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Did you notice Travis Wood’s trimmed mane yesterday? Perhaps he was going for the reverse Samson Effect. Did it work? I guess the start was better than this last few.

  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and manager Dale Sveum are meeting today to discuss the team’s plan going forward, now that the trade deadline has passed. That being the case, you can expect that one of the big topics up for discussion will be the plans for AAA positional prospects Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters. The former is struggling with strikeouts, but was always expected to be in the Cubs’ second half plans in 2012. The latter wasn’t expected to be in the plans, but he’s hitting so well at AAA that he might be forcing the issue. Sveum has a particularly optimistic take on Jackson: “I don’t know if there is any so-called risk involved. Everybody’s worried about the failure part instead of the guy coming up here and maybe being a better player in the big leagues than he is in the Minor Leagues, which happens as much as the other way.” No, not really. But it does happen. What doesn’t tend to happen is guys with a 35% strikeout rate in AAA coming up to the bigs and striking out considerably less. And unless Jackson *can* strikeout considerably less, he’s going to have serious difficulty sustaining decent numbers in the bigs. He’s had almost a full year at AAA at this point, so we’ll see what happens. In Vitters’ case, that isn’t true yet. Do the Cubs call him up now so that they can evaluate him against serious big-league competition (and know if he might be a reasonable option at third next year)? Or do they wait, and give him a full year at AAA?
  • Jackson is currently hitting .258/.338/.487 with 25 steals (5 CS) and 153 Ks in 454 plate appearances. Vitters is hitting .296/.351/.502 with 16 homers. Neither set of numbers is overwhelmingly good for the PCL, and each player has an elevated BABIP (Vitters is at .330, Jackson is at .373). Jackson turned 24 today, by the way. Vitters turns 23 later this month.
  • Sveum has said, of both Jackson and Vitters, that if and when they come up, they’ve got to be every day players. That’s not an issue for Vitters, who could easily start at third base from the get-go. For Jackson, however, he is theoretically blocked in the outfield by Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, and Bryan LaHair. It’s possible that LaHair could be benched, but it’s far more like that, if Jackson is to come up this year, the Cubs will have to find a take for Soriano in August (speaking of which, your annual “August Trades and Stuff” post will be coming later today).
  • I’m still waiting to see someone write a thoughtful goodbye article on Geovany Soto. I haven’t had a chance yet, myself, but the guy was on the big team for four and a half years, had some great years, was a good guy, and has been with the Cubs since 2001.
  • Darwin Barney is feeling good after taking one off the noggin’ on Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s anything major,” Sveum said. “He got hit in the head and there’s some ringing in his ear, but he’s fine today. We’ll just give him [the day off] today …. We have [Thursday] off, and he’ll be ready to go on Friday.”
  • It sounds like Chris Volstad will indeed get a chance to re-enter the Cubs’ rotation. “I hope we can get out of him what he threw the other day,” Sveum said yesterday, referring to Volstad’s great final start at Iowa. “He sounded really confident about that start, and how he pitched the left-handers inside and went after everybody, and didn’t think too much about anything and just dominated the game.” Volstad is expected to start Saturday in Los Angeles.
  • Luke mentioned it in the Minor League Daily today, but it bears mentioning here as well: Rock Shoulders is in the final four of the Moniker Madness tournament (the best names in the minor leagues), and he needs your voting help. He’s got a really tough matchup, going against Caleb Bushyhead.
  • HawkClone

    Over/Under:

    If Brett Jackson is called up, will his strikeout % be over or under his OBP? Sad to think it could legitimately be over…

    • J R

      I am thinking he k’s 95% of the time in the show. The other 5% will be a hbp…

  • Crockett

    It would easily be over. I think he’d go about .200/.260 right now with a K rate north of 38%

    • willis

      Crockett hates B-Jax!! Why dude why? He’s awesome.

      I’m just kidding but I think, if he were brought up right now, he’d go .259/.328/.431. Nothing insane but surely better than your expectations. K rate of 34%.

  • Nathan

    Although, I have never been extremely high on Jackson as a stud in the majors I have always believed he can be a very productive starter. I think the Drew Stubbs comparison is probably about right. Jackson will most likely turn out to be a 20-25 home run guy, with 30 steals, decent on-base, and .250-.270 average. I would be perfectly fine with that as long as he is not our best outfielder.

