When the Chicago Cubs traded Kosuke Fukudome, the belief was Tyler Colvin would finally be given a chance to prove that he is an everyday player as he was expected to be the full-tine starter in right field in place of Fukudome. The lack of playing time for Colvin has dated back all the way since the beginning of the 201o season. Even though Colvin was the hottest hitter in Spring Training of 2010, then manager Lou Piniella stuck with Fukudome as his starting right fielder to begin the season, and Fukudome remained the starter for most of the season despite the 20 home runs that Colvin had off the bench.
Fast forward to the beginning of this season. The expectation for this season was that Colvin would eventually take the starting job in right field away from Fukudome, most speculated that the switch would come in late May or early June. Colvin was a starting right fielder at that point, the only problem was that it was with the Iowa Cubs. Granted Colvin did struggle with the Cubs earlier in the season, it came in large part because manager Mike Quade felt Colvin was a better player off the bench instead of in the everyday lineup. Going against the stats that prove Colvin is at his best when he gets 3+ at bats in a game.
Then comes last week when the Cubs said farewell to the Fukudome era, and opened the way for Colvin to be plugged into the everyday lineup. But that hasn’t been the case, as Quade and Hendry seem to have a failure to communicate.
Lets go back to this Sunday, when Hendry addressed the Fukudome trade and the future for Colvin.
"“We didn’t pretend it was a blockbuster deal,” Hendry said. “We were happy with the people we got back. But the most important thing was that Tyler had to play. … We saw the Tyler last year, and the Tyler this year wasn’t quite the same. He went down to Iowa and worked hard, and it looks like he’s made some progress and he deserves to play the rest of the way.“And we need to find out whether he’s an everyday guy or not by the end of this year. No matter how you slice it, the outfield situation, just like a few other (positions) will have to be addressed in the offseason Chicago Tribune"
That sounds good on paper. But unless I have the wrong definition of an everyday play, isn’t it the point of an everyday player to play everyday. If that is the case, then why has Colvin been out of the lineup for back-to-back games. The Cubs have proven that they will play rookies everyday, just look at Starlin Castro last season and Geovany Soto in the 2007 and 2008 seasons. However, that has not been the case for Colvin. Every time Colvin has been with the major league club, he has been relegated to the role of a fourth outfielder. Making it kind of tough for the front office to determine whether or not Colvin is indeed the future right fielder of this team.
Now the blame may not fall on Hendry, and from sounds of it, we should be pointing our fingers at manager Mike Quade. Take a look at what Quade had to say about the right field position prior to today’s game.
"Quade explained he wanted to play Reed Johnsontwo days in a row “to see where he’s at,” referring to his recent back issues,and also because he had strong career numbers (8-for-13) against Maholm. He added that Colvin will play the next three games against Pirates right-handers, and that he’d play against lefties sporadically.“It’s a tentative situation for me just because I have two guys (Johnson and Jeff Baker) that do so well against left-handers, and I’m looking for at-bats for ‘Bake’ and Reed,” Quade said. “But there’s a lot of baseball left. He’ll get his at-bats. We’d love to see him excel against right-handers and put him in the best situations I can against right-handed pitching, and pick our spots against left-handers.” Chicago Tribune"
Ok, so Quade views the young Colvin more as a platoon player instead of an everyday player. He rather play Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson against left handers because he just has to get his veterans at bats. Oh, silly me, how can I forget that Hendry thinks Baker is someone that will help the Cubs win in 2012. Where will Reed Johnson be in 2012? Well, I can tell you that Johnson will not be with the Cubs next season. But Quade would rather play Johnson, instead of a player in Colvin that some expect to be a piece of the long-term future for the Cubs.
Hendry and Quade need to get on the same page because right now they are contradicting each other. Hendry is right when he says that Colvin needs to play everyday, yet, his hand-picked manager feels Colvin is a platoon player. If Quade’s strategy is indeed the one that the Cubs follow, then not only will Colvin be set back another year, but so will the Cubs. In order for the Cubs to determine whether or not Colvin is an everyday starter he is going to have to get starts against left handed pitchers on a consistent basis. I mean, he is not going to face right handers every day. But what do I know, I’m just a blogger.
The Colvin situation should be a blatant indicator that miscues between the general manager and manager are only getting worse, and instead of going forward, the team as a whole is taking a huge step back.