Feel My Nei-fury!

Just the other day I was complaining about the state of our bullpen. Now, hardly heartened by events in New York over the weekend, my critical eye is increasingly being tempted to waiver elsewhere. And by elsewhere, I mean the top of our batting order. The Cubs yesterday managed to load the bases with just the one out in the top of the seventh inning when Jason Dubois was predictably plunked. Trailing by four still at that reasonably late stage, putting something on the board then was pretty much essential if the Cubs were to have any chance at all of avoiding the sweep and winning a first ever game in Yankee Stadium. To the plate came Neifi Perez. There was a time earlier in the season when that would have been no bad thing (with only slight reluctance, even I lent my backing to the Vote Neifi! campaign back then!). But it was only when Neifi slapped the second pitch of the at-bat right back to Mussina, who turned the inning-ending double-play, that I thought to take a closer look at Neifi's performance this. And how well the game of baseball as it's played on the field hides even the gravest of sins. For until yesterday when Neifi went 0-for-5 with that big GIDP, with the Neifi-0-meter discontinued I hadn't quite noticed the extent of his slide back to his usual oblivion...
Neifi PerezPABAOBPSLGBABIP
Through April 27th66.393.422.607.404
Since207.251.271.364.257
What slaves baseball players are to the fickle mistress that calls herself BABIP. To start the year, Neifi was seeing the ball so well, his swing was in such perfect sync, his contact was so square and true and/or his luck so lucky that he could put the ball between the foul lines and in front of the fences and on those balls in play hit .404. The only real difference since, bar a little less power, has been those balls in play no longer all going his way. Without the power or patience to weather that drought, Neifi's production has dried up altogether. Periods of hot and cold - they're the story of every player's season (well, except Derrek Lee). It's the balance of those hot and cold streaks that determines a player's overall numbers. And the trouble with Neifi's overall numbers right now, at least until he gets hot again, is that they're simply not good enough. For Neifi, it's been the same for his entire career, a few superficially fruitful years in Coors Field aside. And, that's why, obviously, Neifi signed as a backup shortstop on account of his glove more than anything. The Cubs had no right to expect any more from Neifi than they've received from him to date. Indeed, they were somewhat lucky that he had that hot streak to begin the year in the first place. But the Cubs have the right to demand more both from shortstop and from their lead-off man. It's not acceptable to give the most plate appearances of all your hitters to the man least likely to get anything from them. It's scarcely acceptable that the Cubs give Neifi any plate appearances at all. For that reason, the Cubs should perhaps be seriously considering something extremely radical - giving genuine lead-off hitter Jerry Hairston time at shortstop, defence be damned. Neifi's defence is largely very good, but good enough that we overlook entirely the failures of his bat? Hairston certainly failed to live up his reputation as an above average defensive second baseman earlier this year, but that he had such a reputation in the first place is in itself a positive, and his defence at second shouldn't be written off on the basis of a few clumsy plays in new surroundings. Hairston hadn't played a major league inning at short until a week or so ago, but he grew up a shortstop (and a good one at that if you believe the word of his coaches), and played there regularly in college and occasionally in the minor leagues, so the idea isn't as far-fetched as it may seem. If his defence can cut it, and the experiment will be worth it even if the answer is it can't, Hairston's on-base percentage at the top of the order (and the absence of Neifi not only from the top of the order but the lineup altogether) will really help run-scoring matters. The incentive for Hairston is obvious too - being able to add "can fill in at shortstop" to his resumÈ could add quite a few dollars to his paycheck when free agency rolls around after 2006. At the very least, it's worth a try on the Cubs' part, even if they only want to advertise it as "giving Neifi a much-needed day off here and there". Also batting ahead of Derrek Lee these days is Corey Patterson. That has to change too, and the quicker the better, with Todd Walker, whose knee seems fine to me the way he was running at the weekend, the obvious best "solution" to replace Corey batting second. Maybe more on that, with some idle speculation about Corey's psyche on my part, some other time.
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Comments

I completely agree - Hairston needs to play more. He can hit and he can run. We need him to lead-off. It has been frustrating not seeing him out there and I am really not sure why Dusty refuses to play him - at SS or OF.

