To date, guys like Nick Johnson and Carlos Pena and Adam LaRoche have been mentioned as economical alternatives to Adam Dunn at first base for the Chicago Cubs next year. But if the Cubs want to get *really* economical, they’ll try to find a first baseman internally. Of course, the Cubs don’t really have a first baseman in the waiting, so a position shift – say, from a guy like Tyler Colvin – has been the presumed internal option.

How about a different player shifting positions? How about Aramis Ramirez playing first base?

But would the Cubs have to acquire a first baseman if they found a way to open an outfield spot for Colvin? Not necessarily. They could move Ramirez across the infield to play first — gambling that he will hit enough to offset his lack of fielding — and fill third base internally. Josh Vitters, 21, isn’t ready but could come fast if he ever gets his wrists and hands healthy. But the Cubs have a sneak-attack player worth a look in 25-year-old Marquez Smith, who hit .297 with 20 homers in 107 games between Double-A and Triple-A a year ago. He wasn’t promoted in September but seems likely to be added to the 40-man roster this month. Chicago Breaking Sports.

Smith will almost certainly get a chance to make the Cubs in Spring Training this year, but until the Cubs see what they have in him, there’s no way they should be comfortable turning third base over to him (or first over to Ramirez, for that matter). And if they wait to see what they have in Smith, they’ll almost certainly have missed out on the other first base options this winter – including the Nick Johnson/Carlos Pena/Adam LaRoche contingent.

For all the consternation about Ramirez, his defense at third base simply hasn’t been that bad over the last few years. Early in his career, he was certainly a liability, but of late, he’s been reliable, though not spectacular. He could easily hold down the fort until Josh Vitters is ready to take over (if that happens in the next few years).

  • KB

    Actually, according to some fielding metrics, his defense really HAS slipped in the past few years. He had a few good seasons around his contract year, and the 97-win year, but lately, he’s been weak.

    He seems like a perfectly fine 1B option to me. If he can handle third, he could certainly handle first. That way, we could take a look at Adrian Beltre, and get near Dunn-like offense, while vastly improving our defense.

    • Ace

      Adrian Beltre does NOT provide near Dunn-like offense, not even close. Examine his stats a little deeper – he’s had two good seasons in a career of disappointment. The common thread between those two seasons? Contract years. Dunn is consistently excellent. Beltre is definitionally inconsistent.

  • http://bleachernation ramy16

    ace his defence is great!..however his bat seems to come alive right at the end of his contract..i dont think hes worth the money he is asking for! dunn will strike out close to 200 times this year…were probably better off signing carlos pena. also i would like us to pick up javier vasquez.. hes a plus 200 innings eater..whats a possibilty that we pick up jason frasor??

  • KB

    Ace, I agree that Beltre is no Dunn with the bat, but I think he’d put up good numbers in Wrigley (hes spent most of his career in the hitter’s graveyards of Dodger Stadium and Seattle’s giant park).

    And his defense is spectacular.

    True, Dunn is significantly more consistent offensively…he’s the most consistent player I’ve ever seen (he puts up almost identical numbers every single year).