I couldn’t be more happy for Bryan LaHair. His walkoff hit against the Astros leaves us with a favorable memory of the 2012 All Star in what could be his final at-bat with the Cubs.
That’s not an image Cubs fans have been privy too since LaHair’s decline from feel-good story of the spring and his All Star appearance…to a prolonged second half slump and a reserve role on Dale Sveum’s bench.
Even his solo HR and game-winning single with two-outs in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday does little to repair the loss of confidence in LaHair’s ability as an everyday player, or increase the odds he’ll be wearing a Cubs uniform in 2013.
There’s already speculation the 30-year-old could be headed to the Japanese League, and even LaHair himself is on the record as saying he believes there’s only a 50/50 chance he’ll remain in Chicago.
I’m still of the opinion LaHair’s regression may be attributed to the arrival of Anthony Rizzo, which forced LaHair into a position change from first base to right field.
Whether or not that’s true is beside the point. We know Rizzo isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future, and if LaHair can’t cut it offensively playing the outfield, well, what purpose does he serve on a team rebuilding with younger players also in need of more major league playing time?
Of course, it’s in LaHair’s favor he’s a left-handed hitter with power, which is always in need, especially in the National League. But such a specialized a role is typically reserved for contenders, not teams rebuilding from 101-losses.
That means LaHair’s game-winning knock yesterday could be his final at-bat with the Cubs. If so, I couldn’t think of a better ending for a guy we all wanted to succeed, but just couldn’t deliver.