What about going and getting Alou back and maybe trying for Jason Schmidt as well? Thoughts?

other then that crazy hot April, he's also been enjoying the Friendly Confines...

Home: .328/.348/.482
Away: .228/.256/.333

Hairston has no interest in adding positions to his resume. Earlier this year, he said:

ìIím a second baseman. My athleticism, itís gotten me in trouble. And this will be the last year I do that. Thatís hurt me a lot. I regret doing it last year. Like I said, I will do whatever (manager) Dusty (Baker) wants me to do. But that ëutilityí tag is wearing on me, you know?î

Considering the team's unwillingness to try him at short along with his own, I just don't see it happening.

Then please take down the Perez for All-star game link. .300 OBP players dont make the All-star game, much less a SS.

You may hate to admit it but David Eckstein should seriously be considered. .298 BA, .379 OBP, 29 BB, 16 SO, 39 runs, 2 HR, 21 RBI.

And Cubs fans are going to vote for a guy who has an OBP .79 points less than Eckstein? Come on guys. You cant be that blind in your Cubs spirit. This is why you dont vote for All-stars at the end of April.

I'm sure that getting absolutely no playing time will wear on Hairston more, Rob. Despite the designated hitter, he didn't get a single plate appearance over the weekend, and since May 30th (nearly three weeks now) he's accrued just 20 plate appearances. That will hurt any value he has a lot more than being viewed, inexplicably, as nothing more than a utility guy.

"I am really not sure why Dusty refuses to play him - at SS or OF."

The same reason he lost the will to play Jason Dubois....they're defensive liabilities.

Rob G., keep in mind that comment from Hairston came after Todd Walker's injury, when Dusty all but named Neifi the starter at 2nd, leaving Hairston to get fill in work in the outfield.

With Todd Walker back healthy, I'd bet Hairston would prefer playing shortstop than riding the pine or playing outfield.

Airweino:
"Hairston needs to play more. He can hit and he can run."

Unforunately, you are wrong on BOTH accounts. He can't really hit too good (as his .269 AVG this year shows) or run (as his 6 SB in 13 attempts show). He does get on base at a good clip almost entirely because of his high rate of HBP's (already 7 this year).

Hairston is a utlity player if he likes it or not. If he begins to play everyday, we will be in teh same problem next month when he plays bad. He is not a solution. That is up to Hendry to go out and make a deal.

Hairston is a poor defender who has some terrible baserunning tendencies...he's fast but he's not smart out there.

Mike, lighten up. I think you'll find it the campaign was never really anything more than tongue-in-cheek, a bit of fun, for I don't think you'll find anyone here that truly believes Neifi Perez is an All-Star calibre shortstop.

John Hill-
I agree that Baker should move Walker to leadoff with maybe Barrett the #2, but the offense hasn't really been the problem, especially in this last bad streak.

Look at how many runs the Cubs have given up in the last 7 games (Cubs are 1-6):

8, 9, 0, 15, 9, 8 and 6

So unless we expect the offense to score 7+ runs a game, the Cubs problem has been pitching. THe Cubs are built around pitching and that is how they are going to win or lose.

Adam made a good post about it in a previous thread too.

I believe the answer for the Cubs problem at SS is outside the organization. (who I don't know) Neifi has been a good replacement upto now but if we want to contend we should be shopping.
Ask yourselves this if the Yankees lost Jeter or BoSox lost Rentaria for the season would they replace them with Womack or Bellhorn?

Cubs need to get "World" serious.

What the heck is Enrique Wilson doing playing for the cubs. He makes Macias look like Babe Ruth. Prior, Nomar, Maddux, Carlos, Blanco and Macias are batting better than him. Let get a bat of the bench. How about frank Thomas? some one. I don't care. Some one to scare the other team.

Great post Jacos....I agree 100%. We rode the Neifi train as much as we could. Can't ask much more from him then he has given. This is the problem with having many injuries though, even though many want to not use it as an excuse.

Manny--"Unfortunately, you are wrong on BOTH accounts. He can't really hit too good (as his .269 AVG this year shows) or run (as his 6 SB in 13 attempts show). He does get on base at a good clip almost entirely because of his high rate of HBP's (already 7 this year)."

