Here comes the Bun, doo doo doo doo.

If it weren’t so painfully obvious that Carrie has no inside information whatsoever, I would swear she times the Muskbox to coincide with relatively-big Cubs announcements. I have SHIT GOING ON, CARRIE. I’m making Twitter jokes about Bob Brenly leaving. I have to post stuff about the new podcast. I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS MUSKBOX.

But, whatever, my tears are theoretically your joy. So READ ON for this week’s nonsense.

What is the Cubs’ plan for Bryan LaHair?

  1. Tout him in marketing material as “2012 All-Star Bryan LaHair
  2. ?????
  3. Profit!

I’ve never seen a team bench an All-Star like they did.

Well, the world hasn’t seen an All-Star quite like Bryan LaHair since Cesar Izturis.

I know he struggles against lefties but in a season that was about training new players, how come he didn’t get any at-bats against lefties for practice?

Because “new” (and I love that you used that word instead of “young”) players aren’t generally 29 years old.

He couldn’t have done any worse than Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters did.

No, he probably couldn’t have done WORSE, but did anyone bother checking anyone on the Cubs’ stats in the second half? .202/.269/.303 Woof.

LaHair did carry the offense in the first half of the season and he can hit right-handed pitching with power. If he could bat .260 against lefties and over .300 against right-handers, he would be…

An All-Star?

…a valuable starter. Why aren’t the Cubs working more with him?
— Jeremy M., Atlanta

“Better shit to do.”
-Dale Sveum

CARRIE: The Cubs did work with LaHair but the simple answer as to why he lost playing time is Anthony Rizzo.

And why WOULDN’T she take the simple answer?

CARRIE: Cubs manager Dale Sveum moved LaHair to right field after Rizzo’s arrival, but I think you’d agree LaHair is a better first baseman than outfielder.

And a better door than a window. HEY-O!

Seriously, though, his head obstructed the view of much of the field this season.

CARRIE: If LaHair batted .260 against lefties, he would be valuable. But he was 3-for-48 (.063) this season against left-handers. For now, LaHair, who batted .278 as a pinch-hitter, is valuable in a new role.

DHing for the Astros.

CARRIE: You can’t compare his situation with Jackson or Vitters, and you can’t really compare Jackson with Vitters.


CARRIE: Jackson is ready defensively, but his swing needs work.

For example, they’d like to see it make contact with something more than one time out of a hundred.

CARRIE: He was promoted because Sveum wanted to see him first-hand…

“Come on, he can’t be THAT bad, can he?”
-Dale Sveum, prior to Jackson’s call-up

CARRIE: …and being in the big leagues gave Jackson a chance to see for himself that he needs to make some changes.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”
-Dale Sveum, after Jackson’s call-up

CARRIE: Vitters, on the other hand, has struggled initially at every level he’s advanced to. The Cubs are hoping he is more comfortable next season, and makes some adjustments. Both Jackson and Vitters were told during their season reviews with Sveum that they would likely open at Triple-A Iowa in 2013.

I would love to be a fly on the wall for the season reviews.

Office Space _ People Skills by hulu

With the Cubs clearly having no one who can play third base to the level of Aramis Ramirez, are there any free-agent options?


Or will the Cubs continue a third baseman by committee with stop gaps until someone in the Minors is ready?
— Dale L., Durango, Iowa

“Get me someone. ANYONE. And get me someone while I’m waiting.”
-Theo Epstein

CARRIE: I don’t know if the Cubs have enough third basemen to form a committee. As noted above, they don’t think Vitters is ready. They did like Ian Stewart’s defensive skills, his left-handed bat, and the potential for power. But they have to decide if he can bounce back from his wrist injury by studying medical reports.

The idea of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer poring over a huge stack of medical journals and charts makes me giggle.

CARRIE: Luis Valbuena did fine defensively, but the Cubs want more offense.

For what? To avoid back-to-back 100-game losing seasons?

CARRIE: Sveum likes Valbuena, but projected him more as a utility player.

For Iowa.

A beer league softball team in Iowa.

CARRIE: Junior Lake, who is playing for Estrellas in the Dominican Republic, is another option. He batted .279 in 103 games at Double-A Tennessee.

Oh, parenthetical interrupter, how I missed you.

CARRIE: Here’s the list of potential free-agent third basemen: Geoff Blum, Miguel Cairo, Eric Chavez, Mark DeRosa, Brandon Inge, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Placido Polanco, Mark Reynolds, Scott Rolen, David Wright and Kevin Youkilis. Inge, Reynolds, Wright and Youkilis each have contracts that include an option for 2013. Not excited about any of them? Let’s wait and see.

“This guy here is dead.”
“Cross him off, then.”

Seriously, though, if they bring back Mark DeRosa, I think I’d actually prefer it be in the booth.

I’m happy to see the progress Javier Baez is having in the Minor Leagues and the Arizona Fall League this year.

