- Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Cubs have officially agreed to terms with outfielder Scott Hairston. To make room, Tony Campana was designated for assignment. The Cubs have 10 days to either trade Campana or place him on waivers. If Campana clears waivers, he’ll return to Triple-A
Many people predicted this would happen after Hairston was added to an outfielder rotation that includes Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz. As far as a fifth outfielder (or 25th man) is concerned, the Cubs need someone who can leadoff against southpaws. Dave Sappelt has shown an ability to get on-base against them. Furthermore, Sappelt is a Theo Epstein guy.
It’s disappointing news for fans who enjoyed the speedster. Campana is one of the fastest players in MLB. For his career, Campana has been successful on 54 of his 59 steal attempts. He also uses that speed to reach fly balls that most other outfielders couldn’t grab (range).
Why doesn’t management feel like that speed could help in 2013? Offensively, Campana’s speed is offset from his inability to get on-base. He has a career .306 on-base percentage (OBP). Defensively, his range is offset from his weak throwing arm. That prevents him from throwing out runners who attempt to score. He has also been known to misplay a few balls.
Hairston is coming off one of his best seasons. Despite a .299 OBP, Hairston hit 20 homers and had an on-base-plus slugging percentage (OPS) of .803. He had an .867 OPS against southpaws. The Cubs will welcome that slugging potential in the middle of their lineups against left-handed pitchers.
The Cubs are rebuilding. Campana is a project. Should they have given him more time to hone his craft, or was it time to move on and try to win more games with stopgap players such as Schierholtz and Hairston?