It's kind of funny how Kris Bryant was good enough to play in the Double-A All-Star Game, but didn't have enough playing time to play in Wednesday night's Triple-A All-Star Game despite having even better stats at the higher level. Then again, he got a chance to play in the Futures Game in Minnesota in front of an even bigger crowd, so I'm sure he'll live. Incidentally, Arismendy Alcantara didn't get to play despite being selected to represent Iowa, because he's kind of busy with the big league club right now. Tsuyoshi Wada and Blake Parker didn't get to pitch, but Kyle Hendricks did, and Kyle got two shutout innings under his belt. So it wasn't his fault the PCL guys lost to the International League.
But this post isn't about All-Star games, at least not yet. If Kris Bryant does his thing at the major league level, he'll see plenty of All-Star games in his future anyway. The problem is that some folks, like his agent, Scott Boras, disagree with the Cubs about his timetable.
Is it really fair to keep Bryant in the minors when he's put up the kind of numbers he has in 2014?
"That word 'fair,' I don't think it comes into (play)," Bryant's agent, Scott Boras said. "This is a business operation, and I think Kris is aware of it. In many, many situations, on most clubs, Kris Bryant would be in the big leagues because they're preparing him to play in the big leagues next year.
"Why not? Bring him up in September, let him get his feet wet, get that out of the way, and let him go hit.
"Certainly his talent has put him in a position where a lot of clubs would consider him to be someone they would put on their opening day roster."
Here's the deal, guys. We're all excited that Kris Bryant was killing baseballs at every level, and there was a brief freakout a few weeks ago when he was languishing in Tennessee. Fans wondered if the Cubs would call him up or if they would just stick to the plan. Apparently they stuck to the plan at their own pace, and I'm sure Bryant helped with his performance, as he was eventually brought up to Iowa. Then he had issues for a while until he figured it out and started destroying baseballs again. All through that, Bryant carried an insane ISO of ZOMFG (it's actually closer to .350 or so across his entire pro career so far, here's his FanGraphs stats page) while striking out about a quarter of the time. We do know he has a good grasp of the strike zone despite those whiffs, though, and that's really just a nitpick. Dabynsky over at Cubs Insider suggested that Bryant needed more work at third base, but that was in Tennessee and now Bryant is at Iowa, apparently improving his defense enough that scouts are beginning to think he belongs there long term. These are things that he needs to work on anyway, and I'm glad to see Bryant is accepting the challenge and showing vast improvement.
At the same time, Boras is simply the agent. Boras knows baseball, and he kind of has to as a sports agent dealing with some of the most important stars in MLB. His job is to make sure his clients get the most money, because that's how he will make the most money through commissions and how he will secure new clients. He may have some inkling of what his client, Kris Bryant, needs in terms of professional development, but overall you'd probably trust Theo Epstein and friends slightly more than super agent Scott Boras.
This is just something for the media to write about when there's no baseball on, but I don't think there's any malice here. Kris Bryant has some things to work on, and the Cubs have a bigger picture that doesn't completely revolve around Kris Bryant. They'll bring him up when the time is right, and most likely they will try to secure that extra year of control, just like every other team out there who follows smart baseball business plans. If you want a treatise on how the logic and objective analysis are important in regards to Bryant's development and the overall Cubs franchise plan, check out this great article by John at Cubs Den.
The agent has a responsibility to his client to make more money now than later, and that's fine, but thankfully the agent doesn't run the show, and the Cubs aren't as diabolical as the Astros seem to be right now. Kris Bryant has said all the right things and is having fun at the pace he's been put on so far. He'll get his money, and he'll find his way onto the big stage. It just isn't likely to be this September, and is more likely to be next May or June or so. Since Kris Bryant isn't likely to put more butts in seats or to help the Cubs contend anyway, we might as well be patient. And that goes for all Cubs prospects.