Oh Right, Some Kind Of Preview: The Outfield
Well, let’s keep this train a rolling. Out to the pastures green….
Let’s try and not go player by player this time, because I’m kind of doing that in the first issue of the actual thing. Anyway, the outfield is either going to be worth the time later or just the dreck it is now, and that all depends on what Brett Jackson does. We’ve all heard about the re-tooled swing, and he really doesn’t have to improve his contact as much as you first think to be an effective major league hitter (though it’s not miniscule either). If Jackson tears up Iowa for the first month or two, then moves slightly in front of Murphy’s bleachers by June, things look better. DeJesus moves to right where he belongs instead of being just too stretched in center. Nate Schierholtz goes away until Soriano is traded, if he is. We may even get to see less of Scott Hairston, which is going to be optimal for everyone.
But if Jackson doesn’t? Well, that’s one prospect down and who will have scuttled any value he might have had to others. DeJesus continues to scramble around the various centerfields of the NL and slips into an exhaustion coma somewhere around August 1. Schierholtz continues to be….whatever. Hairston keeps getting tossed out in those ever-annoying all right-handed lineups against lefties that didn’t work for Dusty, didn’t work for Lou, didn’t work for the Albino, and haven’t worked for Sveum. But they continue to happen as a Cubs manager lets some middling southpaw zero in on the outside corner for eight straight batters……sorry, that got off to be a bit of a rant, didn’t it?
We can also count on Soriano to be solid and most certainly under-appreciated. There are aspects to his game that will always anger you. He’ll get caught high-stepping once this season. He’ll lose one ball in the sun. But the dude works. Even at his advanced age and fading legs and collected cash, he still works to be a better fielder. He hits. He’ll still have a two to three week stretch where he’s simply automatic at the plate. His teammates love him. He’s curbed the nightlife. He’s tried to be more selective at the plate, it just hasn’t worked all that well.
The one fear is that with Soriano getting older, how much more is he going to have to cheat to get to fastballs he used to repel effortlessly? The more and more he does, he’ll be even more susceptible to the breaking balls in the dirt he already was a puppy with bubble wrap to. And of course, it’ll be everyone’s interest to see if he gets shopped, and if he’ll go. He doesn’t have to. It’s his right. But unlike Dempster last year, I don’t think Soriano will consent to being traded, submit a list, and then change his mind, for reasons that certainly have nothing to do with one’s ex-wife’s family living in the city you were about to be shopped to.
Oh right, Brent Lillibridge will make a diving catch in center somewhere in April. Too many fans will lose their shit. Then he’ll ground out to short in his next at-bat.