The Cubs have optioned INF Adrian Cardenas to Iowa, and recalled INF Anthony Rizzo from Iowa
And so it begins. Rizzo made his Cubs debut last night and ended up 2-4 with a double and an RBI in a Cubs win, and there was much rejoicing throughout the land.
Anyway, as I’m sure everyone knows by now, Rizzo has utterly dominated the Pacific Coast League this season, leading qualifying PCL hitters in OPS by nearly 100 points. More impressive is that Iowa is a relative pitchers park in the PCL. Still more impressive is that Rizzo is only 22 years old, and is the youngest player on the league OPS leaderboard.
So yes, it’s fair to say that he’s earned his promotion. The Cubs are making room for him by moving Bryan LaHair from 1B to RF, which seems sensible enough, given that Rizzo comes with a reputation for excellent 1B defense. If Rizzo can play up to expectations as a solid, middle-of-the-order slugger, the Cubs suddenly find themselves with the top half of a reasonably good lineup, with David DeJesus, Starlin Castro, Rizzo, LaHair and the occasional hot streaks from Alfonso Soriano; if Geovany Soto can regain form and they can get something from 3B between Luis Valbuena and Ian Stewart (when he returns), then the days of scuffling to get 2 runs a game might be behind the team … at least until the trade deadline approaches and some number of the veterans in that group are dealt.
Still, they’re a better team than they were before Rizzo was called up yesterday. This has been a trying season for fans, but this is why we endure all the losing, to see the future starting to come together. Rizzo is the second big piece (after Castro) of that future to fit into place, so it’s an exciting time. Hopefully, more pieces, such as centerfielder Brett Jackson, are ready soon.
Meanwhile, Cardenas draws the short straw, after not really being given a chance to establish himself with the team. He might have been used to give Castro a day off or two, although Cardenas’s defense is reputedly not good enough for him to be a good shortstop option. Depending on how highly one regards Darwin Barney’s defense, Cardenas might have been a good candidate to play more often at 2B, also, especially given Barney’s recent struggles at the plate.
Regardless, Cardenas only had 39 plate appearances over a month and a half for the Cubs, and while he hit poorly (a 50 OPS+), it’s hard to argue that he was given a meaningful opportunity. He’ll be better served by playing everyday in AAA, although it’s hard to see right now where he fits in with the organization. He probably won’t have the power to play 3B at the major league level, and if his defense isn’t at least tolerably good, he won’t get much of a chance to play up the middle, either. He’s still fairly young at 24, but he’ll probably need to develop some power if he’s going to stick as a utilityman in the majors for any length of time.