Theo Epstein: It’s too early for Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson
By GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org April 19, 2012 9:38PM
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:59AM
MIAMI — Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson? Now?
As bad as it might look for the Cubs — as in the fourth-worst start in franchise history — this season isn’t going to be solved by rushing the organization’s top prospects to the big-league club.
Not any more than this season is going to solve the long-term competitive issues the new front office is trying to get its arms around.
‘‘Those guys are continuing their development at Triple-A, and things that they’re working on, they need to continue to improve,’’ team president Theo Epstein said. ‘‘We’re also not giving up on guys after a homestand and a road trip. Guys are trying to get into the rhythm of a season and show what they can do.
‘‘That said, no one wants to get off to this kind of start, and the lineup’s not performing really well right now. But it’s a little bit early to be thinking about those kind of moves, specifically with your better prospects.’’
Not even at 3-10. Not even when your former All-Star center fielder is hitting .075 and your former Rookie of the Year and All-Star catcher is hitting .167. Not even when your $136 million left fielder, who has 340 career homers, doesn’t have an extra-base hit.
Not even when nobody in baseball has fewer home runs, when only one National League pitching staff has a worse team ERA, when your top setup man needed a cortisone shot in his shoulder this week and when your Opening Day starter is winless in three starts despite a 1.33 ERA.
‘‘You don’t do any panicking 13 games into the season,’’ said new manager Dale Sveum, who has done just about everything else to shake some runs out of a lineup hitting .233 with a paltry .328 slugging percentage.
Short of an injury, it’ll probably take at least until sometime around the quarter-pole mark before the Cubs start looking at personnel moves to shake things up if things don’t turn quickly.
‘‘There’s things we can do, smaller moves that we can make and probably will make over the course of the season to try to put together a club that can be more competitive,’’ Epstein said, reiterating the top prospects will be promoted based on their own tracks.
In the meantime, ‘‘We got to win, man,’’ said Jeff Samardzija (2-1), who lasted only 32/3 innings but said his pitching hand was fine after getting hit by Logan Morrison’s hot comebacker in the fourth. ‘‘Really, that’s all there is to it. We got to pitch better, players got to play the positions better. It’s all around.’’