Bryan LaHair just went deep… again. His fourth homer in five days coupled with his current .394 average (as I type this) have some Cubs fans thinking he’s the long-term answer to the power vacuum at first base after the exoduses of Carlos Pena and Derrek Lee before him.
But not this Cubs fan.
I’ve certainly got nothing against the big lefty, but LaHair is simply not the answer for the long run. It has taken him almost 10 years in the minors to get to the point where he can finally make an impact in the majors. At almost 30, the late bloomer just doesn’t fit into the Cubs long-term plans as he will be in his declining years by the time the Cubs are ready to contend (I’m still looking towards 2014).
And that’s assuming this present level of production isn’t an aberration. Anyone remember Chris Shelton? If not, don’t feel bad—he wasn’t around very long. But any Tigers fan will remember the Rule 5er’s meteoric rise and subsequent flameout back in 2006 when he hit nine bombs in his first 13 games only to drop off the face of the earth. LaHair has “Shelton” written all over him—kicking around the minors for the better part of a decade then finally making a splash at the start of the season to give some reason to hope he’s finally put it all together.
The real answer is 22-year old Anthony “Sizzlechest” Rizzo who is simply mashing in Iowa with 35 hits including four doubles, seven HRs, 24 RBI and a 1.060 OPS in 24 games. Theo Epstein & Co. have made it abundantly clear that they love the kid considering they originally drafted him back in Boston and have subsequently traded for him not once, but twice.
They need to strike while the iron is hot (wow, how old is that idiom?) and deal LaHair immediately. The Dodgers would be a logical trading partner as their underachieving first baseman James Loney (.227 average, 1 HR, 6 RBI) has proven to be a annual disappointment on what otherwise looks like a championship ball club at this point. Epstein should call up Magic Johnson today and make something happen while LaHair’s trade value is at it’s zenith. A package of a few interesting pitching prospects would suffice.
I just hope the Cubs don’t make the same mistake with LaHair as the previous regime did with Carlos Marmol (who just blew another Save as I type this) when they didn’t deal him at the height of his trade value. Just look how that one’s turned out. Yuck.