By Scott Barzilla

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over an eroding franchise before the 2012 season. The Houston Astros provided them with a buffer in 2012, but that will be gone in 2013. With the Pittsburgh Pirates continually improving, it is likely that the Cubs will take a step back before they step forward. Epstein and Hoyer are going to try to avoid the temptation to go for the quick fix. Most of their problems reside on the mound, but there are a few holes in the regular lineup as well.

   

TRIF

Rank

Comments
C

 

Geovany Soto

-3.0

25th

The Cubs finally had enough of his inconsistency and shipped him out last August.
1B

 

Anthony Rizzo

2.8

9th

The bright spot in the Cubs rebuilding hopefully will build on his first extended time in the big leagues.
2B

 

Darwin Barney

17.2

1st

His defense was so unbelievable that even the coaches took notice.
3B

 

Luis Valbuena

3.3

9th

The Cubs re-signed Ian Stewart, so those two will fight it out in Spring Training.
SS

 

Starlin Castro

0.4

16th

Castro improved a lot and the Cubs rewarded him with a lucrative long-term deal.
LF

 

Alfonso Soriano

5.9

3rd

He deserves more recognition for his resurgence last season.
CF

 

Tony Campana

-0.6

19th

With Nate Schierholtz in the fold it looks like Dejesus will move here, but Brett Jackson may hold them all back.
RF

 

David Dejesus

-4.3

23rd

He has been a steady performer for nearly a decade.
Total

 

 

21.7

4th

Can you believe a team this bad was this good collectively with the glove?

Catcher

It is hard to say which direction the Cubs catching will go. They have Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo ready to share the catching duties this season. Both are solid prospects, but neither has had any extended time at the position outside of what they did last season after Geovany Soto was dealt. Soto was the ultimate tease. He turned in two very good seasons that will likely surpass anything Castillo or Clevenger is capable of. Still, he surrounded those seasons with three dumpster fire campaigns that got him jettisoned out of town.

First Base

The year started well with Bryan LaHair at first base, but Anthony Rizzo is the long term answer. LaHair will ply his craft in Japan as he left right field vacated for Nate Schierholtz. Rizzo constantly put up cartoonish numbers in the minors and we finally saw glimpses of that last season. You hate to put pressure on a guy, but this team will go as far as he and Starlin Castro take them.

Second Base

When you are saving 17 runs above average you can excuse some offensive shortcomings. In point of fact, Barney is probably closer to average overall offensively, so he is a good baseball player when you consider all three facets of the game. Barney is a terrific example of how value can come in many different forms.

Third Base

Supposedly, Ian Stewart is over an injury that has limited him the past two seasons. If that is the case then maybe the Cubs have a fighting chance of having a decent third baseman. Otherwise, he and Luis Valbuena might provide enough offense to compare to a 90 pound weakling. Defensively, both players are above average, so the Cubs will hold out hope that Stewart can hit his weight.

Shortstop

Starlin Castro combined two elements that drive me crazy as a fan. First, he was a substandard fielder. Secondly, he didn’t draw enough walks. He improved on both counts last year, but the walks still have a long way to go. Defensively, he is average at worst and maybe even above average in the grand scheme of things. Throw that in with a guy that seems destined to collect 200+ hits every year.

Left Field

It seems silly to suggest this now, but based on last season you have to wonder if Alfonso Soriano will become a borderline Hall of Famer. He will likely surpass 400 home runs and well over 1000 RBIs. Defensively, he went from being a butcher to becoming a player that added value to the equation. You could almost claim that he earned his salary. Almost.

Centerfield

Welcome to the hole. The clubs started with Marlon Byrd, but dealt him and stuck with Tony Campana more than any other player individually. The Cubs hope Brett Jackson is the guy over the long haul, but he is a strikeout machine. Take those away and he is an exciting prospect that could roam out there for more than a decade.

Right Field

David Dejesus was signed to provide stablility and it looks like that will happen in center field this year. Nate Schierholtz has been a decent outfielder for the past several seasons, but this is the first time he will play in a normal ballpark from the word go. He’s keeping the slot warm for when someone develops down on the farm.

 

 

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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Readers Comments (2)

  1. Rclax3

    I just wanted to post this to see what kind of feedback I would get. The 2013 season is most of all a lose. It’s look that way to us but behind the scenes without us knowing I see a plan and I wanted to share with you what I believe our Front Office is doing.

    The 13 season is going to be better then last year. At least I’m sure it won’t be a 100 lose team. The FO will be putting together core of players to help the ones we have coming. Behind the scenes they are making plans to fix and upgrade Wrigley Field. This will happen in the 2 years before the 15 season. They will make this ballpark the place to play. More Night games and better everything. I’m telling you they are planning something big.

    After the 13 season David Price and Robinson Cano will be Free Agents. I know you think the Yankees won’t let him go but Cano is got to be tired of playing in New York and He wants to test FA. It’s getting around to all players that this team is close to winning and there is not a baseball player in the world who wouldn’t want to be on the Cubs team that finally wins it. Cano might not be the best defensively but without a doubt he’s the best hitting second baseman in the game. We will have all that TV money and thats not even close to the money they will have to spend.

    Now you need 8 more on the field and the starting rotation is going to be put together to be one of the best in the game. Oh yeah and the 8 more players. I believe this line up will look something like this.
    LF bjax-He is going to figure it out.
    CF Albert Almora-He’s already a stud.
    RF Jorge Solar-A stud on the making and they aren’t going to split these two apart.
    3B-I’m hoping Stewart turns himself around. At least I know he can be great on D. He can hold it until Beaz is ready.
    SS-Castro and he is only going to get better.
    2B-Cano! enough said.
    1B-Rizzo He will be one of the best in the game.
    C- Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro.

    Everything will be in place for this team to be dominate for years to come. If you can’t see then read between the lines because you won’t be asble to see it any other way.

     Reply
    • Scott Barzilla

      Thanks for commenting. I don’t know how significant or specific the long term plans are. Most rebuilding teams wait to see what they have before targeting free agents. If Darwin Barney takes another step forward offensively I’d rather have him at an affordable rate. As for the rest, 2014 is a ways away, so we’ll have to wait and see.

       Reply