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The "LaRizzo" Situation


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#1 Caleb

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 12:41 PM

I hope I'm not duplicating any other posts on this subject, but so far I haven't found one thread that specifically dealt with this topic.

What topic? Why, what to do with Lahair and Rizzo, of course.

There are discussions about Rizzo (he's good), and there are discussions about Lahair (currently LaDiculous, but is he LaGit?), but how about a specific thread that deals with both?

Issues:
1. How good is Rizzo, and where does he fit in the Cubs' future plans?
2. How good is Lahair, and where does he fit in the Cubs' future plans?

The obvious conflict here is that both are first basemen.

If Rizzo is great and the future at first, do we move Lahair in a great trade or try and keep him and put him somewhere else?

This inevitably leads to a discussion about Lahair, who is in a more unorthodox position than Rizzo. Rizzo is a young super stud that is going to come up and dominate for the Cubs. But Lahair? Is his skill temporary and/or a matter of luck? After all, many people think that players peak so infrequently at his age (29) that he can't be a "long term solution" for a team.

Or is he that guy who is just, you know, good? If he is, then his age doesn't really matter that much. We don't have a problem with recognizing that many awesome baseball players right now are 29 or older (DocWimsey- you got any numbers on that? I would imagine that at least half of the 'best' ballplayers are currently in this category). We paid Carlos Pena (older) for his homer skills, Fielder is almost as old, Pujols is older, and Matt Kemp/Andre Ethier are both 29 ish. But, on the other hand, LaHair is just now breaking into the majors; and that separates him from direct comparison to these guys.

So I'll get this started with an argument that hasn't come up very much. In fact, I don't think I've seen it anywhere here on BN, and it turned up only once in a google search-- and that was in the comments of some other (obviously inferior) Cubs site.

What if you kept LaHair at first and played Rizzo in the outfield?

LaHair is 7 years older than Rizzo and, seemingly, would provide average (at best) outfield defense. He has shown more defensive promise at first, however, and perhaps has a range advantage over Rizzo. Not to disparage Rizzo's defense (or even really address it here), but couldn't it make more sense to put younger legs in the outfield?

Rizzo is currently (and appropriately) at the AAA level. At the earliest we should only see him late this season. What impact does it have to keep him in the minors for this entire year? Having him develop his outfield skills now, while in AAA, would allow the time to make an adjustment and not cause any defensive liability for the Cubs team this season. Could he make the adjustment? Is it possible to get his outfield defensive ability up without limiting his defensive growth at first? Does that matter? I don't know enough about his skills or history to make that judgment- but it is something worth considering.

Is there room for LaHair in the outfield? We all assume that Brett Jackson is coming up to claim his center field throne, and this is a fair assumption. Maybe he doesn't though. Maybe some super deal comes along where he gets dealt for some LaDiculous pitching prospects- or part of a deal to net an established star like Cole Hamels. I'm not advocating trading Jackson (at all) but in baseball, as we all know, you never know.

Dejesus in right field? If (IF) he gets back to his Royals form he could prove to be a good+ right fielder and get back to a 2ish WAR and .800ish OPS. That's pretty solid, and plus I like the guy. But he's also going to be 33 this year. So if you discuss age in regards to LaHair, don't forget to discuss age in regards to LaJesus (oh yeah). This could be a potential opening in right field-- and remember, the Cubs deal with him is only for 2 years (plus a club option for 2014 I think). Is this a guy figuring into the long term plans of the Cubs? Maybe. Ideally he gets back to his old numbers and provides some good options for Theo.

Soriano in left? Sigh. He still has a massive contract through 2014. We all want him to play better, and many feel that he still has potential to play good baseball. Hope he performs and pray for a trade that gets us some relief? Abandon him and eat the costs? Arguments and discussions are encouraged, but this is a spot that could open up.

So while there are many unknowns and a lot of conjecture about the LaRizzo Situation, I argue that one possibility to consider would be to keep LaHair at first and play Rizzo in the outfield.

Thoughts? Am I missing something glaring? (Rizzo is allergic to Ivy, idiot!)

I would love to hear from people who know more about Rizzo, especially in regards to his defense. Luke? You got anything?

I would also like to hear arguments in support of the idea that LaHair is good, and could be a great player for the Cubs for the next several (World Series-Winning) years. (also, think about the bargain he could be for the Cubs!)

Specifically, I am going to try to talk KYLE N. (aka "Brometheus," "Teddy Broosevelt," "Bro-Chi-Minh Trail," etc.) into re-posting his detailed analysis of LaHair's career through the minors. It's fantastic, detailed, and basically shows that LaHair's numbers were steady, consistent, skill-based, and only lacking a major league test. After Kyle blows your mind, you have the impression that LaHair's 1.2+ OPS is not that ridiculously above what he should consistently be able to do. I personally predict a .900 OPS or better average for the next 5 years.

I'm anxious to hear what you think. Preposterous to move Rizzo to the outfield? LaHair not in the Cubs future? It's better to move him to the outfield and keep Rizzo at first? How does our prospect pool at these positions affect these arguments?

Basically I want to buy a LaDiculous jersey and not have it be ironic in a year or two. Convince me.

BLEACHER NATION 4 LYFE!!

