The Iowa Cubs continue to follow in the footsteps of their big league brothers with a 13-18 record in the Pacific Coast League American Northern. The Cubs stand at 12-18 today. While the records are nearly identical the two teams are very different. The Chicago Cubs’ starting pitching has outperformed everyone’s expectations and they’re winning with pitching and waiting for their offense to get rolling. The Iowa Cubs are winning in spite of a 4.61 team ERA. They’re doing it with offense led by Anthony Rizzo‘s 9 HR, 31 RBI and .357 batting average. Brett Jackson is improving on his slow start and it’s encouraging that half of his 30 hits are for extra bases.
Rizzo’s recent play has only added fuel to the argument that he belongs in Chicago. He hit two home runs and picked up 6 RBI on May 8 in a 13-2 route of Fresno. The challenge, as discussed in podcast 4.16, is “what do you do with Bryan LaHair?”, the only consistent source of power in this lineup. The move LaHair/call up Rizzo idea has gained momentum on the talk radio topic list and I can understand the excitement about two powerful left handed bats in a Cubs lineup. We’re used to chasing nearly retired lefty power. Here’s a short list: Milton Bradley, Jim Edmunds, Cliff Floyd, Jeromy Burnitz. The idea of a young one in our system is almost too much for Cubs fans to handle. He has to be called up, right? I think he’s fine where he is. This team is not contending and Rizzo isn’t going to change that. Building confidence in Iowa and the fact that there isn’t a spot for him is reason enough for me to leave things as they are. Rizzo will be a Cub soon enough and leaving him in Iowa will keep some of the pressure of Chicago off of him for the time being.
As long as Rizzo’s offensive performance keeps up and he’s still in Iowa, I don’t see this debate going away. Wherever he ends up, let’s pause to give credit where credit is due. Jed Hoyer traded Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na for Rizzo and Zach Cates. Basically Cashner for Rizzo. Cashner is pretty average out of the Padres bullpen. Let’s face it, picking up a power hitting, left handed, future first baseman you can build around for a bullpen guy/potential fourth starter is a pretty stellar deal.
After all the Rizzo debate it was a bit of surprise to see the first performance related call up in the form of Adrian Cardenas who saw immediate action on May 7 as a pinch hitter and got the start May 8. Blake DeWitt has been designated for assignment. The I Cubs are pretty stacked with middle infielders with Luis Valbuena, Alfredo Amezaga, Matt Tolbert, Edgar Gonzalez and Jonathan Mota. Cardenas gives the Cubs another left handed bat to drop in for Darwin Barney when facing lefties (.375 average in 24 AB). He can also play SS and 3B. He started hot in Iowa with a .319 average and even had a couple home runs and 18 RBI. His defense needs work, but defense is not the reason he’s in Chicago.