With a surplus at first base for the Angels now that Albert Pujols has signed, what are the chances the Cubs could go after Kendrys Morales?
-- Stephen H., Cedar Falls, Iowa
Even though they added Pujols, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said last week they will find a place for Morales as well as Mark Trumbo. Morales, 28, has not played since breaking his left ankle celebrating a walk-off grand slam on May 29, 2010. The Angels were expected to offer him arbitration on Monday.
Where do the Cubs stand on bringing back Carlos Pena? He is much cheaper than the other options and did everything asked of him. Plus, he is a team player, he is well worth say three years, $30 million to fill in at first while we restructure the system and team.
-- Aaron S., Des Moines, Iowa
You convinced me until your offer. The Cubs would welcome Pena back but only for a one-year deal. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have both stressed they want to pay for future performance, not past. Pena has hit at least 28 homers in each of the last five years, but his batting average and on-base percentage numbers have dropped each year (yes, they did go up slightly last season, but the trend has been down). He also hit .216 with runners on, .175 with runners in scoring position in 2011. Pena is a good defensive player, but he'll likely only be back if he is willing to accept a one-year contract.
The Cubs are rebuilding, but why not take a chance with Prince Fielder? We need a first baseman. Any reason why we shouldn't take the chance on a great young player besides the potential huge contract?
-- Karen B., Jacksonville, Ill.
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That potential huge contract is the No. 1 reason the Cubs would take a pass. Epstein met with Bryan LaHair in Dallas last week during the Winter Meetings. The Cubs could have used LaHair's 38-homer season in Chicago.
"We're not giving [LaHair] the job, and I'm not saying we're not looking to upgrade at first base," Epstein said last week. "If it ends up with [LaHair] playing a significant role or getting a significant opportunity, I think we'd all be comfortable with that."
Are the Cubs interested in making a change with their closer? They could bring in a new pitcher to close games and move Carlos Marmol back to being the setup man.
-- Chris L., Des Moines, Iowa
If the Cubs had a closer-in-waiting, that might be an option. Right now, it's Marmol's job. Let's see if new pitching coach Chris Bosio can straighten out Marmol's mechanics.
Rather than trade Marlon Byrd, who appears to be a great teammate and mentor to young players, could he be moved to left field? This would allow Brett Jackson to patrol center, David DeJesus in right and have Alfonso Soriano as either the fourth outfielder, or, better yet, a DH on another team.
-- Scott P., Amherst, N.H.
In his Byrd's Nest blog post ("Passing the torch," Sept. 7), Byrd said he'd be willing to move if Jackson was ready for the big leagues. Jackson also has played the corner outfield spots. The Cubs won't know if Jackson is ready, though, until Spring Training.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.