The Chicago Cubs are attempting to make their franchise relevant after many decades of being a punch line for jokes. I’ve used a few myself.
The Cubs have a relatively young team with a starting lineup based on youth and with youth often comes promise with production lagging behind.
Junior Lake is a 24-year-old right-handed bat who, in his 2013 introductory season, slashed .284/.332/.428 with six home runs and just 16 RBI in 236 at bats. Lake also had a 26.8% K rate and a 5.1% BB rate. Unfortunately in 2014 the K rate has increased to 33% and the BB rate has decreased to 4.4%. Not an encouraging trend. “The Lake Show” is slashing .242/.273/.438 for 2014 with eight home runs and 23 RBI.
Lake has had the tag “athleticism” attached to him from the moment the Cubs signed Lake.
Originally Lake was positioned at shortstop, but the Cubs moved him to the outfield, partly in trying to lessen the pressure of his development and taking into consideration his physical growth and questionable foot work at short.
Lake has the potential to be an above average defensive player as he gains experience in the outfield and Lake has seen defensive duty in both center and left field. Lake also has an above average arm and speed.
Lake has demonstrated his power potential recently with a two home run effort against the Marlins. Lake’s size, 6’3’ and 215 listed pounds, clearly show a physical presence. Lake could offer significant right-handed punch.
The negative is obvious and it is plate discipline. In 2014 that has degraded and Lake is on track to have a 150+ K season, but Lake’s power has also seen an increase as that potential provides a tease that may be worth examining.
What would it take to get Lake?
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer know the Boston system and both are not above making moves they feel will potentially improve their ball club. What would be a player(s) that could tempt the Cubs to close down “The Lake Show?”
The start would have to be another junior as in Jackie Bradley.
Bradley has been an incredible disappointment and his stock has obviously fallen. Bradley is currently hovering around the Mendoza Line, but actually has a K% lower than that of Lake. Bradley also has a higher BB% and does have a .288 with RISP. Lake has a rather dismal .175 RISP. Bradley also has more doubles (12) than Lake (10) and has 21 RBI to Lake’s 23. Both Lake and Bradley have similar numbers regarding plate appearances.
Where Bradley has an edge is defensively. Bradley is clearly the more polished fielder and, like Lake, can play left or center. Where Lake has the edge is average and power potential. What would the Red Sox have to add?
The Cubs would, no doubt, be seeking prospects and not a vet lounging on the roster so enter PTBNL (Player To Be Named Later).
The PTBNL is usually the result of an inability to decide both value and need. The PTBNL must be closed within six months and there is usually a list of candidates submitted and that becomes the basis for choice.
In certain circumstances there is an “agreement” that the choice is dependent upon performance of those involved in the main body of the trade. How Lake and Bradley perform would be the deciding factor.
Lake is not Stanton, but Lake is a right hand power bat with unrealized potential – much like Wily Mo Pena.