Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Out of Left Field?
2005-09-30 08:53
by Derek Smart

There's been talk, and admittedly it appears to have been started, if not by Garciaparra himself, then by a reporter asking a direct question about it, that Nomar could be re-signed by the Cubs and used in left field.

And though it may seem like a far-fetched scenario, Garciaparra wouldn't discount the idea of moving to left field for the Cubs, if they asked.

"Whatever," he said. "If you're where you want to be and you want to be part of a great organization and a great team ... I have a hard time saying it's a sacrifice. It's just something you do because we're a team."

That was from Monday. When Dusty Baker was asked about it in the same article that discussed Patterson and Pie's situation in this morning's Tribune, his response was, "We'd consider that big-time."

I'm torn on this. On the one hand, I really like Matt Murton. I think he has a future as a solid big-league regular, and I think he's got nothing left to prove in the minors, particularly after the work he's done during his time in the Majors. My brain tells me that he should be the starter in left next year.

On the other hand, I really like Nomar. When healthy, he can still hit, and there's something about his demeanor on and off the field that I can't help but be attracted to. He's just got great charisma, and while I know that charisma and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee if you're sent back to 1950 by a rift in the space/time continuum, it still affects me as a fan. My heart wants to find a way for Nomar to be a Cub next year.

But in the end it just doesn't make sense. Murton is the future, Garciaparra is the past, and while I'd love to see Nomar in Cubbie blue next year for sentimental reasons, there's simply nowhere I'd feel comfortable playing him. His defense has slipped enough to render his infield play suspect on the best of days, and I consider the only outfield spot he'd be remotely suited to play as spoken for.

I think both sides would like to make it work, but I don't think the Cubs will allow their hearts to get in the way this time. The organization's brain has taken a back seat, or simply been asleep in the trunk, too often during the last century, and while there may be a lot of love for Nomar, sometimes when you love somebody - with apologies to Sting - you have to set them free.

2005-09-30 13:06:12
1.   TheBigLowitzki
Why Nomar in Right? If Nomar can learn left, he can learn Right. And he has a strong arm, which is the biggest difference in need between the two positions.
2005-09-30 13:07:10
2.   TheBigLowitzki
Wow...and I even previewed that. That should say why not Nomar in right.
2005-09-30 14:07:05
3.   Derek Smart
I think it's primarily a speed problem, or rather, a concern about his ability to run. There's a passage in Bill James' New Historical Abstract - I think it's in the entry on Lou Brock, but I'll have to check when I get home - where he talks a bit about the historical defensive requirements for being in each of the three outfield slots, and as I recall (again, I'll need to get it in front of me to be certain), he makes a decent case that left field is where one should, and teams have in the past, put the outfielder with the least combined speed and arm.

I'll find the passage later and make a better statement about it - and actually, I'm not really arguing against the idea, just trying to say why the organization would shy away from it.

2005-10-01 01:06:03
4.   Whitebacon
What about Murton in right or center? (Poor arm?) Or Nomar in center? (wheels again?)
2005-10-01 13:06:07
5.   Derek Smart
Looks like I got the passage from the Abstract nearly completely wrong. Here's how it goes:

"Those who can throw but can't run are right fielders,

Those who can run but can't throw are left fielders,

Those who can do both are center fielders,

And those who can't do either are first basemen."

That's extremely simplistic (and James acknowledges it's so), but under those "rules" I'd say the concern the Cubs have would be that Nomar doesn't have the arm for right, and if one considers that he would be unable to throw side-arm, it might be legitimate.

Of course, he really can't run anymore, either, so I don't know that left makes much sense.

The truth is, he's reached that point in his career where you have to be willing to make trade-offs in order to have him on your team. I don't know that there's anywhere he can be on the field and not be a defensive liability (not to mention the question of health), so you have to be willing to deal with that in order to get his bat.

Frankly, I think the Cubs have come to a point themselves where they just can't afford to make that trade.

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