Tbird's rebuilding the 2012 Cubs plan, part #1: Infield

As the first part of this series I am going to start today, I look at what my ideas would be if I were to advise whomever the new Cubs GM will be going forward. I'm starting with the infield, and will progress to the rest of the team, coaching staff, and front office in the upcoming days. I will be interested to see what kind of feedback I get both on the merits of my ideas, and how realistic that you are that all or some of them could actually happen. When projecting trades, of course you have to take into account the thought process of the other teams, which is sometimes difficult to do for those of us who really wear Cub blue tinted goggles, but I have tried to do that here.



First base: This is one of the tougher calls of the offseason. Carlos Pena is in his mid 30's, but has been one of the few Cubs who has basically done what we projected him to do, and in my case he has even exceeded my expectations for him. He is a solid clubhouse guy from what we are told, hits for power, fields his position better than expected, gives us a strong left handed bat, and will not break the bank in 2012, and even possibly would agree to another 1 year contract. His ability to walk and see high pitch counts carries major value in my way of thinking and building a team that produces runs. However, his age is a concern to me, and I see it being likely that at his age he is likely to decline some in 2012-2013. Plus, while he is likely a fairly valued player at around his current salary, I believe I'd rather have the money he'd make to spend elesewhere on the roster. Therefore, I'd let Pena walk with a hearty thank you, and whatever compensation int he draft (if any) we'd get for letting him go. That means we need a replacement in 2012 and beyond. My solution is the following trade idea:


 Cubs trade P Carlos Marmol to Cincinnati for 1B/OF Yonder Alonso

 For them, this move makes sense, as we trade Marmol to a team that would value him as a replacement for Francisco Cordero, and which lets them get a legitimate MLB pitcher for a player who is primarily blocked by one of the best players in the game, Joey Votto. The Reds could either choose to let Marmol close for them and move Chapman to their rotation, or they could move Chapman to closer and use Marmol as a set up man, a position which suits his abilities much better in reality. Marmol is due less money in 2012-2013 than it would take for them to re-sign Francisco Cordero, so it allows them to use their limited resources better as well. For us, we get a cheap 1B replacement who is young and has upside, and who appears to be tailor made for Wrigley Field to me. Alonso to me looks like a higher average, 15-20HR, 80 RBI type at first base and would be under affordable team control for a few years, allowing us to allocate resources to other areas. He is only 24 years, so he makes long term sense in a rebuilding era for us.


 Second Base: I would keep Darwin Barney obviously, with the following caveats:

1. I would heavily pursue Brandon Phillips if the Reds don't pick up his option. I am sure they will, but if for some reason Cincinnati doesn't do that (he is due 12M in 2012) then I'd make his a priority signing. -

2. Assuming Phillips isn't available, I'd make a "trash for trash" trade with Seattle: Cubs trade P Carlos Zambrano to the Mariners for INF Chone Figgins Yes, I know Figgins basically has sucked since going to Seattle. And I know his contract status is 9 million for 2012 and 8Million for 2013. But Zambrano is a cancer that has to go, and at least theoretically we could get Seattle to pick up some of the difference in 2012's contract, so we save some this year and get a reclamation project in Figgins. For the Angels, Figgins was one of my favorite players. He has speed to burn, can play multiple positions including 3rd base, and would give us some payroll flexibility while getting rid of Big Z. I think Figgins is about as much in return as we will get for Zambrano unfortunately. Barney continues to start, but Figgins can get around 40 starts a year at 2nd base, and the occasional start at third base plus be a useful pinch hitter and pinch runner hopefully off our bench.


Shortstop: Obviously nothing to do here, keep Starlin Castro. Hopefully he turns into our version of Derek Jeter.


 3rd base: I love Aramis Ramirez, but I think his time has passed in Chicago. I think it is time to get younger and cheaper at this spot temporarily, and allocate more money to the draft, minor league development, and primarily the starting rotation. In 2012, the key for us will not to totally try and replace his production with the bat, but to instead somewhat make that up in other ways, primarily by RUN PREVENTION. Ideally that means getting a cheaper 3rd baseman who hits for league average ability, and using the savings derived from that to improve in other areas of the team. Plus I like the idea of adding a draft pick for letting Ramirez move on to greener pastures.


 So, I'd let Ramirez go and instead sign as a free agent: Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Toronto. Encarnacion likely will give us I project around a .265 average, somewhere around 20 HR and 70 RBI. I believe his defense to be enough of an upgrade over Ramirez that he'd save us some runs at 3rd base as well, plus he is still in his late 20's. Considering that I think we can sign Encarnacion for around 3 yrs at 12-15Million total (4 to 5 million per season)that makes him more productive than Ramirez per dollar going forward, in my opinion, when you consider what other moves that kind of payroll flexibility can provide us.


 So, for our infield next season, I like: 1b Yonder Alonso 2b Darwin Barney SS Starlin Castro 3B Edwin Encarnacion Backups: Chone Figgins, Brian Lehair Next up in this series will include analysis of all other position on the team, and the manager/front office suggestions I have.


Thoughts so far on part 1?


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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