View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



September 2011



Chet's Corner: Hot Corner…or not so much?

Written by , Posted in General

The Cubs are lacking a serious replacement at both First Base and Third Base for the 2012 season. 

Aramis wants a multi-year deal and Pena, well, one word……Boras.  I hate the idea of loading up on either one of these guys.  I am hoping whoever gets hired as GM will hate the idea as well.  Then again, maybe Tom Ricketts will take care of that little chore for the next GM and just lock each one of them up for the next 4 years! (I am just kidding, I hope)

As we did last week with pitchers,  I figured we would take a stroll on over to Cot’s Contracts and see who might be available for the corner spots through free agency….

First Basemen

* represents player with an option on contract

Lance Berkman STL
Russell Branyan LAA
Jorge Cantu SD
Prince Fielder MIL
Brad Hawpe SD
Eric Hinske ATL *
Ross Gload PHI
Nick Johnson CLE
Derrek Lee BAL
Xavier Nady ARI
David Ortiz BOS
Lyle Overbay PIT
Carlos Pena CHC
Albert Pujols STL
Jim Thome MIN

Third Basemen

Wilson Betemit KC
Casey Blake LAD *
Eric Chavez NYY
Mark DeRosa SF
Greg Dobbs PHI
Edwin Encarnacion TOR *
Wes Helms FLA
Melvin Mora ARI
Aramis Ramirez CHC
Miguel Tejada SF
Omar Vizquel CWS


As you can see,  this is a tale of the have’s and have not’s.  The Third Base outlook being the “Have not’s”.

Without a trade, we have to choose between the market, which you see above, and our club internally.  I would not be totally against the signing of Aramis for a year or maybe two, but he is said to be looking for something in the neighborhood of four years and it does appear that he has a desire to test the market.

Once again, play GM for the day, what do you do? Do any of the above look like good options? What about our system as a whole, anybody worth trying there?

*Update (4:15pm): In regards to Aramis….




  • Chuck

    My approach to 3B would be to pick up Aramis’ option without signing him to a long-term contract more than a couple of years. If he balks, let him walk and pocket the comp pick in the draft. Then you have to either go internal or Edwin Encarnation on a 2 or 3 year contract. That will be a clear downgrade from Aramis. I’m not sure it is a big deal as the Cubs will be pretty bad in 2012 regardless.
    At 1B it is “go big or go home”. Plan A and Plan B is to get Pujols knowing full-well that it will be a bad contract by the end of the deal unless he allows for front-loading the contract. Plan C is Fielder. I would not give him either the years or money that I would give Pujols. His “conditioning” scares me and he will probably not age well. Plan D for me is Pena. He is not great or terrible. He is above-average and is a good stop-gap. Plan E is go in-house with LaHair or whomever.

  • My first option would be to give LaHair a shot. We will suck next year anyhow, might as well suck on the cheap.

    If we take a FA I would prefer Fielder. He has been nothing but durable throughout his career. Pujols on the other hand is all toxic if you ask me. There is no way he cobbles together a full season for the remainder of his career.

  • Norm

    I’m with Chuck.
    Pick up Aramis’ option. He’ll likely decline his side in hopes of a multi-year deal.
    Offer him arbitration. Again, he’ll likely decline.
    He’ll be a Type B, so the Cubs will get a supplemental draft pick.
    If Aramis decides to exercise his option or accept arbitration, oh no, Cubs have a good hitting 3B on a one year deal.

    The money for Ramirez one more year is not an issue.

  • Buddy

    Ramirez has a one-year option. I would pick it up, unless a real 3B solution can be found via trade. In my opinion, there are no in-house 3B candidates (besdies Ramirez) for 2012. So if a deal can’t be made, the only other real option is free agency. That crop of 3B’s you posted is pretty ugly, but if you put a gun to my head I would say try a one-year deal with either Betimit or Encarnacion. Hopefully Javier Baez is the real deal and playing 3B for the Cubs ASAP.

  • 1) Ramirez | Colvin / LaHair / Baker
    2) Ramirez | Pena
    3) Vitters | Colvin / Lahair / Baker
    4) Ramirez | Prince
    5) Vitters | Pena
    6) Vitters | Prince
    7) Ramirez | Albert
    8) Vitters | Albert

    Here’s to finding some pitching…

  • emoticons make me 🙁

  • Randy

    Well it is doubtful we’ll resign Aramis since he is pretty much the cream of that crop. If he’d take a three year $30 million it would be one thing, but he’s going to want a raise. It is looking really bad not only for next year, but for the next few years.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    If all we were missing was a 3B or a 1B I could see going big on a free agent. But we’ve got holes throughout the roster. Now is a great time to get away from the Hendry/Tribune model and really work on developing our own players. I know our current minor league crop looks pretty thin, but I’d happily trade another losing season if it meant we stopped signing win-now albatross contracts. Especially when there’s no hope of winning now.