You're right, Hairston isn't a great hitter, for average or power, though he's better than Neifi at both, but I think you'll find that Airweino was probably counting Hairston's undisputable ability to get on base, by whatever means, towards his assessment of him as a hitter.

And, Manny, you'd be absolutely right too if you'd said Hairston isn't a particularly good basestealer. Unfortunately you said he can't run, and that's simply not true. Hairston can run. But running and basestealing are two quite different things.

I'm sure that getting absolutely no playing time will wear on Hairston more, Rob. Despite the designated hitter, he didn't get a single plate appearance over the weekend, and since May 30th (nearly three weeks now) he's accrued just 20 plate appearances. That will hurt any value he has a lot more than being viewed, inexplicably, as nothing more than a utility guy

Guess I should have wrote, "That's a great idea, BUT"......

I'm all for it, I just think the two entities who control the situation (management and Hairston) aren't all for it. At this point, I wouldn't mind seeing Cedeno getting called back up and Wilson shown the door. A week or two more of this Neifi crap and Cedeno will be getting his regular at-bats up here in the majors and he's supposedly a whiz with the glove. Since I really don't think Cedeno is our shortstop of the future, I have no major worries about hurting his development or starting his option clock. Might as well let his hot streak run it's course in the majors.

How about trying to obtain Carlos Guillen? He's a veteran playing for a team that's already out of the race. We could send back Cedeno or Hairston to fill the void left by Guillen (they could slide Polanco over to SS if we send Hairston), and add a couple prospects to make the deal doable from Detroit's standpoint.

The other option is to keep Neifi's D at SS, an important defensive position, and upgrade LF with a leadoff hitter such as Jacque Jones or Randy Winn. Walker could bat 2nd in such a lineup and Corey and Barrett could hit 8th and 9th.

John Hill:
"Hairston can run."

I can run too, so what's your point. It is not like he runs FAST, like Patterson. He has looked horrible stealing bases and I don't ever recall seeing him run the bases in anyway that made me say, good baserunning.

"but I think you'll find that Airweino was probably counting Hairston's undisputable ability to get on base"

That is not what he said, you can assume that if you want, but he said hit. And as I mentioned, his OBP is good.

No, Manny, he does run pretty fast. But as you say, he's not a particularly good baserunner.

And I didn't say Airweino was right in the terminology he chose, just pointing it out since you were pretty keen to jump on him with your "unfortunately you are wrong on BOTH counts" that that's probably what he meant to say.

So the Reds might be jettisoning parts in a couple weeks... Everyone talks about Dunn and Kearns, but no one seems to consider Ryan Freel(.406 obp). Yes he would be costly, but playoff teams don't trade for players having off years anyway. The Reds need pitching and if Prior and Wood come back, then Mitre becomes a valuable chip. Toss in Hairston and another servicable young player like Dubois, Koronka or Fontenot and could the Reds refuse?

Freel
Walker
Lee
Burnitz
Ramirez
Patterson
Barrett
Perez

Isn't it perfect?

I love Guillen, he's been tearing it up on my fantasy team for the last 2 years, BUT, the Tigers signed him to a cheap contract through 2007 and I can't see why they'd want to move him PLUS

he's been dealing with a hamstring injury and recovery from off-season knee surgery all year long. Right now he's on the 15 day DL and he periodically takes days off to rest one or the other. If we make a deal, I'd hate to waste it on someone who might end up like Garciaparra last year, in and out of the lineup. Speaking of Garciaparra...

anyone hear anything about his rehab lately? If the Cubs feel like he'd be ready by around the trade deadline, then I'm certain they won't make a trade for that position as getting Garciaparra back would be the equivalent without giving up the players. wishful thinking on my part, I'm sure

Rob,

You're probably right - given Guillen's relatively cheap contract, he would probably cost too much in prospects. I'd really like to see us jettison Enrique Wilson and give Cedeno an opprtunity every now and then.

Meanwhile, even if Nomar comes back i think we should upgrade LF with a proven leadoff hitter. If Randy Winn really is available, then we should grab him. After Nomar's return our lineup would look this way:

Winn
Walker
Garciaparra
Lee
Burnitz/Ramirez
Ramirez/Burnitz
Patterson
Barrett
Pitcher

Summertime is here
The season almost half spent
Cubs already done

I like Freel a lot, have him on my fantasy team. He sits fairly often, word is he has a bad back. So I think he'd be an iffy proposition.

