This is what we've wanted and now it's finally here. Since last offseason, the Cubs have been cleaning house and bringing in some young talent, but that was just prelude. Now the makeover begins in earnest as the the Cubs have taken the rebuilding to the actual playing field. They've replaced short-term assets with what they hope are long-term pieces --players whom, if all goes well, will play important roles when the Cubs are ready to contend.
Last night's game showed that it isn't always going to be a lot of fun. Growing pains never are. The Cubs are the equivalent of a transitioning adolescent: awkardly proportioned, somewhat uncoordinated, decidedly pimply, and occasionally foul-smelling. Yet, every so often, we catch glimpses of what they will eventually become. It's all part of the growth process and, frankly, we'll be glad when it's over. One day we'll look back and thank the stars above that we won't ever have to go through it again...well, except for maybe a Red Sox type mid-life crisis down the road.
Brett Jackson got schooled yesterday by a veteran LHP. As good as Jackson looked against lefty Randy Choate yesterday, that's how bad he looked yesterday against Eric Stults, donning the Golden Sombrero with 4 strikeouts. Josh Vitters also made his debut and went hitless. Even Cubs "vets" Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Darwin Barney went a combined 1 for 11 with one walk.
Yet, it wasn't all bad. Welington Castillo had a couple of hard-hit singles, Vitters made the play of the day defensively, and Jackson showed smooth, effortless range in CF. And all of the Cubs young hitters did a good job of working the count at one point or another, even noted free swingers Vitters and Castro.
And then there's the learning process. Said Jackson,
"It's never fun to strike out four times. It's how well you can adapt and how professional you can be. It's something I'll continue to work on and improve on."
It's something manager Dale Sveum is going to have to live with. One encouraging point for Cubs fans is that, unlike his predecessor, Sveum is willing to take his lumps and let the kids grow, even if it means a good amount of frustration, and yes....a few more losses.
"You know we're going to be a little behind the eight ball when you have to match up against the Dodgers' lineup or their bullpen and things like that," he said. "Truthfully, a lot of this is development and watching. To tell you the truth, even as a manager, you probably do some things you wouldn't do in certain situations, just to see how a guy would handle (it) in the future."
The Cubs could well feature a lineup tonight where over half the players started the season with one of their minor league affiliates: C Welington Castillo, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Josh Vitters, CF Brett Jackson, and starting LHP Brooks Raley. That's not to mention bullpen arms like Alberto Cabrera and Jeff Beliveau, who could also see action.
So be it. It's a time for the Cubs to find out about themselves, about what works and what doesn't. It's time to give the kids the keys, even though that we know they'll probably end up wrecking the car. Sometimes that's the only way to grow up.
Filed under: Analysis