The Cubs, as expected, didn’t make a peep at the Winter Meetings after the Jake Peavy deal fell through.
And although I was in favor of trading for Peavy (and I still am), it’s not the end of the world on the North Side.
The bright side of not landing Peavy is the Cubs retain what little remaining minor league talent they have at Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee.
However, this team is still in need of some left-handed hitting despite the signing of outfielder Joey Gathright.
While I’m an early believer in Gathright’s potential to become an everyday player, he’s still a role player on this Chicago team until proving otherwise.
That being said, below I’ve listed – in no particular order- a few free-agents who I think would complement the Cubs’ left-handed needs for the lineup.
First of all, I like the idea of resigning Jim Edmonds.
Sure, he’s old (39) and a former Cardinal but, the guy played rejuvenated baseball after joining the club in May.
Give Edmonds another year on a winner like Chicago and I like his chances of posting similar numbers to last season’s .256 avg., 19 HR & 49 RBIs.
Not to mention, Edmonds’ knack for hitting fly balls plays well in tiny Wrigley Field and Gathright’s arrival gives the aging star plenty of days off in centerfield.
One below-the-radar type player is Brad Wilkerson, a 32-year-old lefty with some pop and a decent glove in right field.
It’s been four years since Wilkerson notched 32 HRs with Montreal but, since then he’s averaged around 13 bombs per season.
The good news is he has a lifetime (8 seasons) .350 OBP and plays right field…the downside is his durability which has limited him to playing in no more than 119 games since 2006.
The Cubs could probably get Wilkerson on the cheap for something around $2.5 to $3 million per year while platooning him in right with Fukudome.
Another possibility is first baseman Sean Casey.
Given Lou’s penchant for double switches and playing his entire bench, Casey’s left-handedness would come in handy especially as a pinch hitter.
While Casey is far from a spring chicken (34), he’s a career .302 avg hitter including a .296 avg. with Detroit in 2006 and a .322 avg. with Boston last season.
The positives with Casey is that he’s no threat to current first sacker Derrek Lee, who’s never played fewer than 150 games since 2000 with the exception of his broken wrist in 2006 that limited him to just 50 appearances.
And most importantly, Casey has been clutch during the post season.
During Detroit’s World Series run in 2006 Sean batted .353 avg. in the ALDS, .333 avg. for the ALCS and .529 avg. in the Fall Classic.
In all for the 2006 post season Casey went 16-for-37 (.432 avg.) with 2 HRs and 9 RBIs.
That’s the kind of hitting Chicago needs from a left-hander come October.
On the contrary, Casey is sub par defensively, slow on the bases and injury prone.
Lastly, I think whoever signs former Cub Jerry Hairston Jr. is getting a real bargain.
With Cincinnati last year (80 games) Hairston batted .326 with high .384 OBP.
Although Hairston is a right-hander hitter, he’s also an above average centerfielder, can play shortstop as well, and stole 15 bases vs. being caught stealing just three times.
However, he had two extended stays on the DL with leg injuries in 2008 and that’s a scary trend at 34-years-old.
Still, it’s likely Hairston is signable at less than a million dollars meaning he’s a cheap risk.
Basically, it’s crucial the Cubs sign someone left-handed to complement its everyday lineup dominated by righties.
And while I love the idea of a Micah Hoffpauir having a break though year come spring training, it’s better safe than sorry in signing one of the above free-agents.