Ask yourselves this if the Yankees lost Jeter or BoSox lost Rentaria for the season would they replace them with Womack or Bellhorn?

Bellhorn? You mean the guy who could have arguably been the 2004 WS MVP? You've just insulted a good player by invoking his name in the same sentence as Womack. Your point is clear nonetheless.

To clearify, there is talk of moving Hairston to play SS a position he never played. Even Bellhorn would struggle by moving him to a demanding position he never played before.

Any ways to anger John Hill, lets revisit Michael Young in Texas. What scenerios involving Kerry Wood would get us Young and a bull pen arm?

:: What the heck is Enrique Wilson doing playing for the cubs. He makes Macias look like Babe Ruth. ::

H/AB
Enrique Wilson: 2/18
Mark Prior: 4/18
Glendon Rusch: 3/19
Carlos Zambrano: 8/32
Sergio Mitre: 4/11

On the bright side, he was cheap... and everyone knows the second biggest payroll in the NL needs to be cheap when picking bench players.

Cub starters ERA by month in 2005:

G IP H R ER BB K HR ERA
23 133.7 129 70 66 52 128 19 4.44
27 171.7 144 72 68 56 143 20 3.57
17 102.0 108 60 57 39 70 9 5.03

67 390.3 381 202 191 147 341 48 4.40

No 2 ways about it. An effective Prior and Wood can't come back soon enough to stabilize a staff that is giving back the gains of May in a hurry.

I totally agree that Neifi's significant PAs need to be dropped substantially right now, by any means necessary. With all this talk of his solid glove, did anyone watch the game yesterday?

The Yankees scored 3 runs as a direct result of Neifi fielding blunders (only one was officially an error, but another went directly under his glove, and two more were abhorent displays of range in crucial situations). Neifi almost singlehandedly lost the game, and he has not been doing anything at an acceptable level for quite some time. I think he should be applauded for a wonderful and unexpected level of play from last August to this May, and sat back down on the bench with the exception of the occasional spot start for the rest of the year.

Right Ryno, that chickling keeps raising his head at the Trib Tower-

"Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!"

I love that Haiku Jack is already writing an obituary. Houston Astros '04 anyone? Just relax and enjor the fact that we have a very soft post AS break sked. Relax. There is still tons of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood baseball left this season.

John,

While the thought of Jerry the Lesser playing shortstop makes my jumpy, I think Neifi's defense has been overrated anyway. His glove contributed to their Sunday loss at Washington earlier this season, and his inability to knock down ARod's "single" yesterday effectively took the Cubsout of the game.

Regardless, whether he's playing or not, there should be some sort of restraining betwen himand leadoff. I usually listen to Baker's pregame show, where tame ole' Ron Santo tosses softballs the size of watermellons and everytime he asks Dusty for the lineup, I hear:

"Well lineup today. We got Nefi Perez lead--"

I never hear the rest because I kick the radio into the wall Let's just say I'm on my fourth radio this week.

If Ronny Cedeno was in almost any other organization (where the starting SS went down with a sesaon-ending injury), he would be playing in the major leagues right now. And I'm including organizations like the Cardinals, Braves, Rangers, and Angels.

I know a lot of posters here have a low opinion of Ronny Cedeno, but I am definutely not one of them.

7 + 13 = 20

that would be ne!f! walks + patterson walks. good times.

The Cubs are an organization that takes bench players and makes them starters when injuries happen.

Alot of teams go to the minor leagues in search of a replacement because they know for the most part the bench players they have were failures as starters.

It may be fine to ride your bench guy for a 15 day DL trip but not for months and months and months. This is where prospects should be given a shot. You just never know what will happen. But you know your crusty veterans who are bench and role players will never be a long term solution.

LOL Nomar...........20 walks combined for our #1 and #2 hitters? That is A ball pathetic.

Is Neifi the first player ever to ground into two double plays 7th inning or later that were scored 1-2-3, in a season?

I don't remember too many of those, that late in a game.

