The Chicago Cubs infield corners were and are the strength of the Cubs’ offense. On first base they have one of the premier hitters in the league in Derrick Lee. He is a complete Baseball player! Since coming over to the Cubs from the Marlins he has been a consistent power hitter that works the count and a major run producer for the team. He also has very good speed and he hustles the bases. Last year he was hampered by first a broken wrist and then a family crisis, which kept his bat out of the lineup much of the year. The team really missed that offense. If he returns to his previous form this year his bat will often carry the Cubs. Another great thing about D. Lee is his defense. His glove on the field makes every defensive member of that team a better player. He not only plays great defense but just the reminder of someone as defensively talented as Lee playing first base helps everyone in the game feel and perform with more confidence. The only negative I worry about is the family crisis from last year. Family has to come first and if the troubles with his daughter worsen or start weighting down his shoulders his heart might not be in the game.
On third base is another premier hitter in Aramis Ramirez. He does not have the plate discipline of Lee. But his power numbers and run producing ability has been second to only Lee on the team in the past. Add his power to combination of D. Lee and Soriano (from the outfield) and the Cubs have the start of a real potent offense. He has been accused of not hustling (probably true at times), but I think a lot (not all) of the lack of hustling can be associated with his worry about the nagging groin injury he has been fighting for the last couple of years. After watching what Nomar G. went through the last several years with his groin injuries, I am not sure I would want him pushing that muscle region too much. His defense has always been suspect but it has improved since coming to the Cubs. Part of that is due to D Lee being at first base, but last year even after Lee went down to injury, Ramirez’s defense was solid. He starts slow when the weather is cold (lmao, he looks like he is dressed for February at times in the Chicago spring season) but as the weather heats up so does his bat. I am expecting big things from Ramirez with the murders row that the Cubs are building to line up with him.
Another key component of the Cubs infield is the catcher Michael Barrett. He is a good hit for average hitter with a good eye, run producer, with a good slugging average that should include twenty or more homeruns in a season. You can bat him any spot in the lineup and he produces. He also has enough plate discipline and hustle to bat second in the lineup if needed. Second is a batting position that the Cubs as a team had trouble with in the past. Added into the meat of the projected lineup his strengths and discipline will help protect whoever hits before or after him. His weakness is his defense. He is a converted catcher and he is still learning the position. He has improved his throwing and receiving but he still has room for more improvement. Also his game/pitch calling needs improvement. I would really like to see the team coaches work hard on his defensive liabilities during spring training. I also think it would be interesting for the team to start having him shag some flyballs. If he looked above average in the outfield they could rest the LH Jones against LH pitchers he struggles against and play the RH Barrett in LF while giving the very good sub Blanco more time behind the plate without losing Barrett’s bat in the lineup. Blanco does not swing the bat as well as Barrett, but Blanco’s defense and game calling skills are considerably better than Barrett. Barrett’s bat in the lineup will help this lineup shine. A benefit if they were able to play him some in the outfield, would be to relieve some of the body stress and damage a catcher goes through in the season. These three combined with Soriano and the rest of the outfield should make this a team hard to keep off the scoreboard.
Next post; the infield nightmare of second base and shortstop. Sigh, someone please pass the aspirin.