I mentioned this in my minor league recap, but I'm beginning to wonder if Adrian Cardenas might be the next Cubs call up. He's raking at Iowa .338/.391/.584.
Anthony Rizzo has called him the best hitter on the team. That's high praise. Not only is Rizzo a good hitter himself, but the AAA team is stacked with good offensive players.
With Cubs fans growing impatient for some kind of change, the Cubs have their hands tied with some of their players. Rizzo is hitting the ball well, but calling him up a couple of months early makes a big difference in his service time. If the Cubs wait until July with Rizzo (and Brett Jackson, for that matter), they'll save themselves a lot of money down the road. When it comes to re-signing these players once they're in their prime and the Cubs are actually (hopefully) contending, they'll have bought themselves an extra year when it matters.
I don't think the Cubs have similar concerns with Cardenas. He's a good hitter but he's probably not going to be a star player. He doesn't play great defense or possess great speed or have 20 HR power. His only above average tool is his bat and while he can be an offensive upgrade over Darwin Barney, and certainly Blake DeWitt, it's not likely he's going to command a huge salary in the future, even if he does end up a starter. And in the small chance he does end up being that kind of player, then I'm sure the Cubs won't be disappointed anyway.
Cardenas is zeroing in on 1000 ABs in AAA. There isn't much more he can prove down there. There isn't any more minor league development needed. He's also on the 40 man roster, so the Cubs wouldn't have to bump someone off to make room.
The Cubs could use another lefty bat off the bench and Cardenas can play multiple positions. The Cubs recently lost a reliable lefty bat for an indefinite period of time in Steve Clevenger and Blake DeWitt is hitting just .120 so far this season with one extra base hit. Add in his mediocre defense, average speed, and limited on-base skills and he has little value to the team if he isn't hitting.
The Cubs got this right the first time when they waived DeWitt in order to pick up Cardenas before spring training. Manager Dale Sveum seemed to favor the veteran from the start, however, and when DeWitt got off to a hot start while Cardenas slumped early on, the Cubs ultimately decided to keep DeWitt after all.
It's only April but DeWitt hasn't shown at any point in his career that he can be a starting caliber player or even a valuable hitter off the bench. The Cubs have had multiple opportunities to trade him. Toronto and Philadelphia were looking for a 2nd baseman earlier in the year and now Tampa Bay has lost an infielder, but the sad truth is that even those teams aren't willing to give up anything for DeWitt.
While it's too early to bring up the top prospects in Iowa, it's not too early to start bringing in some of the smaller pieces. Every little bit helps and while we don't know if Cardenas can be a useful player off the bench or perhaps even become a starter somewhere down the line, we can be pretty certain that Blake DeWitt won't. It's time to give Cardenas his shot.
Filed under: Roster decisions