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Re-Signing Carlos Pena Right Move For Cubs

By bullpenbrian at 11.21.2011 7 comments.

Why not bring Carlos Pena back to the North Side for the 2012 season?

He’s not the long-term answer, of course, but Pena, 33, has expressed a desire to return, and the Cubs hardly have an internal option to replace him.

It’s clear Theo & Company are building towards the future, but also strongly emphasize the importance of keeping the Cubs somewhat respectable for the upcoming season. That’s where Pena presents value on several fronts.

In the ‘New Cubs Way,’ Team Theo Epstein is focusing on ‘winning players,’ guys who work pitch counts and solid defenders. Pena exemplifies all three.

He’s an unquestionable leader in the clubhouse, set an all-time high for a Cubs first baseman with 101 walks, and remains a Gold Glove caliber fielder.

Aside from Pena’s return, the Cubs have but two in-house replacements in Tyler Colvin & Bryan LaHair, and who know if either can match Pena’s production in any category.

Even more unlikely is the thought Chicago will sign one of the available big-ticket first baseman: Albert Pujols & Prince Fielder (although, the Sveum hire adds fuel to the fire with Fielder).

Yet despite Pena’s current free agency, the Cubs still owe him $5M in deferred money from his 1-year, $10M deal signed last season.

It’s unlikely the Cubs will get another bargain deal from Pena’s agent Scott Boras. But a 2-year deal doesn’t seem out of the question, especially if the Cubs agree to trade Pena to a contender should he grow tired of the rebuilding process.

In the meantime, if Pena truly wants to return to Chicago, and the Cubs truly want to begin righting the ship…why get rid of a solid player you’re already paying?

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7 Comments

  1. cubbies4ever says:

    Give me Bryan Lahair for the league min. and use the money on someone else.

    • bullpenbrian says:

      Bryan LaHair or bust scares me. Even knowing LaHair has great potential offensively–which he showed late last season with the Cubs, including leading the minors in HRs–that’s only one side of the game.

      Pena’s a Gold Glover…LaHair, not so much. That’s tough with Starlin still growing defensively at SS… and god only knows who’s playing third.

      You’re right, the Cubs would save money by letting Pena walk. It makes long-term financially sense. But it also comes at the expense of winning games next season, which is never a good idea.

      Pena isn’t Zambrano…the money paid to him goes far, as in leadership on & off the field, accountability, professionalism and good numbers on both sides of the ball.

      You get what you pay for, and I think Pena is worth the investment. Doesn’t mean I’m right! We’ll see. Thanks for checking in, Cubbies4ever:)

  2. I’ve been a fan of Pena from the get go. He’s a great fit for the team and I’m excited to see what he does for wrigley next year!

    • bullpenbrian says:

      One thing I truly appreciated about Pena last season was his effort from start to finish. He could have mailed it in after getting off to a slow start at the plate, and the Cubs overall poor play. But as the season wore on Pena got better, despite the fact the Cubs record grew worse.

      He stayed positive and professional, he battled, he led…he even said he wants to stay in Chicago.

      If you win with good people, Pena is exactly who the Cubs should be looking for. No, he’s not a cornerstone to the franchise, but he does have plenty of game left.

      Good people and good players don’t play for free though…pay the man to stay!

  3. sirrahh says:

    I disagree. Fielder is out there, and Sveum want to have him around, so you roll the dice for three or maybe four years at 18-20 million per. And if he wants five or more years, let him look elsewhere.

    Pena didn’t earn his money last year, while Fielder did. The Cubs won’t spend Pujols-type money, but a major upgrade is in order at first base. Just my opinion.

    • bullpenbrian says:

      Yeah, interesting, Sirrahh. Unfortunately, I doubt Fielder will accept a shorter-term deal. He’s the biggest F.A. on the market, aside from Pujols, and the Players Association is banking on Fielder to set the market value for first baseman–think back a few seasons ago to CC Sabathia signing with NYY instead of his first choice, Anaheim.

      I agree the addition of Dale Sveum as manager adds an interesting twist to the idea Fielder could, and would, want to join the Cubs. But my gut felling is the dollars and cents won’t work out for both parties.

      As for Pena, I respectfully disagree that he didn’t earn his money. Could he have had a better season statistically? Absolutely. But that goes for nearly ever other player in the majors. What the Cubs got out of Pena besides a ‘pillow-contract’ 1-yr deal was satisfactory in my eyes. Is he worth a long-term expensive deal? No. In the short-term, however, I think he’s a good fit. Let’s see what happens!

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