Bryan LaHair Goes From Triple-A To Cleanup In Hurry

Last fall, Al Yellon wrote about Bryan LaHair, a long-time Class AAA slugger who just couldn't seem to buy a real chance to play in the majors. Well, it looks like he's going to get that chance. And visibly so. Hardball Talk's Matthew Pouliot:

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said today that while he’s still figuring out the rest of his lineup, he’s currently planning to use David DeJesus as a leadoff man and Bryan LaHair in the cleanup spot.

It’s quite a show of faith in LaHair, a 29-year-old who has hit .262/.335/.395 with five homers and 16 RBI in 195 major league at-bats.

If this sticks, it will actually say more about the Cubs than about LaHair; specifically, it says a lot about the Cubs' immediate prospects of contending in the National League Central. Remember, LaHair spent all of 2009 and '10 in the minors, first in the hitting-starved Seattle organization and then in the hitting-starved Cub organization. LaHair did push his triple-A slugging to another level in 2011 and looked good in 20 games with the big club.

But he was 28 last season, which is one of the more common ages at which players enjoy their best seasons. There's also the notion that LaHair is merely a 4-A Hitter ... a notion that Theo Epstein dismisses, but does have real currency.

I think LaHair's probably good enough to play in the majors, perhaps even regularly. I also think that when your manager feels compelled to bat LaHair fourth, you probably don't have enough good hitters. And there's not much help on the way anytime soon; center fielder Brett Jackson is the Cubs' only prospect with any real chance of adding real production to the lineup in 2012.

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