Rizzo Watch: Brett Jackson becomes next big thing for Cubs


Rizzo Watch: Brett Jackson becomes next big thing for Cubs

Late Monday night, Joe Mather explained why he switched his uniform number from 16 to 21, because he always thought it looked cool in those Roberto Clemente highlights.

Mather talked up Travis Wood after the 25-year-old left-hander threw seven shutout innings against the New York Mets, showing the potential the Cubs saw when they traded Sean Marshall to the Cincinnati Reds last winter.

Mather was also asked about the home run he hit off the great Johan Santana. When the group interview by his locker ended after a 6-1 victory, he joked: No Rizzo questions?

No doubt the business side is hoping for more than the 34,092 fans the Cubs got on Monday at Wrigley Field. Anthony Rizzo will be in uniform on Tuesday night, and that should be a box-office attraction after all the attention hes generated down at Triple-A Iowa.

So the next big thing for Cubs fans and the Chicago media to obsess over will be Brett Jackson, a 2009 first-round pick out of Cal-Berkeley.

Jackson is hitting .256 with 11 homers and 31 RBI in 73 games at Iowa. Hes also struck out 107 times in 281 at-bats, though he still profiles as the kind of all-around outfielder Theo Epstein likes to build around.

Hes been a little streaky, obviously, Epstein said. (Hes) been a productive player despite a pretty high swing-and-miss rate. I think Brett could be a good player even while striking out a lot. If he can find a way to make more contact, especially on fastballs in the zone, the skys the limit for him.

His secondary skills are so good: Hes patient. He has power. He can play defense. He can run the bases. Its really important (in order) to reach his true ceiling to continue to make better contact on fastballs in the zone.

The Cubs showed patience and restraint in waiting to promote Rizzo, and they will almost certainly do the same with Jackson, whos only played 140 games at the Triple-A level.

Yeah, the strikeouts are at an incredible rate, which is a little bit strange, manager Dale Sveum said. Its the pitch selection, as much as anything. (I) think he went through a period there where even the fastball was giving him trouble. But now its just the soft stuff (in the dirt) that he cant seem to lay off either.

Hes got some strange stats for having basically an .850 OPS and striking out over 100 times. Its a very strange statunless youre Adam Dunn.

All the hype reminded Alfonso Soriano of what it was like coming up with the New York Yankees, and how important it was to have people like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams show him the way.

Everybody was talking about me, Soriano recalled, but thank God I had veteran guys around me. They told me: We support you and want you to do well, but dont put pressure on yourself. Just go out there and have fun and see what happens.

Soriano takes a lot of heat, but he sets an example in his own way, by pushing to play through pain every day. Even though the Cubs are 25-48, the clubhouse has remained professional and upbeat and not shown signs of jealousy during the Rizzo Watch.

Guys in the room know the talent that he is, utility man Jeff Baker said. The biggest thing is just going to be not to say this in a bad way helping him with you guys (in the media) and the expectations of this city.

Unfortunately, its going to be a little unfair. To do what hes doing in Triple-A? Shoot, if he comes up here and does it, awesome, theyre going to have an All-Star for years and somebody that can be a superstar. But were going to shower him with love.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th 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's 37th homer of the 1998 season was a big one, an opposite field blast off the front row of fans in right field and into the basket at Wrigley Field.

The eighth-inning 3-run shot gave the Cubs some insurance in a game they ultimately won 9-5 and the Wrigley faithful responded by throwing a bunch of trash on the field.

Earlier in the contest, Sosa tied the game with an RBI single in the fifth inning. He finished with 4 RBI, giving him 93 on the season with more than 2 months left to play.

Fun fact: Vladimir Guerrero was the Expos' No. 3 hitter for this game an dhe also hit a homer (his 20th). Now, Guerrero's son is nearing his MLB debut as a top prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system.

Fun fact No. 2: Mark Grudzielanek - who later played for the Cubs in 2003-04 - was Montreal's No. 5 hitter for the game at Wrigley. He was traded 10 days later from the Expos to the Los Angeles Dodgers for another fellow Cub - Ted Lilly.

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

The Cubs and Orioles reliever Zach Britton are once again being linked to each other, according to Patrick Mooney of the Athletic

Despite the front office constantly denying any big moves coming before the July 31st deadline, the Cubs continue to pop up in trade rumors. However, the Cubs' interest in Britton from last year makes this one with the Orioles stick a bit more, and when taking a look at Britton's fit on the club, a deal involving the lefty-reliever makes too much sense not to be true. 

The Cubs did add reliever Jesse Chavez earlier this week, but Chavez profiles more as a swingman and less of the late-inning arm Britton has been over his eight-year career. The Cubs would be acquiring a lesser effective Britton than the one teams saw dominant in '15 &'16 when he saved a combined 134 games for the Orioles. 

However, his 2018 numbers are encouraging for a guy coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon with a 3.68 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 14.2 IP. And when you factor in the pedigree the Cubs would be adding to the back end of the bullpen on top of his expiring deal at the end of 2018, it would make the Cubs bullpen lethal in the postseason. 

There will be other suitors for Britton who could likely offer more in terms of prospects in return, but if the Cubs are serious about adding someone like Britton, they could always dip into their MLB roster and part with a Victor Caratini-type player. Infielder David Bote has also impressed with his surprise season, showing he can contribute in multiple roles. 

Jed Hoyer did say earlier this week the Cubs will be adding depth before the trade deadline, but the asking price for arguably the best available reliever remaining on the market could end up being too rich for the Cubs to stomach. But it clearly won't stop them from at least weighing all options.