Saturday, September 3, 2011

Who's On First?

So the biggest question, on the field, for the Cubs in 2012 is who is going to play first base.  It’s basically a question over whether to pay the cash to get Fielder/Pujols OR find a 2-3 year stop gap and wait for an internal candidate to arrive or sign a FA a couple of years from now.  There is a third option that the Cubs could trade for a first baseman, but since I am no GM and my soothsaying skills are weak I’ll be ignoring potential trade possibilities— even if I may believe that is the best option.

So according to MLBTradeRumors the first base free agent class is as follows (with my editorial comments included):

1.       Lance Berkman (36) – having a resurgenant year and the Cubs should have signed him over Pena, but he will not sign another affordable 1-2yr deal.  He’s going to hope that someone will give him a 30-40M deal.  If he can’t find that then maybe he could be affordable at a 2yr/15M max type of deal, but I don’t see him settling for that on a team that is a couple of years away. Not to mention he is a douche that eats turd sandwiches.

2.       Russell Branyan (36) NO THANK YOU

3.       Jorge Cantu (30) – NOPE

4.       Michael Cuddyer (33) – He is interesting candidate.  He has had a solid season and can play both 1B or RF and has even started at 2B a couple of times.  The versatility he provides cannot be overlooked, but he is 33 and will start to decline but could be a decent 2-3 year candidate—especially when the Cubs are considering bringing back Carlos Pena.

5.       Prince Fielder (28) – Personally, I just don’t think the Cubs can pass up on a 1B player with the impact that Prince can add to your offense.  The number that stands out to me is his above .400 OBP for the last three years.  Imagine a power hitting first baseman that can get on base 40% of the time.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a batter that not only hits for power, but is patient and doesn’t strike out in key situations?  The real issue with Fielder is how much does he want for how long?  I see a 5yr/125M contract being about right since there aren’t many teams that can afford that price, but he could want more and I don’t think a longer contract is a smart move— perhaps a couple of club/mutual option years with a 4-5M buyout would be necessary.  Regardless I hope he will accept a contract without a no-trade clause or at least a limited clause since his bat will always be attractive as a DH.  The other concern that everybody brings up is his weight; however, I’m not as concerned by that as many other.  He is a ton of muscle and some people can just pull off “fat” and still be quite effective for many years.  It’s not like he got “fat,” he has always been big, and it’s a risk I believe is worth taking.  It is unacceptable for the Cubs to not make a serious run to sign him, but they need to set limits and have a “B” plan in case he can’t be signed.

6.       Ross Gload (36) NOT A CHANCE

7.       Brad Hawpe (33) --  NEVER EVER EVER

8.       Eric Hinske (34) – BARELY WORTH MENTIONING

9.       Casey Kotchman (29) – very interesting candidate— he is significantly out performing his career numbers this year, but he is still young enough to be entering his prime.  I’m not sure what he will want in terms of a contract, but if he is cheaper than Pena he would be a decent stopgap until we land a top free agent, trade for a better option, or develop an internal candidate.

10.   Mark Kotsay (36) TOO OLD TO CONSIDER

11.   Derrek Lee (36) – This ex-Cub ain’t coming back, but he’d be better than many on this list. I wish him the best— thanks for the memories.

12.   Xavier Nady (33) – This ex-Cub ain’t coming back and NOOOOOOO

13.   Lyle Overbay (35) HA, Is this a JOKE!

14.   Carlos Pena (34) – I’ll come back to him, but I hope you see what I see: He should be our last option.

15.   Wily Mo Pena (30) – I didn’t even know he was still playing, or that he is just 30, but not worth considering

16.   Albert Pujols (32) – The machine would look good in Cubbie Blue and I’d love to see the Card fans cry if he came over, but I just don’t think he’s leaving the Card and/or will want too much for too long.  I’m not even considering him as a possibility

Stats Breakdown

Let’s take a look at the players worth considering in some key offensive and basic defensive categories:


So what stands out here?  PENA IS HITTING .158 WITH RISP!  Why are we even considering bringing back a player that is that poor with RISP?  If the Cubs are not going to get Fielder they can do better than that with Cuddyer, Kotchman, or dare I say Bryan LaHair.  Yes Pena is an awesome guy, yes he has leadership skills, yes he is very likeable, BUT he cannot hit on a team that needs to be competitive.  If he could play multiple positions I’d be all about bringing him back as a utility player, but .158 when it counts is just unacceptable for a player who expects to get 8-10M a year.

Hope this helps give everyone more insight on what’s available and especially why Pena should not be considered unless the other players mentioned are unavailable. 

Talk, argue, discuss among yourselves it will be a fun off season.

And if you have never seen the Abbott and Costello skit "Who's On First" you need to hit your head against a wall and punish yourself, but here you go: