Todd Walker – Defensively Speaking

Todd Walker to Baltimore?

For years we have all heard pitching and defense win ball games, so where does Todd Walker fit into that equation? With the latest news on Friday….apparently nowhere. Jayson Stark from reported in the ‘Insider’ section that the Cubs are talking to the Orioles about a trade that would send Walker to Baltimore. According to Stark the Orioles are concerned about Brain Roberts’ recovery from a dislocated elbow. Stark did not mention who the Cubs would receive in return. This entire off-season we have heard the rumors of the Cubs desire to move Todd Walker, but why?

Walker is a fan favorite, no doubt, especially with the response at last weeks Cubs Convention when Dusty Baker and Jim Hendry were discussing who would be playing second base for the Cubs in 2006. I think Walker is a ‘throw back’ player, let’s face it he looks like one of us. Walker is not the muscle bound, natural athlete that has become the norm in professional sports. He is scrappy and a very good hitter, but what about his defense?

The Cubs have made no secret they want to improve on the lack of fundamentals that have plagued this team for the past 2 seasons. They have said they want to be faster, play better defense and do the ‘small’ things that win ball games. And with that in mind, Todd Walker does not fit in the Cubs for 2006.

The middle infield positions have changed over the years. When I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, a slugging shortstop or second baseman was unheard of, that is one of the things that made Ryne Sandberg a Hall of Famer. I remember the likes of Rick Burleson, Dave Concepcion, Davey Lopes, Mark Belanger, Tim Foli, Glenn Hubbard and Frank White to name a few, that were more known for their glove than their bat. What offense you got from those types of guys was a bonus, it was the middle infield defense that was most important.

Is it a coincidence that once Nomar and Walker left the Red Sox they won a World Series? There have been several times over the past 2 seasons that if the Cubs would have turned a routine double play they could have won the ballgame, but most importantly saved the pitcher from running up his pitch count. When you give Major League teams extra outs, no matter how bad they may be, you will lose the ballgame.

The Cubs have proven that having a team full of home run hitters does not win ballgames. Look at the 2004 lineup (when it was healthy): Sosa, Alou, Ramirez, Lee, Garciaparra, Barrett and Walker. A Ton of home runs….but no playoffs. Even Ron Santo mentioned last weekend that his philosophy has changed. Santo always felt having a home run hitting team was the way to win at Wrigley, but he said not anymore.

One of the biggest arguments I have heard supporting Walker’s defense has been, ‘well he only made 3 errors last year’. This is true and only 3 errors is a tremendous season, but how many balls was he unable to get to? How many double plays should have been turned? How many extra pitches were thrown?

Apparently the Cubs are looking to move Todd Walker and as much as I would like to see him stay, how much would a new middle infield help the Cubs in 2006? Todd Walker is the least of the Cubs problems on offense….but a team’s best offense is a good defense.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon