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NL Central: Has Pie Arrived?
The Felix Pie Era in Chicago has begun.
Or has it?
On Tuesday afternoon at wind-swept Wrigley Field, phenom Felix Pie, a sinewy 21-year-old Dominican who wears a wood and lace bracelet inscribed with the words Divino Nino (Divine Child), took the field for the first time in a Cubs uniform and spared no time in showcasing why scouts have been drooling over his potential for years. Filling in for injured (and badly struggling) Alfonso Soriano, Chicago's most prized prospect notched his first major-league hit -- an opposite-field double to the gap in left -- off Greg Maddux in the fifth inning to drive in the Cubs' second run of the game. One out later, he scored the tying run. In the 10th he gunned down the potential go-ahead run at the plate with a spectacular throw from medium shallow depth. Bleed Cubbie Blue says that if you happened to tune into the game on Tax Day, you witnessed something pretty special .
So what happens to Pie -- Baseball America's top ranked Cubs prospect the past two years -- when Chicago's $136 million center fielder is healed? The Cubs won't yet say, but they'd be making a mistake if they send Pie back down to Triple-A Iowa, where he's shown vast improvement in the only kink in his game: his plate discipline. Pie is a maestro with the glove, and Chicago is below average defensively in all three of its outfield positions.
The Cubs have been admirably patient in their handling of this ridiculously talented youngster. They're understandably cautious, unwilling to rush him to The Show as they did with Corey Patterson, who arrived at Wrigley prematurely, at 21. But Patterson had only 230 games in the minors under his belt and Pie has played 498. His time has come.
Phil Rogers agrees, saying that Chicago should move Soriano back to left when his hamstring heals. He says that Jacque Jones must probably go, and that Jim Hendry's signing of the outfielder to a three-year deal last year was one of the worst moves he's ever made.
The Cubs, meanwhile, keep losing, and already Sweet Lou is starting to sour, though Ken Griffey Jr. says the Northsiders haven't seen anything yet.
A rival NL general manager says the Cubs, despite their lackluster start, will contend. "They're going to score runs all year with that lineup," he says, "and once [Carlos] Zambrano settles down, the rotation should be fine. Ted Lilly and Rich Hill already look like they're going to have pretty nice years."
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Labels: NL Central
posted by SI.com | View comments |
Get rid of Jacque Jones and give Felix Pie his roster spot. I saw highlights of a Cubs game the other day and Jones looked like a little leaguer in left...i wonder if he understands the words "dive for it". Cub fans have waited long enough to see Pie play, so play him.
Play Pie in center where he belongs, move Soriano to RF, and get rid of Jacque Jones!
as a twins fan i have quite a bit of experience with jacques jones. it pains me to say this because he's a good guy, team-oriented, etc. (or at least he was in minn.) but the guy kills you in so many ways. his fielding is obviously weak, he strikes out so much and appears to have no situational hitting ability. this might be excusable if he were a 30 hr-100 rbi guy. but he's not. he's a 20-75 guy. (last year's numbers were higher end of what we saw in minnesota.) again, i feel bad for jones b/c we really like him in minnesota--as a person. but the cubs' chronic problem has been bad fundamental play, they don't need jones' 20 home runs. what they do need is someone who is going to make the plays.
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