Todd Hollandsworth played two seasons (2004-05) for the Cubs and he knows by first-hand experience what draws players like Jason Heyward, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist to sign on as free agents. To be on The Team that wins it all and ends the Cubs drought.
Holly has stepped behind the mic and in front of the camera. He’s part of Comcast SportsNet’s Cubs Pre- and Post-Game coverage and co-hosts The Leadoff Spot on MLB Network Radio (SiriusXM Radio).
Chicago Cubs Online: Let’s start with the numerous changes Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer made to the roster this winter. What are your thoughts on the Cubs signing Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey, re-signing Trevor Cahill and acquiring Adam Warren?
Todd Hollandsworth: All of these moves represent an upgrade or improved depth at positions that Theo and Jed felt needed to be addressed. Dexter Fowler was outstanding last year, but is a free agent and had to be replaced. Jason Heyward is one of the best young outfielders in the game. Easy to understand.
CCO: Which off-season move do you think will provide the biggest impact for Joe Maddon this season?
TH: John Lackey is as significant an acquisition as any in baseball. Length and depth to a rotation, he’s battle tested, proven winner. Pitches with a chip on his shoulder, LOVE IT!
CCO: What are your thoughts on the Cubs moving Heyward to center field? Do you think he can provide above-average defense in center with Kyle Schwarber in left and Jorge Soler/Chris Coghlan in right?
TH: The outfield configuration can work. It’s not perfect, but should be at least league average. Heyward will be solid no matter where you stick him. I think you could stick Mike Trout in center and we’d be a little curious as to how it goes.
CCO: Being an outfielder and playing all three spots during your big league career, what will the transition be like for Jason Heyward shifting from right field to a full-time centerfielder?
TH: Center field is the easiest of the three. Speed, athleticism and responsibility are what separates the positions. You’re the captain out there. That’s the short answer, haha!
CCO: From what you’ve seen, will Kyle Schwarber be able to provide Matt Holliday-level defense in left field?
TH: Schwarber should be fine, he’s a good athlete. Also, lots of reps in spring
CCO: Who is the one position player you are looking forward to seeing this spring? Who is the one pitcher, starter or reliever, you are looking forward to seeing this spring?
TH: Jorge Soler, without a doubt. His potential is why he didn’t get traded, has shown he can be the most impactful player on the field at times. Lackey’s influence and professionalism will be fun to watch.
CCO: As long as there are no hiccups or major injuries in Spring Training, how many games do you think the Cubs will win this season?
TH: 95-105 wins. There isn’t a deeper team in baseball. They still can acquire talent at the trade deadline if need be.
A huge ‘thank you’ goes out to Todd Hollandsworth for answering our Cubs questions. You can hear Todd and former GM Steve Phillips spar every morning on the Leadoff Spot (MLB Network Radio) and can follow him on Twitter (@hollytime28).