Cubs manager Lou Piniella has made no secret of the fact he would like another left-handed bat to put in the middle of his lineup next season, and that is no doubt the reason that the Cubs are currently pursuing Milton Bradley pretty heavily. Still, Bradley has a few teams who are interested in signing him so it's no guarantee that the Cubs will be that team. So maybe that's why they went ahead and signed former Tampa Bay Ray -- under Lou Piniella -- and Kansas City Royal Joey Gathright to a one-year deal on Tuesday.
"We're thrilled to have him," Jim Hendry said. "We've been really looking for a guy like this for quite some time. He's arguably one of the fastest guys in the game, if not the fastest. Our people think he can be even better in the National League because of double-switches and the other roles.''
Gathright is incredibly fast, but if the Cubs are planning on using him as anything other than a defensive replacement in the outfield, pinch-runner, or car-hurdler, they're going to be sorry. Even though Gathright is one of the fastest guys in baseball, and has stolen 78 bases in his career, he's still been thrown out 27 times. Someone with his speed should have a much higher success rate than 74 percent.
He's also a career .263 hitter with an OBP of .328, so he can't be considered a replacement for Alfonso Soriano at the top of the order either. Still, Gathright's skills probably are better suited for the National League rather than the American League, where he spent his entire career, and considering he'll only cost the Cubs $800,000 for a year it's a low risk/high reward type of signing.