Guys...why couldn't Ronny Cedeno be the SS of the future?
He's 22...has good speed, and is a solid fielder.
He started to put it together last year at West Tenn, hitting .279ba, with .328/.401/.729..setting career highs in these stats.
This year he is hitting .350, with peripheral stats of .400/.503/.903..this is good in ANY league.
This year is sinking fast, and needs to be reclaimed quickly, or it'll be time to back up the truck, and bring up some youngsters....Cedeno, Soto, Murton, Nolasco, Pie,Van Buren and even Kelton.
I, for one will not miss Mulletsworth, Nefei?, Hairston, or Hank White..no offense Hank.

As much as I've never been a NEIFI fan, I think we can all agree that his run was quite magnificent. He's been brutal lately, but he has had a few good stretches beyond just the month of April. His deal with you-know-who is about over and now we think about what to do next. The fact is, Neifi did us a great service over the two months, playing above average baseball when one of our stars went down. There were NO other options other then Cedeno and not even the biggest of his supporters could have expected him to do what Neifi had done. There was not a trade to be made, so I think the Cubs got lucky in that respect and now it's time to find another option. The trade window is opening more and more each day and I have faith the Cubs will fill the hole soon, assuming Neifi continues his normal ways.

The thing is we do not know how Garciaparra is doing and if Hendry and the organization has info that is telling him that he'll be ready to go near the trade deadline. If this is the case, I think he's going to concentrate on other areas of the team.

For the meantime Neifi and Korey should be batting seventh and eight. Assuming that Hairston isn't a SS option and the cavalry isn't coming quite yet, here is what I'd like the Cubs to do...

LF Hairston
2B Walker
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Burnitz
C Barrett
CF Patterson
SS Neifi
P

I'm done hoping for Patterson to find it. As someone said, he's Shawon Dunston. Once in awhile he'll get lucky and the few balls he puts in play will miss gloves and he'll look like a .300 hitter, but for the time being he's pretty useless with the bat. Dump him as far down as possible and if he gets hot, great, but I'm done hoping, wishing and praying for it.

as i penned awhile back, I wouldn't mind a non-traditional platoon between Dubois and Hairston. On the days that Dubois starts, the lineup could look like this

2B Walker
CF Patterson
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Burnitz
C Barrett
CF Dubois
SS Neifi

I only bat Patterson 2nd cause I hate having a 6-7-8 of Burnitz, patterson and dubois as that's just too many strikouts in a row, so I put Barrett there as a buffer. Patterson can bunt a lot or something in the #2 hole.

in the meantime, "Trader Jim" needs to get cracking on the bullpen and a corner outfielder to replace Burnitz...Yes Burnitz....not Dubois....Burnitz. I'm all happy that Burnitz has been okay of late, but I think by the end of the year, we'll have basically the same offensive player, so I'll keep the cheaper version in hopes that he can work on his defense in the off-season. This isn't about the Cubs being cheap, it's about value. If Player A produces a certain amount and Player B produces the same amount but is ten times more expensive, which one do you cut lose?

I really hope I'm wrong on the Cedeno front but this is the first year he's done anything worth really getting exciting about and he's doing it in a hitter's league. He started showing some signs of life in AA last year and certainly his age is major plus for him.

But his peripherals before this year were not good at all and as John likes to champion, he's being quite lucky on BABIP. I have doubts that will last. If he can continue this power surge for more then a half-season, I'll being geniunely excitied, till then I hold my enthusiasm.

The Cubs are an organization that takes bench players and makes them starters when injuries happen. Alot of teams go to the minor leagues in search of a replacement because they know for the most part the bench players they have were failures as starters. It may be fine to ride your bench guy for a 15 day DL trip but not for months and months and months. This is where prospects should be given a shot. You just never know what will happen. But you know your crusty veterans who are bench and role players will never be a long term solution.

