As the 2011 season comes to a disappointing close, as always, optimistic Cubs fans begin to dream of next year.
This year's third baseman free agent market leaves much to be desired.
Let's look at what to expect from the Cubs at third base for the 2012 season. From the overly expensive to the cheap kids coming up—and one aging veteran in-between.
This is how scary this list is: In a slim free agent year for third basemen, one of the “better” choices in 2012 is former Cubs Mark DeRosa.
The 37-year-old only had 179 at bats over the past two seasons, and he spent much of his time in San Francisco on the DL due to a bad wrist.
New GM: Please don’t go here. Next slide please.
Only a slightly better option for next year is Greg Dobbs. Last year, as a Marlin, Dobbs hit .275 with 8 home runs and 49 RBIs—not exactly the kind of power numbers that you’d like to see at third base.
Although, coming off of a $600,000 contract, he could be the kind of signing that you don’t mind seeing if the Cubs were to make a substantial investment at first base during the offseason.
22-year-old Josh Vitters is the Cubs' top prospect for third base, drafted with the third overall pick in 2007. Vitters hit .283 with 14 home runs and 81 RBIs in AA last season.
Look for him to make it to the Iowa Cubs in 2012, but let's hope we're not desperate enough to see him in Chicago.
LeMahieu spent some time filling in at second base when Darwin Barney went down last season, and there has been some speculation from the Sun-Times that he could be given a chance at third this spring.
In the very small sample size of 60 at bats, LeMahieu put up a modest .250, with power numbers too low to mention.
If LeMahieu gets the job, the Cubs will severely miss the offensive production they’ve come to depend on from the third base position.
Ramirez is clearly the best decision for the Cubs at third base in 2012.
Last year he was the best-hitting everyday third baseman in MLB, batting .306 with 25 home runs and 92 RBIs. To say that the Ramirez has been a large part of the Cubs’ offense over the past few seasons would be an understatement.
He has said that he’s going to test free agency this offseason, but that sounds more like posturing from his agent, Paul Kinzer. Let’s hope the Cubs' new GM picks up Ramirez’s one-year option for 2012, as the other options are frightening.