1. Mike Cameron, CF. There was once a time where Cameron was among the best center fielders in baseball. The three-time Gold Glove winner was always spectacular in the field, making routine plays and making difficult plays look routine. At the plate, he was serviceable at best, but was usually a threat on the base paths. Cameron has three 30-steal seasons and five more years of at least 22 swipes under his belt.
Unfortunately, at age 36, those days are behind Cameron. Yes, he still has some pop in his bat (24 home runs, .795 OPS) but I'm not quite sure that He's hit at least 20 HRs in each of the last four seasons.
Yeah. Um, can we pretend that never happened? Good. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'll use this as a place where I will vehemently argue against bringing on Marlon Byrd.
Marlon Byrd should not be patrolling center field at Wrigley Field unless he is on an opposing team. In 2003, Byrd finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting as he posted a .303/.366/.418/.784 line. He would then procede to fall off the face of the earth from 2004-2007 where his slash stats got ugly. We're talking a three year average of .225/.309/.349/.658. Then he went to Texas and got hot (no homo) posting a .295/.352/.468/.820 line in his three years with the Rangers.
And after previous attempts to acquire Byrd in the past have failed, it looks like GM Jim Hendry is lookingo to make Byrd his new Bradley.
And everyone knows Hendry always gets his man. It makes me wish CC Sabathia was his man last year, or that Carlos Beltran was his man a few winters ago.
With that said, Mike Cameron needs to be Jim Hendry's "man" to a certain extent this offseason. It's not because of the .795 OPS he posted last year or the 70 home runs he has hit over the last three years.
It's because of his defense, stupid.
Remember when the Cubs couldn't compete on the road against the Rockies, Padres and Diamondbacks? Manager Lou Piniella said it was because the Cubs didn't have the speedy outfielders that could go get balls hit in the gaps. Kosuke Fukudome could not get those balls. Neither could Crazy Uncle Milton. I don't expect the rotund Byrd to be able to get them either.
Two of the Cubs' biggest problems in 2009 were the lack of team speed and the lack of team defense. With Alfonso Soriano in left field and Fukudome in right, there's a gaping hole in center. A hole big enough to drive a mack truck through.
If the Cubs are not going to get better on the offensive side of the equation, they need to do whatever they can on the defensive end.
That means saying no to Byrd, while biting the bullet for Cameron.