Sunday August 5 of 2012 is a day that most Cubs fan will remember. Granted the Cubs lost to the Dodgers, the fact should not be lost that both top prospects Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters made their Major League debuts. Jackson was the Cubs’ first round selection in the 2009 first year player draft. Vitters, on the other hand, was the Cubs first round selection in the 2007 first year player draft. Jackson made his debut in a starting capacity while Vitters made his debut as a pinch hitter.
Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum told reporters on Sunday that Jackson will play 90% of the time while Vitters will be mix and matched, though, one can expect both players to become fixtures in the Cubs’ starting lineup for the final two months of the season. With Luis Valbuena struggling in place of the injured Ian Stewart, it’s likely that Vitters’ era at the third base position will begin on Monday in San Diego.
The story is a little more complicated for Jackson. Prior to Sunday, the expectation was that the Cubs would have to first trade left fielder Alfonso Soriano before promoting Jackson tot he Major Leagues. That way, the Cubs would be able to have a starting outfield that included Jackson, David DeJesus, and Bryan LaHair. However, with Jackson being promoted on Sunday and no trade imminent, it would appear that the Cubs have a crowded outfield.
If Sunday was any indicator, it would appear that Bryan LaHair is the odd man out. There has been whispers in recent weeks that LaHair could be demoted to a reserve role, and with Jackson on the 25 man roster, it would appear that those whispers are turning out to be true. LaHair has struggled since the All-Star break. In 51 at bats since the All-Star break, LaHair is hitting .176/.263/.235/.498 in addition to striking out 21 times. Is it possible that Theo Epstein and the rest of the Cubs’ front office missed on their chances of trading LaHair when his value was trending upward. Though, with this being LaHair’s first full season in the Major Leagues, it is possible that day-to-day grind of the Major League Baseball schedule is finally catching up to the 29 year old right fielder.
Whatever the case is for LaHair and his struggles, the veteran will likely have to try to resolve his issues while coming off the bench for the Cubs. The Cubs would have not opted to promote Jackson if they did not have the intention of playing him everyday. While it is possible that the Cubs’ could trade Soriano before September, that doest not appear to be a likely scenario. Meaning that LaHair figures to be the odd man out in the Cubs’ starting outfield picture.