Baseball Toaster Cub Town
The Biggest Need
2007-07-09 09:10
by Phil Bencomo

After playing so poorly during the first few months of the season, the Cubs have experienced quite a reversal in fortune. A team that was half a dozen games under .500 just one month ago has since pulled itself up from the realm of Bad to the sacred, more fan-friendly land of Contenders That Need Solid Second Halves. So I'm actually quite pleased.

But every team has weaknesses and needs to be addressed and taken care of. The Cubs are no exception, and Lou wants a right-handed bat:

Another rough day scoring runs, in particular against a left-hander, has the Cubs looking even a little harder at trying to add a right-handed hitter to the roster before they resume play Friday.


"[General manager Jim Hendry] and I will talk during the All-Star break," manager Lou Piniella said, "and see if we can look at the possibility of getting a right-handed batter in here so it can help us out against left-handed pitching."

Whether this batter arrives by trade or the minors isn't made clear. Jacque Jones will be traded eventually, that much is certain – where to is another story – but will he yield said right-handed batter? Perhaps a right-handed batter, but most likely not one of significance or great value.

As for the minors, the only plausible candidate (Ronny Cedeno does not count) is Matt Murton, currently hitting .299/.380/.506 at Iowa. My guess: Unless Hendry pulls off an unexpected trade for a top-notch righty, Murton will be Lou's right-handed batter.

* * * *

So my question to you today is: What is the Cubs' biggest need for the second half? Is it a right-handed batter, or something else?

2007-07-09 13:45:31
1.   Todd S
A catcher who can hit would be nice, but I doubt he will materialize. I know you don't want to read this, but it's time to give Cedeno another shot. He has more walks than strikeouts since he went down, to go along with 6 home runs. He's young enough that he could have put things together and improved.
2007-07-09 14:45:56
2.   Sandus
Citing Lou's desire for a right-handed bat, and the recent struggles of the young center fielders, would it be too far out there to think that the Cubs might be able to procure Andruw Jones for a decent price?

I've never been completely sold on him, but he has hit much better in the past, plays solid (if not particularly rangy) defense, and will be a free agent next year--meaning his price will be lower, and he won't block Felix Pie.

It's just an idea.

I also agree with Todd about a hitting catcher, but that's really a luxury. Though I wouldn't mind throwing in some extra pitching pieces (Marshall or Hill) to get Jarrod Saltalamacchia as part of a Jones deal.

2007-07-09 14:55:53
3.   Sandus
I'd also like to see an experienced late inning reliever (like Akinori Otsuka) in blue pinstripes come August.
2007-07-10 08:51:18
4.   Phil Bencomo
The Andruw Jones idea isn't half-bad, actually. I'd hope Hendry has inquired, and I'd hope even more that a deal gets done, so long as the Cubs don't have to give up too much for Jones, a two-month rent-a-player.

The only question, of course, is whether or not the Braves will actually trade him. They're only two games out of first right now, so it's hard to imagine them selling off big parts.

2007-07-10 09:40:10
5.   carmenfanzone
I suggest we trade Izturis to Boston for Wily Mo Pena. Pena is having a bad year but hits righthanded and with power. He plays a decent rightfield-to platoon with Floyd.

Boston needs another shortstop-Lugo is having a horrible year...

2007-07-10 10:31:09
6.   hernan
I wouldn't make big changes to the roster, just get rid of Jones or send down Pie (looking overmatched, again), so they can bring up another RHP (Kerry Wood?). Perhaps a right-handed bat, although they can always bring up Murton.

There are three keys for the Cubs' second half, in my view:
1) Continued strong performances by unexpected sources Carlos Marmol and Mike Fontenot.
2) Significant second-half improvements by Derrek Lee (at least 20HR) and Scott Eyre.
3) Ryan Dempster.

If all the rest stays as is (Zambrano being an ace, Lilly being a #2, Marquis-Hill-Marshall being around league average), the Cubs should have no problem catching the Brewers and holding off the Cardinals.

Let's hope for the best.

2007-07-10 21:10:03
7.   Larry Biitners Hat
Realistically, the Cubs biggest need is for the Brewers to not be as dominant at Miller Park. The Brewers young players are starting to show signs that they can't deal with the pressure of leading the way. They struggle on the road, and in the last week you had a dugout blow up by Fielder and Yost both yelling at a pitcher on the mound and blowing up at the press. It's getting to them. Hope that they don't pick up some seasoned veteran who's been there before and can settle down guys like Hardy, Weeks, Braun, etc.

Yes the Cubs need a catcher that can handle the pitchers AND hit, but the Brewers slowing down the wins at home (or better yet a meltdown) would help more than anything.

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