I’ve been waiting almost a month for a name to surface in connection with the Cubs’ first base vacancy that I actually like. I’ve heard about Mike Sweeney, Kevin Millar, Tony Clark, and Jeff Conine. While I was OK with the Clark idea, that deal made more sense two weeks ago. I could see Derrek Lee back on the field for the Cubs in about one month. In that case, you’d hope Jim Hendry could acquire a player who may be useful beyond then.
Even more ideal, though, would be acquiring a player who the Cubs might still want around if they cash in 2006 as a rebuilding year. Ryan Shealy fits that description. The 26 year-old right-handed first baseman is said to interest the Cubs. Granted it was for Colorado Springs, but Shealy hit .328/.393/.601 in Triple A last year. He’s at .293/.370/.683 in 11 games this season.
Acquiring Shealy is all about his 30 HR potential and nothing about his defense. The Rockies attempted to convert him into an outfielder this spring, and the increased throws caused an elbow injury. He’s a huge guy, and it’s not going to be pretty to see him lumber around the outfield.
I know you typically need an arm to play right field, but once Shealy’s elbow is 100%, why not try him in right field a bit? If Jeromy Burnitz can do it, maybe Shealy can too. Jacque Jones is 1 for 18 against lefties and is hitting .238/.295/.363 against them over the past three seasons. That’s like throwing Royce Clayton, Mike Matheny, or Neifi Perez out in right field. The Cubs, as much as any team, need to be able to hit southpaws. Maybe Shealy could push Matt Murton a bit too and DH in the AL interleague games. Trust me, the Cubs can find this guy 350-400 ABs.
The Cubs have been auditioning all sorts of kid pitchers this year, and it’s time to send one of them packing for Shealy before a smarter team like the Red Sox or Athletics snags him.