With This Ring: Cubs-Freddy Sanchez Marriage Could Break Curse, Bring Pennant
Have you ever tried to put together a 1,000-piece puzzle?
It's a head-scratching and sometimes heartbreaking proposition.
Just when you start getting some pieces falling into place, you can't seem to find the heads, hands, and legs to paint the picture taunting you on the box.
After a while, reality sets in that no matter how many times you try to jam the pieces together, you know something is missing; you just can't find the piece.
If someone down the street had that one face piece you so desperately needed and was willing to give it up for a few grass and cloud pieces, would you make the deal?
That's the dilemma the Chicago Cubs are facing for the next two weeks.
Some whispers have floated around about Toronto Blue Jays' pitcher Roy Halladay.
Not only would you have to give up a few body pieces for him, but is a team with the fourth-best ERA (3.77) and the third-best batting average (.245) in the National League really in need of another starting arm?
If it's not pitching, it must be batting, right?
The Cubs' offensive woes are well-documented, and they currently sit in the bottom of the NL in runs scored (13th), batting average (14th), and on-base percentage (14th).
One offensive surge that has recently been made available for trade is Pittsburgh Pirates' second baseman Freddy Sanchez.
After all-out rejecting the Pirates' multi-year offer, Sanchez is expected to hit the trade block immediately. Bringing him onto the Cubs would be an automatic injection of offensive production for a team that needs it more than anyone in their own division.
If Sanchez brings his .313 batting average to the club, he would automatically be put on top of the team's batting average leaders list; shortstop Ryan Theriot's .295 average is currently the highest for any player with at least 50 games under his belt.
Sanchez, an everyday second baseman, would put the struggling Mike Fontenot back into the role he flourished in last year—utility man off the bench. In that role, "Little Babe Ruth" hit .305 with nine home runs and 40 RBI.
Forced into the every day spot after Mark DeRosa split for Cleveland, Fontenot has seen his production drop to a .243 average with 30 RBI.
Although Sanchez may only be a rental player for the '09 Cubs, his recent production in the waning months of the season shows Sanchez's best days are still in front of him.
Over the past three years, Sanchez has an average of .278 in July, .352 in August, and .313 in September.
So, knowing Sanchez's production and the lack thereof from the Cubs, it is a must-consider situation for the North Siders.
The only questions remaining are: What do we have to give up, and where do you put Sanchez in the lineup?
The first question should be a relatively easy one to deal with. The Pirates are notorious for giving away star players for mid-level prospects, and it's tough to see them changing their colors before a trade with Chicago.
Just a month ago, they traded their most promising star, center fielder Nate McClouth, to the Atlanta Braves for three minor leaguers.
So a trade for a disgruntled veteran should fetch even less than that.
When acquired, the Cubs have options of where to place Sanchez. Over the past three years, he has batted in every spot in the lineup, but has played the majority of the time in the No. 3 spot.
That won't do, as Derrek Lee has been on a tear in the spot, and Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley are poised to jump in at any time.
Sanchez has also seen considerable time in the No. 2, but Theriot has remained productive there and fits the mold well.
In the No. 6 spot, Sanchez has batted .440 in 84 AB over the past three years, and in relation to the Cubs, that may be where he is best suited.
Sitting behind Lee, Ramirez, and Bradley gives Sanchez a chance to really boost his RBI numbers, as Bradley has really struggled with RISP, hitting .188 on the year in that situation.
In other words, where Bradley fails, Sanchez can succeed, as he has hit .333 in that situation this year.
Adding Sanchez can round out the lineup in the way they had wanted to do this past offseason, only this time they would replace left-handed players with a productive one.
The piece is out there; will the Cubs finally finish the picture in October?
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