Cubs will look at other options while waiting on Brett Jackson


Cubs will look at other options while waiting on Brett Jackson

The front office is building the 2013 Opening Day roster without Brett Jackson, while the marketing department is putting him front and center promoting the Cubs Convention.

That push-pull dynamic will be fascinating to watch as Theo Epstein builds The Foundation For Sustained Success (even the president of baseball operations seems tired of using that phrase) while the business side tries to sell the actual product on the field.

The media still snickers at the Three Cs campaign that once featured Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner and Starlin Castro. And the explosion of information on the Internet makes people fall in and out of love with prospects all the time. But Jackson doesnt have to be rushed, and he doesnt need to be hyped.

The Cubs can start negotiating with free agents at 11:01 p.m. Friday, and they are going to be in the market for outfield help this winter, perhaps a short-term bridge to Jackson. They dont feel hell be ready after striking out 59 times in 120 at-bats. They saw this coming before they called him up from Triple-A Iowa in early August.

Brett Jackson was promoted for specific reasons, Epstein said. We sat in (manager) Dale (Sveums) office (and) we all said: Right now, his swing is not ready to compete up here. He does a lot of other things very well, but we dont think hes necessarily ready to succeed up here.

But there were other reasons to get him up here. Dale wanted to see it firsthand. We wanted Dale and (hitting coach James Rowson) to have a chance to work with him. We wanted to show Brett certain things, certain adjustments that he needed to make to ultimately have success at the big-league level.

Hes going to have a much more productive offseason because of what he was exposed to (rather) than if he had stayed at Triple-A in what was generally, for him, somewhat of a disappointing season.

Jackson wouldnt argue that point. On the final day of the season, he was philosophical while packing up his stuff inside the Wrigley Field clubhouse before heading home to the Bay Area.

Youd like to bounce back from a below-average year, Jackson said. Im not proud of my numbers. That being said, Im proud of how far Ive come and whats been learned. Its not necessarily on paper sometimes the value of an experience.

Jackson is again ticketed for Des Moines after a season in which he struck out 217 times. But he still walked 22 times in 44 games with the Cubs and saw 4.24 pitches per plate appearance in the big leagues.

Jackson was smart enough to go to Cal-Berkeley, so there are reasons to believe that he can figure it out. He was fast enough to steal 27 bases at Iowa and cover a lot of ground in center field. He showed his fearless nature by almost blowing out his knee while making a spectacular catch at the PNC Park wall in September.

So even if no single part of Jacksons game is spectacular, hes still the kind of well-rounded player Epstein likes to build around.

Remember that at this time last year there were also questions about Anthony Rizzo, who fixed his swing, crushed Triple-A pitching for almost three months and firmly established himself as a core player on the North Side.

As Jackson said: Rizzos a good example of somebody who took an experience, learned from it, made adjustments in the offseason and came out this year and did some damage.

Epstein would love to see Jackson force the issue.

The ball jumps off Jacksons bat when he does make contact. He still managed to post an .817 OPS at Iowa and generate four homers, six doubles and a triple with the Cubs. The staff believes theres enough to work with here.

Id like to see him completely revamp his swing and lower half, Sveum said. (But) theyre not things (where) youre asking somebody to stand on their head. There have been players in this game that have made drastic, drastic adjustments (which) have propelled some of them to Hall of Fame stature (and) long careers in the big leagues.

Ill go to my grave saying if you dont make any adjustments in this game, youre not going to stay here very long.

Lets not overlook the obvious: Jackson is still here, unlike Colvin (Colorado Rockies) and Cashner (San Diego Padres), two other first-round picks traded away by the Epstein administration.

Jackson showed up at the last Cubs Convention and had a money quote about the new bosses, saying how people are raving about the new bosses being rock stars, so everyones excited to see what kind of show they put on here.

I feel very fortunate to be a part of it, Jackson said. I believe in them. I think they believe in me. Im motivated to work hard to be that player for them to be someone that can help this team win. Theyve proved themselves. Theyre good at what they do. (Its) going to be up to us the guys on the team to put it all together.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa victimized the Tigers pitching staff again on the next night, taking Brian Moehler deep in the 7th inning for a 400-foot solo blast.

The homer tied the game at 3, but the Cubs blew the lead in the bottom of the 7th when the Terrys (Adams and Mulholland) gave up 3 runs. The Cubs wound up losing 6-4.

The Cubs were putting together a really nice season in 1998 that ended with a trip to October. They entered the series with the Tigers with a 42-34 record, yet lost both games to a Detroit team that entered the series with a 28-45 record. The Tigers finished the season 65-94; the Cubs finished 90-73.

Fun fact: Luis Gonzalez was the Tigers left fielder and No. 5 hitter for both games of the series. He spent part of the 1995 season and all of '96 on Chicago's North Side. 1998 was his only year in Detroit before he moved on to Arizona, where he hit 57 homers in 2001 and helped the Diamondbacks to a World Series championship with that famous broken-bat single in Game 7.

Fun fact  No. 2: Remember Pedro Valdes? He only had a cup of coffee with the Cubs (9 games in 1996 and 14 in '98), but started in left field on June 25, 1998. He walked and went 0-for-1 before being removed from the game for a pinch-hitter (Jose Hernandez).