02/14/12 2:51 PM EST
Inbox: Seeking youth on North Side
Cubs beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers fans' questions
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Yoenis Cespedes is getting all the attention, but I like the idea of the Cubs signing Jorge Soler. He's younger, which seems to be the direction things are going. Are the Cubs seriously pursuing Soler?
-- Andy S., Iowa City, Iowa
The Cubs have been reported as the front-runner to sign 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Soler, but team officials are keeping quiet. Considering how the "mystery team" has been the winner in the bidding for Cespedes, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder this offseason, I wouldn't order a uniform for Soler just yet.
There also are reports the Cubs signed 19-year-old Cuban pitcher Gerardo Concepcion, although the team has yet to officially confirm that. Soler is waiting for clearance from Major League Baseball before he can be declared a free agent.
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Aren't the Cubs older in the outfield this year than last? Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Reed Johnson and David DeJesus are all past their prime. When do we see youth out there?
-- Lee B., Idaho Falls, Idaho
The youth is coming in Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur. When? That's up to them and their development.
The projected starting outfield will be slightly younger than one year ago because DeJesus, 32, is two years younger than Kosuke Fukudome, 34. You'll see a new Byrd, 34, this year after he changed his diet and dropped about 40 pounds. Soriano just turned 36 and will likely get more days off to stay fresh. That's why players like Campana and Dave Sappelt are important because they'll be needed to sub. Johnson provides energy, too. What's held him back are back issues.
I loved Campana last season -- his energy and the speed he brings is great. Do you see the Cubs trying to develop him more in the Minors or use his speed on the basepaths off the bench in the Majors this year?
-- Devin P., Zion, Ill.
Manager Dale Sveum has said he'd consider inserting Campana into the leadoff spot. That said, Campana has to show he can get on base consistently to use his speed.