Cubs Future First Baseman
In January the Cubs traded Andrew Cashner and another minor leaguer to San Diego for 22 year old first baseman Anthony Rizzo. It’s the third time that Chicago GM Jed Hoyer has acquired Rizzo. Hoyer was part of the Red Sox organization in 2007 when Rizzo was originally drafted in the June amateur draft. Then as GM of the Padres he received Rizzo as part of the trade package that sent Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego to Boston. And now of course he traded with the Padres to bring Rizzo to Chicago. I think it would be fair to say that Hoyer and the Cubs believe Rizzo is Chicago’s first baseman of the future. The question is however; Is the Cubs first baseman of the future already here?
In January of 2010, Jim Hendry made a little noticed signing of minor leaguer Bryan LaHair. LaHair had played 6 seasons in the Seattle Mariners system and was granted free agency after only making it up to the major league club once (2008) during his career. Bryan was sent to Iowa where he would play with the AAA Cubs for the 2010 season. Although LaHair had some previous minor league success, 2010 was his best season to date when he hit .308 with 25 HR’s.
I don’t know what hopes Bryan had of starting for the Cubs as their first baseman in 2011 after Derrek Lee was traded to Atlanta in August of 2010, but those hopes were dashed after the Cubs signed Carlos Pena to a 1yr/$10M contract in December that fall.
Last season LaHair was sent back to AAA Iowa where he again feasted on Pacific Coast League pitching. Bryan hit .331 with 38 HR’s and 109 RBI in 129 games. That performance won LaHair the PCL Most Valuable Player Award and a September call-up with the Cubs. In 16 starts, 14 of which were in the outfield, LaHair hit .288 with 2 HR’s. It wasn’t a headline grabbing debut, but with the Cubs 25 games out of first place, no one on the Cubs was making headlines.
Now comes 2012. Derrek Lee is long gone, Carlos Pena was not resigned and has left for Tampa, and Tyler Colvin was traded away to Colorado. So first base looks to be wide open for LaHair this year. This summer will be his best shot at a fulltime starting job. And at age 29, it could be his last shot.
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