Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where Have You Gone, Leon Durham?

The Cubs need a first baseman, and there are rumors of interest in trading for James Loney, signing Carlos Peña, trading for the Rangers' Chris Davis, or the fall back option of platooning Tyler Colvin/Jeff Baker.  As a Cubs fan, each of these options sound uninspiring.  The Loney option is potentially infuriating, since we think he's already one of the least productive starting first basemen in baseball.

Lance, how could you?!?!
A short-term solution could be fine.  We were proponents of bringing in Lance Berkman on a deal similar to what the Cardinals gave him (1yr/$8M).  I suppose we could get behind a Carlos Peña singing if it's for no more than two years.  Paul Konerko, Adam LaRoche, or Jorge Cantu may be suitable first-base stopgaps.

News of Adrian Gonzalez signing long-term with the Red Sox got us excited about Lars Anderson joining Yonder Alonso and Allen Craig as three of the more enticing blocked 1st base prospects.  It's doubtful the Reds or Cardinals would be particularly interested in helping the division rival Cubs acquire a potential star.  So, how good are these blocked prospects?  Are they worth the time and money?  Are they worth trading pitching, infield, or catching prospects?  Are they worth the opportunity cost?  Worth the risk?

Here are Major League projections for Alonso, Anderson, Craig, and Davis as Chicago Cubs, using their career AAA stats and this nifty Minor League Equivalence calculator.

Career AAA Stats MLB Equivalent (as Cubs)
Yonder Alonso .261/.311/.404
Lars, meet Adrian.  Now, leave.
Lars Anderson .227/.294/.367
Allen Craig .285/.336/.464
Chris Davis .281/.339/.450

More stats:

Career Minors K/BB ratio
Yonder Alonso: 143/102 (1.40)
Lars Anderson: 467/271 (1.72)
Allen Craig: 354/168 (2.11)
Chris Davis: 432/146 (2.96)

Overall, we still love the future of Yonder Alonso.  The strikeout to walk ratio could be the greatest statistic to use when looking for prospects who'll be able to avoid outs at any level, and Alonso has shown to be a strong kid with power (46 extra base hits in 101 AAA games).  It would be briefly unbelievable if the Cubs pried him away from a division rival.

Reds fans hope Yonder plays LF
Unproven players carry tremendous risk, and this group is no different.  Each of these players could still make it to all star games and lead teams to championships.  Or, their careers could fizzle into Minor League stardom.  Xavier Nady is probably shaking his head right now, thinking he's way better than any of these guys.

It's a tough decision and stats are there to help guide teams through their various scouting reports and talent boards.  We all agree that stats are not everything, and even if they were, this is a small sample size, very early in the players' developmental curve.  Anderson, for example, only played 113 games in triple A last season, and he was just 22 years old.  As we mentioned three months ago, Lars Anderson is a big strong kid with a great batter's eye.  The Cubs could do worse than that, and the way things have been going, probably will.

1 comment:

  1. In an MLB loaded with first base types, it's too bad we can't find someone good.

    However, with Starlin Castro clogging up shortstop, a good defender is almost paramount.

    Unless, of course, we could perhaps move Castro, get a short stop with a good glove and throwing arm, and perhaps bring on a lesser defending first baseman.

    However, even that isn't a good option. I think the best thing, if it doesn't cost too much, is to get Chris Davis, and let him and LeHair battle it out in Spring Training along with possibly Colvin.

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