12/8 Carlos Pena update

The Cubs were expected to call a news conference Wednesday at baseball’s Winter Meetings to formally announce the signing of free agent first baseman Carlos Pena to a one-year, $10 million deal. Pena’s batting average isn’t pretty — he hit .196 in 2010 — but he has some other stats that justify the deal. Pena has averaged 36 homers in the last four seasons, including a high of 46 in 2007 with the Rays and an American League-leading 39 in 2009. He’s also averaged 93 walks, 24 doubles and nearly 102 RBIs in that same time frame, and compiled a .884 OPS.

Pena began his career with the Rangers — and hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo — who made him a first-round pick (10th overall). He was traded to the Athletics in January 2002, and traded again that year to the Tigers, where he played from 2002-05. He’s also played for the Red Sox (2006), and Rays (2007-10). He received $10.125 million last year from Tampa Bay. An All-Star in 2009, Pena won a Gold Glove in 2008 and a Silver Slugger award in 2007.

He’s had an interesting career, having been released twice — once in March 2006 by the Tigers, and again in August 2006 by the Yankees. He had a clause in his contract in ’06 that allowed him to become a free agent if the Yankees didn’t put him on the 25-man roster by Aug. 15. Pena actually lost out in his bid to make the Rays roster in March 2007 to Greg Norton.

At the time, Pena told Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon that he’d be back and promised he was going to “make an impact.” Hours later, Norton injured his knee and Pena was on the Opening Day roster. He did make an impact, hitting 46 homers and driving in 121 runs.

“We owe a lot of this to Greg Norton,” Maddon said then. “We got lucky.”

Pena also has a reputation as a great clubhouse guy.

“For me, a leader has got to be willing to give himself up for somebody else first and Carlos does that,” Maddon said in an interview in 2008. “He makes people feel much more important than he is.”

– Carrie Muskat

5 Comments

well… its a move i guess… I just hope after this we trade away Fukudome and whatever else we can so Colvin can play everyday… lets give him the confidence and just name him the starter before Opening day… he will still work hard. Then trade for another top notch starter…. NOT a good #3…. AT LEAST a GREAT #2… it doesn’t have to be Cliff Lee just a #2 where we know everyday that he is going to give us a quality start and keep the team in the game. The Pena moves sucks if one he hits sub 200 again… and two if the outfield stays bunched up…. this next year we need to figure out what we got in our youth… if we win we win but we need to know what we got in the minors

I think Hendry had to do it. Could not go into the season with Colvin as your only choice at 1st. To many unknowens with Colvin. Can he play everyday? Can he hit lefties? Can he play a decent 1b? With Pena you know your getting 30 HR, 80-100 RBIs, Lots of Walks, Lots of K’s, Low Avg. and gold golve. Pena will be motivated to prove himself for other teams and going from the AL East to NL Central can only help. Cubs can still work with Colvin at 1st and now he can learn from a good Vet.

mlbfanwi is right, Hendry HAD to do it but only because of the crap situation he himself put the club in. I guess the Ricketts don’t mind having an inept GM that is FORCED to sign overpaid, lower level free agents. Pena more than likely will be at least servicable and definatley a better defensive option than Colvin. The down side is Colvin’s playing time if Quade (the genius, don’t forget) doesn’t name him the starting right fielder and strengthen the bench by sitting Fukodome’s “role players” butt on the pine.
No matter what, this is not perceived as a “plan A” move but a move out of desperation. $10 mil could have gone a long way toward the rotation. It’s a shame (again) that Hendry put us in a situation of being the also ran with the dubious honor of having one of the highest payrolls in baseball. I also don’t think Carrie is right when stating his 2007 and 2009 home run stats justify this deal. Some can argue that no matter what, a GM is paying a player that hit .196 FOR AN ENTIRE SEASON $10 million dollars. Based on what Hendry pays Soriano and now Pena…one can only imagine what the fool would have paid Dave Kingman???
The Ricketts can condone this type of spendature and STILL seek money from the state tax revenue???? Talk about lack of justification.

Joey, there is an upside…By my count (could be completely wrong) the Cubs have around 60 mil coming off the books next year. Lets say Pena signed for 2 years at 8 mil or 3 years at 6 mil the Cubs are still saving money the next two years and taking a hit this year (that will be a lost year anyway). Now you have a golve that can save Castro from time to time and a good clubhose guy to help all the young guys coming along. The biggest problem is they still have no dept at 1st base for years to come. They need to make a trade for a young prospect or this will be a problem for years to come.

Carrie, that’s assuming Pena performs well, but not too well to bolt the Cubs after 2011. The upside doesn’t add up. It does not appear to be a well thought out plan by Hendry, just another “hope and pray” short term attempt at a solution. But that’s to be expected from Hendry.

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