Bryan LaHair had a tremendous 2011 season in the minors. He hit .331 with 38 homeruns, 38 doubles, and 109 driven in. LaHair, at the age of 29, is not considered a prospect, but has worked very hard in the minor league system to have a chance to play in the major leagues. He earned the starting job at first base when the Chicago Cubs did not re-sign Carlos Pena.
LaHair still could not breathe a sigh of relief as there were rumors that the Cubs would sign superstar first baseman Prince Fielder. Fielder ended up with the Detroit Tigers, giving LaHair the opportunity to be the opening day starting first baseman for the Cubs.
LaHair needs to show the Cubs and the rest of the major league clubs that he deserves to be playing at their level. He has to put up the numbers in order to keep a starting role. Cubs acquired Anthony Rizzo from the San Diego Padres with the hope he would be their first baseman of the future. Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer has put the pressure on LaHair. LaHair can start the season at first, but struggles in performance will lead to that call to Triple A for Rizzo.
This is a ton of pressure to put on any player but LaHair has handled all the scrutiny, from Fielder to Rizzo, in stride. He has said all the right things and just wants to get on the field and show what he can do.
LaHair has a lot to prove in 2012. Can he play first base and produce the kind of statistics that will entice another major league team to give him a long-term contract? Even if LaHair has a stellar year, Rizzo is in the Cubs future. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer want to show that their Cubs will win the Cubs way. The Cubs way is to build a winner from within. Rizzo and others in their minor league system fit this motto.
LaHair knows he is not the long-term solution, but this is the life of a major leaguer. LaHair has to go out and play the way he has played; and do it all season. He has already had to deal with the drama of possibly being replaced before the season even started. What more can anyone asks of Bryan LaHair? 2012 is his shot. Let’s hope, for the sake of the Chicago Cubs and their fans, he does very well.