Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward is expected to be activated off the disabled list on Saturday and Cubs manager Joe Maddon has "a very tough" decision on his hands as to whom to send down. Does he send down Ian Happ? Albert Almora?
No...I believe it will be Tommy LaStella.
LaStella has options left, so he can be sent down to Iowa without any risk of the Cubs losing him. and while he has been doing fine, he is primarily an infielder, and the Cubs are struggling to find enough ABs for all of their infielders anyway.
With Javy Baez on the roster, and Ben Zobrist looking more and more shaky in the outfield, LaStella is something of a luxury to the team right now. The only question is, how will guys like Happ and Almora do as pinch hitters? We know LaStella can come cold off the bench and deliver, but we don't know if the rookies can.
The other issue is having regular playing time for Happ. Yes, the kid has hit very well, runs well, and is versatile defensively. However, he is young and developing and needs regular at-bats at this stage of his career. Can the Cubs guarantee those regular ABs for Happ once Heyward comes back?
Also, if they keep Happ, will Baez continue getting as much playing time and if not, will that pose a problem? Everything is great when the team is winning, especially when winning a World Series title. However, if the Cubs falter, and we've seen that happen so far this season already until recently, will the grumbling start?
Another option is to send Almora down. After a quick start, he hasn't been hitting, doesn't draw walks and even his defense hasn't been nearly as good as advertised.
But he's a first round draft pick who probably feels he has earned a place on the roster, and would be pissed if they sent him down. Sending him to Iowa may do more damage than good.
Speaking of not being happy to be sent down, we all recall LaStella's reaction when he was optioned last season. He didn't report for awhile and was threatening to quit baseball.
However, LaStella seems to have a better attitude about that these days, so I don't expect another problem from the left-handed hitter if they choose to send him down as I expect they will. .
Happ is a switch-hitter, so he can effectively take LaStella's place as a pinch hitter versus right-handed pitchers. In fact, he can pinch hit against anyone since he hits from both sides. But again, would the kid be better served going down and getting regular playing time?
My vote is for LaStella to go down. I like him, but we already know what he is, and that is not a prospect. So I need to see more of Almora, and Happ has earned his position on the 25-man squad by how well he has played.
Happ looks like he belongs and while LaStella jhas done nothing to deserve being sent down, it's just a numbers game and he is the odd man out.
Follow me on Twitter @BobWarja