Last week, Jim Callis of Baseball America weighed in on Felix Pie
, responding to an email asking what he thought the Cubs should do with him. The key line: "He needs another season or two in the minors. If they promote him now, the Cubs run the risk of sending the wrong message to Pie, just as they did to [Corey] Patterson."
I'm doing my best not to let my excitement about Pie get ahead of me. I keep telling myself he's only 21, and he hasn't played above AA.
But then Arizona Phil stops by and raves about him, and I'm torn. Is this the right time to promote a skilled but unpolished 21-year-old to the majors and give him the center field/lead-off job? I agree with Callis that it isn't. If there's one positive aspect to Corey Patterson's career, it's as a cautionary tale. Now, I'mnot saying that Pie is the same type of player as Patterson, or that he'll have the same type of career. I'm just saying that the Cubs would be unwise to forget such a recent object lesson in rushing talent to the bigs. So as much as I want the Center Fielder of the Future to be in the lineup come April, I think it would be better if he weren't.
Of course, the Cubs don't have too many alternatives. The starting CF for the I-Cubs this year was 34-year-old Calvin Murray. Given that he's one of Dusty's Guys, it wouldn't surprise me if he was on the major league roster next year, which would be really bad. My suggestion would be to send Pie to AAA, sign Kenny Lofton to a one-year deal, and expect Pie to be in center by the end of the season.