Friday, December 11, 2015
Holy Cow! Cubs Sign Jason Heyward
Let us set aside the minor ills of the nation and the world for a moment and discuss the burning issue of our time-the Chicago Cubs and their quest to win a National League pennant and/or World Series title before Yours Truly passes from this troubled Earth. It is just breaking across the wires that the Cubs have signed free agent outfielder Jason Heyward. As yet, we don't know the number of years or shekls.
This is a big deal. Not only does it swipe Heyward from the arch-rival St Louis Cardinals, but it probably makes the Cubs the early favorites to win the 2016 pennant. The question is- was it a wise move?
Heyward can play all outfield spots, but is outstanding in right field. That is important because Wrigley Field is arguably the most difficult in the major leagues with its sun and wind issues. Currently, Jorge Soler, who could not move to center field, occupies right field. He is a stud prospect, and we all want to see what he can do in a full year. Last year, he missed several weeks with a leg injury, which he is prone to having.
Heyward could conceivably move to center field, but in that event, we need to ask what will become of Javier Baez, another great prospect, who needs a full year to show what he can do. Baez is adept at third, second and short, but those positions appear to be filled-now that Ben Zobrist has been signed. It was just announced that he will play some center field in winter ball. With his speed, arm and overall athleticism, I have no doubt he can learn to play the outfield as well as the infield. But with the additions of Zobrist and Heyward, does this all leave Baez without a position to play? I hope not.
Manager Joe Maddon has a wealth of players who can move from position to position. At age 34 Zobrist, who can also play multiple positions, will compete with Baez to see which one will be the super sub and which will play at second base. Or there can be some other variable. The most likely is that Soler will be traded for pitching. That would enable Baez to slide into center field.
Are you following all this?
My preference would have been for both Baez and Soler to be in the lineup every day. Baez certainly needs to play regularly in order to be effective at the plate, where he is working hard to overcome the horrendous strikeout issues he showed in 2014.
Heyward could be a great addition into the Cubs lineup, but keep in mind that he is not a .300 hitter, has never driven in 100 runs, and has only hit 20+ home runs once (28). But he is a solid performer who could bust out in Wrigley Field, and he is only 26 years old, a major factor in his worth.
One thing is for sure. Next year will be full of excitement in Chicago. I can't wait for it to begin.