After trading Derrek Lee to the Braves the Cubs are now looking at rookie Tyler Colvin as his possible replacement at first base.
Colvin has never played an inning at first base in five seasons as a pro, but Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports that he took grounders there before today’s game and manager Lou Piniella gave him positive reviews:
He’s got good hands and he likes it. It’s just a question of the game speed. You can take all the pregame you want and the game will speed up for you. He’s done it before. It’ll give us a chance to play him over there from time to time. We’ll make that transition for him as easy as we can.
According to Muskat he’s expected to make his debut at first base some time next week and “is being eased into the position.” Colvin has graded out well defensively as a corner outfielder, so while I’m sure he’ll be able to handle a move to first base just fine I’m not sure it really makes sense for the Cubs to shift him there.
His glove is far from a weakness in the outfield and while his power has been impressive Colvin’s overall line of .249/.309/.509 is hardly great production for the game’s most offense-driven position. In fact, because of his poor on-base percentage Colvin’s current production would be slightly below average for a first baseman.
As a short-term solution for the rest of this season playing Colvin some at first base makes enough sense, but if the Cubs like him enough to be a long-term first baseman they ought to give him a chance to be a long-term corner outfielder. He’ll have more defensive value there and his bat will be a bigger asset relative to everyone else at the position. And it’s not like Kosuke Fukudome is a big part of the long-term plan.