I’d been waiting for some time to hear Carlos Pena’s name come up attached to the Chicago Cubs in a credible rumor, and now it has. It turns out that Pena is the Cubs’ second choice at first base behind Adrian Gonzalez. Presumably that’s because of Pena’s expected low cost and decent glove. Pena regressed badly last year at age 32, hitting just .196/.325/.407 – literally the worst numbers of his career. A slight bounce can be expected, but if the Cubs pay more than bargain price, they’ve overpaid – and, they should really have a back-up plan in place if Pena gets the job.

Some other tidbits from Bruce Levine’s chat:

  • If the Cubs do trade for Gonzalez, they’ll want to have a long-term deal in place before pulling the trigger. Among those who won’t be included in a deal for Gonzalez: Starlin Castro, Carlos Marmol, Brett Jackson. Among those who might be included: Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Jay Jackson.
  • The Cubs are looking at mid-range starting pitchers (sigh) like Jon Garland and Jake Westbrook.
  • Andrew Cashner and Sean Marshall are likely to remain in the pen next year, and the Cubs are seriously considering Kerry Wood.
  • Next to Gonzalez and Pena, Levine thinks the most likely first baseman for the Cubs next year is Tyler Colvin.
  • The Cubs are talking to teams about Kosuke Fukudome but are hesitant to pull the trigger until they know they have another left-handed bat lined up. Levine says the Cubs would have dealt him already if they had another left-handed bat (um, what? trading Fukudome is about dumping his salary, not dumping him the player – if you’ve got a deal, pull the freaking trigger already).
  • “Economics” will dictate the quality of the Cubs’ bench.
  • Serio

    Gonzalez is going to be a free agent next year…WHY give up anything for him? If this trade goes down….i will be at a loss

    • http://www.thefriendlyblogfines.com Matt Clapp

      Because you don’t want to get in a bidding war with say the Red Sox. You convince him Chicago is where he wants to be before anybody else can convince him otherwise, or at least raise his value.

      If you’re really going to be upset if the Cubs traded for him…. that’s nuts.

      Look at his home/road splits from 08-10…

      Home: .257 avg, 37 HR, 127 RBI, .823 OPS
      Road: .310 avg, 70 HR, 192 RBI, .989 OPS

      And who knows, he might be a better home hitter anyway. It’s impossible to tell, as Petco absolutely robbed him, and Wrigley fits his game perfectly- He hits for power to all fields. I remember him hitting a few oppo bombs onto Waveland. Those go to the warning track at Petco.

      Oh, and he’s a terrific defensive first baseman.

      You’re getting the closest thing to Pujols that we’ll see for a long time, and he’s just entering his prime.

      • Serio

        Ummm yeah i am going to be up set…If your so convincing you talk Gonzalez. Tell him all the wonderful things hendry has done. I dont want to give up Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Jay Jackson…When Gonzalez “could” walk away from the Cubs…and he could…then what?

        • Ace

          Serio – it’s not just one year of Gonzalez, which is the point Clapp is making. It’s one year of Gonzalez, plus a GREATLY improved chance of signing him long-term. Prospects are great, but there are only so many spots on the big club. And there are only so many chances to get a guy like Adrian Gonzalez.

      • Ace

        Great points. One quibble: I don’t know that I’d say he’s entering his prime. He turns 29 in May, and will be coming off major shoulder surgery. I wouldn’t expect his numbers to be any better than they’ve been, and some decline would be understandable.

      • ed

        I have to agree with Serio on this one. There are plenty of first base options on the market THIS year. We finally have a group of prospects to be excited about. And there is a bunch of money coming off the books 2012. It just doesn’t make sense to compromise the bright future for a mediocre now in order to add one good bat. That being said, I’d like to see a first baseman signed who hit higher than .200 last year. Just sayin…….

  • Willis

    This left handed/right handed obsession is what has landed this team in the shitter the last couple of years. I’m with you Ace if you have anything in place that will dump Fukudome and part of his salary, pull the freaking trigger and be done with it.

    • Ace

      Hate the lefty/righty crap. Balance is nice, but the POINT of balance is so that you’re consistently getting good matchups at the plate – another way to get good matchups consistently? Sign the best damn players, regardless of how they hit.

  • curt

    not 2 get off subject but this has been bugging me fr along time why does jim hendry hve 2 take no blame fr any of the mess the cubs are no in examples no trades 2 everyone and their brother gving soriano an 8yr deal and 136 million bucks, fukudome and his 12 million plus dollars, zambrano and hi 18 million plus, when hes proven to be a number 1,not 2 mention milton bradley fiasco, how does this man hve a job we cant sign any of note because payroll needs 2 be brought down well who put it up there its nt tht we didnt spend enough it just wasnt spent right and who did this hmmmm

    • Ace

      I think someone stole your vowel keys.

      To the point that (I think) you’re making: Hendry does get plenty of blame. Most folks believe this is a make or break year for Hendry.

  • http://raysindex.com Cork

    “It turns out that Pena is the Cubs’ second choice at first base behind Adrian Gonzalez.”

    that is not what Levine said. this is….

    “If the Cubs are going after anything left-handed, it might be Gonzalez first if he’s available via trade. Followed by Pena, who’s a free agent.”

    The key word there is “might.” This is just Levine’s speculation.

    • Ace

      Of course it’s just Levine’s speculation – he is speculating that Carlos Pena is the Cubs’ second choice behind Gonzalez… which is the point of the statement. I don’t imagine that you expected I was reporting that the Chicago Cubs released a statement saying, “We’re targeting Adrian Gonzalez for first base next year, and if he’s not available, Carlos Pena is our second choice.” When Levine speculates, it’s usually based on something he’s heard, or at worst, his experience. That’s as good as any rumor to me. The headline of the post reads “Carlos Pena is the Cubs’ Second Choice at First, and Other Rumors.” The key words there are “other” and “rumors.” Also, it’s noteworthy that when asked later about first base options, excluding Dunn and Gonzalez, Levine says “Pena is probably the guy they’ll look at.” He clearly believes that, at present, Pena is the Cubs’ second choice.

      I know you know your shit, so I’m not hassling you; but this was a bizarre drive-by comment.

  • http://bleachernation ramy16

    if we can get adrian gonzalez via trade with out the farm….thats great! i would hope they would have an extension in place before making any moves!! however carlos pena would be a great addition at first! his defence is down however there is still pop in his bat!..so i think he would be a great pick up

  • http://bleachernation ramy16

    actually i mean his defence is great…his numbers last year were horrible…hes due..however hendry needs to becareful as hes a scott boras client…a think a 2 yr deal in place with a team option for a 3rd would be good…i would try to get rid of fukadome and have colvin in right field…however jeff francour is a free agent as well…his arm is great…and could help us in right field as well!!!

    • Ace

      Jeff Francoeur is older than, worse than, potentially more expensive than and more right-handed than Tyler Colvin. Pass.