This is so true. If you are a .550 team (and I don't believe the Cubs were even quite that good) and you replace a Nomar Garciaparra with a Jose Macias...well you basically are replacing a very important reason why your team is even .500 with a guy no one else in the league has any interest in and batting him 5 times a game for 3-4 months....this is disaster. Suddenly that .550 team is playing .450 baseball when you have an injury or two or three and you use bench players who merely are filling a spot on the 25 man roster. Then you fill the DL players position with a minor leaguer needing to play every day and sitting him 95% of the time to once again...fill the 25 man roster. Disaster again. The minor leaguer needs to be playing everyday....and the bench player needs to be playing 5% of the time. The bench player (by and large) has had his shot at the minors...and his shot at the majors...and doesn't demonstrate he can do it everyday at the major league level. Putting him in there when an injury occurs isn't throwing magic dust on him which will make him a solid starter for once. He's the same crappy bench player who just can't cut it as a starter...AND now we have another guy sucking eggs because he's really minor league talent needing to refine and perfect his skills on a daily basis....taking batting practice next to D. Lee isn't exactly the medicine the AAA player needs.

When Nomar went down with a groin pull in which the tendon separated from the bone it's safe to assume he won't be back for a good portion of the season if at all. You have to go get someone right away if you expect to win the Wild Card. I guarantee the Wild card winner is not going to be a team who's struggled the majority of the year with injuries....looking for answers in the bench...holes in the bullpen...etc... So unless they just want to concede this season, they should have gone out and replaced Nomar when the injury occcured and if Nomar gets back this year then we are that much more better come September.

Interestingly, the Brewers found an excellent, and amazingly! - non-traditional lead-off hitter in Brady Clark. Basically a scrap-heap pick-up, he is getting on base at a .391 clip and is followed in the line-up tonight by Jeff Cirillo, who seems to be resurrecting his career in Milwaukee to some extent (and has a .376 OBP to boot). Meanwhile, Dusty the Idiotic Fool has Neifi/Korey batting 1/2 again. I will say it again, that is a firing offense, and Baker should be fired again after this game for doing it again. I'm sorry Rob, but you are being too kind to Neifi. Yes, he was "magnificent" for a few weeks, but he has been atrocious now for two thirds of the season, and we did, and still do, have a better option right in-house with Cedeno. The way the bench was structured going in to NY, with no Grieve, Hubbard, or any other changes AT ALL is reason 1,863 Hendry should be fired. This is getting awfully tiresome and, as usual, the mainstream press grovels at the Dusty/Hendry altar.

In Dusty we Vomit!

Jacos--"Ask yourselves this if the Yankees lost Jeter or BoSox lost Rentaria for the season would they replace them with Womack or Bellhorn?"

No, of course not. Because Womack and Bellhorn make their lineups even without injuries to superstar starters!

It's not quite fair though to put Bellhorn in the same category as Womack and Neifi. As bad as Bellhorn has been this season, there's underperformance and then there's sheer ineptitude!

Manny--"So unless we expect the offense to score 7+ runs a game, the Cubs problem has been pitching."

I've already addressed the issue of the bullpen as I see it, and as disappointing as some of the starting pitching has been, I don't see it as something that needs to be fixed, but rather something that'll fix itself with the return of Wood and Prior. I'm concentrating for now on things I think the Cubs can and have to actually change and fix rather than sitting tight and waiting.

Jacos--"Any ways to anger John Hill, lets revisit Michael Young in Texas. What scenerios involving Kerry Wood would get us Young and a bull pen arm?"

Beware my wrath!

Ryno--"Sergio Mitre: 4/11"

That's true, another reason to like Sergio. He's a good hitter. He really hits that ball hard, although he has a bad habit of picking out the third baseman.

MikeD--"I think Neifi's defense has been overrated anyway. His glove contributed to their Sunday loss at Washington earlier this season, and his inability to knock down ARod's "single" yesterday effectively took the Cubsout of the game."

I agree, his defence yesterday was terrible (and, like D, I'm not even sure whether to absolve him of blame on the double-play ground-ball that turned into a critical hit because Neifi broke to cover the bag with Giambi running). I'm not sure though whether that's an accurate reflection of his defence as a whole. I still think he's a pretty good defensive shortstop.

Merigold, I don't know about your exact question, but I do know that Neifi sadly has already grounded into 10 double plays this year! That's pretty staggering, because no other Cub has hit into more than four.

Dusty Baylor--"This year he is hitting .350, with peripheral stats of .400/.503/.903..this is good in ANY league."

