Big On Bigbie

Former Cubs broadcaster Steve Stone told a Chicago radio station last week that the "only person stopping Larry Bigbie from being a league batting champion is Larry Bigbie, himself."

The news that Larry Bigbie, was traded from the Colorado Rockies to the St. Louis Cardinals late last Wednesday night for Ray King, wasn't the big news, that the fans of Cardinal Nation were looking for, from the Winter Meetings.

Or was it?

No one is more excited about coming to St. Louis than the 28 year old left hand hitting outfielder himself.

"Man, I'll tell ya," said an overjoyed Bigbie. "I figured I was probably going somewhere. But there, I didn't expect. This is great news, to be in an organization like that and close to home.

"That pitching staff along with (Albert) Pujols and (Scott) Rolen ... my time in Baltimore is definitely going to help me because I got to play with some big-name guys there, too, and in Yankee Stadium and in Boston.

"So when you come into Wrigley Field and go to Houston, those 'rivalries' aren't going to be new to me."

A .268 career hitter in five seasons (4 1/2 with the Orioles); Bigbie was limited to only 66 at-bats with Colorado last season because of nagging injuries to include a sore Achilles' tendon towards the final two months of the season.

In addition there is concerned about the drop off of power from his bat. Some of the loss of power production could be attributed to a strained right shoulder that bothered him most of the year and a hamstring injury earlier in the season.

"The Cardinals are looking to give me every chance to play left field," he said. "Going into spring training, that's what my outlook is going to be. They're still in the market to get a right fielder. I know they're talking to Jacque Jones."

Bigbie will be joining fellow outfielders, So Taguchi and John Rodriguez in spring training to compete for the starting role in left field.

The Cardinals are still looking for someone to play in right field to take the place of the retiring Larry Walker. Bigbie, could see some playing time there on a possible platoon basis against right-handed pitching.

Bigbie is expected by the Cardinals to be able to play both corner outfield positions, though you would like to have a little more power output from those positions, than he's generated over his major league career.

In 1156 major league at bats, Bigbie has hit just 31 home runs.

Defensively, Bigbie can also play in center field if necessary. In the last three years he's played there in 49 games. So Taguchi will be the back up center fielder on the depth chart but Bigbie could see playing time there in an emergency.

The scouting report on Bigbie is that he has the potential to be a very good hitter. Former Chicago Cubs broadcaster, Steve Stone has gone as far as saying Bigbie could potentially be a league batting champion.

Bigbie has a nice level swing that allows him to hit to all fields, especially against right-handed pitching and to a lesser degree even lefties.

His home-run power is from left-center to right-center only. Bigbie has traditionally struggled against southpaws. In 2004 when he saw a lot more playing time, (139 games) he ranked 6th lowest batting average, in the league vs. left-handed pitchers.

Reports indicate that Bigbie's bat speed and approach to hitting make it difficult for him to get around on the inside hard stuff.

The Cardinals will probably hit Bigbie near the bottom of the batting order to take some of the pressure off of him. He has hit lead off from time to time, but there is nothing to indicate the Cardinals would use him there.

Bigbie has decent speed on the base paths. He won't remind you of Lou Brock or Vince Coleman, but he can score from second on most hits to right field and into the gaps.

His speed comes in handy playing in the outfield, in cutting off balls hit into the gap. He has an accurate and strong enough arm to keep runners honest and that could lead to him getting playing time in all outfield positions for the Cardinals next season.

It's possible, before the 2006 season is over, Cardinals fans could be just about as excited about having Bigbie in St. Louis, as he was, getting the news he was coming to St. Louis.

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