We’ll be back out at Wrigley tomorrow for the opener of the Cubs-Dodgers series. We’ll have a column online about what the Cubs might do with the No. 5 spot in the rotation next Tuesday. Do they come back with Jeff Russell, flip-flop Russell and Jeff Samardzija or even dip in the minor leagues for, say, Thomas Diamond or even Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who has 3 walks and 20 strikeouts in 16 innings so far at Class AAA Iowa?
The Cubs will kick around those questions over the next few days. It’s unlikely they’d dip into the Class AA Tennessee roster. The good news for the Cubs at Tennessee is that top pitching prospect Trey McNutt returns to action tonight after missing a couple of starts with a finger blister.
There is a fun article on Baseball Prospectus, written by Kevin Goldstein. It centers on the question a lot of writers get: “When is so and so going to get called up from the minor leagues or get promoted from one level to the next?”
Kevin and I both have to give this answer most of the time: I don’t know. And as Kevin pointed out, neither do most teams. The standard answer I get from the Cubs on this one is: “The player will tell us.”
Brett Jackson is tearing it up at Class AA Tennessee right now. His line is .419/.544/.721. Jackson also has walked 12 times, compared with 10 strikeouts. I raise the issue in my upcoming piece about Jackson opening eyes this year. But I don’t know when he’ll be promoted to the Cubs, much less to Class AAA Iowa. The Cubs may want to keep the core group of prospects that includes Jackson, Josh Vitters, DJ LeMahieu, Ryan Flaherty and Steve Clevenger together at Tennessee.
According to Goldstein: “One front-office official also believes that how the numbers are compiled on a day-to-day basis can be as important as the numbers themselves. ‘The biggest thing we're looking for when thinking about promotions is consistency,’ he said. ‘We want pitchers looking good every five days as opposed to throwing seven shutout innings one start and then not getting out of the fourth the next. We want guys hitting .300 across the month as opposed to hitting .500 one week and .100 the next.’”
There are other factors, too, such as injuries, where a team is in the standings and whether somebody gets traded. No, the Cubs aren’t seeking to trade Marlon Byrd, from what I’ve been told.
More from Goldstein’s article: “Of course, service time still plays a big role. "Why is (Rays prospect Desmond) Jennings still in Triple-A right now, especially now that Manny Ramirez is gone?’ asked one official. ‘It's all about money there. Once they trade B.J. Upton at the deadline, which they will, he'll be up, but him being at Triple-A right now has nothing to do with development.’”
The marquee matchup this weekend is Ryan Dempster vs. ex-Cub Ted Lilly Saturday. Keep it here all weekend.