I am intrigued by the Cubs’ acquiring Joey Gathright, since they might have just answered the question of who replaces Soriano in the leadoff hole.
They signed Gathright for a mere 800K. The fact that Kansas City released him means little, except that he was not what KC felt they needed. Toronto released Reed Johnson last spring, and he has been excellent for the Cubs. Gathright plays center. Hopefully he throws better than Juan Pierre. He bats lefty. He bunts to get on base and he steals bases. If he hits leadoff, he frees up Soriano to hit somewhere else in the lineup, third maybe.
Someone like Gathright is only useful if he plays. He has no pop, so he’s not a late inning pinch hitter. As a defensive replacement, Pie or Fuld would do as well or better. But Pie is not a leadoff hitter, and Fuld does not steal bases.
I see Gathright taking starts from Fukudome. Gathright can be useful hitting first. Where in the batting order can Fukudome be useful? Since Fukudome earns too much money to ride the bench, it will be interesting to see what the Cubs do with him at the start of the season and during the course of the season. Especially now with the acquisition of Gathright, Fukudome only has value to the Cubs as a right fielder with fifteen-homer power.
Will he go to Iowa to try to become that player?