    You might be able to sell me on bringing Ramirez back to give the team some veteran credibility and sell a few tickets. But we’re already throwing a ton of money away on Soriano, we’re going to have to pay someone to take Zambrano off our hands, and unless we can unload Byrd and/or Dempster, they’re owed more than $20M combined. Add in the $5M we have to pay Pena this winter and that’s already a lot of money we’re throwing away.

    What I’m saying is 2012 looks like a losing season. There’s no reason it needs to be an expensive one.

  • Chuck

    Since it is not my money, I want to see the Cubs spend the money on something. Be it players in the draft, hiring more and better player development staff, whatever. The Cubs have the payroll might that should ensure that they never crater to 100+ losses.

  • Seymour Butts

    Over the vacation I read Moneyball, I know it’s about time. The reason the A’s drafted as they did was in part due to having no bank what so ever. They farmed for value. A higher payroll team (essentially all of them) would not need to make the same trade offs. The best 3b out there by a long shot is the one we have. Sign the fat Prince of Millaire and keep most of the rest of the starters intact. Byrd is the only potential guy to trade, Alf won’t get a taker, though eating most of his contract for a quality starter should be considered. Boras is sufficent reason to abandon Pena.
    Many people had high hopes for this team out of the gate. It just didn’t happen. Replace the bench guys with youngsters, and go play. You just don’t know..2006 was followed by 2007.

  • I agree with you mostly, Seymour Fleets. With every team aside from the Phils looking for starting pitching, I have a feeling that the market is going to Barry Zito-contract ugly. Not sure if we can get the fat guy and a decent arm. The veteran bench riders need to go…I’m with you there fully.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    See I would think if 2007 taught us anything is that win-now signings can only get you so far. Even if we brought back Aramis, signed Fielder, and through some miracle got Sabathia, there’s no guarantee that team actually wins it all.

    What is guaranteed is that we’ll be paying those guys long after their primes and that we’ll talk about their contracts the way we talk about Soriano’s now. The Cubs are at one of those “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it” moments right now.

  • Oh, and I think I speak for us all in saying that we expect a video book review of Moneyball ASAP.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    I’m not against spending money. I just think we ought to spend it wisely.

  • Seymour Butts

    Serendipitously, I have such a video review out this weekend.
    I look a little like Brad Pitt in it.

  • Awesome.


    Lets bring back Lee and DeRosa

  • Buddy

    I’d rather see Doc and Joe in the Cubs lineup over Lee and DeRosa.

  • Forget about Pena, he should have been dealt anyway. And Adam Lind is putting up better numbers. Definitely pick up Ramirez’s option and get the draft picks out of it. For next year go with LaHair and Colvin. They at least deserve a shot. (I don’t understand Quade’s hatred of Clovin) Or trade for a potential first bagger like Brett Wallace from the Astros. Now Vitters, Flaherty and Lemahiu can all play 3rd but if they are deemed too green pick up Ian Stewart after the Rockies release him. He’d be cheap and isn’t a defensive liability. We probably aren’t going to contend next year anyway but throwing around huge contracts isn’t the way to fix things.

  • Randy

    I don’t think Quade “hates” Colvin so much as his inability to hit above the Mendoza line. Advanced scouting reports killed Tyler Colvin. Pretty much every time he went to bat it was inside in the dirt or high and away, didn’t matter he swung at everything.

  • Buddy

    I must have missed something. How did Adam Lind get into the Cubs 1B disucssion?

  • I would prefer kids, but if none are ready yet, then just please, please, please avoid long contracts (two years tops).


  • I heard a few minutes of talk on WGN radio this evening. They were discussing Ramirez. It was explained that if one takes Ramirez’s numbers from games when the Cubs were within five games of the division lead and compare them to games when the Cubs were five or more games out the second batting average was 20 points higher than the first.

    Makes sense to me.

    I can’t swear I heard all of that correctly.

  • Buddy

    Did they say anything about his onbase or slugging?

  • Norm

    Way too much being made about struggles in April and May…if he were good enough to never struggle he’d be a superstar.
    Players struggle. It happens.
    He didn’t struggle in April/May in 2007 or 2008 “when the games meant something”…did he somehow succumb to the pressure of April as he got older and more experienced?

