With the trade of Derrek Lee to the Atlanta Braves, the Cubs are left with a huge hole at first base for the future. Micah Hoffpauir, Xavier Nady, and Jeff Baker as the only capable of players to man the position on the team. None of them are starting caliber players on a team that wishes to contend, and certainly none of them are long-term solutions at the position.
And down on the farm, there don't appear to be any quality solutions either, at least for the 2011 season. So it would appear on the surface that the Cubs would almost certainly address the first base position through the upcoming free agency, or trade this offseason.
But maybe there is indeed an in-house possibility to be the first baseman for 2011, and even longer: Tyler Colvin.
Now, Colvin is an outfielder, and hasn't played first base since high school. However, the left-hander is tall, quick, good with the glove, and just seems like the ideal "type" of player to play the position.
Whatever the case, Colvin is at least fine with giving first base a try if that's what the Cubs want:
"It's been a while since I've done it. Hopefully if they want me to do that, I'll do it. No one has ever said 'Hey, we want you to take ground balls there.' I've got to wait for that first and then we'll see what happens."
Colvin thinks he could handle first, though he didn't sound like he was eager to move there.
"I'm comfortable in the outfield, but if that's what they want me to do, I can't complain," he said. "If it helps out the Chicago Cubs, that's what I'll do."
If the Cubs really are considering this, they will give Colvin a full Spring Training at first base before they would feel comfortable making him a regular there, and it's quite unlikely that they would go into Spring Training with the assumption that he will be capable of playing the position come Opening Day. Therefore, they would likely have at least a solid veteran( on the club at that point as well, in case the Colvin experiment at first base were to fail.
There's much more to keep in mind with this Colvin-to-first base talk as well. Here's some thoughts that immediately came to mind for me:
1. Even if Colvin shows the ability to play first base in Spring Training, do the Cubs feel comfortable tossing him out there immediately alongside a poor defensive infield surrounding him? It's not easy handling the throws Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro(who currently has 18 errors) would fire his way from the left side of the infield. Derrek Lee, a three-time Gold Glove winner, saved the Cubs' infield of many, many errors over the years.
2. Aside from the obvious positives of being able to play multiple positions and giving the manager flexibility, is there really a great reason to change Colvin's primary position from right field to first base? Unless the Cubs feel they can upgrade the offense easier with a new right fielder instead of a new first baseman, it would be an odd decision to go this route, especially with Colvin having zero professional experience at the position.
3. Going along with the thoughts of #2- If the Cubs do this, they better be finding a terrific hitter to play right field. Colvin's impressed this season, his rookie year. In 316 plate appearances so far, he's batting .251, with 18 homers(leads all rookies), a .521 slugging percentage, and an .821 OPS.
But there's question marks as to whether or not Colvin is really is this much of a power hitter, as he never hit for much power in the past(although he did put on approximately 30 pounds of muscle in the offseason, so an improvement in the power department should have been expected). Additionally, he must improve his patience(only 24 walks and a .310 on-base percentage), and the ability to hit, and in many instances simply lay off breaking balls.
Unless the Cubs find a major offensive upgrade at say, second base, they don't want to go into the 2011 with questionable bats at first base and right field, two premier positions to find run producers.
4. Kosuke Fukudome could have an impact on this. The Cubs will likely try hard to unload Fukudome and at least some of the $13.5 million he's owed in 2011, the last year of his contract. If they are unable to do so, he'll be back on the team in 2011, and his primary position is right field. If the Cubs are paying if that much money, there's no way he'll ride the bench all season. So to find a way to get both Fukudome and Colvin in the lineup on a regular basis, moving Colvin to first base makes sense.
We'll surely be hearing much more of this Colvin/first base talk over the next few months, and if the Cubs surprisingly do choose to go that route, it's going to be very interesting to see how Colvin handles the position.
Get The Latest Blogfines Updates By Following Us On Twitter.