As the Rule Five draft looms in the near future, the deadline for teams to set their 40 man roster arrives today. With that being the case, the Chicago Cubs made a flurry of moves to ensure that players who would be vulnerable to the draft, that the club valued, would be protected. In doing so, the Cubs added pitchers Trey McNutt and Robert Whitenack as well as infielders Christian Villanueva and Logan Watkins which gave them all the protection they would need to stay in Chicago, at least beyond the Rule 5 Draft. Surprisingly, the Cubs left their minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck vulnerable to be plucked off by any team willing to give him a spot on their 25 man roster for the entirety of the 2013 season.
Protecting players though was not the only action the Cubs made today. They also made a minor trade with the Texas Rangers, which was more of a re-do of the trade the Cubs made with the Rangers in July when they traded Geovany Soto for pitcher Jake Brigham. As things turned out, Brigham had an arm injury which must have been pre-existing because the Rangers agreed to take him back and send a new package back to the Cubs. The players the Rangers sent back were pitcher Barret Loux and the always tradable player to be named later. The Rangers likely made this move as a make good in order to keep Theo Epstein and the Cubs on their good side, because trading injured goods is a sure fire way to get a team to second guess using you as a trade partner in the future.
But, the biggest move (or at least the one that has garnered the most fan reaction) was what the Cubs decided to do with Bryan LaHair, who was designated for assignment. He is expected to play the 2013 season in Japan.
A few Cub fans are upset about this move, because they loved the potential they saw in him. Looking at his monstrous statistics in the minor leagues in the 2011 season and being named the Cubs minor league player of the year, he gave fans all the hope in the world that he would be that dominating superstar that the Cubs system has so rarely produced. That hope looked to show actual merit when he was named the opening day first baseman for the 2012 season when he hit .390 with five home runs and 14 RBI for the month of April. Unfortunately, that is when Fukudome syndrome kicked in and his tremendous slide took over.
For the month of May, his average dipped down to .253, but he did hit five more home runs and drove in eight more RBI. Sadly, things continued to get worse from there. In June he hit .231 with six home runs and three RBI, July he hit .194 with one home run and three RBI. His average blimped a little bit in August when he hit .205, again with one home run and three more RBI. September he once again hit in the .280s, but still only managed to produce one home run and six RBI.
Fans will tout that he was still an All Star for the 2012 season, but that was more by default than anything else as there were not really any other first baseman worth a damn the first half of the 2012 season. Sure, he can hold the title of All Star his whole career, but he may be one of the worst All Stars in league history.
Another question fans are asking is why he was not traded when they brought up Rizzo, or before he was designated for assignment. That is easy to answer. He simply had no value. Sure, he started the year off hot, but he cooled down throughout the year and other teams saw this. Why would they trade for a player they saw was badly declining? At most the Cubs would have gotten was a mid to low level prospect for him. I am sure that would have gotten the fans excited, more like screaming for Theo’s head. As far as trading him before he was DFA’d, same reasoning applies, only the other teams had more to go off of. He was not a good major league player, despite what he did in the minors or in April. So instead of playing for the Cubs (or any other team in the Major Leagues), LaHair will be taking his talents to Japan, where he can join fellow Cubs 4-A player Micah Hoffpauir.
So, we at World Series Dreaming would like to say good bye to flavor of the season LaHair, and wish him the best in all his future endevors.