Baseball Toaster Cub Town
When Exclamation Points Attack
2006-01-09 07:19
by Derek Smart

As the Patterson talk swirls and a deal seems imminent, even if we have no idea who the partner might be or what is to be exchanged, there were some words buried in Sun-Times articles today and Saturday that, if unsurprising, are nonetheless discouraging.

"Neifi Perez is the projected starting second baseman for '06."

- Chicago Sun-Times, January 7, 2006

"...but now the double-play combo for 2006 appears to be Cedeno at shortstop and Neifi Perez at second."

- Chicago Sun-Times, January 9, 2006

Again, it should come as a surprise to no one with the failure to land Rafael Furcal and the Tejada fiasco apparently at a predictably fizzling end, that what we're left with is a team unwilling to give Todd Walker another shot, and apparently unable to do anything else to fix a middle infield that might be very sharp defensively, but with Neifi! in the daily lineup and, if past transgressions are reliable predictors of future sins, wailing away in the second spot in the order, will only serve to perpetuate the offensive horror show we were a party to last season.

If there's a bright spot - and it's a small one, like the pinhole in your shoebox you used to view that solar eclipse - it's that a middle infield made up primarily of Cedeno, Neifi!, and Jerry Hairston will almost certainly be one where Cedeno gets a lot of time, since Hairston was far from being an organizational favorite.

Still, I am reminded of something I said in early November when discussing the pending shortstop situation.

There are few events that would make me give up on the 2006 season before it even began, but signing Neifi! with the express purpose of playing him everyday at shortstop just might be one of them.

Well, signing Neifi! with the express purpose of playing him at second is actually worse, so while I'm still enough of a glass-half-full-fool to not surrender before a game's played, you'd best believe, unless something happens to fix this, that I'll have my towel (or grenade, I can't decide) in the air, ready for the tossing when play begins.

2006-01-09 08:01:06
1.   Ali Nagib
One thing that I found particularly interesting when looking over the 2005 stats was the fact that Neifi Perez and Juan Uribe were basically the same player, except that one played for the World Series Champions on the South Side while Neifi toiled away for the senior circuit counterparts to the north. The reason that the comparison is important is that it highlights the fact that both players were among the very best defensive shortstops in the league. What this means is that starting a player like Neifi may be justifiable if A) you have a pretty solid lineup otherwise and B) you have a strong enough defense and pitching staff everywhere else that putting a top-tier defender at one of the most important defensive positions is worth the offensive trade-off. If the 2005 White Sox proved anything, it's that defense, while often difficult to quantify, can clearly make a difference on the extremes, and shouldn't be completely eschewed in favor of better hitting.

Starting Neifi at second, however, is completely inexcusable. This is especially the case when you already have a player who can actually hit under contract at a very reasonable price. Now, if trading Walker was the price for getting Tejada, or some other legitimately better player, I understand that you have to give up value to get value. But dumping Walker just for the purpose of getting Neifi starts is a disaster waiting to happen.

2006-01-09 08:10:51
2.   Andy Rutledge
I can't fathom why they'd want to get rid of Walker. He hits far too well to consider his defense a liability, especially when considering the offensive black hole of Neifi Perez as a replacement.

To me, an infield of Aramis Ramirez, Ronny Cedeno, Todd Walker, and Derrek Lee has the potential to put a large quantity of runs on the board. Perez's only useful asset is that he's a great defensive player, and should be used as a late-inning defensive replacement and spot starter. Why this team rewards him with so much for one month of offensive brilliance, and wants to cast Todd Walker to the curb is beyond me.

2006-01-09 08:57:10
3.   rynox
Poor Neifi!, so misunderstood.
2006-01-09 08:58:17
4.   scareduck
Given, it was a thin offseason. Nonetheless, it's time to start calling for Hendry's head.
2006-01-09 11:09:56
5.   Zoompet
"One thing that I found particularly interesting when looking over the 2005 stats was the fact that Neifi Perez and Juan Uribe were basically the same player"

Of course 66.7% of Neifi's at bats came at the top of the order while Uribe had 93.6% of his at bats in either 7th, 8th or 9th hole.

Know your tools, and when you have a screw driver don't try and drive in nails with it.

2006-01-09 13:17:57
6.   shuuto
Neifi is a good defensive SS. He is not a good defensive 2B. Neifi's strength is his ability to go to his left, and get to balls hit behind second. He's very good at that. He's not that strong when he goes to his right. If he's moved to 2B, he's going to have to cover more ground to his right than his left. Anyone who watched Neifi play 2B last season saw him struggle to do this. I know Walker is a maginal defender at best, but he can't be so bad that he'd lose his job to an out-of-position, no-bat journeyman...

I've seen articles listing Walker 3rd on the depth chart behind Neifi and Hairston. With the bat Walker swings, I don't see how that makes any sense. Walker should be starting at 2B with Hairston backing him up, and Neifi should be backing up Cedeno at SS. Walker hit .305/.355/.474 last year in 397 AB's, yet he's losing his job to Neifi?!? He must have seriously pissed-off Cubs management to be treated like this...

2006-01-09 15:43:18
7.   barryfoote
For what its worth, ONLY Kiley reports neifi! as the starter. He started it about three weeks ago and, yet, no one has followed his lead. The Trib, Herald and Southtown all regularly report Walker as the starter. Either Kiley has inside info (which none of the other major outlets have bothered to confirm) or Walker sent him a pizza he didn't order and this is Kiley's way of getting back at him. I'm betting its the latter.

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