The Chicago Cubs face several tough decisions this summer. While the Cubs are expected to trade veteran starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, Chicago will also have to decide what it’s going to do with its younger talent; Matt Garza and Bryan LaHair.
The Cubs have now lost eight games in a row, leaving them with the most losses and worst winning percentage in the majors. Entering the season, Cubs fans may have hoped for more than what they are getting from their club in 2012, but most should have known that it’s not about the right now but instead the future with this team.
Chicago’s new regime of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer said as much this offseason, and they will look to continue this youth movement over the summer. While Dempster won’t figure into Chicago’s future plans, the Cubs have to decide what role LaHair and Dempster will play in said movement.
Prior to this season, LaHair was a career minor leaguer. Though he posted a 2011 OPS of 1.070 over his 456 at-bats, LaHair was not given much of an opportunity until this season.
Now, 127 at-bats into the 2012 season, LaHair has posted beyond impressive statistics. The 29-year-old has 10 home runs, nine doubles, 21 RBIs and 18 runs scored. LaHair currently leads the Cubs in home runs, batting average (.313), on base percentage (.411) and slugging percentage (.617).
Of course, just as LaHair seems to be establishing himself at the major league level, he has the Cubs first baseman of the future, Anthony Rizzo, breathing down his neck. Rizzo has had quite the 2012 campaign himself, posting a line of .344/.413/.681 for the Cubs Triple-A affiliate.
While Rizzo and LaHair could likely co-exist, LaHair has played left field in the minors, the Cubs may decide that selling high on LaHair and inserting Rizzo at first is their best option for the future.
Meanwhile, the Cubs have to decide what to do with staff ace Matt Garza. While Dempster has been the one posting ace numbers through the start of the season, Garza is regarded as the leader of the Cubs rotation. At 28, the Cubs will have to decide if this is a role Garza commands for the next several years or if he is the trade chip that speeds up the club’s rebuilding process.
This decision depends on how contract negotiations go between the Cubs and Garza. If Chicago doesn’t feel the money is right or if Garza is ultimately interested in testing the free agent market, the Cubs may decide to part ways with the right-hander this summer.
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