The hot stove league season has just started, but the Cubs hole at third base has been noticeable for at least a couple months now. President Theo Epstein attempted to address the void left by free agent Aramis Ramirez left off season by dealing for Ian Stewart. Unfortunately for the ex Rockie and the Cubs, he was not able to shake the injury bug that plagued him in 2011.
With Stewart on the DL, the rebuilding Cubs made ends meet by using Luis Valbuena. The left handed hitting infielder seemed to have a knack for clutch base hits during a short stretch of the 2012 season, but overall his numbers were far from attractive, including a .219 batting average and .31o OBP.
With the Cubs 2012 season going no where and Valbuena failing to seize the job, Josh Vitters was given a late season call up to give the prospect a taste of the Major Leagues. Cubs fans by now are well aware of the name, as the former first round draft pick has spent plenty of time in the minors while trying to live up to the hype. Vitters was known to have a bat that was progressing to a MLB ready level, but it was his struggles defensively at third that seemed to be holding him back from an earlier debut. Ironically, during his short stint with the Cubs this season, it was his glove that shined more than his bat.
The Cubs front office has admitted that both Vitters and fellow top prospect Brett Jackson were called up ahead of schedule in their eyes. With the 2012 season a wash, they had just wanted to give these two kids a glimpse of what it would take to play in the Majors. For Vitters, it remains to be seen whether those words will buy him one last chance to meet his potential as a Cub; or whether he will be used as a trading chip to add other pieces to either the Cubs Major League roster or depth to the farm system.
Regardless, the Cubs would need at the very least a band aid to cover third base for the 2013 season. Remember Casey McGehee? The former Cub is best remembered as being a Spring Training reject by the Cubs before having a couple break out seasons with division rival Milwaukee. McGehee had a career high 23 home runs and 104 RBI in 2010, while his first season with the Brewers in 2009 saw his batting average crack .300 with a .360 OBP.
Since then McGehee has fallen back down to Earth, finishing the 2012 season with a .217/.284 BA/OBP line while splitting time between the Pirates and Yankees. While his numbers at best match those of Valbuena, McGehee can at least boast that he has had a couple successful seasons at the Major League level, something Valbuena lacks on his MLB resume. With the Yankees non tendering McGehee, the power hitting third baseman would figure to come on the cheap.
A bit of a comeback season in 2013 in his return as a Cub would be a nice story for what figures to be another long, losing season. But at least it would not be the publicity stunt that the Marlins pulled by bringing Adam Greenberg back to the Majors to get an official at bat.