According to a tweet by CSN's Patrick Mooney, both Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo were seen cleaning out their lockers, as the Cubs will be sending them to minor league camp and then AAA Iowa to start the season.
Brett Jackson's reaction, "Go to Iowa and knock the crap out of the ball."
Exactly the attitude you like to hear.
It shows some patience by the Cubs brass to send down two players who could arguably be among the Cubs 3 best position players already. As has been mentioned many times, this team isn't about 2012. Not that the Cubs won't try to win this season, but you're trying to look ahead as much as possible. Additional time in the minors may mean not putting the best talent on the field to start 2012, but it should help the team down the road.
The Cubs will go with Marlon Byrd and Bryan LaHair for now. LaHair must prove himself over the next couple of months as he has really struggled this spring. If he continues to slump and Rizzo continues to mash in AAA Iowa, we could see the Cubs make a change sooner rather than later.
As for Jackson, it will probably take a trade of Byrd to open up a spot for him. Jackson may already be the better player, but Byrd is an asset that the Cubs can't afford to not cash in on. Teams will undoubtedly be calling the Cubs about their veteran CF'er over the next couple of months depending on how he performs and the needs of other teams around the league. Washington and Cleveland are two possibilities.
The Cubs also sent down Adrian Cardenas in a move that I completely disagree with. That decision seems to have been made early on by Dale Sveum and even though Cardenas has proven he belongs, the Cubs are apparently going to use another roster spot on a very similar player. I like DeWitt, but I just don't understand the logic here. Perhaps there will be a trade and Cardenas will be brought back up before the season starts, but DeWitt looks to have won the job for now.
Another possibility, though still an extreme longshot, is Alfredo Amezaga. I've made it pretty clear that I really like this player as a reserve. He's a good defender at multiple positions and has had a good spring. Perhaps most importantly, he can play SS and that might give him an advantage because the Cubs only have Darwin Barney as a backup SS on the 40 man roster and he did not look good there defensively yesterday. Rust is one thing but there has to be concern whether he has enough arm to make all the plays at SS. Amezaga also fits the profile of the kind of player the Cubs will favor with this new front office. He's a good defender with a good approach at the plate and solid baserunning skills. The biggest downside for him is that he doesn't have a roster spot.
Other players sent down were OF Jim Adduci and RHP Jay Jackson. Jackson had a very good spring and may have put himself back in the picture for a call-up down the road if he continues to perform well at Iowa. Adduci is a solid minor league vet and could probably be a decent 5th OF'er for some team. He's a good guy and I'd like to see him get an opportunity somewhere if not with the Cubs. Other cuts include utility man Bobby Scales and C Michael Brenly. No surprise in either case. I wonder if the Cubs will keep Scales in Iowa or see if he may want to start his coaching career.
In other news, the Cubs have announced that veteran Ryan Dempster has been named the Opening Day starter over Matt Garza. The Cubs have hinted at such a move, saying it's more about early season matchups, so it's not all that surprising. Honoring a Cubs player who has meant so much to the team and community may have played a factor, especially since this is possibly Dempster's last season. In the end, it's just a formality so this move isn't going to move me one way or the other.
In other rotation news, Paul Maholm was officially named a starter, but that's not the surprising part. The surprising part is he's been named the 5th starter. To me that absolutely rules out Rodrigo Lopez (if there was any doubt left, that is) as a possible starter since the Cubs can't afford to have a 3rd or 4th starter who only works 5 strong innings. It's down to Samardzija, Volstad, and Wells for the last 2 spots.
Of all the moves made today, the only one I really didn't like was choosing DeWitt over Cardenas.