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Speed and the Chicago Cubs: Fan’s Opinion
There's an old saying that states "speed never slumps," or something to that effect. For the Chicago Cubs, a lack of speed has been one of my major quips with the construction of the team over the last decade or so. With the franchise in the middle of a major overhaul, it seems like an ideal time for the Cubs to take advantage of adding some speed to their younger lineup.
For anyone that watches baseball, the importance of speed is relatively obvious. It lets you beat out infield hits, turn singles into doubles, steal bases, and help distract opposing pitching. I would argue that speed is potentially more important for the Cubs than with most other teams. In light of that, it baffles me why the organization hasn't actively pursued more speed in the past.
Why is it more important for the Cubs? It's largely due to the fickleness of Wrigley Field. With the well-documented wind effects of the field, it would seem specifically important to develop the one offensive area that isn't affected by it. For whatever reason, the Cubs haven't. They have stuck with signing players more on the power side than the speed side. I've always wanted to see them develop a more balanced offensive attack that was more catered to the ever-changing conditions of Wrigley. With an overhaul in the works, it feels like as good a time as any to build that.
Last season, we began to see some benefits. Starlin Castro brought some speed to the table (along with about everything else), but it was Tony Campana who really shined as a "speed specialist." I'll be the first to admit Campana wasn't the definition of consistent production, but his speed consistently complicated matters for the Cubs opponents. We saw him play great outfield defense, beat out routine ground balls, and steal bases at a high percentage. This was one player. If the Cubs could find a few like him (perhaps more offensively consistent), that could be a tough team to have to deal with —even when the wind is howling in from center.
There is certainly importance to inserting some power into your lineups, but speed is equally important. The Cubs have been specifically lacking in this department for quite some time. It would be nice to see the Cubs not live and die by the home run ball. Wrigley Field is far too fickle of a ballpark to allow the wind to dictate your success.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.
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