The Iowa Cubs were back on the field on Monday against the Memphis Redbirds after the I-Cubs game on Sunday was postponed. But before we delve into the game details, lets take a moment to discuss Anthony Rizzo and whether or not the first baseman of the future should be with the Major League team or continue to play with the Iowa Cubs until Chicago Cubs’ president Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer determine that Rizzo is Major League ready.
The Cubs have recently been criticized for their lack of power. After all, Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers has more home runs than the Cubs do as a team. That alone should be an indicator that the Cubs are in need of an offensive spark. That offensive spark would have to be strong enough to provide a power surge for the Cubs’ lineup. The only prospect that close to being Major League ready and can provide that type of spark for the Cubs is Rizzo.
This is why there has been increased discussion over recent weeks about the idea of the Cubs calling Rizzo up tot he Major League level in order to provide an offensive spark to the Cubs’ Major League lineup. The only issue with this thinking is that this is not 2010. In 2010, the Cubs called up shortstop Starlin Castro in order to provide a spark to a team that was expected to contend. The Cubs are not in position to contend this season. And, the Cubs never anticipated contending in the 2012 season. Meaning the idea of the Cubs needing a spark to their 2012 season seems a bit exaggerated.
Rizzo is off to a tremendous start with the Iowa Cubs. But that in no form means that Rizzo is entitled to be on the Major League roster. There is no harm in delaying Rizzo’s debut with the Chicago Cubs. Rizzo struggled with the Padres at the Major League level towards the latter portions of the 2011 season, and it could be mentally crippling for Rizzo to be called up to the Major League level prematurely with the Cubs and struggle once again.
Rizzo was one of the bright spots in the Iowa Cubs 5 to 4 loss to the Memphis Redbirds on Monday .
What Went Right: Rizzo was 2 for 4 on the night with 2 RBIs. Rizzo now is tied in the Pacific Coast League for the lead league in RBIs with 23. Another hurdle to Rizzo being called up to the Major League roster is the fact that Bryan LaHair is one of the Cubs’ only run producers this season. As long as LaHair is contributing on the Major Level, it stands unlikely that Rizzo will be called up. As much as Cubs’ fans salivate at the thought of Rizzo and LaHair being a part of the same lineup, that scenario does not appear too likely. Meaning the Cubs first would have to create an opening at first base in order for Rizzo to play. LaHair’s ability keeps him from being an everyday option in the outfield. Meaning the Cubs are going to have trade LaHair in order for Rizzo to take control of the first base position.
I wonder, however, if LaHair could possibly move to third base. Ian Stewart has struggled this season, and is not a long term solution for the Cubs. LaHair has experience at the third base position, and with more work, could be an everyday player at the position. Such a move would allow Rizzo to play at first base.
What Went Wrong: Starting pitcher Travis Wood continued his struggles during Monday’s loss to the Memphis Redbirds. Wood allowed 5 runs on 7 hits and 1 base on ball while striking out 4 batters. Wood has been ineffective for most of the season with the Iowa Cubs. This after the former Cincinnati Reds’ pitcher entered Spring Training with an inside shot to be a part of the Major League rotation. Nonetheless, Wood has struggled at every turn in his short Cubs’ career. Until he corrects his issues, Wood will not be a part of the Major League team.
What Was Interesting: Adrian Cardenas who the Cubs claimed from the Oakland Athletics during Spring Training is hitting .338 on the season with the Iowa Cubs. Cardenas went 2 for 3 Monday night with a home run. The utility infielder figures to have a future with the Cubs’ organization. Cardenas is only 24 years old, and could have a role with the Cubs as a super-utility player in the future. That future could come with an injury or trade that involves Jeff Baker, and/or Blake DeWitt.