This has to mean Felix Pie is headed out of town, right?
Gathright is a fast outfielder who can not hit at all, though he has managed to walk a little bit (but would need to do it twice as much to be Theriot level worthwhile.) He’s really a CF, though he’s could play LF or RF as a sub
Pie is a fast outfielder who has not hit at all. He’s really a CF, though he could play LF or RF as a sub.
Ultimate Zone rating had Felix as +1.5 game defender in 2007, and a slightly negative one in 2008, but that was off a small sample. Gathright was +2 games in 2007, +0.7 last year. I think it’s probably about a wash, considering both will ideally be backups.
The bigger difference is Gathright will be 28 and likely never going to be better. Pie is 24, and there’s still a little bit of hope there. Except, the Cubs saying there’s not enough hope for their team, but perhaps there would be more hope on a new team.
The thing is, usually you move the guy you’re replacing before you pick up the replacement. Maybe there’s a fear Gathright would get away and the Cubs really wanted a designed pinch runner on the team, but it seems like everything else could’ve just been done by any number of other pickups if Gathright was in such high demand he signed elsewhere, or they even could call up Sam Fuld to do the same fielding and non-hitting (and everyone’s given up on Fuld, which doesn’t say much for Gathright.) The value of Pie on the trade market has already fallen, and this won’t help.
The strength of Lou Pinella as your National League manager is he’s a guy unafraid to unload the bench for situational advantages and we’ve seen hints of how frequently he’d replace a slow baserunner with Felix when Pie was up and riding the bench, so you can understand how they might use the extra speed. I don’t think they’ve been happy with Felix’s ability to steal bases (all of 3 last year – Gathright went 21 of 25), but the issue becomes more who Gathright (or Pie) would pinch run for on this team. Fukudome, Theriot, Soriano can run fine on their own. You’d lose too much on defense by replacing Lee. DeRosa’s not that slow, and you’d lose a lot of positional flexibility. Taking Ram or Soto’s bat out of the lineup in all but the most dire spots seems like overmanaging. There isn’t an obvious speed platoon here, unless there’s a slow outfielder signing to come.
This doesn’t seem like a good use of resources, but there’s got be a few more things in play which affect it so maybe it’s too soon to judge. I wonder if it’ll eventually come out that the money involved s only guaranteed if he makes the team. It’d make more sense – it’s good to have a Gathright around in case something does happen with Pie, as long as you don’t have to pay him – but make this whole post moot. I think I’m also forgetting that .8 mil isn’t much more than minimum these days.