New Chicago Cubs’ first baseman Carlos Pena has some big shoes to fill.

Derrek Lee was the man at first for more than half of the 2000s before he was traded to the Braves this August, and you would struggle to find a single Cubs fan who could utter a cross word about Lee if they tried. Sure, his skills were eroding, his cold starts were notoriously frustrating, and we were generally happy when he was traded – but none of that speaks to how much he was loved and appreciated as a Cub. He will, in many ways, be missed.

But, for his part, Pena is certainly saying all of the right things to get in our good graces.

“I think it’s kind of funny how we all tend to gravitate toward the negative,” Pena said last week on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “I think we need to start looking at the positives, especially for me. I’m that type of guy.”

With respect to his offensive struggles in 2010, Pena has many explanations, but he’s not making any excuses.

“Last year was a difficult year for me,” Pena explained. “When I look at that average I just know that it doesn’t represent me. You could talk about the shift [teams used against me], me not feeling too comfortable at the plate, you could talk about injuries. I hate making excuses. I don’t even want to waste my time doing that. I would rather say, ‘I know what I’m all about. I know what I can do.’ At your worst, look what you produced. So [I] just put that year behind me and now I can go forward. That’s the way to approach this. I think when you beat that drum of ‘my average, my average, my average,’ there’s nothing gained by that.”

And on his new team, Pena is effusive in his praise and excitement.

“For me as soon as I saw how things were looking and who was interested, the Cubs were my option, the Cubs were my preference,” he said. “Just as soon as I thought the possibility existed, for me to be part of this ballclub, I immediately wanted to be part of it. I didn’t really consider going anywhere else. When the Cubs came out and said they were interested, and I know that there was a need, I just wanted to wear this uniform. and it came about so I’m extremely excited.”

Pena has a long way to go to replace Derrek Lee on the field, but he’s definitely one step closer in our hearts and minds.

Oh, and as for that on-the-field part, I’ll be sure to put down my thoughts later in the offseason.

  • Svaripapa

    Has anyone heard any rumors about a possible Fukudome trade? Now that the Cubs have Pena this would seem the perfect time to move him.

  • KB

    Why move Fuk?

    He’s our only OFer who’s remotely good at getting on base, and Pena/Aramis need someone to drive in.
    I fear that Byrd had that one good season before his inevitable age-related decline starts.
    He’s the one I’d trade (unless, of course, someone volunteered to swallow a big chunk of Fuk’s contract…a pretty remote possibility, I presume).

    • Ace

      Agreed – though I’d be happy to see the Cubs move both of them.

      • Larry

        I couldn’t agree more. Byrd’s value isn’t going to ever be any higher than it is now, and the Cubs have several outfielders that will be ready soon. You can’t bring them up to sit the bench.

  • Serio

    I like where your heads at Larry

  • rylan

    Ever since Milton Bradley, we’ve been trying to bring in the nice guys. Last year, Marlon Byrd, and this year Carlos Pena. Eventually we are just going to have a team of charity workers.

  • pfk

    Well boys, the Phillies just pulled off a miracle and now have the best pitching staff I have seen – even better than the Braves a few years ago. What a brilliant organization!
    We might as well not even spend any money this year and probably the next couple, as we won’t be able to compete with them for quite some time. UNLESS the Cubs decide that they have to really compete with New York, Boston, Philly, etc. I understand the $140M payroll was high v what they got for it. But, if they are truly going to compete, they are eventually have to get back up to the $140-$160M level. This should be doable for the third largest TV market in the country, an iconic stadium that gets 3M+ every year and a rabid national fan base.

    • BT

      So do you believe the Cubs can afford a 140-160 million payroll, but Ricketts is simply pocketing the extra 20-40 million?

      • pfk

        No, I don’t think he is cutting to pocket the money. I hope he is cutting payroll to begin the rebuilding process, much like the Bulls did. And, he’ll cut it even more at the end of next season. By then, we’ll have a better idea of which kids will be good and can go after major talent. Sure, teams with a much lower payroll have won the Series, but now the major market teams are starting to pull away from the pack. Ricketts needs to get his new revenue streams on line, get the organizational structure in shape and get rid of the dead wood. Then, we could see some serious competing ala BoSox, Yanks and Phillies. Once the Dodgers get the divorce mess cleaned up and new ownership, they will jump in heavily too. I think in 2 years it will take $160M to compete.

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      Excellent post! The Phillies run their organization the right way. They have a great player development system and when they sign a free agent they still don’t max out their payroll. So, if they happen to make a trade at the the deadline, they have prospects other teams want and room in their budget for additions. The Cubs?

  • art

    it’s sickening, i can’t even comment. ricky and hendry, i have nothing to say.

  • Jordan

    I think Pena will bring the homerun ball back to wrigley feild. Aram, and soriano arent the players they used to be, but with pena coming in, he may bring that critical spark to the game that will help get our younger players going.
    GO CUBS!