Baseball Toaster Cub Town
All Hyped Up About Nothing
2007-03-13 19:26
by Phil Bencomo

Felix Pie's .344 batting average this spring is generating quite a bit of buzz. The consensus among the MSM seems to be that Pie is ready, and Jacque Jones the odd man out.

Chris De Luca from today's Sun-Times:

Then there is Pie, whose time appears to have arrived, even if there isn't a spot waiting for him.

There has been passionate discussions within the organization on what is best for Pie and the Cubs. He could be returned to Class AAA Iowa and play every day or he could stick around and give the Cubs their best glove in the outfield.


There is also the wild-card possibility of a trade.

Remember, the Cubs had shopped Jones in the offseason with few takers. Seems the San Diego Padres are now among the teams searching for some outfield help. Seeing as how Jones lives in San Diego, seems like the perfect fit for him and the Cubs.

Here's the problem with the first bit: Pie is not ready. He may be batting over .300, but all of his hits have been singles. Small sample size, yes, but coaches and scouts say he just isn't ready for the majors. The MSM see a stellar batting average and fall down on the story like Carlos Zambrano hit the ground on his way to third base.

Jacob Luft chimes in at today:

I'm more skeptical about the Soriano scenario in Chicago. The Cubs have a rapidly developing future star in Felix Pie, who is being blocked by Soriano and his massive new contract. Early reports on Soriano's acclimation to the position are less than glowing. The best possible solution might be for the team to trade away Jacque Jones and play Pie in center with Soriano at one of the corners.

I just don't understand the appeal of trading Jones to make way for an underdeveloped Pie, even if it means moving Soriano to the more-manageable right field. Pie may be the future, but do we really want to create Corey Patterson v2.0, especially if the Cubs won't gain anything on offense by doing so?

2007 ZiPS
Felix Pie 479 123 25 4 12 31 105 .257 .304 .401
Jacque Jones 520 137 24 2 24 36 123 .263 .320 .456

So if Pie isn't ready, and the Cubs won't gain anything by rushing him to the majors, then where's the incentive?

Really, it hinges on two things: What the Cubs can get in return for Jones, and the defensive benefit of putting Pie in center and Soriano in right.

A trade certainly won't be for another outfielder, and around the diamond, the only position that is really lacking in offensive punch is shortstop. If Jones does indeed go to San Diego, as Luft suggests, would the Padres be willing to give up Khalil Green? I'm not so sure they would.

As for pitchers, the Cubs are pretty well tied up, and Jones isn't likely to net anyone significantly better than the team's in-house options in the rotation and bullpen.

The defensive impact of putting Pie in center doesn't seem all that impressive, either. Even the most valuable fielders in the outfield – like Carlos Beltran (8.3 Win Shares) and Mike Cameron (7.3 WS) – contribute at most two wins with their gloves. Soriano managed 3.6 fielding WS in left last season, and he'll likely finish somewhere between two and three in center. So even if Pie were to play All-Star-caliber defense, the defensive gain would be no more than a single win.

To me, that seems hardly enough of a gain to put Pie's offensive development at risk. Trading Jones is nothing more than a convenient solution to a supposed problem.

* * * *

There are still a few spots left in the Cub Town Fantasy Baseball League. Don't miss your chance to compete against both Derek and myself. E-mail me if you're interested: phil.bencomo AT

2007-03-14 04:33:37
1.   chicagoburke
I'm with you Phil...We are so eager to trade away a sure thing for the hope that Pie will hit NOW once the training wheels are off. Albeit the sure thing has a spaghetti arm and a bit of a brooding demeanor (is it the French Name:-)), however the guy does play some good baseball. I like Jacque on this team and wouldn't be opposed to using him in Center if the Alfonso Parsons Project doesn't work out (defensively).
2007-03-15 15:09:31
2.   tkr888
I couldn't say for sure if Pie is ready or not, but it seems like poor analysis to assume he isn't ready just because of bad memories of Corey Patterson. Two different players = two different analyses required.

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