With Marlon Byrd shipped to Boston, the Cubs now have a bit of a void left in center field.
Most fans are clamoring for the organization to bring up top prospect Brett Jackson and let him start everyday. Just judging by the Cubs' 4-11 record, that would seem to make sense.
But it doesn't for a lot of other reasons, including financially and Jackson's development, as David Kaplan points out.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer won't rush Jackson up, so don't count on him patrolling center field at Wrigley Field until sometime this summer. The Byrd trade does ensure there will be room for Jackson in June and July, if they choose to go that route, however. With Byrd on the roster, there wasn't an opportunity for Jackson to play everyday in the majors.
While the Cubs wait for Jackson to be ready, they will go with a platoon of Tony Campana, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather in center field. All three are capable defenders out there, and Campana's speed should make the Cubs even better defensively in the outfield. Byrd was playing some great defense so far, but Campana can cover more ground.
Offensively, the Cubs will seemingly be better, given Byrd's 3-for-43 start at the plate. The crazy thing is he had an RBI single in the first game of the season, and then had just two hits the rest of the way in a Cubs uniform.
Campana won't slug the ball or draw many walks, but his speed is a huge asset both in the batter's box and on the basepaths, as his two infield singles Sunday showed.
Mather is very fundamentally sound and while he's not particularly great in any one area, he is decent across the board. He can hit for some power, show some speed in the outfield and on the bases and can work the count with some good at-bats.
Johnson's role probably won't change a whole lot. He will still likely be the fourth outfielder and spend a lot of time as a defensive replacement in left field for Alfonso Soriano late in games. He will still probably start in place of David DeJesus in right against lefties more often than not. With Byrd gone, Johnson just has more opportunity to get some at-bats.
All three guys can play all three positions in the outfield, something that will be very valuable to manager Dale Sveum.