The Cubs wagered $10 million that Carlos Pena would return to 2009 form while playing in Wrigley Field, but after going 0-for-4 on Thursday, he’s out of the lienup for the third time in six games Friday.
Unlike the previous times he sat, this time it’s happening against a right-hander, Arizona’s Armando Galarraga to be specific.
Pena is hitting .159 and has just one extra-base hit in 63 at-bats. As usual, he’s walking a lot, giving him a .289 OBP. However, he’s also fanned 23 times and none of his usual power has showed up.
In 2010, Pena had one of the best seasons ever for a sub-.200 hitter, finishing with a .196/.325/.407 line, 28 homers and 84 RBI in 484 at-bats for the Rays. Of course, the Cubs were expecting better than that. Because of his power and patience, he was a well above average regular while hitting .227 in 2009. However, with his power seemingly dwindling, even if he gets his average back up to .230-.240, he may no longer be much of an asset.
The Cubs will have to figure something out soon, because Pena is a huge liability as is. Creating a reason to stash him on the DL and then getting him regular at-bats in the minors for a couple of weeks would be ideal. If they go that route, then Jeff Baker and Tyler Colvin would likely share time at first base.
Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.
Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.
Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.
Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.