Okay, so there's talk of the Cubs acquiring Felipe Lopez. On the surface, this looks pretty dumb - if the Cubs were going to acquire a guy that plays shortstop, there were a lot of better options available earlier in the offseason. And Lopez provides more value than Theriot according to my new, park-adjusted WAR chart (which I'm still cleaning up, in addition to some other projects) but not to the extent where I thing it would show up in the standings -a tenth of a win isn't much to write home about.
But let's think outside of the box here. Lopez had a bad season last year at the plate, but even so still outhit Ryan Theriot after you adjust for park effect. Of the two, Lopez is a better bet to hit well. On the flipside, Ryan Theriot is the better defensive player. If you combined Lopez's hitting with Theriot's fielding, you might have a legitimate major league shortstop.
Well... can we do that?
Let's take a look at some of the Cubs pitching staff. For example, last season, 46.9 % of the balls put into play off Carlos Zambrano were ground balls. With Rich Hill, only 36.0 % of his balls in play were grounders. Here's the breakdown:
- Zambrano, 46.9%
- Lieber, 43.8 %
- Marquis, 49.5 %
- Dempster, 47.1 %
- Lilly, 33.7 %
- Hill, 36.0%
Do you see where I'm headed with this? Give Lopez as much time as possible playing behind Hill and Lilly, and give him plenty of time off when whichever of Lieber, Marquis or Dempster are on the mound, and have they pretty much split time with Z (whose high strikeout rate lets him overcome defensive inadequacies behind him). You might end up with a halfway to decent shortstop that way.