Thursday, June 12, 2008

Replacing Soriano

While I was evaluating the Cubs offense this season the 136 million dollar man, Alfonso Soriano, was hit by a pitch last night and fractured a bone in his hand. He's expected to be out for 6 weeks. Luckily Soriano plays a position that isn't very defensively demanding so the Cubs have plenty of options to fill his lineup spot. Here are the possibilities I've seen.

Mark DeRosa, currently the Cubs everyday second baseman so really Soriano's replacement would be the guy that became the new 2nd baseman.

LF Matt Murton, Currently in AAA Iowa and performing very well there, hitting .311 with .411 OBP. He plays solid D, but has no power. Overall he's been a bit above average major league hitter. Murton is only 26 and has proven he can be at least an average major league player. There's no reason he should be sitting in AAA if the Cubs outfield isn't set.

CF Reed Johnson, He's been the Cubs centerfielder for most of the year, but Jim Edmonds is squeezing time away from him by being an adequate offensive player.

1B/LF Micah Houfpaur, He has only 20 major league at bats, but he made the most of them with 8 hits, 3 of them doubles and a walk for a line of .421/.450/.579 All three of those are better than he hit last year in AAA (though the SLG is close) so obviously he don't keep doing that, but a .911 OPS in AAA deserves a major league look.

2B/LF Eric Patterson, Only 14 major league place appearances so I'll ignore the -10 career OPS+. Patterson has an AAA OPS in the .800s and showed off some speed stealing 42 bases (vs 9 caught stealing for 82% success) in a bit over a year in AAA Iowa.

2B Mike Fontenot, above average defensively at 2nd base but not a great hitter, 88 OPS+. Mediocre batting average and OBP with no power. Maybe an upgrade from DeRosa defensively but a clear step down on offense.

2B/SS Ronny Cedeno, Can play above average defense at SS or 2B and in just over 100 at bats this year has been almost exactly average as a hitter (99 OPS+). He hasn't hit well previously, 63 career OPS+, but is only 25 so figuring it out now wouldn't be unheard of, especially after spending most of last season in AAA OPSing .959

Matt Murton has shown he can both play left field, be a league average hitter and is young enough to expect progression from that. He's the clear choice of fill-ins for Soriano. DeRosa is having a career year at the plate while playing solid D, so I wouldn't do anything to mess that up. Houfpair, Patterson and Cedeno haven't proven they can hit major league pitching. Cendeno has come the closest to proving it and is a good defender so he'd be my second choice. Reed Johnson and Mike Fontenot can't hit and aren't good enough defenders to justify playing them with that bad of hitting.

Free Matt Murton

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