Results tagged ‘ David DeJesus ’
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Baseball is finally back. Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training last week, while position players reported this weekend. And Cubs fans everywhere got a little more excited with the realization that the baseball season is almost here.
To get us back into gear, the February issue of Vine Line previewed the squad heading into Mesa, Ariz. We broke the team down into five categories—starting pitching, relief pitching, catchers, infielders and outfielders—to give fans a clearer picture of what to expect when the Cubs break camp and head to Chicago.
Below is a look at the outfield. The February issue is on newsstands now, with single issues available by calling 800-618-8377. Or visit the Vine Line page on Cubs.com to subscribe to the magazine.
While Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus appear to be locks in the outfield, the Cubs may be inclined to move either of them if the right deal comes along this year.
In 2012, Soriano provided value to the Cubs in a multitude of areas. He was surprisingly durable (his 151 games played were the most in his Cubs career) and drove in a career-high 108 runs (though consistently hitting in the clean-up spot for the first time certainly helped). He also slugged 32 home runs and received a few MVP votes, accomplishments he hadn’t achieved since his first season with the club. Soriano markedly improved on defense and emerged as a leader on a team that was sorely lacking in that department after trading veterans at the deadline.
DeJesus provides strong defense in right field and delivers solid on-base skills. The signing of Nate Schierholtz means DeJesus might spend quite a bit of time in center field, where his defensive skills are average at best. But that should increase the value of his bat due to the lower expectations for power that come with moving from a corner outfield spot.
The left-handed Schierholtz provides a strong bat against right-handed pitching and solid defense, including a great arm in right field. It’s likely he will be part of a platoon with new acquisition Scott Hairston. Dave Sappelt is also a rangy outfielder who could rack up some innings in any of the three spots. Elite prospect Brett Jackson, who made his big league debut last season, will start 2013 in Triple-A and continue to refine his swing and work on his contact rate.
The trajectory of the Cubs’ 2013 outfield could be similar to that of the 2012 starting pitching staff, a unit that looked vastly different at the end of the season than it did at the beginning.
The Cubs kicked off the holiday season in fine fashion on Friday with the second annual lighting of the holiday tree and the grand opening of the Rink at Wrigley. Hundreds of fans were on hand to watch Tom and Todd Ricketts, David and Kim DeJesus, Fergie Jenkins, Congressman Mike Quigley and many others light the 30-foot tree, which is located in front of the famous Wrigley Field marquee. Chicago Cubs Charities and WGN also kicked off a toy drive at Wrigley. All presents will be donated to Jennifer Hudson’s Julian D. King Gift Foundation.
In the November issue of Vine Line, our Better Half feature looks at the work the Cubs wives do behind the scenes to improve their communities. Writer Jim Distasio also wanted to get a feel for what the life of a major league spouse is like. Given the travel—major league ballplayers are on the road for 81 games each year and spend a month and a half at Spring Training—and erratic daily schedule, it’s far from routine.
We didn’t have room for this piece in the November issue, so we wanted to share it here. It’s something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving: family. Kim DeJesus, wife of Cubs right fielder David DeJesus, spoke with us about how she keeps her family together given the Cubs rigorous schedule.
The Cubs play 81 away games each season, and Kim DeJesus likes to be in the stands for every one—cheering for husband David and logging some impressive frequent flyer miles.
In fact, Kim has no hesitation proclaiming, “I travel more than every baseball wife.”
Four years ago, when David played for the Kansas City Royals, Kim was a fixture on nearly every road trip. And those early days were “fabulous.”
“We would stay up until 3 a.m. watching movies, order room service and wake up at 11 a.m.,” she said. “Dave would leave for the field around 1 p.m., and I would spend the day exploring a new city and then go to his games at night.”
The trend continued after the couple married and had their son. Three weeks after the baby was born in 2010, following approval by her doctor, Kim and little Kingston were on the road so the family could be together during its infancy. In 2011, when David played for Oakland, Kim went on every single road trip, save for one. David and Kim both wanted to have a strong family unit, and they didn’t want David to miss all the first in their child’s life.
Kim cut back on the travel during Dave’s inaugural season with the Cubs to start working again part time and spend more time with her family in suburban Wheaton. Yet, even though she was “taking a little break this year,” Kim still attended more than half of the Cubbies’ away games.
“For me, the coolest thing is getting to see my husband live out his dreams,” Kim says.
David DeJesus did it all for the Cubs this season. (Photo by Stephen Green)
2012 Positions Played: RF (68%), CF (30%), LF (2%)
2012 Batting (AVG/OBP/SLG): .263/.350/.403 in 583 PA
2012 Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs): 1.7
2013 Contract Status: Signed (through 2013)
David DeJesus is the type of player that’s easy to take for granted: solid across the board but without one specific skill that stands out from all the rest. It turns out that’s exactly what GM Jed Hoyer and Manager Dale Sveum like most about him.