He does though have similar problems to Neifi in that he's got a case of absolutely everything in between the foul lines and in front of the fences going his way in that he's hitting .380 on balls in play. Obviously, that kind of figure is inevitable when you're hitting .350, but it's not likely to last, and so neither will his average, and when you consider that Cedeno as a player, like Neifi, relies on his average pretty heavily (not that much patience/power), that's not a good thing. I like the kid, but I'm unsure if he could even outhit Neifi this year. For that reason, I'd like to leave him at Iowa to progress and get the repetitions in, working on walking more and keeping the ball harder and further. That's just my personal opinion though, of course.

Rob--"But his peripherals before this year were not good at all and as John likes to champion, he's being quite lucky on BABIP. I have doubts that will last. If he can continue this power surge for more then a half-season, I'll being geniunely excitied, till then I hold my enthusiasm."

Yikes, I'm becoming predictable! Incidentally, Cedeno hasn't hit a home run in ages now. I think his last one may actually be the one he hit for the Cubs the last time we were in Milwaukee (the line drive over the fence in left-centre).

there's a huge difference between getting a SS in the offseason and one 1-month into the season...they just dont grow on trees and teams arent going around saying "damn this surplus of SS's we have, i wish we could get rid of a few."

between hairston/macias/e.wilson...1 of those is overkill, that's easily given.

cedeno is in a groove and he is NOT gonna win the starting SS job here in chicago while the team is still looking to compete. neifi is a professional defender with a slaphitting bat and a true leader in the field who commands the trust of the entire infield, including pitchers. cedeno is 22 years old...grooving...and it sure wont hurt the cubs to have him around next season mentally prepared to work a role, be it starting or bench without taking a kid and breaking him away from his first consistant season he's ever had by playing musical bench and taking away 200+ ab's from him.

cedeno's progess has been a well thought out plan. he's been advanced throughout his career playing over his head, with coaching saying screw the #s, and its got him where he's at now. why screw with a plan that's working great by rushing it to a conclusion before its time?

now about batting neifi 1st...hell if i know hehe...but you can count on a speedster leading off no matter who bats 2nd.

I'm sorry Rob, but you are being too kind to Neifi. Yes, he was "magnificent" for a few weeks, but he has been atrocious now for two thirds of the season, and we did, and still do, have a better option right in-house with Cedeno.

am I being too kind?

April .368/.403/.559
May .259/.283/.370
June .240/.247/.347

Since Nomar's injury
April 20 to April 29 .394/.429/.667
May 1st to May 8th -.087/.125/.342 (the bulk of the cubs 7 game losing streak)
May 9 to May 15 .185/.241/.259
May 16 to May 22 .333/.350/.389
May 23 to May 29 .433/.433/.633
May 30 to June 4 .412/.400/.618
June 6 to June 12 .160/.192/.160
June 13 to June 20 .077/.077/.115

So he's had 4 god-awful weeks in between some real good, if not lucky, baseball. two-thirds of the season???? More like the last 2 weeks to be honest.

Hey, I'm eager to find a better option but trades before June are VERY, VERY difficult. We've used him up and now it's time to move on.

And Cedeno has been hot in Iowa, but to think he can replicate that for an entire season in the majors is quite a reach, particularly when he hasn't shown that kind of ability anytime before in his career. I think if we played Cedeno over the same time period as Neifi, we'd have been lucky to have gotten the same result and I highly doubt he'd have outperformed Neifi.

I understand the wariness about Cedeno's abilities, and I agree that he is getting lucky on balls in play. However, just a quick glance at his numbers indicate how, offensively at least, he is a more multidimensional player than Perez. Perez has walked 1 TIME in his last 127 plate appearances. Anwywhere in the line-up that is atrocious - as a lead-off hitter it is unforgivable. Cedeno has drawn 15 BBs in fewer than 180 PAs at triple A. Cedeno is 10/11 in SBs in less playing time than Neifi. Cedeno is whacking doubles at a higher rate than Neifi as well. I don't pretend to think that Cedeno would be a huge plus, but I've never understood the philosophy that entails playing a below-average veteran ahead of a young player with potential. It's easy to cite Patterson and say he was "rushed" and that it delayed his progress. We can't know whether that is true or not. I think just as many players can benefit from gaining on the job experience at the highest level and their progress is speeded along. In any case, the fact that Neifi Perez leads off, and Corey Patterson bats second, at this point in the season, just underscores how the Cubs remain as clueless about how to score runs as ever.

