I'll probably stir up a hornet's nest here, but should the Cubs sit players like Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus against the Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros? Maybe even shut down Carlos Marmol to keep him healthy for next season and see if any young pitchers can step up into that role?
When the Cubs were playing the Pirates and the Cardinals, there were playoff implications at stake. It's an unspoken rule that you put your best team on the field out there because you are unfairly balancing the playoff race if you do not.
But what about vs. the Rockies and Astros...and possibly even the Diamondbacks if they are eliminated by the time the Cubs arrive?
The truth is the Rockies (because of injuries and horrific pitching) and the Astros (because of a thinly-veiled plan to tank the season to get the #1 pick), aren't competing at an MLB level right now. The teams they are trotting out there everyday, with the exception of a couple of players, look like average AAA teams. Maybe it's a good time for the Cubs to play their young guys down the stretch to evaluate what they have.
That's not to say they shouldn't give it their best effort on the field. If you play young guys fighting for jobs next year and looking to make an impression, you're pretty much guaranteed to get some inspired -- yet occasionally head-sratching - baseball.
Why not see if Adrian Cardenas can play OF and whether he can hit with more consistent ABs? Can Dave Sappelt play MLB caliber defense in CF? Why not let Bryan LaHair get some ABs down the stretch vs. lefties and righties to see if he can increase his value? Should the Cubs start Josh Vitters at 3B the rest of the year? We know what Luis Valbuena can do and we know he's better suited to help the Cubs win now, but why not give Vitters some consistent time and see what he can do with steady ABs? What kind of progress has he made as far as making adjustments at the plate? Can Anthony Recker challenge Steve Clevenger for the backup catcher role in 2013?
Let's find out the answer to those questions.
Let's take it a step further. Why not call up Junior Lake and Logan Watkins to give them a taste of MLB life? Lets see how they adapt and adjust.
There has been an ongoing debate on this site about whether the Cubs are better off losing down the stretch. In all honesty, it is better for them in the long run if they end up with a higher draft pick -- yet some fans (including myself) can't actively watch the Cubs and root for them to lose. Maybe this is the compromise. Field a team that is better for development and get a head start to answer some questions for 2013. It's a team we could root for in terms of wanting to see the young talent succeed-- and frankly, a team that could compete with -- and probably still beat -- the Astros and Rockies (who have lost 16 of their last 18 games).
At the same time, it gives the Cubs the best shot of "competing" with the shell of what was once known as the Colorado Rockies for that #2 pick. Just as you shouldn't make it easy on teams trying to compete and make the playoffs, maybe you shouldn't make it easy for teams to tank the season for draft picks.
What say you?
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