11/25/2013 1:02 P.M. ET
Inbox: Who will lead off for Cubs in 2014?
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat fields offseason questions from Chicago fans
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
The Cubs mailbag is back. Got a question? Please send it to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and include your full name and hometown. Happy holidays.
Now that David DeJesus is gone, what will the Cubs do in the leadoff spot?
-- Joshua M., Bolingbrook, Ill.
Good question, and we won't know that until we see how manager Rick Renteria uses the lineup in Spring Training. Junior Lake batted .405 with a .436 on-base percentage hitting first, and he could be an option, although he's not the typical leadoff man. Lake can bunt, has speed, but doesn't walk much. He is currently playing in the Dominican Republic winter league, batting fourth for Estrellas.
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Or, Renteria could look at Starlin Castro there. Castro has a career slash line of .300/.345/.431 batting first, and he has said he likes being at the top of the order. New hitting coach Bill Mueller has his work cut out for him. Cubs hitters who batted first were a combined .257/.321/.398. Compare those to the Cardinals' numbers: .300/.379/.446.
Wouldn't David Price look awesome in a Cubs uniform? As for trade bait, the Cubs have a logjam, it seems, in the infield at the Minor League level, and the Rays could use some help in that area.
-- Austin K., Bradenton, Fla.
If you're talking about trading prospects like Javier Baez or Kris Bryant for Price, that's not going to happen. Baez and Bryant are pretty much untouchable. Neither is considered ready for the big leagues either. According to the reports I've seen, the Rays are looking for a first baseman, catcher and one or two late-inning relievers, not a middle infielder. The Cubs also are in the market for a backup catcher and relief help.
When should we look to see Bryant make his Major League debut?
-- Ben S., Mundelein, Ill.
That's up to Bryant. Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, likes to say players need to "dominate" at the Minor League level before they are promoted. Bryant reached high Class A Daytona last season, and even though he was impressive -- and dominating -- in the Arizona Fall League, winning Most Valuable Player honors, he'll open in the Minors in 2014.
With the expected arrival of Mike Olt and/or Bryant at third base, what's the future for Josh Vitters in the Cubs' organization?
-- David M., Merritt Island, Fla.
Vitters isn't in the mix at third anymore. The Cubs want him to focus on the outfield this offseason.
Are the Cubs planning the same upgrades to the visitors' clubhouse that I hear about for the home clubhouse?
-- Bob P., Chicago
No. The visitors' clubhouse will be remodeled and expanded, but it won't have all the bells and whistles the home clubhouse will.
Is Kyuji Fujikawa coming back?
-- Cindy I., Mesa, Ari.
Yes, but there's no exact date when that will be. After he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in June, Fujikawa, 33, spent most of the year in Mesa, rehabbing three to four hours a day. Most pitchers need two years to return from Tommy John surgery. Fujikawa didn't throw a baseball until early October, and that was just to play catch. When I asked him last month about whether he'll be back in 2014, Fujikawa's response was: "Definitely."
I have been thinking that we should change the way people look at the Cubs. I mean, the Brewers, Yankees, Cardinals, Twins, Pirates, even Padres and all others look strong, fight and that stuff. People look at the Cubs and they're like, "Oh, poor team. Let's give them a chance to win. They are lovely, nice little Cubs, and they're losers." We have to make people look at us as being strong, rude, aggressive ... you know. I hate when somebody asks me about my favorite team, and when I say, "Cubs," they say, "Oh, you are so nice."
-- Chuy A., Baja, Mexico
Winning will change that, Chuy.