Hope everyone is enjoying the playoffs, so far. Sure it's tough not seeing the Cubs in there and even tougher to see the White Sox and Cards playing, but if you're a fan of just the game of baseball, you generally get to see some well-played games.
- The Cubs were suppose to announce any coaching changes by yesterday, but I haven't come across anything yet. I'm assuming the hold-up is being caused by Larry Rothschild. Hendry gave Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski permission
to interview Rothschild, who worked with new Tigers manager Jim Leyland back in 1997 when the Marlins won the World Series. Indications are that Rothschild was offered a new contract by the Cubs for one year and it'll just depend if Rothschild is more interested in coaching with an old friend in Leyland or trying to stick around and finish what he's started in Chicago.
- There's a ton of free agent talk about the Cubs going after Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal. And with only a small group of teams really needing a shortstop, it looked like the Cubs were the front-runners. But give Furcal and his agent some credit, when it appeared there wasn't going to be a lot of competition for his services, they went out and created some. Rumor has it
that he made it known that he would be willing to play second base for the Mets, who in turn would buyout the disappointing Kaz Matsui's contract (owed $8 million) and have a speedy middle infield of Furcal and Jose Reyes.
Now it's hard to tell if A) it's true and B) if the Mets are the only team he's willing to play second base for. Cause if he's really willing to move to second base, I couldn't think of anything tastier than signing him and then Nomar to play shorstop. Problems this would solve:
- Bench depth at SS; When Nomar goes down next year, his backup is Furcal and then you either plug-in Hairston, Cedeno or possibly even Walker if they still kept him around. (More on that in a second). All of that sounds better than Neifi or Macias, doesn't it?
- Lineup construction; Furcal has a career .348 OBP which won't remind you of Rickey Henderson, but couple that with his speed and there's no doubt he bats leadoff every day with Dusty at the helm. Considering the middle of the order is pretty set, that's one less thing Dusty can meddle with.
Infield defense; The glove is leaky for Furcal but there's no doubting his range and gun for an arm. Most of the advanced defensive metrics out there rate him as one of the best defensive shortstops in the NL and a move to second shouldn't be much of a problem.
Win, win I say!!!
- As for Todd Walker, doesn't seem like Baker is much of a fan.
''To me the infield is probably more important than the outfield, because you get more balls in the infield,'' Baker said. ''You got to be strong defensively up the middle. But Nomar got hurt, and Walk was always more an offensive player.''
Of course the fact that he thinks Walker is more of an offensive player and the only shortcoming of Nomar was that he got hurt, just tells you how much our manager is paying attention. Anyway I highly doubt Walker is back next year. The human thing would be to not pick up his option and let him go find his own deal. The smart thing would be to pick up his option, see what happens in the off-season and if we fill second base with a better player, then look to trade him. If we don't find a better second baseman, then Option B is Todd Walker and that's one helluva of an Option B. And even if we do find a second baseman, keeping Todd Walker on the bench isn't such a bad idea. He might not be thrilled about it, but I'm sure he'd adjust quickly. He doesn't seem like the guy who'd cause a huge ruckus once the season began. And we'd at least have a legit bat coming off the bench and there's no reason that Walker couldn't fill in at third, first or left field in a pinch.
- Other than the coaching staff, the only other news to come next week (by Wednesday) will most likely be some 40 man roster additions and subtractions. Thanks to AZ Phil for this list of minor leaguers who are eligible to be six-year minor league free agents, if they're not added to the 40 man roster.
There's only one player that needs to be added and that's Brandon Sing, who's now been raking the ball for 2+ years in the minors and has the peripherals to suggest that he won't be the next Jason Dubois. Problem is that his main position is first base and well that's spoken for. He has dabbled in the outfield the last 2 years and it's reported he has a cannon for an arm, but he's a bit lost chasing flyballs. Undoubtedly he'll start the season in AAA next year, but he'd make a great injury replacement for Lee next year if that unfortunate occurence would befall us and given some time, who knows if his outfield defense could improve. The only other players on that list that may get added are Cliff Bartosh and Talley Haines, I would think.