What initially looked like a day-to-day right quad strain for Alfonso Soriano has turned into a small tear and a 15-day DL stint which will keep Cubs' superstar out of the lineup for at least a month.
Soriano isn't playing at the level he did last season in Washington, but he's still been awfully good this season hitting .297/.336/.511; his VORP of 25.9 runs is currently third among Cub hitters.
Replacing Alfonso Soriano isn't an easy task for the Cubs.
You don't have hitters of his caliber sitting around at Triple-A and with the trade deadline having already passed making a trade is just that more difficult.
To replace Soriano the Cubs took a surprising route calling up 2B/OF Eric Patterson over fellow top prospect Felix Pie. Patterson was hitting .299/.360/.470 for Triple-A Iowa with 14 long balls in 451 AB's before his call-up.
Patterson began the season as a second baseman, but recently converted to the outfield; the place he'll likely play with the big league club.
Patterson earned fame around the Baseball Prospectus world this season following Jim Baker's article featuring PECOTA's favorite rookies.
To give you an idea just how much PECOTA likes Patterson, here is his five-year projection:
Patterson's projected VORP of 34.9 runs was a higher projected figure than that of fellow second basemen Brian Roberts, B.J. Upton, Placido Polanco, Robinson Cano, Dan Uggla and Dustin Pedroia giving you an idea of just how good his All-Star caliber projection is.
Patterson isn't a big guy, he's listed at 5'11" and 170 lbs., but he's a second basemen with some sock that fields his position well and he will take a walk.
Because his last name is Patterson (Eric is the younger brother of former Cub Corey Patterson), the Cubs took extreme caution with his development signing Mark DeRosa to a 3-year/ $13M contract this winter which essentially took Patterson out of the picture for the club's second base option in the 2007 season. PECOTA didn't think that was necessary (Patterson's projected VORP was nearly twenty runs higher than that of DeRosa) and it's easy to see why some Cubs fan called foul after Hendry signed DeRosa to the three-year deal.
Soriano's injury however will give Patterson his chance. His bat obviously plays much better at second base, but if Patterson hits near his PECOTA line of .293/.358/.479 at a corner outfield spot, the loss of Soriano isn't going to sting nearly as much as it could have.
Patterson's a guy to keep an eye on.
DeRosa does have the three-year contract under his belt, but if Patterson hits well enough (and he certainly has the potential to), he could force the Cubs to move DeRosa via trade or even shift him back to the bench in a reserve role.