The famous Abbott and Costello routine “Who’s on 1st” would be a lot funnier to Chicago Cubs fans if we had the hope of a defensively-solid power-hitter at the hot corner. One of the Chicago Cubs’ biggest decisions this spring is finding out who will man 3rd base for the 2013 season. At this point there are a few different options. The conventional wisdom is to use either Ian Stewart or Luis Valbuena. Both of these players have big league time, but I don’t think either one will be the future of the Cubs at 3rd. They could always bring up one of the young minor leaguers and get them some big league experience. I think this is a good option given the dismal hopes this year. The last option is to trade for an established 3rd baseman.
Luis Valbuena played 90 games at 3rd in 2013, Ian Steward played 55, and Josh Vitters played 36. None of them are bad fielders, but the Cubs need consistent offense and power from that position and these three won’t get it done. Valbuena hit .219 with four home runs last year. Stewart hit .201 with 5 home runs. Vitters hit .121 with two home runs. The team needs someone to hit .300 with 25-30 home runs every year.
There are two good minor league options, but they are both very young. The top 3rd base prospect is Christian Villanueva. In 125 games last year he hit .279 with 14 home runs. Jeimer Candelario is the other good minor league prospect. He hit .281 with six home runs in 71 games last year. Both of these youngsters could use some time at AAA or in the Majors if the Cubs really want to focus on the future.
The Cubs final option for the 2013 season is to go out and sign an established 3rd baseman or trade for one. There are three big names that I would love to have at Wrigley every day. Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012, but I don’t think the Cubs have anyone the Detroit Tigers want. David Wright has been fantastic for the New York Mets, but once again, they rely on him enough that a trade us near impossible. While Cubs fans may not want to hear it, the best option would be to get Aramis Ramirez back from the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2012 he hit .300 with 27 home runs. He is just what the team is looking for. I hope the Cubs will find someone who can give them what they need, but don’t look for it to happen in 2013.