The Chicago Cubs are in for a long 2021 season if they fail to make any substantive additions to a deeply flawed roster – one that doesn’t even have a semblance of legitimate pitching depth.
Last year, the Cubs added top prospect Brailyn Marquez to the big league roster for the final game of the season. It wasn’t the debut either side had hoped for, as the hard-throwing lefty walked three and allowed a pair of hits, prompting five runs to cross the plate against the White Sox. The big win? A strikeout of eventual American League MVP Jose Abreu.
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"“I’m sure there was a lot of emotion,” Cubs skipper David Ross said afterward. “It’s hard to judge somebody off their first appearance in the big leagues. He got a punchout. I was happy for that. It took him a minute to settle in.”"
The fact Marquez got into a game late last year has way too many fans thinking the Cubs are going to expedite his development in 2021, casting him right into the fire as a solution to the team’s lack of depth in the rotation. We can only hope that, standing on the brink of a full rebuild, the front office shows more sense than that.
Cubs need to focus on the long-term
Look, I understand the appeal of adding a left-hander capable of running it up north of 100 MPH, especially when your starting rotation is riddled with question marks.
But at the end of the day, regardless of the hype surrounding Marquez (he was recently ranked as the eighth-best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball) – Chicago has no intentions on fielding a championship-caliber club in 2021. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.
Last year, the team had multiple opportunities to promote Marquez to the big league club during the pandemic-shortened season and didn’t. They have to do the same this year. If you’re not going to address any of the issues with this roster, then please tell me where the value is in allowing your prized lefty pitching prospect to completely skip Double- and Triple-A altogether.
Throw in the canceled 2020 MiLB season – where guys like Marquez missed out on a full year of facing hitters in live, in-game situations and the choice becomes even more obvious: this is about the long game and rolling the dice and seeing if Marquez can handle the challenge of big league hitters this year isn’t a prudent decision.