  • Chuck

    A lot of players struggle in April because it may snow during games. Baseball + cold = no fun. One factor is that a lot of players come from places like the Dominican, Puerto Rico and other warmer climates. People from that neck of the woods just aren’t used to the cold just like asking me to do a lot of physical labor when it is 100 out.
    When I was in college I had some classes with a woman from Florida who had never really left Florida. Her first upper-midwest winter was a rude awakening. She was dressed for scaling Everest and I was still wearing shorts with a light jacket.

  • Randy

    Anyone ever dig out the data to see how the Cubs fare over a season if they play most of their April games away rather than at home?

  • Dusty Baylor

    Adam Lind: .256/.300/.449 26 HR, 86 RBI, 16 doubles
    Carlos Pena: .229/.356/.471, 28 HR, 79 RBI, 26 doubles

    Lind is….younger, but better? Uh…not?

  • Buddy

    You can take Berkman off the list. He just signed a one-year extension with the Cards.

  • Doc Raker

    Dear New GM,
    Sign no one off that list. Bring up the kids, trade for some other clubs kids, save your money for 2013 or 2014 when we really know what our clubs needs are after seeing which kids can play in the bigs. No old Vets, rebuild, rebuild, rebuild.
    We can endure a losing season in 2012 as long as we are rebuilding for a young solid core to have for many years to come. Strip it down and build it back up, forget about these over priced vets. Repeat for all position.
    Go Cubs!

  • Jedi

    Doc, can you add my signature to the bottom of your letter please.

  • Doc Raker

    Right on Jedi. Thinking about going to the last game of the season next Wednesday at Petco, 5:30 PCT start time. Anyone else going?

  • Jedi

    Doc, I wanted to be there…but had some other appts that got scheduled for that day. Have fun!

  • HotRuta

    Let’s try looking at it from a different angle …

    Suppose we looked at the 3B availability list from the standpoint of a team that didn’t have anybody at 3B. Wouldn’t ARam be at the top of our want list? If not, who would be? How much would we be willing to pay to lock ARam up for a couple of years? Would it be worth it just to have a semblance of respectability? Would it be a waste of money, because he would be worthless before the team can go anywhere?

    Having a Fielder or a Pujols wouldn’t benefit the team much if there was nobody else in the lineup to offer them any protection — they’d just end up setting a new record with 600 IBBs.

    If the goal is to take it all in 2014 (I know; pointless, since the world is supposed to end in 2012), then every acquisition should be a step towards that goal. We should look at how much money we will waste during the intervening years while building, and how good the acquisition will be when the team finally reaches “The Promised Land”.

    I suspect the right answer is to test ARam on just how badly he wants to stay in Chicago. Maybe 2 years at $12M/year + mutual option for the 3rd year gets it done. Would that be worth it? Not good enough? Too much?

  • Buddy, I know they talked about average, home runs and rbi. The latter two annualized. All were higher in games five or more games out of first. The average was 20 points higher. I failed to catch the other numbers.

  • Doc Raker

    HotRuta- If you know you will not want a certain player in 3 years time why keep them at all for any price? If said ballplayer isn’t a piece of the rebuild he is only blocking a potential piece of the rebuild.

  • Doc Raker

    Darn Jedi, was hoping to meet you. There should be about 12 people in the stands, I will wave to you all. Not to be confused with doing the wave, will not do the wave, but will wave.

  • HotRuta

    Doc Raker — Exactly right. But my sense is that there is no one to BE blocked in the Cubs organization — only guys that COULD develop enough power to be 3B guys. However, if we are thinking that we can land a Fielder [unlikely] or a Pujols [no chance], then we at least have to make sure that he can’t be pitched around. That means we need ARam (or equivalent) to go with “The Big Guy” we plan to sign.

    So, you keep ARam if 1) you’ve got “The Big Guy” locked up, and need to protect him in the lineup, or 2) you DON’T get “The Big Guy”, and you don’t want the next couple years to be a total wasteland. You let him walk if you’re planning to go into suspended-animation for the next two years, so that you won’t have to watch what happens (just kidding).

    Personally, I think the timing may be off for the Cubs; I don’t think that it’s possible to sign any of ”The Big Guy” – types everybody is craving, simply because these guys don’t WANT to play for the Cubs, and if they are good enough to merit the attention, they don’t HAVE to. We built the last successful team by overpaying for Free Agents — I think we’d have to overpay even more this time around. We could spend the money to be “competitive”, but I think we’ve already tried that, and that path leads to 2011. I would much rather go full out on rebuilding — create a REAL “Cubbie swagger” (not “Cubbie stagger”), and go to battle with talent that never has been exposed to the current corrupt Cubs organization attitudes and environment.

    Of course, depending on the new GM, ALL of that could change …