With the everyday positional players set, at least from the looks of the typical line ups Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade has been running out most frequently throughout Spring Training, we turn our attention to the bench. Typically, I would group everyone into one blog as not to over sell them to anyone due to their lesser individual importance than the every day players. However, for one player in particular, I feel that a separate blog is a necessity because of his importance to the team! The man I am talking about, is none other than Tyler Colvin.
While I do not believe that he should be the starting right fielder for the Cubs in 2011, I do feel that he should still be in line for a heavy workload and an increase in at bats. The way I envision the Cubs using Colvin this upcoming year is as more of a super sub. Colvin can play all three outfield positions, as well as backup first base as we have seen on a limited basis here in Spring Training. What the Cubs should do for Colvin, is to get him four starts a week. In the process of doing so, the three starting outfielders will get one day off a week, along with Carlos Pena at first base.
This is the best of all worlds, and should satisfy the wishes of all fans no matter the preference of who should be starting where. Those that think Kosuke Fukudome should get the everyday right field job are happy because that is exactly what has happened. Those who want Colvin to start in right so he can get the at bats he deserves also win, because he will be getting an ample amount of time in the field and more at bats than he has had in a season.
This may not be what the fans want, but this plan of action will give them a taste of what they can expect next year when Colvin takes over in right field when Fukudome’s contract runs out. They will also get an idea of if he can handle first base if the Cubs do not retain Pena or sign either of the top two free agent first basemen in Albert Pujols or Price Fielder.
As I mentioned before, with this plan of action, everyone wins. The stat heads who want Fukudome to start and lead off due to his on base percentage win. The Colvin fans win because the kid will be getting a lot of playing time and an increase in at bats. The Cubs will also win, because their players will be kept rested throughout the season, ensuring a healthy and fresh team if they reach the playoffs. In a way, you could say that Colvin’s success coming off the bench is the key to the entire season.
With this format, when Colvin does play, he should be inserted into the lower half of the line up due to his less than stellar ability to get on base. Hitting him between the fifth or the seventh spot in the line up would be the best spot for him. You could take advantage of his power ability, while taking the pressure off of him for having to get on base.
If this trend is used for Colvin, he could have similar statistics to what he was able to do last year. He has not showed the ability yet to put up a high average, though some would say that is because he has limited chances at the plate, so I can not predict an average higher than .260 for the kid. However, he could very well have another 20 home run 60 RBI year if he is used correctly.
He might not get the most at bats, but he should easily get more than enough to make his fans happy. If Quade is smart, and so far I have no reason to believe that he is not, he is already thinking along these lines and trying to figure out ways to get him into the line up as often as he can.