Your weary editor/cut & paste maven managed to catch the Iowa Cubs’ CF Felix Pie in 3 games this past weekend versus Round Rock, and while my baseball credentials aren’t nearly as impressive as Jim Hendry or Dusty Baker’s (or members of Peter Angelos’ extended family, for that matter), he looks awfully ready for the big show to me. Pie has speed to spare, knows what he’s doing with the glove, has gap power, isn’t named Corey Patterson, etc.
When Dusty Baker brought up Felix Pie’s name Saturday night as a possible replacement for injured outfielder Angel Pagan, eyebrows were raised in the manager’s cramped office at PNC Park.
While Baker said it was too early to jump to conclusions, the mere mention of the Cubs’ top minor-league prospect made for tantalizing headlines, especially when Baker seemed to downplay the 21-year-old Pie’s inexperience by adding, “we’re here to win too.”
As it turned out, the Cubs decided to leave Pie at Triple-A Iowa, bringing up another pitcher, right-hander David Aardsma.
The Pie question gives rise to the age-old debate of how much time a prospect really needs before he gets his opportunity. Recall that the Cubs were planning to bring Pie up from Double-A West Tenn last July, only to scrap that idea when Pie suffered a broken right ankle. If Pie was ready to come up when the Cubs still considered themselves a wild-card contender in 2005, why is he not ready this year when they could use his speed and left-handed bat?
Pie is off to a great start at Iowa with a .350 average going into Sunday’s game, with three doubles, two triples and a team-leading 13 RBIs out of the leadoff spot. Iowa hitting coach Von Joshua has been working with Pie to cut down on his strikeouts, and Pie entered Sunday with a respectable seven in 40 at-bats.
The main reason for leaving Pie at Iowa is the Cubs have made a commitment to right fielder Jacque Jones with a three-year deal and traded three pitching prospects for Juan Pierre to be their center fielder and leadoff man.
Neither veteran deserves to have the plug pulled on him two weeks into the season, though both are off to subpar starts and Jones, due to return Monday, has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury.
If Pie were to come up and excel off the bench, the clamor to put him in the starting lineup probably would rival the uproar in ’05 to get rid of Corey Patterson. Everyone wants to see what the new kid can do, and Pie’s speed and energy likely would make him a fan favorite.