Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum addressed reporters on Wednesday in the wake of the team trading away Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Geovany Soto, and Reed Johnson over the past couple of days. Among the topics that Sveum discussed was what the starting rotation would look like. The rotation figures to included Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Justin Germano, and Chris Volstad–who was recently promoted from Iowa.
Sveum also confirmed that he would be meeting with the Cubs brass over the course of the next couple days in order to discuss the the direction of the Cubs 25 man roster for the final two months of the season. Remember that the roster expands to 40 in the month of September, and that is usually when teams give some of their top prospects a glimpse on the Major League level. However, Sveum hinted that a couple of the Cubs’ top prospects could be promoted during the month of August.
Sveum was asked about whether the Cubs would call-up an extra outfielder in light of the team trading Reed Johnson to the Atlanta Braves. As of now, utility infielder Adrian Cardenas is filling Johnson’s spot on the 25 man roster. Though, Sveum did suggest that the Cubs could very well call up an extra outfielder. That is when Sveum also alluded to the idea that Brett Jackson is being considered for a promotion to the Major League level.
The Cubs were apparently ready to promote Jackson on Monday, as the outfielder was pulled from the Iowa Cubs’ game without any explanation. Monday is also when the Cubs were “very close” to trading left fielder Alfonso Soriano to the Los Angeles Dodgers, so Jackson’s removal from the Iowa Cubs’ game on Monday may have been related to the Cubs’ efforts to trade Soriano. The trade deadline has come and gone, and Soriano remains the Cubs’ starting left fielder.
Even though Jackson may not be ready for the Major Leagues, the Cubs may be willing to allow Jackson to develop while at the Major League level this season in attempt to get an idea at the team that will be on the field during the 2013 season. Though, if the Cubs are going to promote Jackson that would mean they are ready for their 2009 first round selection to play everyday. With Soriano, David DeJesus and Bryan LaHair in place as the starting outfielders, there would appear to be no opening for Jackson to play everyday at the Major League level. The Cubs could still trade Soriano this month, though, that is a scenario that likely will not be played out for at least the next week. LaHair has struggled in recent weeks for the Cubs, and a potential reduction in play could be in the near future for the Cubs’ right fielder. If so, that would create the opening for Jackson.
Jackson has been plagued with strikeouts this season with the Iowa Cubs as the Cubs outfield prospect has struck out 152 times in 391 at bats for the Iowa Cubs this season. Jackson has been projected by some to be a top of the order hitter for the Cubs, but if that is indeed his projection, he first is going to have improve his ability to make contact. Jackson is hitting .253/.336/.478/.814 for the Iowa Cubs this season in 102 games.
Sveum also indicated that third base prospect Josh Vitters could finally make his Major League debut with the Cubs this month. Unlike Jackon, Vitters road to the Major League level is not blocked. Luis Valbuena is currently starting games for the Chicago Cubs at third base, though with a line of .194/.252/.331/.582, it would seem that Valbuena is keeping the spot warm for Vitters. Vitters’ stock with the new regime remains in question as the Cubs’ front office may not be committed to Vitters being the long-term solution for the Cubs at third base position. Though, Vitters still has considerable value and could prove to be a long-term asset for the Cubs.
Vitters is hitting .296/.349/.496/.846 for the Iowa Cubs this season to go along with 15 home runs and 63 RBIs. Though, the knock on Vitters is that he lacks the power and defensive skills to remain at the third base position at the Major League level. H0wever, like Jackson, the Cubs may want to see Vitters with the Major League team for the remainder of the 2012 season as way to gauge the direction of the team for the 2013 season.