The rumors are starting to fly regarding whom on the trade market the Chicago Cubs are targeting. A more recent name may be the answer. Or not.
We get it. The Chicago Cubs are not performing to the standard we all expected from the defending World Series champions. The pitching excelled, as did the defense last year. And the offense produced enough to win. All three areas are taking significant drops this year.
The results of the opening half of the season are ugly, so far. Stuck hovering around .500 all season. Injuries keeping key players from being on the field. Kyle Schwarber submitting to the pressure thrown on him from his World Series success, and from the fans. And now former players throwing teammates under the bus. This is not how it was scripted.
But, could it be that all of this is solved by adding just one player? It is unlikely, but one player could provide just what the team needs.
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Spanning the divide
From 2016 to 2017, the gap in offensive production is mammoth. It does not help that there is a rotating door of players in the outfield. The lack of stability in lineup is proving to be a major concern. It showed last year as well, with the loss Dexter Fowler to injury. It was that span of time that showed that showed the Cubs needed stability.
It is curious to think that all of this could be due to Fowler’s absence. Though, even he is having a below-standard season. Except for hitting 13 home runs.
The Chicago Cubs are missing the “you go, we go” performer at the top of the lineup. Schwarber did not function well at that spot (I informed you thusly), but neither did Ian Happ. Manager Joe Maddon used Anthony Rizzo in that position as well, and it worked. But that is not what is best for the Cubs. They need a leadoff hitter. They need…
It makes sense, really. A veteran outfielder, with experience in the leadoff spot, coming to the Chicago Cubs in time to make a solid run at the playoffs. Denard Span‘s current team, the San Francisco Giants, are nearly eliminated from the playoffs already. With his slash line of .292/.343/.449, Span would add a valuable item to the front of the lineup. That is stability. Additionally, in the month of June, Span heated up, hitting to the tune of a .374 average in 27 games.
Span is not one to hit for power. Or strikeout, with only 31 so far this season. Even so, he accumulated 106 total bases so far this season on a last place team. That same stat would rank him third on the Cubs right now. His 33 runs scored would put him fourth. To say it is worth considering would be an understatement.
There are other things to think about. Span is due tons of green on this contract, $17.5 million at least. And that is if the team buys out his contract after 2018. Furthermore, he is statically one of the worst defenders in the outfield. Now, can the Cubs place him in left field and cover up some of that concern with Albert Almora and Jason Heyward taking charge of the outfield? Maybe. It was “working” with Schwarber.
So, maybe the answer is not Denard Span. If not, what is it? Honestly, with the left-handed Jon Jay hitting well, he could be the best option for left field. Giving Jay, Almora, and a healthy Heyward the starting nods, while platoons of Ben Zobrist and Happ at second and outfield are used as needed, the Cubs have options on the team now.
Getting healthy will help. Getting starting pitching is what the Cubs must do first.