Cubs

Cubs Minor League update: Jackson still struggling

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Cubs Minor League update: Jackson still struggling

Cubs management has been pleading for patience in the rebuilding process. Lets take a look at what the North Side faithful have to wait for in this week's minor league update.

AAA Iowa Cubs

Much has been said about the minor league juggernaut that is Anthony Rizzo in the past couple weeks. He is absolutely dominating the Pacific Coast League and many Cubs fans want to see him at the Friendly Confines immediately. But in all honesty, what is the hurry? No single player is going to turn a team with the second worst record in baseball into a contender and a call up now would simply cost the Cubs significant money in the long run. Regardless of the increased press on Rizzo he continues to dismantle pitchers at the AAA level. Last week, Rizzo went 8-for-26 (.308), with three home runs, five RBIs and an absolutely ridiculous OPS of 1.214. Rizzos consistent offensive production has landed him at the top of many hitting categories including: OPS (1.095), SLG (.681), and HR (15). He is also second in RBIs (40) and top 10 in average (.344). It is only a matter of time until Cubs fans will get the chance to see if Rizzos success will translate to the big leagues.

It is a reality that with the good we must also accept the bad and right now Brett Jackson is making sure the scale remains balanced. Last week, Jacksons month-long skid continued with a 6-for-29 (.207) performance, dropping his average to .228. He also fanned 17 times in his 29 plate appearances reducing his OBP to a simply unacceptable .243. Yes, people are still murmuring about a Jackson call up this summer, but if he wants the murmurs to become anything more than that, his production at the plate must improve.

Also, the always entertaining Carlos Marmol will begin his rehab in AAA Iowa this week.

Class AA Tennessee Smokies

BaseballAmerica.com ranked right hander Trey McNutt the organizations number four prospect this offseason and last week McNutt gave us a glimpse why. After a slow start in 2012, McNutt got back on the right track this week achieving wins in both of his two starts. Collectively he recorded 10 innings pitched, allowing only three earned runs and tallied six Ks. The two solid starts lowered McNutts ERA to 2.67.

It appears as if Smokies shortstop Junior Lake is beginning to get comfortable in his second week of action after being called up. Lake had a solid week at the dish going 10-for-32 (.313) with a very respectable OBP of .385. He also managed to accumulate four RBIs and his first homerun of the season. Lake was a highly touted prospect coming into the season and it looks like his mental and physical growth is right on schedule.

Class A Daytona Cubs

Cubs center fielder and top 10 prospect Matt Szczur struggled mightily in the first month and a half of the 2012 season, but last week Szczur seemed to have turned the corner. He went 10-for-27 (.370) bumping his average a full 20 points to .270. Szczur had three extra base hits, one homerun, four RBIs and an OPS of 1.07. This is night and day in comparison to the Matt Szczur of April and early May. In the coming weeks we will see if he can sustain this type of success.

Daytona second baseman Ronald Torreyes had high aspirations coming into the season, but he has yet to come even remotely close to any of them. In 35 games Torreyes is batting .158 with only 6 RBIs and an OBP of .224. Last week, Torreyes struggles continued as he went 1-for-24 (.042) with one RBI and one walk.

Joe Musso also contributed to this article

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

The day after Kris Bryant suggested that first-time fatherhood and the dramatic reality of world events have changed how he looks at his future with the Cubs, general manager Jed Hoyer outlined why it might be all but moot.

Setting aside the fact that the Cubs aren’t focusing on contract extensions with anyone at this time of health and economic turmoil, the volatility and unpredictability of a raging COVID-19 pandemic in this country and its economic fallout have thrown even mid-range and long-term roster plans into chaos.

“This is without question the most difficult time we’ve ever had as far as projecting those things,” Hoyer said. “All season in projecting this year, you weren’t sure how many games we were going to get in. Projecting next season obviously has challenges, and who knows where the country’s going to be and the economy’s going to be.”

Bryant, a three-time All-Star and former MVP, is eligible for free agency after next season. He and the club have not engaged in extension talks for three years. And those gained little traction while it has looked increasingly likely since then that Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, would eventually take his star client to market — making Bryant a widely circulated name in trade talks all winter.

MORE: Scott Boras: Why Kris Bryant's free agency won't be impacted by economic crisis

The Cubs instead focused last winter on talks with All-Star shortstop Javy Báez, making “good” or little progress depending on which side you talked to on a given day — until the pandemic shut down everything in March.

Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber are both also eligible for free agency after next season, with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras right behind them a year later.

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None has a multiyear contract, and exactly what the Cubs are willing to do about that even if MLB pulls off its 60-game plan this year is hard for even the team’s front office executives to know without knowing how hard the pandemic will continue to hammer America’s health and financial well-being into the winter and next year.

Even with a vaccine and treatments by then, what will job markets look like? The economy at large? The economy of sports? Will anyone want to gather with 40,000 others in a stadium to watch a game anytime soon?

And even if anyone could answer all those questions, who can be sure how the domino effect will impact salary markets for athletes?

“There’s no doubt that forecasting going forward is now much more challenging from a financial standpoint,” Hoyer said. “But that’s league-wide. Anyone that says they have a feel for where the nation’s economy and where the pandemic is come next April is lying.”

The Cubs front office already was in a tenuous place financially, its payroll budget stretched past its limit and a threat to exceed MLB’s luxury tax threshold for a second consecutive season.

And after a quick playoff exit in 2018 followed by the disappointment of missing the playoffs in 2019, every player on the roster was in play for a possible trade over the winter — and even more so at this season’s trade deadline without a strong start to the season.

Now what?

For starters, forget about dumping short-term assets or big contracts for anything of value from somebody’s farm system. Even if baseball can get to this year’s Aug. 31 trade deadline with a league intact and playing, nobody is predicting more than small level trades at that point — certainly not anything close to a blockbuster.

After that, it may not get any clearer for the sport in general, much less the Cubs with their roster and contract dilemmas.

“We have a lot of conversations about it internally, both within the baseball side and then with the business side as well,” Hoyer said. “But it’s going to take a long time and probably some sort of macro things happening for us to really have a good feel for where we’re going to be in ’21 and beyond.”

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Cubs' GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Cubs' GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Veteran umpire Joe West made waves Tuesday downplaying the severity of COVID-19 in an interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. 

“I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus," West said. "I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths.”

As far as the Cubs are concerned, those comments don’t represent how to treat the virus. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to ensure everyone treats it with equal severity.

“That’s one of the things we've really tried internally to instill in our players and our coaches,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday, “[that] everyone here has to take it equally [serious].”

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Hoyer noted like the world, MLB isn’t immune to people having different viewpoints on the virus — those who show concern and those who don’t. This echoes comments made by manager David Ross earlier on Tuesday, and Hoyer said those he’s talked to with the Cubs don’t feel the same way as West.

The Cubs had an up close and personal look at pitching coach Tommy Hottovy’s battle with COVID-19 during baseball’s shutdown. It took the 38-year-old former big leaguer 30 harrowing days to test negative, and in the past week many Cubs have said watching him go through that hit home. 

“When you get a 38-year-old guy in wonderful health and he talks about his challenges with it,” Hoyer said, “I think that it takes away some of those different viewpoints.”

To ensure everyone stays safe and puts the league in the best position to complete a season, MLB needs strict adherence to its protocols.

“I think that's one of our goals and one of the things that we feel is vital is that we have to make sure everyone views this the same way, because we can't have a subset of people within our group that don't view it with the same severity,” Hoyer said.

“That’s not gonna work. We're not gonna be successful."

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