Considering we spent most of last week debated the return of Greg Maddux to the Cubs for 2006, and since the team hasn’t done anything notable since then (besides being officially eliminated from contention), I decided to take the advice of one of our readers and address the situation of another Cubs player whose future with the team is up in the air: Nomar Garciaparra.

I was sort of hoping that Nomar would make the decision easy for me. Either he wouldn’t return from his groin injury this season, or if he did, he would continue the slump that had plagued him at the start of the season. Or maybe that being on a struggling team would finally cause those “selfish tendencies” he supposedly exhibited in Boston to finally surface. Instead, Nomar totally dedicated himself to his rehab, volunteered to play 3rd base when Aramis Ramirez went down, and has hit the cover off the ball since returning. Logic tells me that there’s no way in hell the Cubs should re-sign Nomar next year. He’s on the wrong side of 30, his production is declining and he’s injury prone.

So I figured I’d list out the pros and cons of keeping Nomar:

Pros
Hit .310/.343/.523 for an .866 OPS since returning from injury.

Volunteered to move to 3rd base to help the team. Might be open to moving to left field.

Line drive hitter, who uses all fields, something that Cubs have sorely lacked lately.

Still has a strong arm.

If the Cubs move quickly in the offseason, they can probably sign him for even less money than they did for 2005.

Cons
Suffered a major injury that will probably affect his lateral movement, making him a less effective shortstop. And his defense wasn’t that great before the injury.

His overall .751 OPS doesn’t look as impressive in the outfield as it does at shortstop.

Has played in 138 games in the last 2 years. At this point the injuries have to be seen as a trend.

He may want to become a free agent. In the past Nomar has expressed interest in playing on the West coast, and the Dodgers will need a shortstop and a 3rd baseman next year.

Conclusion
The Cubs are built on pitching, so I’m not sure they can afford to play Nomar at shortstop full time, especially when you consider the fact that the team may have to find a replacement for him if he gets injured again. However, the Cubs outfield was brutal this year, and I’d love it if Nomar agreed to play left or right field in 2006. While his power numbers may not be great for a corner outfielder, if there’s anything the Cubs have taught us the last two years it’s that home runs can be overrated. And it would be a lot easier to find a good replacement outfielder than a shortstop should Nomar suffer another injury setback.

What do you think?

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