DeJesus played 148 games in his first season as a Cub, after signing a two-year, $10 million deal last winter. Setting the table from the leadoff spot, his .350 on-base percentage led the team’s regulars. He also was an intelligent, above-average baserunner who knew when to take an extra base on balls in play even if he wasn’t an effective base stealer. Speaking of extra bases, he added eight triples and 28 doubles to his nine home runs. And his defense was considered solid across the board, even though he took a dip in defensive metrics this season.
In general, it can be advantageous to evaluate each of these components—hitting, plate discipline, speed, etc.—separately. But inevitably we get to the point where we want to compare different players and weigh their offensive, defensive and base running contributions as an entire package. We often do this in our heads, constructing our own personal formula to deem which players are the most valuable. We also can turn to statistics like Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which are based off the relationship between performance, runs and team wins.
While WAR often does us just fine, it’s based on playing time. Let’s instead look to Baseball Prospectus’ True Average (TAv), which takes the value of every offensive event (including base running) and puts it on a scale similar to batting average. It also controls for a player’s park environment, which is important when looking at DeJesus’ career across three different uniforms. Simply, .260 is always league average, .300 is a great season, and so on. DeJesus has consistently ranked above-average, aside from 2007.
As you can see, the Cubs signed the 32-year-old outfielder betting on a bounce-back year, and they got one. He set a career-high in walk percentage (10.5%) and brought his strikeout rate down from a career-worst mark in 2011 (17.0% to 15.3%). This came along with a slight uptick in power, as he feasted on low-to-middle-in pitches from right-handers.
Here’s a classic case of what Hoyer and Theo Epstein talk about when saying they want to pay for future, not past performances in the free agent market. Look for this type of short-term commitment to be a model again this winter, as the Cubs look to address needs at third base and center field. And look for DeJesus to continue to be a model player for the fledgeling “Cubs Way.”
(Photos by Stephen Green)
Spoiler alert: Trailing the rival Cardinals 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Darwin Barney’s clutch two-out, two-strike, two-run home run into the left-field bleachers tied the game 4-4. David DeJesus, who went 4-for-6 on the day, hit a single to drive in Brett Jackson in the 11th and propel the Cubs to a dramatic 5-4 victory.
The Cubs continued their run of success on Tuesday, claiming a 2-1 victory over the White Sox in a combined nine-hit pitchers’ duel. On Monday, we broke down the Cubs’ pitching matchups against the Sox, and yesterday we examined the infielders. In our final installment, we dissect the designated hitters and the three outfield positions.
Alfonso Soriano (.266/.315/.485, 13 HR, 43 RBI, 13 2B) vs. Adam Dunn (.225/.369/.559, 23 HR, 52 RBI, 54 BB)
Alfonso Soriano didn’t hit his first home run until May 15, but since then he has been providing the kind of pop the Cubs lineup has been looking for all season. His 13 home runs are tied for the team high, and he leads the squad in RBI. Even at age 36, the everyday left fielder is still proving his worth at the plate. As a likely trade candidate, Soriano could be a key piece for a team eying a full-time DH.
Even if Adam Dunn ended his 2012 season right now, he would still be a candidate for comeback player of the year, considering his miserable 2011 campaign. Dunn leads the major leagues in home runs and leads the AL in walks. Of his 293 plate appearances, 65.4 percent have ended in one of the “three true outcomes”—a strikeout, a walk or a home run.
Reed Johnson (.292/.355/.425, 33 R) vs. Dayan Viciedo (.261/.294/.450, 12 HR, 30 RBI)
Reed Johnson’s already limited playing time will likely take an even bigger hit when first baseman Bryan LaHair moves to the outfield to accommodate the call-up of elite prospect Anthony Rizzo. In limited plate appearances (124), Johnson’s .292 average and timely hitting have been a big boost to the Cubs offense. His ability to play all three outfield spots is also a plus.
Dayan Viciedo is finally becoming the power hitter everyone thought he would be when the Sox signed him in 2008. Though his large frame costs him a bit of range defensively, he has not yet committed an error. This season, he’s put up respectable numbers and played smart defense. Plus, at only 23, he’s likely to become a more complete player as time goes on.
Tony Campana (.281/.320/.317, 24 SB) vs. Alejandro De Aza (.295/.366/.406, 14 SB, 11 2B)
Tony Campana has the ability to be a difference maker for the Cubs. While he might soon be relegated to the bench with the Rizzo shuffle, he’s stolen a league-best 24 bases in just 49 games. On multiple occasions, Campana has turned walks into runs, but his 22.7% strikeout rate is a little alarming for a speedster. Despite an average arm, Campana covers a lot of ground in left or center, making him a very valuable defensive player.
Alejandro De Aza has been one of the better surprises for the Sox this season. After spending parts of the last three years playing sporadically at the big league level, De Aza stepped into the leadoff role on Opening Day and has been an excellent table-setter. He’s hit near .300 and gotten on base at a rate of almost .370, making him a good complement to the mashers in the middle of the Sox’s order.
