September 9, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Casey McGehee (45) fields a ground ball hit by Baltimore Orioles second baseman Omar Quintanilla (not shown) in the ninth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Yankees defeated the Orioles 13 - 3. Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

The Return of Casey McGehee?

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.

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Tags: Brett Jackson Casey McGehee Chicago Cubs Ian Stewart Josh Vitters Luis Valbuena Theo Epstein

  • BJK

    Not a terrible idea, most likely he would be in the Cubs price range. I dont see it happening though. Since he is producing at the same rate currently as a Valbuena statistics wise so why sign him? Youkilis seems like a good signing at this point, he puts up decent numbers better than majority of the free agent class right now at 3B. You could probably get him cheaper as well maybe a 1 year deal with a mutual option on a 2nd. I would guess somewhere around 6 per?

    • Joe Han

      Youkilis would definitely be an upgrade, as he showed he still has some life after his trade to the South Side. There is also the ex Red Sox connection with Theo. But unless we are talking more in the neighborhood of $3-4 million per year tops for one or two seasons, I just don’t see it making sense mutually for both team and player. The Cubs could find cheaper band aids at third like McGehee while they try to figure out a long term solution at the hot corner.

      Youkilis would have some trade value in July if he can produce, but is that worth the $3-4 million gamble by Theo and the Cubs? I guess there is only one way to find out.

      • BJK

        No one thought the Maholm signing would produce into much…look how that turned out.

        • Joe Han

          I agree, but the question remains on what it would cost the Cubs. Maholm was a fairly budget friendly signing. Youkilis figures to be priced out of the Cubs range, especially if the $12 million one year offer by the Yankees has some truth to it.

          Regardless, it looks like Ian Stewart is coming back.
          Sorry for the late reply.