Welcome to the 2011 Chicago Cubs Recap: Part 1 - Blog for the Dumped. In this series, we'll take a closer look at the players we aren't expecting to return in 2011.
Today's featured star is the Cubs one-shot first baseman, Carlos Pena. Pena, by the way, is reportedly a player who is so smart that he overthinks his game, resulting in strikeouts and a general lack of making regular contact. (At least, that's what an article said of the guy in Spring Training.) While that may or may not be the reason for his inability to remember that the purpose of the game is to hit the ball, it is true that his acquisition by Jim Hendry was pretty much the final nail in the coffin for my hopes on the 2011 season. Rolling the dice on a guy a .196 AVG season (following a .227 AVG season) is a good way to give fans an early warning to make other plans in the summer time as Cubs baseball won't be must-see.
Still, did anybody at all think that, in many ways, Carlos Pena would be one of the most solid bats on the team? He was one of only 2 players to post an OPS over .800, despite his .225 AVG. It probably had to do with his incredible ability to hit a ball for extra bases an impressive 52% of the time that he made contact with the ball. Not to mention he finished the year with more than twice the number of walks as the 2nd best Cub - who, unfortunately, was Kosuke Fukudome, who got traded away while there were still months of baseball left. Yep, Pena ended the year with 101 walks, 56 more than the 2nd best total of a Cub still on the roster in September. While it is impressive of Carlos to have shown such discipline, the more impressive thing is just how crappy the rest of the Cubs were last year.
Anyway, while my general view of Pena is that he sucked (because, I mean, c'mon), I have to acknowledge that he earned his money. Jim Hendry signed him knowing that he sometimes used a bat with a giant hole inside it, and Carlos produced better than he'd done in 2010. Thus, success ... if only the Cubs weren't so reliant on his apparently-deflatable bat.
I will not miss Carlos Pena. I doubt many Cub fans will. But when I look to 2012, unless the Cubs manage to nab Prince (or) Albert, Pena actually makes for a reasonable alternative. Again, his presence only further lends to the promise that the Cubs will be fighting to win 63 next season, but his absence* pretty much guarantees that it'll be a lost battle.
(*or, rather, the presence of any other option currently available to the Cubs)