Chicago Cubs fans will soon receive the wish that they have been asking for since the beginning of the season. That wish circles around Anthony Rizzo. The first baseman that the Cubs acquired from the San Diego Padres in the off-season.
Up to this point, the Cubs have done nothing but talk about Rizzo and his eventual promotion to the Major League level. Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have admitted that Rizzo was rushed to the Major Leagues last season when he was a member of the Padres’ organization. Epstein and Hoyer promised that the same mistake will not be made with Rizzo this season.
That is why no matter how Rizzo performed with the Iowa Cubs, the Cubs’ regime was going to stick to their plan and promote Rizzo on the date of their choosing and not date is expedited because of his performance with the Iowa Cubs.
Rizzo has made for a difficult decision for the Cubs regime. Reason being the first baseman is having a phenomenal season with the Iowa Cubs. Rizzo is hitting .364/.426/.745/1.170 on the season with the Iowa Cubs to go along with 23 home runs and 59 RBIs.
The Rizzo watch may reach it’s conclusion in the near future. As the Cubs front office begins to implement the Rizzo plan.
The first step to the Rizzo would be creating an opening for Rizzo on the Major League roster. That is seemingly what the Cubs did on Monday night against the Chicago White Sox. Rather than playing first base on Monday, Bryan LaHair was the team’s starting right fielder while David DeJesus shifted over to center field, and Tony Campana played left field while Alfonso Soriano was the team’s designated hitter. Epstein and Cubs manager Dale Sveum were not coy about the reason they decided to play LaHair in right field. Sveum told reporters that he told LaHair on Monday that is going to begin to be prepared to play right field to pave the way for Rizzo at first base. Epstein, on the other hand, told reporters that the team will begin to shift players around as they make changes to the roster. Obviously alluding to the idea of Rizzo being promoted to the Major League level. Epstein also confirmed that Rizzo will be promoted to the Major League level soon.
Soon could be this Saturday. After this Friday, the Cubs ensure that Rizzo will have free eligibility after the 2018 season as opposed to after the 2017 season meaning the team would have one more season of control over Rizzo. Epstein and Hoyer have said all along that Rizzo’s contract status did not have anything to do with when he would be promoted to the Major League, but with LaHair now being prepped as an outfielder a mere four days before the Cubs gain another season of control over Rizzo, there appears to be substance to that belief.
Another thing LaHair’s move to right field does is that it does not handcuff the Cubs front office in their efforts to trade left fielder Alfonso Soriano. The initial idea was that the Cubs would first have to trade Soriano in order for Rizzo to be promoted to the Major League level. LaHair would then replace Soriano in left field, and Rizzo would assume the first base position. But by proving to teams around the league that they are not afraid to play LaHair in right field–which will decrease the range of the three Cubs starting outfielders–and have Rizzo play first base.
LaHair hit a two run home run on Monday while playing right field, now imagine the added power fans would see with both Rizzo and LaHair in the same lineup.