Update: check out part two
Let's just assume Milton Bradley officially vacates right field, handing the spot back to Kosuke Fukudome. Reed Johnson, as we already know, hasn't been offered arbitration. This leaves center field open for the 2010 Cubs.
Counting out Fukudome and Johnson, the Cubs are left with two returning center fielders from 2009 -- Sam Fuld and Tyler Colvin. The glut of rumors around center fielders coming to Chicago, by trade or free agency, should be no surprise.
Including the two returning options, there are a few center fielders in the Cubs' system and the trade and free agent markets.
|Returning||Minors||Free Agents||Trade Mentions|
|Tyler Colvin||James Adduci||Rick Ankiel||Curtis Granderson|
|Sam Fuld||Matt Camp||Marlon Byrd||Aaron Rowand|
|Brandon Guyer||Mike Cameron|
|Brett Jackson||Coco Crisp|
There are other outfielders who have played center for a Cubs minor league affiliate, including Tony Campana (who played the position regularly in Daytona), but none worth mentioning. Including Tony Campana.
These r150 values are from CHONE. Here's Sean's explanation of the stat
The R150 column is linear weights runs per 150 games, or 625 plate appearances. This figure is based on what the player projection would have looked like in a neutral park and league, not on the projected stats for the park they are playing in.
Fuld - 7
Ankiel - 8
Cameron - 5
Crisp - 3
Rowand - 9
Let's group those another way. As a rule of thumb, 10 runs equals 1 win.
> 1 win Granderson
> 0 win Byrd
< 0 win Crisp, Cameron, Fuld, Ankiel
< -1 win Colvin, Jackson (being generous here)
< -2 win Camp, Guyer, Adduci
Taking CHONE at face, it's about a one win gap from Granderson to Byrd. From there, it's a smaller step, but close to a win, to the next group. It's another win down to Colvin and Jackson, and yet another down to Adduci, Camp and Guyer. But we haven't considered defense yet.
Roaming Center Pasture
Starting with the players with sufficient MLB service time (Fuld barely), we can apply Jeff Zimmerman's uzr150 projections (age adjusted). Similar to the r150 for batting runs, this reflects the approximate number of runs saved (positive) or allowed (negative) compared to the average center fielder.
Ankiel - 5
Fuld - 5
With just 162 innings of big league time in center, Fuld's projection should be taken with a grain of salt.
Where does this put our run totals so far?
Cameron - 1
Rowand - 9
Granderson still stands alone, while Byrd, Cameron and Crisp bunch closer together. Fuld and Ankiel fade away with Rowand.
Acceptable Byrd, Cameron, Crisp
Not Good Rowand, Fuld, Ankiel
Not Likely Colvin, Jackson
Please No Camp, Guyer, Adduci
Camp's defense is well regarded (he also plays shortstop), but he's not Willie Mays. Based on what little I know about Colvin and Jackson's defense, they're probably closer to Please No than Not Likely.
If I'm Jim Hendry
The Cubs have to go outside the organization. Rowand or Ankiel would be an utter waste, Byrd, Cameron or Crisp fine for a year at a good price. Granderson is appealing, but the cost (in terms of young talent) is probably prohibitive.