I know, I know, we're only 12 games into the Chicago Cubs regular season and someone (me) is already talking about Brett Jackson and/or Anthony Rizzo being called up to the majors. Yeah, I know it's ridiculous.
On a normal day, I would tell that someone (me) to relax and just let the time pass; Jackson will be up eventually. The problem that faces the Cubs --I talk as if they only have one, singular problem -- is their current center fielder --Marlon Byrd -- is batting an unflattering .081. Yes, you read that number correctly. He's currently 3 for 37 with no extra base hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts. Ouch. The catch is being only 12 games into the regular season. Players circulate in and out of slumps all season long; it just so happens Byrd has "chosen" to go into one right out of the gate. That is sort of like failing your first test of the semester and then having to fight uphill the rest of the class just to pull out a C.
The difference between the college student and the professional baseball player --again, as if there is only one, singular difference -- is that the college student doesn't have another student ready to take his place in class should he do less-than-ideal. In Byrd's case, Brett Jackson is ever on the horizon. The Cubs know it, we know it, Byrd knows it. Hope as we may that the Cubs will find a way to win games this season, all signs point to it being the "rebuilding" year that everyone knows it is but refuses to use the term. I suppose using the term "rebuilding" indicates an excuse not to be winning, but I find those within Cubs nation using that excuse anyway --I know I have been.
One aspect to keep in mind is that Byrd is in the final year of his contract. Assuming the Cubs will be out of contention by the trade deadline, the Cubs will most likely want to try and trade him off to get something for him. He becomes a lot more valuable if the Cubs play him everyday and give him the chance to put up numbers. The more he puts up, the more they could potentially get for him. It is hard to persuade a team to trade for a player that is your fourth outfielder and is batting .139 at the trade deadline. Since Jackson gets to play either way (Triple-A or the majors), the Cubs may as well give Byrd an opportunity to put up some decent numbers. He very well might.
The Cubs are left with a catch-22 concerning Jackson. They could realistically give him the call-up earlier than expected because Byrd is struggling and the Cubs are already off to a 3-9 start. Conversely, they could let Jackson remain in Triple-A and get all the at-bats he wants because of that same 3-9 start and his presence alone won't likely change the Cubs' fortunes this season. And once again, 12 games isn't a very large sample size.
However, I know that Cubs fans are anxious to see what Jackson can do. If Byrd's trend continues for another few weeks (until he gets to about the 100 at-bat mark, according to Dale Sveum), then I would expect the clamoring for Jackson to get a whole lot louder.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.