With the Winter Meetings upon us, obviously, 98.3% of the discussion the last few days has been about who the Cubs should sign, who they shouldn't sign, and how in the world can we unload Kosuke Fukudome and his massive money eating contract.
Perhaps outside of pitching, the position of most primary concern to the Chicago Cubs, and all of there beloved fans, is first base. While I the love the idea of adding Brandon Webb on an incentive laden contract, pitching is already being discussed elsewhere. It's time to take an in depth look at first base. With the Cubs missing out on the top two suitors in Adam Dunn and Adrian Gonzalez, let's examine who's still out there.
First off, let me clarify, I do believe the Cubs missed out on the two best fits in Dunn and Gonzalez. Dunn has been extremely consistent and extremely reliable throughout his entire career. Sure, his defense is suspect, but the Cubs would have got the lefty power bat they've been looking for and you could lock it in for say 35 home runs and 90 RBI. At least. With Gonzalez you get one the league's premier hitters who's been playing half his games in the cavernous Petco Park. I was unsure how serious the Cubs were, but wow, a deal for Gonzalez would have been huge. But I digress, those two are off the board, so let's take a gander at who's still out there.
Carlos Pena - According to MLB TradeRumors the Cubs met with Pena's agent as recent as last night. UGH. I hate this idea and I hope that Jim Hendry and crew do not follow this route. Yeah the route that too often has lead to despair and heart ache. Despite some home runs and RBIs, what do you get here? Not much besides a bad OBP, a terrible average and overall decling numbers. Pena hit 11 fewer home runs last season, batted .197 on the year and he isn't getting any younger either. Again, all I can say is UGH.
Adam Laroche - This might be the best overall fit and seems to be Al's first choice. I can see why and tend to agree (to some extent). Laroche is a notoriously slow starter, but always posts good numbers by years end. The past three year's he's averaged 24 long balls, 85 runs batted in, and a .273 average. He may not be the best fielder, but on a one or maybe two year deal he might be the best match. The only question is who will be available next year, and if the money is right, should the Cubs try and sign him on a longer deal?
Paul Konerko - Hmm. Nice numbers last year and a solid career. Let him finsih it out on the south side.
Chris Davis - Al seems to like this option as well, and it may not be a bad road to take. However, Davis has not produced much at the big league level. Some might say it's due to a small sample size, but in 120 at bats last season Davis was less than impressive, hitting only one home run and four rbi to the tune of a .191 average and one way ticket back to the minors. But Davis is only 24 and in 2009 he did hit 21 homers, as well as raking during his entire time in the minors last season. Is he a left handed stud waiting to break out or is he just the next Micah Hoffpauir?
Yonder Alonso - This might not be much of an option, as I doubt the Reds would want to move an elite prospect like Alonso, epsecially to a rival in the same divsion. However Cincinatti has superstar Joey Votto locked in at first base and might listen to offers for Alonso. The first baseman has hit the ball well in the minors and is only 23, perhaps the Reds would listen if we included a top pitching prospect. Probably a long shot, but at least worth exploring.
Daric Barton - This might be a dark horse candidate, but it was mentioned in another post and I think it's absolutely worth looking at. Barton is not a power hitter and is not going to post numbers like Dunn or probably not even like Laroche. However, Barton is a solid contact hitter, an on base machine and at only 25 the power could come. Last season Barton hit 10 homers, had 57 RBI, and 79 runs to go with a .273 average and .393 OBP. He also led the majors with 110 walks. He just plays baseball and he plays it well, doing the small things right. His UZR last season 12.1 and his WAR was 4.9. He is a pure Billy Beane numbers type player, so it would take a lot to pry him away. But if we could package a deal including Fukudome (eating lots of the contract ofcourse) and maybe Gozelanny, since we're shopping him, I think this would be a good move for the Cubs.