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Who's on First for 2012


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33 replies to this topic

#1 MichiganGoat

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 07:24 PM

So who do you think will be on first next year? Who do you want?

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#2 Brett

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 07:33 PM

It's very hard to guess, not knowing who the GM will be. I can still see it being Fielder, but I think Pena is far more likely. I think some kind of trade is also more likely than Fielder.

I'm not sure who I'd want. If the Cubs are going to do a couple year rebuild, then I'd just as soon see someone like Josh Vitters up, hacking away. If they're going to go for it, then obviously, Fielder.

#3 MichiganGoat

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 07:39 PM

It's very hard to guess, not knowing who the GM will be. I can still see it being Fielder, but I think Pena is far more likely. I think some kind of trade is also more likely than Fielder.

I'm not sure who I'd want. If the Cubs are going to do a couple year rebuild, then I'd just as soon see someone like Josh Vitters up, hacking away. If they're going to go for it, then obviously, Fielder.

Does Vitters have any 1B experience?

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#4 King Jeff

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 07:49 PM


It's very hard to guess, not knowing who the GM will be. I can still see it being Fielder, but I think Pena is far more likely. I think some kind of trade is also more likely than Fielder.

I'm not sure who I'd want. If the Cubs are going to do a couple year rebuild, then I'd just as soon see someone like Josh Vitters up, hacking away. If they're going to go for it, then obviously, Fielder.

Does Vitters have any 1B experience?

He's played 31 games at first for Tennessee this year. I think it's going to be Pena. If I had the choice of first baseman who are available, it would be Fielder, despite the money. The Cubs need a consistent run producer in the middle of the order in the worst way, and I think Fielder's durability is less questionable than Pujols' health.

#5 Ron

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 07:55 PM

If it is Vitters then we still have Ramirez? I think it will be Pena. Milwakee is going to make a run in the post season and I think that gives them enough $ to sing Fielder. I don't think that he would want to break up the thing he has with Braun.

#6 MichiganGoat

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 07:59 PM

I'm hoping neither Pena nor Ramirez will be back next year. I just see this team needing a purge, if we could combine Ramirez's bat with Pena's clubhouse presence I'd be happy, but I just can't have Pena RISP average or Ramirez lack of leadership next year- even if it means we are worse last year.

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#7 MichiganGoat

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 08:00 PM

Another name worth mentioning is Casey Kotchman

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#8 MichiganGoat

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 08:11 PM

Does anyone know if Castillo has ever played 1B, I know his C defense is poor, but his bat looked good this year

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#9 dreese

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 08:28 PM

Goat, I totally agree on the purge thing and if money and everything was aside I would pick Pujols because hes a machine! In reality I want fielder thought.

#10 Sweet James Jones

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 08:37 PM

Im in agreement about purging this team as well. I would rather the Cubs concentrate on developing their pitching by getting a REAL pitching coach and not the coach from "Major League."
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#11 King Jeff

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 08:45 PM

The coach from Major League might be an improvement.

#12 Sweet James Jones

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 09:11 PM

Hahaha. True.
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#13 EndlessBacklash

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 04:10 AM

*Cracks knuckles* Time to jump into this message board with a BANG!

Mulitple-choice pop quiz. Who should be the Cubs first baseman in 2012?

A ) Prince Fielder

B ) Carlos Pena

C ) A different MLB free-agent

D ) Bryan LaHair (with Jeff Baker and possibly Josh Vitters getting some starts)

If the new GM decided to go all-in with Fielder, I would completely stand by the decision, as long as a plan of action was put in place to address the pitching staff. He is entering his prime and should give his new team four to five years (before the slow decline) of top-notch numbers and get his name mentioned in a couple of MVP votings, IF he doesn't get hurt.

If he doesn't get hurt. . .
Great. . . Now if the Cubs sign him, I have to convince myself that he isn't going to turn out to be Mo Vaughn 2.0. *Shudder*

So, if Option A (Fielder) isn't available, what then?
I'm actually leaning toward Option D. I know. You probably think I'm crazy, but just hear me out.

I like Pena as a person and as a clubhouse presence, but honestly. . . his numbers kind of put the Cubs in a tough situation. .225/.346/.448 in 516 PA (good for a league-adjusted 115 OPS+) isn't anything to complain about, but it doesn't really give me a compelling case that he deserves to be brought back at that kind of money again next year.

Just for comparison:
Baseball-Reference has Pena worth 1.4 Wins Above Replacement and Darwin Barney worth 1.0.
FanGraphs.com has Pena worth LESS (1.7 WAR) than Barney. (1.9 WAR)
I'll remind everyone that Pena is making $10 million and Barney is making $400,000.
(This is not supposed to be praise for Barney, but rather illustrate a point that throughly researched advanced metrics have Pena worth about the same as a guy who is currently hitting .282/.317/.360. Ouch.)

People might point to the fact that Pena was dealing with a slight thumb injury early in the year, affecting his power numbers. While this may be true, I have news for those people. He'll be 34 early into next season and anytime you flip the calendar another year for a guy entering his mid-30s, nagging injuries are an ever-increasing possibility, especially for a full-time player. Statistically speaking, it's also highly unlikely that he will give the Cubs anything more in the future than he already has this year. Just look at his numbers from 2009 onwards. Are they bad? Not really. Is he worth $10 million? In my opinion, no way.

Now my evidence supporting Bryan LaHair. . .
On an earlier BN post about his freakish season, there were many people who commented about how this year was a "fluke", an "outlier", or "that if he hasn't made it in MLB yet, then clearly he will never make it."
I've been wanting to debate this for awhile.

Here are his stats since 2007 (All in AAA) :

2007, 24 years old (Tacoma) 606 PA, 12 HR, 60 extra base hits, .275/.332/.431
2008, 25 years old (Tacoma) 362 PA, 12 HR, 39 XBH, .263/.356/.465 (an injury shortened year)
2009, 26 years old (Tacoma) 510 PA, 26 HR, 56 XBH, .289/.354/.530
2010, 27 years old (Iowa) 478 PA, 25 HR, 55 XBH, .308/.385/.557
2011, 28 years old (Iowa) 520 PA, 38 HR, 76 XBH, .333/.408/.669

One-year fluke? Really? It sure looks like he's progressed EVERY SINGLE YEAR in AAA to me. More power, better average, consistently solid walk rate. The red flag is his high strikeout rate, but as guys like Ryan Howard, Curtis Granderson, Matt Kemp, and even Mark Reynolds can attest, you can strikeout a whole helluva lot and still be valuable as a hitter. And it's not like Carlos Pena didn't strike out at all. . .

Seattle was negotiating with Texas to get Justin Smoak, a much younger player with more upside, who projected to be a solid major league first baseman, when they were shopping Cliff Lee. LaHair, who was 26 then, wasn't really in Seattle's plans to play first base, so they felt they could deal him. Chicago had to deal with the Derrek Lee situation in 2010 and Carlos Pena's contract this year. Maybe these were the reasons that LaHair didn't get his shot, not that he didn't have the tools.

Yes, the PCL is a hitters league. I know the Micah Hoffpauir comparison is there. But if you compare his numbers in the minors to Hoffpauir's, LaHair has done more to convince me that he is better suited for MLB. More games played, more consistency, and a better development, especially in his power numbers. He is smack-dab in the middle of his prime and is clearly playing his butt off to earn a job. What else does he have to do to get that shot? Hit .360 with 45 HR and volunteer with the Des Moines Fire Department in his spare time? Good teams look for undervalued talent in unexpected places and take full advantage. (*Cough* Ryan Vogelsong *Cough) I get a feeling that this could be one of those circumstances.

Is he the answer long-term? Of course not. But the 2011 Chicago Cubs are twenty games under, not right on the cusp of a division title. Let's face it, our most serious first-base prospect just recently signed and had his high school prom a couple of months ago. There really isn't anyone else who would be blocked that is MLB-ready at the position.

Just look at LaHair's numbers again. Look at Pena's numbers now. Am I really the only one who think the former can't replicate the production of the latter next year (maybe a .250/.340/.450 line) and at a price tag under $1 million to boot?

(Plus you do have people who could platoon with him if necessary.)

Thoughts? Let the discussion begin.

#14 Brett

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 06:49 AM

The good comparison that LaHair has going for him is Michael Morse. Kept tearing up the high minors, couldn't get a shot in the bigs. Finally broke through at age 28.

That said, even if LaHair were going to be the guy, the Cubs have a problem: he'll be added to the 40-man tomorrow, but unless the Cubs plan on holding that 40-man spot for him all Winter (debatable, given the number of kids they need to protect from the Rule 5), he'll be removed some time this Winter. And then he's a free agent. Will he re-sign with the Cubs in the hope that he can prove himself yet again? Highly unlikely.

So the Cubs either need to commit to him now, or never. And he's going to get, like, 10 at bats under Quade. Not enough of a sample to commit.

#15 Brett

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 06:50 AM

Great stuff, by the way, Kyle. That's exactly the kind of thing I'm going to think about promoting to the front page as a post.




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