I had forgotten that the Cubs still needed to open a spot on the 40-man roster before they could add Kerry Wood. They did that yesterday when they released Manny Corpas. Corpas was signed in late December and it wasn’t even clear at the time if he was added to the 40-man. A little over a month later he’s gone. Corpas was more than likely nothing more than insurance in case Wood decided to retire or if the Cubs were unable to reach a deal to bring him back. As excited as a lot of Cubs fans are to have Wood return, this isn’t really a big deal. The difference between Corpas and Wood isn’t all that much. It’s not even a win.
2012 is going to be a season that will most likely only be fun if we’re seeing some of the younger talent come up and hopefully succeed. Josh Vitters is one of those guys who is looking to get his shot. Only two of the top ten picks in the 2007 draft have yet to reach the big leagues. Vitters is one of them and the other is a guy the Cubs recently acquired (Casey Weathers). It seems likely both will get at least a taste of the big leagues this season.
Vitters is still young at 22 years old. It’s been said he had one of his best seasons last year, but that’s not true. His wRC+ was 99 and his OBP remains poor. His defense at 3rd is questionable and he’s played some at 1st base. He did hit well in the Arizona Fall League, but it’s Arizona. If you look at his stats, Vitters really hasn’t been that good since the first half of 2010 in High A.
In just under 1700 career plate appearances, Vitters has a batting line of .277/.319/.439. For someone who said would more than likely hit for average, that’s not all that impressive. Without hitting for average Vitters has little chance of maintaining an acceptable OBP. He’s batted 716 times in AAA and has a .264/.313/.427 line. The Southern League average over those two years is .263/.338/.395. Vitters has ore power than the average hitter, but his OBP is considerably lower than average. When you factor in how much more important OBP is than SLG, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. It’s even uglier when you look at the questionable defense.
But Vitters is just 22. That’s the one thing in his favor in my opinion. I guess the other thing in his favor is that the Cubs don’t really have anyone that’s going to block him at the big league level. If he gets off to a solid start at AAA, which is more than feasible when it’s the PCL, we could see Vitters fairly early in the season. I don’t have high expectations, but I’m looking forward to seeing him. I’m hoping he can learn how to take some pitches before he gets called up.