Fourth in a series
Editor's note: As the countdown continues toward the April 6 opener for the Cubs, Daily Herald Sports Writer Bruce Miles will offer his analysis of each position on the team and the key issues facing the club this season.
Q. In your opinion, how much will Mark DeRosa be missed?
Miles: DeRosa will be missed a lot, but more so for his versatility than his second-base play. I honestly felt he was just as good as Ramirez at third base whenever Aramis needed a day off.
The Cubs privately weren't all that thrilled with DeRosa's defense at second, but they liked his outfield play. Someone definitely will have to pick up the slack in a lot of ways.
Q. Compare the defense of Mike Fontenot to that of DeRosa. Will there be a drop off?
Miles: Neither is great or has much range. In fact, there's not a whole lot of range in the Cubs' infield as a whole.
You'll see about the same level of defense, maybe a slight bit better from Fontenot over DeRosa at second base.
Q. How many games might Aaron Miles start at second this year and how strong is he with the glove?
Miles: I'd imagine Miles getting 80-100 starts but all around the diamond. Much will depend on how Fontenot responds to playing every day.
When the Cubs face a "left-hand" pitcher, as Lou likes to say, you'll see Miles in there because he's a switch hitter. With the glove, I think these guys are pretty much interchangeable. Miles has slightly more range, but it's negligible.
Q. Is second base Miles' best position?
Miles: Yes, and he's played most of his games there. He's not bad at short, though, and he holds his own range-wise there. The interesting thing will be how he does at third when he fills in for Ramirez. Miles has 15 games of experience at third, 11 last year.
Q. If Fontenot starts, where does he hit in the lineup?
Miles: That could be intriguing. As a left-handed hitter with an OBP of .395 last year, he might provide a nice shield to the catcher when Soriano is on first base. In other words, bat him second and see what happens.
He also hit 9 homers and 22 doubles in 243 at-bats, which means he could fit elsewhere in the order, too. Remember, Ron Santo calls him "Little Babe Ruth." And Lou likes him a lot, too.
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