Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Barrett on Board
Looks like Christian Ruzich has his fingers on the pulse of the Cubs front office. This is from a post on Saturday at The Cub Reporter, by the Generalissimo of the Cubs Blog Army himself:
Don't expect to see Javy or Pudge in a Cubs uniform anytime soon. Michael Barrett seems much more realistic.
Now, I like to think I'm pretty bright, and when I saw yesterday that the A's had acquired Barrett from Montreal/Portland/Mazatlan/Beijing for a PTBNL, I thought that was that. But then word began to leak out that the A's weren't likely to be Barrett's final destination, and eventually the Cubs started to be mentioned as a possible landing place for the 26 year-old catcher. Lo and behold, it's announced this afternoon that the Cubs now have Barrett and will be sending their own PTBNL over to the A's. Nice call, Christian.
Christian is also speculating that the Cubs will try to deal Damian Miller before Saturday's non-tender deadline, when they will have to make a decision on Paul Bako's future. That seems like a reasonable conclusion, and with his track record on the rest of this deal, I can't say I'd be inclined to doubt him anyway. Barrett is almost certain to be the starter, despite numbers that, since his impressive full-season debut in 1999, look a little scary at first glance, and with that being the case, Miller is too expensive to sit on the bench when you can have someone like Bako get paid less for making a similar on-field contribution. So, without further delay, let's take a look at what we got. Here's what Barrett did last year.
Okay, so that's really bad, but last year, was a hard luck year all around. He struggled horribly for the first three months of the season, before finally figuring it out in July, posting a lovely .333/.404/.725 line for the month. But then, just as he got it together, down he went with a hip flexor strain. A bummer, but not the worst thing that could happen. But to top it all off, during his AAA rehab, he broke his left index finger, keeping him out until September 10. He came back, but never got it going again. Personally, I think a year like that is worth a mulligan, and instead of focusing there, I'd like to take a look at the trend from 2000-2002.
This, to me, looks like the kind of progression you want to see from a young hitter. His line is improving every year, and while you can point to the increase in strikeouts and decrease in walks in 2001 as a troubling loss of plate discipline, he also made very nice gains in the power department. Then, as if he heard statheads the world over wringing their hands over his free swinging ways, in 2002 he held onto most of those power gains, while greatly improving the strike zone judgment that was becoming so worrisome the previous season. That's movement in the right direction, and it's something you've got to like.
If last year really was an aberration, which I believe it was, we might have a pretty decent young catcher on our hands. Is he likely to be an All-Star? No. Is he likely to be better than Damien Miller? I think so. Better and cheaper.