Now What?

Over the last few months, the Cubs have tried a hodgepodge of options to fill third base in Aramis Ramirez‘s abasence – Mike Fontenot, Ryan Freel, and Bobby Scales got time there, but recently, Lou Piniella had settled on Jake Fox, star of the Free Jake Fox campaign. Fox’s bat had forced him into the line-up, and he’d done enough to convince the Cubs manager that his defense wouldn’t be worst-of-all-time at the hot corner.

However, with Ramirez set to return from his rehab assignment on Monday, the Cubs are going to have to figure out a new plan to get Fox’s bat in the line-up. His .379 wOBA since arriving in the majors is the best on the club (besides Ramirez), and based on what he was doing at Triple-A, there’s reasons to think he can keep swinging the bat this well. But, where will he play?

Derrek Lee has caught fire after a slow start, locking down first base, so Fox probably won’t play much there. Ramirez is the team’s best player, so as long as he stays healthy, it’s hard to imagine Fox getting much playing time at third. That leaves the corner outfield spots, manned by the under-producing Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano. With neither of them hitting as well as expected, Fox could get some time in their place, but it’s hard to imagine that he won’t be a pretty big liability chasing down fly balls. At third, you could hide his lack of mobility, but if he’s trying to run after balls in the gap, fans are going to see pretty quickly why he’s been labeled a future DH.

So, perhaps the best option for everyone involved is a trade. The Tigers are hunting for some offensive help to offset the collapse of Magglio Ordonez, for instance. Fox is the kind of bat that could help them in their pursuit of the AL Central title, and perhaps the best way for the Cubs to use him is as a chip to acquire something that fits their needs a little bit better.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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eric
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eric
6 years 11 months ago

i like this piece. simple. smart.

only thing is, does he have much trade value?

John
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John
6 years 11 months ago

Would the Mariners be a decent destination for Fox or are the Cubs looking for hitting in return?

Paul Thomas
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Paul Thomas
6 years 11 months ago

The A’s seem like an obvious destination– no real downside if he fails, but if he succeeds, he’s a starting-caliber player. Meanwhile, the Cubs need second base help and bullpen arms, which are about the only things not named Matt Holliday that the A’s are actually in a position to provide.

Am I wrong, or does this make a huge amount of sense?

max
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max
6 years 11 months ago

Ive seen some pretty bad D from soriano and to a lesser extent Bradley. We keep hearing “can play fox – hes bad with the glove!” But see Soriano lose games singlehandedly by taking poor routes to balls and letting other drop in front of him or getting over his head. Give Fox a chance, they need the O more than the D, and anything he could fetch in a trade wont help you this year.

Rob McQuown
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6 years 11 months ago

Not sure how having 3 underperforming, overpaid side outfielders helps the Cubs. Also can’t see how adding another righty power bat helps the team. Hendry took bold steps this offseason – like them or not, they were bold – to reduce the righty-ness of the team, which has identified Cubs lineups for decades.

lester bangs
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lester bangs
6 years 11 months ago

More descriptive headlines would be nice. “Now What” doesn’t tell us much.

jason
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jason
6 years 11 months ago

The article is only like 500 words long and there are like 7 Cubs’ players’ names in bold in the first two sentences.

Your complaint is lame.

lester bangs
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lester bangs
6 years 11 months ago

It’s just a common courtesy to the reader – keeping the headers brief *but descriptive.* Often I look at a collection of headers before I decide what I want to go into first – I don’t think it’s asking too much to have some idea what’s behind the curtain. “Now What” tells us absolutely nothing about what’s to come.

Dave does a great job engaging the reader with what he writes, but better headlines would be appreciated. That’s all I’m saying. Everybody’s time has value to it.

lester bangs
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lester bangs
6 years 11 months ago

Example: “Now what for the Cubs?” ot “What happens when Aramis comes back?” tell us a lot more than “Now What?”

Kevin
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Kevin
6 years 11 months ago

The simple (albeit temporary) solution is to put Soriano on the DL. I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone (besides Lou Pinella and the cubs trainers) that Soriano is playing through the knee injury that he has continuously downplayed.

At the end of may, Soriano said that his knee problems started 3-4 before, which would peg them right around the start of may. Just looking at the graphs, it’s easy to see how his ISO has dropped off the face of the earth as all his line drives turn into grounders. Soriano says his pitch selection has been poor, but the numbers suggest that nothing much has changed in that regard. Soriano has always been a hot/cold type of player, but never for a period as long as this one. This is also the first year since becoming a full-time LF that Soriano has posted a negative UZR/150.

Summary: Soriano hurt. Jake Fox mashes. Put Soriano on DL. Play Fox/Hoffpauir.

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