Cubs

Brett Jackson is getting ready for The Show

645734.png

Brett Jackson is getting ready for The Show

From the start, the Cubs told the Red Sox that Brett Jackson was untouchable in the Theo Epstein compensation negotiations that will now be mediated by commissioner Bud Selig.

More than three months later, the president of baseball operations has traded away two former first-round picks (Andrew Cashner and Tyler Colvin), as well as the first Cub from the 2009 draft class to reach the majors (DJ LeMahieu).

Clearly, Epstein has little attachment to the players he inherited, and that would have gone for just about anyone who took over at Clark and Addison.

That doesnt seem to bother Jackson, the dude from California who went to Berkeley and still plans to be a core player here.

All players are tradable at any time, Jackson said. That doesnt put me on edge. Its a business and theyre going to do the best for the organization. Colvin and LeMahieu are incredible players and are going to do great things for Colorado. (We) got a great player in Ian Stewart and Ive heard nothing but great things about him as a player and a person.

A lots unknown right now. We dont really know the people at the top yet, but we have a sense of what they can do (and) what they did in Boston and San Diego. That sense of excitement is there and weve been looking for that (in) Chicago.

Listening to Jackson last week at the Cubs Convention, it wasnt hard to picture him standing in front of his locker at Wrigley Field, looking into the cameras and taking the heat off his teammates.

The 31st overall pick in the 2009 draft wants to make the team out of camp, and hell be a good story in spring training, but the Cubs wont rush their 23-year-old outfielder. Sometime this summer would be a better guess.

While the industry likes fast-tracking prospects from the Double-A level, Epstein has said that he views Triple-A as a valuable step for player development.

The Cubs have also rationalized several offseason trades by pointing out how theyre acquiring years of club control, so its doubtful that theyd want Jacksons major-league service time to start ticking in April.

Jackson went on to Team USA after a 2011 season split between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. He said thats how the game should be played: Deep into October.

Combined Jackson hit .274 with 20 homers and 58 RBI last season in the minors. He posted a .379 on-base percentage and stole 21 bases. He also struck out 138 times in 512 plate appearances.

He plays the game hard, assistant general manager Randy Bush said. He does a lot of things the right way, the way that Theo and (general manager Jed Hoyer) have talked about (how) they want it done.

Hes still relatively young in terms of at-bats in the minor leagues (1,133). He knows he needs to get better in certain areas and hes working hard at that. Well all know when the time is right. His performance will tell us that.

Jackson may never emerge as an All-Star or hit 30 bombs a year in the majors. But people whove tracked his development describe him as the type of athletic, well-rounded player Epstein likes.

This front office will create space for players who can impact a game in several ways defensively, running the bases and working the count and will be looking for new clubhouse leadership.

In the past, the Cubs had hoped that Jacksons personality would rub off on his good friend Josh Vitters, so that the third overall pick in the 2007 draft would feel the same sense of urgency.

All Brett wants to do (is) be a great player in the big leagues, said Dave Keller, a longtime hitting instructor in the Cubs organization. I always joke around with him, because right after he signed we were in Boise. Hed been there like three days. I got done throwing to his group and were all out there picking up balls for the next group.

(Hes exhaling and is) a little bit frustrated and excited about his BP round. He goes: Man, I just got to get to the big leagues.

You dont hear that with guys that just signed (and) go to Boise (or) Arizona (or) the rookie-ball season. (You) dont hear them saying that.

You will be hearing a lot about Jackson, who has some swagger and could push center fielder Marlon Byrd and his expiring contract toward a contending team at some point.

Jackson heard about the rave reviews the new Cubs executives are getting as rock stars, and said everyones excited to see what kind of show they put on. Theres no doubt that he wants to be a part of it.

Cubs map out next steps for closer Craig Kimbrel

Cubs map out next steps for closer Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel is one step closer to joining the Cubs bullpen.

According to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, Kimbrel will join Triple-A Iowa and make his first appearance on Tuesday, against the Sacramento River Cats.

While the Cubs officially signed him on June 7, Kimbrel has yet to pitch in actual games. The 31-year-old has been in a condensed spring training program at the Cubs' Arizona complex, throwing live batting practice on both Thursday and Saturday.

The Cubs haven't revealed an official timeline for Kimbrel to join the 25-man roster, as they are basing things off of how he feels. The expectation is he will pitch in about five games with Iowa before joining the Cubs. However, both Theo Epstein and Kimbrel acknowledged how the goal isn't to rush the closer back into MLB action.

"We're not gonna rush it," Epstein said. "It's gonna be tempting to get him here as soon as possible, but we're trying to plan this thing the right way so that he could be in a position to succeed not just immediately but in October. That's gonna be our guiding principle as we go."

"We sat down and put a gameplan together — something to work off of," Kimbrel said. "But at the end of the day, it's based off how I recover, how I get ready. This isn't about getting back on the field as fast as I can. This is about being the best that I can be in October and down the stretch and doing what I came here to do for this team."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

There were some added stakes to Saturday night’s Cubs-Dodgers matchup. Darvish made his first start at Dodger Stadium since his infamous Game 7 loss in the 2017 World Series, looking for a great effort in front of a fan base that had their up-and-downs in terms of their relationship with him. He (maybe) took a small jab at the Dodgers before the game had even started, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't worried about being booed because “the Dodgers don't have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side.”

Well Dodgers faithful certainly got the message and made sure to let Darvish hear it.

However, Darvish got the last laugh on Saturday night. He pitched a stellar seven innings. Over those seven innings, Darvish gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and also notched 10 strikeouts.

Darvish has been hitting his stride as of late, maintaining a 2.96 ERA over his last four starts.

All of that being said, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contributions of Darvish’s teammates. His great outing helped keep the Cubs in the game, but the gutsy performances of Anthony Rizzo and Pedro Strop are what won the contest.

Dodgers All-Star relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had a 10-game scoreless streak coming into Saturday night, but one swing of Rizzo’s bat was all that was needed to restore balance to the everlasting battle of pitcher versus hitter. After Jansen hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to put him on base, Rizzo activated “clutch mode”, mashing a 400-foot bomb out to right field.

Though small, Saturday night’s homer gives Rizzo a three-game hitting streak, perhaps forecasting that things are trending  upwards for the first baseman as the Cubs look to close out the series against the Dodgers with a win on Sunday night. And not to be left out of the fun, Pedro Strop came in to face the Justin Turner, MVP hopeful Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Matt Beaty to nail down the save.

Never afraid of high-pressure moments, Stop came through big time.

Strop got a ground out from Turner, struck out Bellinger and Beaty in his 15-pitch save effort. This was a much-needed win for the Cubs, who have well-documented struggles on the road. As they look to split the four-game set with the Dodgers on Sunday night, the Cubs can be pleased with their fight this week.

Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Cubs first win of the season after trailing through six innings, as they were 0-23 in such situations prior to the victory. Amid a season that has been fraught with injury and general roster construction concerns, it was wonderful to see the Cubs pull out a tough win lead by the much-maligned Darvish and the never-quit attitude of his teammates.