The Cubs claimed speedy centerfielder Julio Borbon off of waivers yesterday. Borbon made himself known amongst the Cubs faithful by being caught stealing to end the game. Prior to that there was a lot of speculation about the roster move to clear a space on both the 40 man and 25 man rosters.
Many speculated that Borbon addition would mean the end of Dave Sappelt in the lineup. The move makes sense as Sappelt is the Cubs current fifth outfielder, but it would mean the end of the dramatic platooning the Cubs had put in place to start the season. Borbon would be the only true centerfielder on the roster and would provide the fastest player on the roster. Of course, Alberto Gonzalez was the player the removed from both rosters to make room for Borbon, but created the unfavorable roster construction of 6 outfielders for the time being.
The Cubs will probably play with this roster until Ian Stewart is ready to come back, and that is when the Cubs are going to have to decide between sending down Sappelt or Borbon. Sappelt according to AZ Phil has two option years remaining, and so would be the no risk move to send down. However, sending him down would mean the end of the lefty starter lineup. Borbon, on the other hand, is out of options and would have to be waived again to be snuck to an increasingly crowded Iowa outfield situation. The situation appears that at this point in the season the Cubs have second overall priority on the waiver claim for Borbon so it is not known at this time how likely Borbon could sneak through waivers.
The Cubs inability to hit lefties at this point is well documented. Here is the Cubs platoon numbers at this point in the season.
The numbers are not good against left handed pitching. The solution suggested by many is to ditch the platoons in the outfield, and keep two of the hottest hitters in the lineup in Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus.
The reason why this seems rash is that there have been a grand total of four starts against left handers. The left handed starters the Cubs have faced are Wandy Rodriguez, Mike Minor, Madison Bumgarner, and Derek Holland. Those are four quality starters and only four games. None of those guys are exactly subpar starters like Jimmy Anderson, who was known for dominating the Cubs. You do not throw out the nearly 1000 plate appearances of Scott Hairston with a slash line of .273/.323/.498. Sappelt does not have the same track record, but his short major league numbers suggest that he would be equally successful with a long term chance at the position.
Borbon would add another outfielder that struggles against left handed pitching. Borbon has hit .293/.333/.370 against righties and lefties .245/.287/.309. But ultimately I think Sappelt gets sent down when Stewart comes back. That gives the Cubs three outfielders that struggle hitting left handers. Schierhotlz has the strongest numbers against left handed pitchers amongst the left handed outfielders, and if his hot start continues he deserves a shot at being an everyday player. Hairston could be passable in centerfielder, and so a DeJesus/Hairston platoon in centerfield could be effective. That is probably the outfield configuration until another opportunity to add talent arises.