Well, if you’re happy, I’m happy.

Hopefully, he will be ready to help the Cubs in the near future. However, the obvious question is where does Baez fit? Are there plans to play him at third? I know he would bring a lot on the trade market but can we afford to lose a potential impact player like him?
— Don W., Simpsonville, S.C.

In the short-term? Yes. In the long-term? Also, yes.

CARRIE: It’s a baseball cliche, but these things have a way of working themselves out.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Rewind, there, Carrie. I know much of your world revolves around the sport of baseball, but I’m pretty sure that’s not a baseball-specific cliche.

CARRIE: In the first week of the Arizona Fall League, Baez did play one game at third base and didn’t look comfortable.

I feel like that’s enough of a sample size. He probably got, like, 1-2 chances that game, right?

CARRIE: Maybe Starlin Castro could move?

I believe I’M asking the questions here, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

CARRIE: Those decisions don’t have to be made today. One thing that is certain is Baez won’t be traded. He’s one of the potential impact players president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer dream of. If you get a chance, check him out in the AFL.

Yeah, why don’t you just go check him out in the Arizona Fall League, guy from South Carolina in this economy? Maybe take your supermodel wife for a weekend getaway on your private jet.

I read that the Cubs have to make a decision regarding having Shawn Camp return.

More riveting breaking news from GORDON WITTENMYER.

He impressed me as the only dependable Cubs pitcher at the end of the season. I’m puzzled as to why the team would even consider losing its only reliable pitcher.

Because they already lost Kerry Wood! (RIP)

Theo [Epstein] was quoted as saying the team had money to spend this offseason. Can you provide any insight re: the thinking behind Camp’s status?
— Mike N., Chicago

Can you be a bigger corporate douchebag re: the formatting of your question?

CARRIE: They have to make a decision because Camp is the only free agent on the Cubs roster.

Wait, what? Seriously? That can’t be right, can it?


Holy shit. Well played, Theocracy.

CARRIE: Camp, who turns 37 in November, did set a career high in appearances, pitching in 80 games. He did not give up a run in 10 appearances in September. What the Cubs have to consider is that Camp had a 4.76 ERA in 49 home games compared to 1.95 ERA in 31 road games. Teams batted .229 off him before the All-Star break, when Sveum tabbed him as the team’s Most Valuable Player…

…and when he had two All-Stars on the team…

CARRIE: …but batted .301 post break. His experience is needed in the ‘pen and he was durable. They may look at the list of free agent relievers and simply prefer someone else.


I love Darwin Barney as a player but…

…hate him as a man.

…he hit way too many fly balls, which more often than not, will result in outs. Why don’t the Cubs emphasize to Barney that he needs to hit down on the ball so he hits more grounders and line drives?

You Hit Like Shit

That’s TWO Major League references so far this week. You are welcome.

He is a heady player and great defensively but we need him to hit more than .250 with limited power to be effective in the Cubs’ lineup.
— Barry R., Round Lake Park, Ill.

“Heady player”? “Barry R.”? Holy shit, Barry Rozner is writing in to the Muskbox.

CARRIE: He may have passed Ryne Sandberg’s single-season defensive record for error-less games, but Barney isn’t going to hit like the Hall of Famer. I’d agree the Cubs want more than .254, but would also note that Barney ranked 14th in the National League in ground ball/fly ball ratio, and set career highs in home runs, doubles, and runs scored, and cut down on his strikeouts. They’re working with him.

And wasting all the valuable time that could have been spent developing Bryan LaHair!

Is there any information about the new Spring Training complex that is being built in Mesa, Ariz.? I haven’t read anything in some time.
— Kitty H., Elephant Butte, N.M.

Another failure of the New Mexico school system.

CARRIE: I was in Mesa last week, and saw lots of dirt, and trucks moving the dirt at the site.

This is like a child’s description of construction.


CARRIE: I’m told they may be close to pouring concrete for the buildings and the stadium foundations. The new facility is not scheduled to open until 2014 Spring Training.

“Wait ’til the year after next year.”
-The Spring Training Construction Crew

I heard the Cubs Convention will not be held at the Hilton in Chicago — is that true?
— Dave R., St. Louis, Mo.

Yep. They found a worse bar with more expensive alcohol, and probably a louder, more obnoxious band. Seriously, any bar that charges $9 for a shitty Sam Adams should be burned to the ground.

CARRIE: The 2013 Cubs Convention is moving, and will be at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 301 E. North Water Street, Chicago, on Jan. 18-20.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to see Jerome Walton cry, that’s arguably your best opportunity.

What will be Cubs management’s No. 1 priority this offseason?
— Michael F., Raleigh, N.C.

Firing the last vestiges of Jim Hendry’s staff.

CARRIE: Pitching, pitching and more pitching, and a third baseman.

Center field
Second base