When the Chicago Cubs acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the San Diego Padres in a trade that sent Andrew Cashner to the Padres, Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer was quick to lay out the blueprint for Rizzo and his future with the Cubs’ organization. Hoyer has admitted on several occasions that Rizzo was rushed to the Major Leagues last season with the Padres, and the general manager was not going to make the same mistake with the Cubs. Though, the 2012 season for Rizzo on the Triple A level appears to be going the same way the 2011 season did.
The reason Rizzo was rushed to the Major Leagues last season is because his numbers with the Padres’ Triple A affiliate suggested that the first baseman was Major League ready. Last season with the Padre’s Triple A affiliate, Rizzo hit .331/.404/.652/1.056 with 26 home runs and 1o1 RBIs. Rizzo was then called to the Major League level with the Padres as the first baseman hit .141/.281/.242/.523 with 1 home run and 9 RBIs in 153 plate appearances. Rizzo’s stint with the Padres last season would suggest that the first baseman needs more time in the minors, but the 22 year old’s start with the Iowa Cubs would suggest otherwise.
In only the first month of the season, Rizzo is hitting .393/.433/.786/1.219 to go along with 7 home runs and 16 RBIs in 60 plate appearances with the Iowa Cubs this season. Rizzo has shown no signs of slowing down, and the question no becomes do the Cubs call up Rizzo sooner than they had originally thought?
Despite Rizzo’s hot start, no member of the Cubs’ front office has strayed from the company. Whether it is Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, or any other member of the Cubs’ organization; the current plan is for Rizzo, along with top prospect Brett Jackson, is to be called up no earlier than June. The Cubs’ regime is determined to call up their top prospects when they are in fact Major League ready. For instance, go back to the 2010 season when Starlin Castro made his debut. The Cubs’ called up Castro the first week of May, because the organization felt that Castro would provide a spark to the team. While Castro was off to a impressive start with the Tennessee Smokies prior to his call-up, the fact that he hadn’t played a single game with the Iowa Cubs may have been an indicator that the shortstop was not quite Major League ready. Regardless, the Cubs’ front office opted to bring Castro to the Major League level.
Take a look at the 2012 Cubs. The team that if off to a 3 and 10 start and is currently in last place in the National League Central division. If there is a team that is need of a spark, it would be the Cubs. Rizzo sure looks like he would be able to provide an offensive spark to a Cubs’ team that is near the bottom in every offensive category. But the Cubs do not need a spark. Reason being the Cubs have played the way most Cubs’ fans expected the team to play this season. The Cubs are not going to be a contender this season. Meaning, the team is not in need of a spark. Rizzo is going to be with the Major League team at some point this season. But Epstein and Hoyer are not going to deviate from the plan. In a season that is geared towards building your team for the future, the Cubs are taking the right approach with prospects like Rizzo and Jackson.