Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Someday is Today

Cliff Floyd is a Cub…finally. The former Mets OF and the Cubs agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract that is full of incentives, vesting options, etc. Rather than trying to explain it myself, here is what Jason Stark had to say:

“Cliff Floyd’s contract with the Cubs is so flexible and creatively structured, it can turn into anything from a one-year, $3 million deal to a two-year, $17.5 million deal.

There is just a one-year guarantee, at $3 million. But it contains a player option, a club option and a vesting option for 2008. If the option vests (at 425 plate appearances or 100 games started), Floyd has the right to opt out next winter and become a free agent. Otherwise, the club holds the option.

Floyd can earn up to $7.5 million in 2007 if he's healthy enough to reach all of his plate-appearance, games-played and roster incentive levels.

He can make up to $17.5 million over two years if he has 550 plate appearances in each of the next two years. He would make $15.5 million if he gets 500 plate appearances in each of the next two years.”

The idea of signing Floyd doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think he will be a valuable player off the bench. But his contract leads me to believe that he (and maybe the Cubs) thinks he’s going to see a considerable amount of playing time. If he does, it will likely be at Matt Murton’s expense. That’s the part of the signing that I don’t like.

Last year, Murton proved that he is a capable major league LF. Murton led the Cubs in 2006 with a .297 batting average. He also had an OBP of .365 and SLG of .444. As a fielder, Murton proved that he is capable, if not spectacular.

If Murton has a weakness it is that he does not have the power you’d like to see from a corner outfielder. In 144 games in 2006, Murton hit 13 HR and a total of 38 extra base hits. However, he is still relatively young and his power numbers may increase as he matures as a ball player.

Matt Murton would seem to be the future for the Cubs in LF. It doesn’t make sense to bring in an injury prone veteran like Floyd to take a significant number of ABs away from him.

When Piniella calls me for advice on how to use Murton and Floyd (which he is sure to do), my suggestion will be to give Murton the majority of the playing time and just use Floyd against some of the league’s tougher right-handers and to give Murton some occasional rest. I’ll also suggest that Piniella use Floyd as the DH during away inter-league games. Piniella will probably chastise me for being so obvious with this last suggestion, but that’s just how Lou is.


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