Crunch,

I agree with your analysis of Neifi - he has certainly been a leader for this team in the field. How many times has he come into the mound to calm down one of our many young pitchers? It seems to happen almost every game. Any guy that can do that so much from a position other than catcher has to be well respected, and Neifi is. His leadership and the potential for Nomar to return this year are the reasons i think LF/RF is a bigger hole to fill than SS.

any neifi replacement would be very expensive in terms of prospects to obtain, be a lesser glove, and would probally not provide the offensive punch that would outweigh neifi's glove.

im a big fan of paying guys like neifi 2-3m bucks, and putting the 7-8 million you "save" on not overpaying a good hitting, mild/bad D shortstop and putting it into a REAL hardcore hitter.

no matter how much garciappara rules or whatever...if he wasnt a SS, which he's adequate at best of playing, he would barely be a 5-6 million player after his injuries...definately not the 11+million he was "worth" before his injuries or the 9-10million "risk" the cubs took signing him.

i was a fan of the garc. signing cuz...well...he's a good hitter and it was a safe 1-yr contract and the FA market was too busy trying to overpay what ana/bos eventually overpaid in $ and years to their SS's...not to mention D.Lee is at first getting paid to make sure the arms of guys like garciappara/t.walker dont cost this team too much in the way of bad throws.

im not a fan of leadoff neifi, but until dusty gets a true speed guy up top, it'll be neifi/patterson/macias/hairston leading off.

One more post about Ronny Cedeno and I'll shut up about him for a few days.

I talked to Cedeno (briefly) in Minor League Camp in Mesa this Spring after he won the Santo-Williams Spring Training Rookie Award, and while some of you may think something like the "Santo-Williams Award" is a bogus, who cares, so what kind of thing, Cedeno was VERY proud of it and smiled when I congratulated him for winning it. He said something like "I just keep working as hard as I can every day to get better." Needless to say, I really like Ronny Cedeno.

I have watched Cedeno in minor league camp in Mesa for a few years now, and like most of you, I was disapponted and perplexed when Hendry put him on the 40-man roster coming out of Hi-A Daytona after the 2003 season, and while I still think it was EXTREMELY unlikely that Cedeno would have been selected in the 2003 Rule 5 Draft, I can now understand why the Cubs were so "high" on him despite mediocre 2003 numbers.

As I have posted before, I believe Jim Hendry (as a former college baseball coach) uses the 40-man roster as motivation tool, a "carrot & stick" reward for "getting with the program." And that's why Ronny Cedeno was placed on the 40-man roster after the 2003 season, and why Andy Sisco was not after the 2004 season. It has nothing (or little) to do with "roster space" or "wiggle room." It's not about John Koronka taking Andy Sisco's spot. It's a REWARD thing. Now mind you, I strongly disagree with Hendry's use of the 40-man roster as a "reward," and his apparent willingness to needlessly expose talented young guys (like Andy Sisco) to the Rule 5 Draft just to make a point. But that's how Jim Hendry views the minor league part of the organization. To Hendry, the minor league teams in Iowa, West Tenn, Daytona, et al, are the Cubs "Junior Varsity," and a player has to EARN an opportunity to compete for a spot on the varsity. Which (in Jim Hendry's opinion), Ronny Cedeno did after the 2003 season, and Andy Sisco did not after the 2004 season.

But brings me back to Ronny Cedeno...

Ronny Cedeno has raw talent, but more importantly, he has worked VERY hard to improve, both at bat, on the bases, and in the field, and THAT'S why he was put on the 40-man roster after the 2003 season (in my opinion). And he DOES have tools, folks... he has an excellent arm, he's an improving hitter who is developing power, and he is a smart base-runner base and an outstanding base-stealer--perfect for the lower end of the order where stealing a base is a good risk/reward, not to mention the fact that he is a hard worker.

Despite what you may have read (or not read about him), Ronny Cedeno is a legitimate major league prospect (IMHO), and I firmly believe he will be an every day shortstop--and a good one--in the major leagues in the near future. In fact, with all due respect to Neifi, I believe Cedeno should be playing SS for the Cubs right now.

And, no, I am not Ronny Cedeno's agent.

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