Chicago Cubs 1st Base Outlook Heading Into 2011

[picappgallerysingle id="9459407"]The Chicago Cubs haven’t had a real opening at first base since the transition from Mark Grace, to Hee Seop Choi. When Choi couldn’t live up to expectations, the Cubs traded for Derrek Lee who went on to be a very good player for the Cubs over the next several years. Well, the Cubs traded Derrek Lee in a “mini firestorm” to the Atlanta Braves for 3 minor league pitchers, and as it stands- first base is going to be a revolving door until a major move goes down.

It’s hard to say where the Cubs are leaning right now, and all I can do is make an educated guess based on options. Right now, the options are Micah Hoffpauir, Russ Canzler, Tyler Colvin, or Xavier Nady if he’s resigned.

Much to most people’s dismay- Micah Hoffpauir is NOT going to be our starting first basemen this year because frankly- he’s a below average major league player. Sure he drops bombs in triple A- but he’s consistently over matched against major league pitching (mainly the fastball on the inner portion of the plate). If he’s our first basemen next year…well my hopes of any playoff chances are immediately dashed.

Russ Canzler is an interesting name to throw out there because he’s very unknown. However, I have him rated as the number 10 prospect in the organization because of his ability to drive the baseball. The 24 year old could very well be a sleeper pick in 2011 to maintain first base.

Tyler Colvin has also been rumored to take first base next year. The Cubs like his left handed stick in the middle of the order, and if he moves to first full time- it’ll allow the Cubs to potentially bring up Brett Jackson and platoon him with Kosuke Fukudome. I’m not completely sold on this move from both an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint. It seems to be the cheap way out. I wouldn’t be that upset if they tried it- but I wouldn’t force the square piece into the round hole if it just doesn’t work out.

There are a couple names outside the organization that you could say would be a good pick up. Lyle Overbay is a guy who hits left handed, would come fairly cheap, and would be a nice defensive guy. Don’t expect all star numbers. 1 year deal worth around 4 million would be the most I would want to give him. You can throw Adam LaRoche in that category as well.

The 2 big guns I would want to potentially make a run at. Adam Dunn, Victor Martinez or Adrian Gonzalez. Adam Dunn is a free agent and is looking to make bank this off season. It remains to be seen if the Cubs are going to want to throw that kind of money around this off season, but Dunn would be an outstanding pick up as long as the contract doesn’t exceed 4 years. He loves to hit at Wrigley, he was an okay defensive first basemen, and would serve as a monster left handed hitter in the middle. If the deal exceeds 14 million per season annually- I would pass.

Victor Martinez is a real interesting name. He’s likely not going to be resigned by the Red Sox, so he’ll hit the open market as…a catcher? Well I can see him now transitioning over to first base to save his legs. He’s getting older, but his bat is still valuable. I think he would get max dollars as a first basemen anyways. The switch hitting Martinez would serve any lineup well. There are some questions about him being a little injury prone- but I’d be willing to take a shot if it’s reasonable dollar wise.

Adrian Gonzalez. This guy is no stranger to the trade rumor. He’s been dealt twice already (Marlins to Rangers, Rangers to Padres), and he’ll likely be traded a third time. The Padres definitely cannot pay him so it makes sense to settle for a ton of prospects from their standpoint. When he is 100% available- I expect the Cubs to be all in on Adrian. I think they should do whatever they have too to acquire the all star slugger. He’s not only an outstanding offensive presence, but he’s a gold glove caliber defensive first basemen just entering his prime years. He’s worth any price, and any prospect. If you trade for Adrian Gonzalez- you now have one of the better offenses in the national league if that’s all they do.

First base is a huge question for the Cubs. How will they answer it? We’ll find out this winter.

As it stands- I give the Cubs a D+ grade in terms of whose on the roster at this very moment. I’ll happily change my stance as the moves come and go. Come back tomorrow as I go over the early outlook on the Cubs middle infield.

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