Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Outfield Chatter
2005-01-14 13:54
by alex ciepley

On another slow news day, Derek and I exchange emails and daydream about potential Cubs outfielders.

Derek: So there's a rumor going around the TCR comments that Sosa will go to the Mets in exchange for Cliff Floyd and Braden Looper. Two months ago I would've been excited at the idea, but now I've got a weird, sick feeling. Even if the Mets eat all the money, I don't know that I like it.

Sure, a healthy Ordonez would make me feel a lot better (say, wouldn't a healthy, powerful Ordonez in right and a fragile Floyd in left be kinda like Sosa and Alou? or Sosa and Rondell White?), but I'd still be uncomfortable with the whole thing.

Alex: This is actually a sorta-legit rumor, having been reported in the Bergen County Record. They report that it could be Sosa for Floyd and one of Aaron Heilman and Jae Seo.

Of course, this is the same rag that reported that Greg Maddux was about to sign with the Yankees at the 11th hour last offseason, so I generally think they're full of shit.

I doubt any deal involving Sosa would also include Dubois. And since I'm basically fine with a Dubois/Hollandsworth platoon if the Cubs don't sign anyone, I don't see why I wouldn't be fine with that platoon backing up Floyd and Magglio... if we could get Magglio.

Maybe I'd rather have Cameron than Floyd, though.

I know I'd rather have Wilkerson or Huff. Huff might be on the block, and Hendry has to see him as a viable option. Also, the Cubs have exactly what Tampa needs, young pitching.

Derek: Good point about the backup platoon. If you're willing to have those two as starters, then certainly having them as contingency plans is even better.

I think Cameron is intriguing, and since he's now making noise about wanting to play center elsewhere rather than right in Shea, the Mets might be willing to do it. He makes essentially what Floyd does, so if Patterson would be willing to shift to a corner, it could be doable.

The issues with Cameron would be:

a) he's right handed, and I think Hendry is legitimately concerned with getting some lefty power into the lineup

b) he's very much the type of player we've been lamenting to one degree or another for years: big pop, not enough OBP. He hasn't had an OBP over .350 since 2001. Before he signed with the Mets I'd have given him some credit on his batting average because of Safeco (his main OBP problem is batting average, since he walks enough). I'm a lot less inclined to do so after his .219 showing last year.

The positives relative to Floyd would be his durability and his defense. No doubt putting him in center and Corey in whichever corner seemed appropriate would make it almost not matter who the other outfielder was defensively (an exaggeration, but a fun one nonetheless).

As for Wilkerson and Huff, I'd adore it if either one could be had. Inexpensive, young, powerful, left-handed, high OBP outfielders are the sort of players you should be tripping over yourself to acquire. If Huff really is on the block, one would hope that Hendry would try to find a way to get a deal for him done. There's certainly enough talent on the pitching side of the farm to get something accomplished.

Alex: You're right about Cameron. He's basically Corey Patterson with a lower batting average and more walks. According to Ron Shandler's Baseball HQ, Cameron's "expected Batting Average" shows that he isn't just getting unlucky or hitting in bad parks. He actually can't hit for average at all:

2002 .239 .221
2003 .253 .259
2004 .226 .210
Still, given his (better) durability and genuinely fantastic defense, is he a wiser choice than Floyd?

I'm not so worried about Cameron being right-handed. Fortunately, he's the exact type of right-handed hitter that greatly benefits from Wrigley. Cameron's slugging percentage is due more to his home runs (as opposed to his singles, doubles, and triples) than any Cub other than Sosa. Wrigley is good for home runs, bad for doubles and triples. So Wrigley is good for Cameron. (I'll have more on this once I get my precious laptop back from Dell.)

My feelings on getting either Floyd or Cameron, though, would be dependent on two other things:

1) Who would the other Mets player be? I don't buy that Looper would be the guy. The Cubs don't need either Seo or Heilman, but they certainly could find a use for them. And they'd be perfect trade bait for, say, Huff or Wilkerson or Kearns.

2) Would the Cubs actually get Magglio? Or barring that, trade for one of the three above? I'd really like a Cameron/Floyd - Patterson - Magglio outfield, but would be less confident of a Dubois - Cameron/Floyd - Patterson setup.

Now, you know I love Huff. He's different from what the Cubs currently have in that he's a lefty contact hitter. Mark Grace with fewer walks and more pop.

That said, I'd prefer Wilkerson. Same age, same power, less contact, more walks. Also, more speed and better defensive value.

Of course, I'd take either. I just think Wilkerson is more the type of player who could make the Big Leap and become a top 10 MVP candidate. I also think that Wilkerson would be much, much harder to acquire than Huff, so that complicates things.

Derek: Your two questions about the deal are mine as well. I agree that Looper doesn't make a lot of sense from the Mets' perspective. He's their closer and I doubt they have an interest in parting with him, particularly after he's just finished his best season to date.

I think the only way Seo and Heilman make sense is if they're turned around almost immediately in a deal for one of the three potential trade targets we've been talking about.
On your second question, I'd be extremely concerned about a Dubois - Floyd/Cameron - Patterson outfield, but I'll go you one better: while I've had a thing for Austin Kearns for some time, a Floyd - Patterson - Kearns outfield with all that potential for injury would likely cause... well, let's just say I'd probably have to make a purchase or two.
As for Huff vs. Wilkerson, I'd be inclined to go with Huff at this point simply because he's likely to be so much easier to acquire than Wilkerson is. In a vacuum, I probably like Wilkerson better for the reasons you cite, although I'll admit to being wary of his inability to make consistent contact.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.