David DeJesus (.261/.362/.389, 13 2B) vs. Alex Rios (.288/.311/.472, 35 RBI, 5 3B)
David DeJesus has been the Cubs’ right fielder all season, but he’s played center in this series—and he’ll likely stay there with the previously mentioned lineup changes. But the transition to center shouldn’t be that difficult for the 10-year veteran, who has spent time at all three outfield spots during his career with Kansas City and Oakland. Offensively, DeJesus has been one of the most consistent players in the Cubs’ lineup. His on-base percentage is 100 points higher than his batting average, and he has been a regular at the top half of Manager Dale Sveum’s lineup card.
If it weren’t for teammates Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn, the league would be talking about Alex Rios as one of the better bounce-back stories of the year. After hitting .227 in 2011, the nine-year vet is having his finest season since coming over from Toronto in 2009. His five triples leads the AL, and he has a respectable 3.0 defensive UZR.
David DeJesus has never been the flashiest player, but what he brings to a team goes far beyond numbers on a stat sheet. As Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s first major acquisition, DeJesus was brought to the Cubs for his work ethic, exceptional defense, strong on-base percentage and leadership in the clubhouse. And the versatile right fielder, who has a .288/.379/.412 triple-slash line, is off to a great start in Chicago. For the June issue of Vine Line, we sat down with DeJesus to talk about leadership, playing the game the right way and his connection to Chicago.
“We plan to be here as long as possible. This is going to be our home base,” DeJesus said. “It makes it better when you’re playing for your hometown team, and you can go 45 minutes to home at the end of the season or at the end of the day. And I love being a Cub.”
To read the full profile of DeJesus, pick up the June edition of Vine Line. Or subscribe today at cubs.com/vineline. The following is a short excerpt from the June cover story by Gregory Trotter.
David DeJesus charged hard around the bases.
Rounding second, he nimbly hopped over a grounder that skittered into the outfield, and then broke into a toothy grin. Covered in sweat, he returned to the dugout to retrieve his glove—for fielding practice. The late-April night game against the St. Louis Cardinals was still two and a half hours away.
This batting practice display offered a glimpse of the intangibles—the intensity, the passion, the childlike joy—that likely convinced Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein to make DeJesus his first and most prominent offseason roster addition. It was by no means a splashy signing. But, as an elite defensive outfielder with a solid bat, DeJesus was a bodily manifestation of “playing the game the right way,” a phrase often used to describe the new Cubs Way.
“He’s a perfect example of where this organization is headed,” said teammate Reed Johnson, who speaks gushingly about DeJesus’ play in right field and his work ethic.
For DeJesus, signing with the Cubs was nothing less than an alignment of the stars. The 32-year-old right fielder was looking for a bounce-back season after suffering a frustrating down year in 2011 with the Oakland A’s, and Epstein’s faith reaffirmed what he always believed about himself as a player. It also provided him the luxury of being able to drive home after games to his new residence in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, where he lives with his wife, Kim, and their 2-year-old son, Kingston.
“It’s an honor,” DeJesus said of Epstein’s pursuit of him. “With the track record he has of bringing in quality baseball players … it’s definitely something I’m proud of. I’m happy he thinks of me like that.”
Last Friday, Manager Dale Sveum set his lineup against the Dodgers the same way he plans on setting it Thursday against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.
1. David DeJesus – RF
2. Darwin Barney – 2B
3. Starlin Castro – SS
4. Bryan LaHair – 1B
5. Alfonso Soriano – LF
6. Ian Stewart – 3B
7. Marlon Byrd – CF
8. Geovany Soto – C
9. Ryan Dempster – P
Throughout the spring, there was speculation about the top of the order, mainly over where Castro would bat. Sveum even toyed with Soriano in the leadoff spot, but after a powerful preseason (.316, six homers, five doubles), Soriano landed in the middle of the order. Barney was rewarded for his .392 Cactus League average with the second slot, and, despite a slow first half of spring, LaHair turned it around enough to secure the cleanup spot.
MESA, Ariz.–The Cubs are gearing up for their first live game action of the season this afternoon at HoHoKam Park. After morning workouts, the club will play an intrasquad game–blue team versus white–essentially pitting the major league squad against the minor leaguers. The game starts at 1 p.m. and is open to the public.
Here are today’s intrasquad lineups:
1. Soriano – LF
2. Stewart – 3B
3. Castro – SS
4. LaHair – 1B
5. Byrd – CF
6. DeJesus – RF
7. Lalli – C
8. Barney – 2B
9. DeWitt – DH
T. Wood – P
1. Jackson – CF
2. Sczcur – RF
3. Baker – 2B
4. Rizzo – 1B
5. Johnson – L
6. Vitters – 3B
7. Lake – SS
8. Brenly – C
9. Campana – DH
Wells – P