would fill in.
The Tribune story linked above says the Cubs would only have to give up Sean Marshall or Sean Gallagher, plus Ronny Cedeno or Eric Patterson. Gallagher and Patterson are the best of the bunch, but I would not call any of them untouchable, and it's a trade I would make.
But if Hendry can't manage to acquire either of them, he'll have some scrambling to do.