Freel Trade Another Good Move By Hendry

Newest Cub will give team more flexibility

The story of Bobby Scales was a very nice one for the Cubs this week.  A 31-year old journeyman who'd spent his entire eleven years of professional baseball in the minor leagues finally got a taste of the Majors this week, and even got a hit in his first game.  Scales story taught us all that through hard work and determination, we can all live our dreams for a few days at least.

Unfortunately Scales' story also had another moral for the Cubs.  They're incredibly thin.  Anytime you need to call up a 31-year old career minor-league journeyman to fill a slot on your team, that's a great indicator that you need to look outside your organization for help, and on Friday afternoon the Cubs did just that.

The Cubs sent backup outfielder Joey Gathright to the Baltimore Orioles for utility man Ryan Freel.  Gathright just joined the Cubs this season but didn't have much use to Lou Piniella as he's not the best hitter and really only has one useful dimension - speed.

Freel on the other hand will give Lou a lot of options. 

"When we play our right-handed lineup, when [Freel]'s not in there, we'll have a right-hand bat sitting on our bench," Piniella said. "So from a versatility standpoint, it helps us."

Freel can play anywhere in the outfield and also back up second and third base.  In other words, he's like Mark DeRosa without the big stick.

That's not to say that Freel is worthless in the box, as he does have a career average of .271 and an OBP of .357, but the value he brings to the team won't really be seen in the box score.  There's also the fact that the Cubs convinced Baltimore to pick up $2.7 of the $3.3 million left on Freel's contract.  So they're getting a more valuable player and it won't cost them anything as Gathright was due $600,000 for the rest of this season anyway.

So this trade looks a lot like many moves Jim Hendry has made since coming to Chicago.  It's not a big splash, but it's a trade that definitely makes the Cubs a better team, and that's all anybody can ask for.

The only question is whether there's room on the roster for Freel's imaginary friend Farney.

Along with writing for, Tom Fornelli can also be found contributing at FanHouse, SPORTSbyBROOKS, and his own Chicago sports blog Foul Balls.  His imaginary friend is named Roscoe and he tells him to burn things.

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