Caleb "where the hell is my banana hammock?" Shreves

#2 Brett

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 06:10 PM

This will take time to digest.

#3 Luke

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 08:06 PM

Rizzo has gold glove potential at first, a position that is involved in more plays than any other position on the diamond save pitcher and catcher. It would verge on insanity to move to Rizzo to the outfield at this point in time.

If the Cubs want both bats in the lineup, then LaHair goes to left. It isn't a question of weighing options; that is the only real option. LaHair is not going to be a great left fielder, but that is almost irrelevant if he keeps hitting like he is.

As for whether or not the Cubs should try to get both Rizzo and LaHair in the lineup together... I think that is also an easy one. Of course they should!

#4 Edgar

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 08:18 PM

I wants to hear more on this thought. Why not try rizzo at third? I mean he could be like Miguel cabrera. Yes i know he came up as a OF

#5 Edgar

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 08:27 PM

I don't know if it has been mentioned but wouldn't keeping lahair help both rizzo and Castro? Castro is going stick in the third hole then lahair and rizzo?

#6 Luke

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 08:45 PM

I wants to hear more on this thought. Why not try rizzo at third? I mean he could be like Miguel cabrera. Yes i know he came up as a OF


Rizzo is left handed, and you don't tend to see very many left handed third baseman. I don't think he has the quickness to play the hot corner, either.

#7 packman711

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:27 PM


I wants to hear more on this thought. Why not try rizzo at third? I mean he could be like Miguel cabrera. Yes i know he came up as a OF


Rizzo is left handed, and you don't tend to see very many left handed third baseman. I don't think he has the quickness to play the hot corner, either.


Three words:

Jake Fox Experiment.

(Yes I know Fox is a righty, but a lot of the points remain)

#8 Cheryl

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:27 PM

The cubs are stacked with LaHair, Rizzo, and other potential first basemen. Would it hurt Rizzo to get some playing tine in the outfield? People have said not to think too much about players like Vogelbach and others, but Theo & Company have a probem here. Most say move LaHair to the outfield, he's played there before. But would it hurt LaHair? It would seem that the longer LaHair plays first the more comfortable he is. Rizzo may need a whole year at AAA. He did not do well in a previous trip to the majors, so we have to see if this will be different. One question I've wondered about is if he has so much potential, why was he traded in the first place?

#9 Shawn

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:46 PM

If I had my way Rizzo would be up today and Soriano would be DFA'd or released. But, since its not my money that won't happen. I am in the Rizzo at first base and Lahair in LF camp. Lahair has played the outfield, so he has some experience to fall back on. Rizzo has the chance to be a Gold Glove first baseman, while Lahair falls into the solid category. If Rizzo maximizes his potential he is a long term piece to the puzzle. Lahair's window to help the franchise is much smaller.

#10 Shawn

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:46 PM

DP

#11 Luke

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 10:15 PM

One question I've wondered about is if he has so much potential, why was he traded in the first place?


San Diego found themselves with two first-base-only guys in Rizzo and Yonder Alonso, and the outfield in San Diego is the last place in baseball you want a slow former first baseman to play defense. The ballpark in San Diego is freakin'-ginormo-massive-hugmongazoid, and that's after they moved the fences in. Plus, balls don't carry at night there. The Padres have to have outfielders with range.

The Cubs don't have those problems. They can get away with a slower, less skilled outfielder in left. So while the Padres were in a position where no one seriously believed that Alonso would play left, the Cubs, in a similar position, do have the legitimate option of moving LaHair to left. Neither team has considered sending Rizzo to the outfield, nor should they. His glove is potentially too good at first to pass up.

I don't think LaHair would be hurt by playing in the outfield, either. He played 135 games in left while in the minor leagues. It may not be his favorite position, but he should be comfortable enough out there.

#12 Rick Vaughn 99

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 10:16 PM

Lahair for a top prospect from a desperate team.

-or, if we can't get one-

Tell Soriano that the guy with 2x the production at 1/40th of the cost just took his job.
- die hard fanclub member #001

#13 HoustonTransplant

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 06:16 AM

Lahair for a top prospect from a desperate team.

-or, if we can't get one-

Tell Soriano that the guy with 2x the production at 1/40th of the cost just took his job.

Ugh, that just sucks, doesn't it? I mean, it's great LaHair is producing, but it's a total kick to the dick that we have such an expensive waste of space in LF...

As for the topic at hand: Rizzo to 1B, LaHair to LF...but that can't happen until Soriano is gone...which won't happen until we can unload him...which won't happen until he starts to produce some more.

What a vicious cycle.
making music and more since 1985

#14 Caleb

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 05:01 PM

Good stuff.

And, Luke, that's what I had been assuming. But when I tried to search for old scouting reports and analysis on Rizzo's defense, I didn't find much. And what I did find said he was "good" or "average with potential." Do you have any links to more information on The Rizz?

And I see LaHair is a more likely option to go to the outfield, but I suppose I just have a creeping fear that a move could make him more likely to be traded than kept, and I WANTSSS HIMS! (my precious...)

One benefit to LaHair going to the outfield? Even if his defense is below average, it's an improvement.

#15 Crockett

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 05:22 PM

Why are we discussing this? There is absolutely no reason to bring Rizzo back up and restart his financial clock. This team is bad this year. This is a worry for next spring training and not before.




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