Cubs Roster Profiles: Bryan LaHair

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As Luke has been doing over the course of the past couple of weeks, Cubbies Crib is doing a profile of the Cubs’ 40 man roster. Luke is doing a tremendous job covering the prospect that are on the Cubs’ 40 man roster, but we know what most of you are waiting for. While the importance of prospects–especially with the Cubs’ new regime–can not go overstated, the meat and bones of the Cubs’ 40 man roster is of the players that will make up the 25 man roster. For the Major League roster, Joe and myself will cover the Major League players. With the start of cactus league games around the corner, Cubbies Crib will be beginning to push out more and more profiles on a daily basis.

The Cubs have had a lot of turnover from the 2011 season to the 2012 season. So before the team takes the field for their first cactus league game, it is important that you are informed on each of the team’s newest additions, as well as what to expect from some familiar faces.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune had a nice write-up about new Cubs’ starting first baseman Bryan LaHair. In the article, Sullivan uses various quotes from LaHair including when where LaHair mentioned that he was told by President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein to ignore any rumors of the Cubs’ signing Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. Epstein has had a fondness for LaHair since the day that the former Red Sox general manager became the new president of baseball operations for the Cubs. Even after the Cubs their first baseman of the future in Anthony Rizzo in a trade with the San Diego Padres, the Cubs’ front office and manager Dale Sveum are committed to LaHair being the starting first baseman to start the season.

2012 figures to be LaHair’s first real opportunity to be an everyday player in the Major League in his entire six year career. LaHair played briefly for Mariners in 2008, appearing in 45 games gathering 150 at bats and posting a hitting line of .250/.315/.346. But LaHair’s brief appearance on the Major League level for the Mariners was not enough to convince the organization the first baseman/outfielder was a capable Major League Player. LaHair then spent all of the next two seasons on the AAA Level. In 2009, LaHair’s last season with the Mariner’s organization, the minor league veteran hit .289/.354/.530 to go along with 26 home runs and 85 RBIs for the Mariner’s triple A affiliate.

LaHair has been with the Cubs’ organization since the 2010 season. LaHair spent all of 2010 with the Iowa Cubs while hitting .308/.385/.557 to go along with 25 home runs and 81 RBIs. After the 2010 season, many Cubs’ fans began to notice LaHair. Some even wondered if LaHair should have been given in an opportunity in Spring Training of 2011 to be the team’s starting first baseman. Instead, the Cubs signed Carlos Pena and LaHair once again spent most of the 2011 season with the Iowa Cubs. Though, it was LaHair’s 2011 season with the Cubs that finally made the organization realize that he needs to be given an opportunity on the Major League level. With the Iowa Cubs last season, LaHair hit .331/.405/.664 while hitting 38 home runs and driving in 109 season.

LaHair was then given a brief chance during the latter portions of the 2011 season to prove what he could do on the Major League level. LaHair had some degree of success, albeit in 69 plate appearances. With the Chicago Cubs, LaHair played in 20 games while hitting .288/.377/.508 in the final month of the season. In an off-season that saw the Cubs commit to the former Seattle Mariners’ farm-hand, LaHair has the chance to be the Jeremy Lin of the Cubs.

LaHair is going to have to impress the Cubs’ front office early if he intends to be around the organization for the long-term. Reason being the expectation is that Rizzo will take over the first base position from LaHair at some point this season. There is no question that Rizzo is the long-term solution at first base for the Cubs, which is why the chances are strong that LaHair will not finish the season as the Cubs’ starting first baseman. Though if LaHair proves that he can be power hitter for the Chicago Cubs that he was for the Iowa Cubs, that will create an interesting situation for the Cubs. LaHair is capable of playing the outfield, but he would not be that much of an upgrade over left fielder Alfonso Soriano. But if LaHair continues to do nothing but hit, the Cubs may be forced to create a way for the first baseman to play everyday.

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