  • Crockett

    Stubbs career OPS? .727. This year? Under .700.

    If that’s what jackson is, and I think its a reasonable statistical comparison even if they aren’t similar players, he’s a 4th OF. Stubbs should not be a major league starter.

  • Nathan

    I believe Jackson would be more in line with the 2010 Drew Stubbs and not the 2011-2012 Drew Stubbs

  • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

    LaHair is striking out 36 % of the time.Jackson can play all 3 OF positions with speed and good defense. LaHair had 3 rbi in July, send him down to where he was succesful to get his swing back.

    • Leroy K.

      Would that be the first time an All-Star never made it the whole season?

      • terencem

        Fukudome was an all-star in his first season with the Cubs and then failed to make the playoff roster…

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Fukodome started at least 2 of the 3 games in post-season.

    • Chris

      They’re not going to send LaHair down. This is who he is. This is why he didn’t make it to the majors until age 28-29. He’s not an everyday ML player. He had a great first couple of months, got himself into the AllStar game. Wonderful story. Kosuke Fukudome made an allstar team once too… He will eventually take his place on the bench as a backup OF-1B that pinch hits. Clearly, the FO will continue to take things slow with Jackson and other prospects. They have shown that they will move up the fringe guys when rosters need to be filled. But they are clearly waiting to move the true prospect players up levels until they deem them ready. Not just Rizzo being delayed. Jackson, Vitters, Lake, Alcantara, Baez, are all holding in their respective leagues all season long. They are doing what they can to set players up for the best possible chance of success.

      • Leroy K.

        And I”m perfectly fine with that.

  • calicubsfan007

    I really don’t like the idea of Volstad starting again. I really do hope he proves me wrong on this, but as the Einstein quote goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.”

    • willis

      Problem is there are literally no other options. Who else could fill that void? Raley maybe would be the only other choice. Lopez-terrible. Coleman-has proven over and over to be terrible. Rusin-been getting lit up lately. De la Cruz-awful. There just isn’t another choice other than Volstad. Let’s just hope he can put it together and keep this team in the games he pitches.

      • calicubsfan007

        @willis: Hopefully, he is better than Coleman *knocks on Travis Wood’s head*. God, he sucked versus the Pirates.

      • hogie

        I wonder if we do see Raley at some point this season? His stats stayed by and large the same when he made the jump to the much more hitter friendly AAA level. He hasn’t been dominant, but he has been consistently good. Plus he can’t be much worse than the other options!

  • Terry

    I think they should at least bring up Vitters now,maybe wait on Jackson.

  • Fastball

    I am fine with Vitters coming up to play 3B the rest of the way. At least we will find out if we need to go looking in the off season or if we have a guy who can hold it down for a couple of years.
    Right now LaHair isn’t blocking anybody!! He has completely lost it and he should become the 4th OFer. Soriano isn’t going to get traded or claimed off waivers this month. It’s not going to happen. Teams are going to start falling off i.e. the Rays are just decimated. The Orioles have a plan and Soriano isn’t in it. The A’s don’t need or want him, Maybe Detroit but I doubt it. The Giants, Dodgers, Nats and Braves have no place for him to play. So he stays with the Cubs. I do not see Theo giving him away and paying $40M over the next 2 years to have him be productive for someone else. We have Rizzo and Soriano to drive in runs and thats it. LaHair can’t even get a single let alone any kind of power surge. I believe Sveum will take on Jackson and Vitters right away if Theo lets him. Our bigger concern is where do we get pitching from? We don’t have any at AAA so we may have to look down further for a pitcher. Volstadt can’t due a Coleman or repeat his previous performances in the Majors or he will be completely eliminiated as will Coleman. No sense in keeping around people who can’t produce. Sooner or later you cut bait. These two are on their last leg with the Cubs.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Theo & Jed should be able to figure out if they need a new 3Bman from Vitters minor league stats. This harkens back to all of the “we need to see if LaHair can hit lefties” assertions 2 months ago: we’d seen in AAA that he couldn’t, whereas we’d seen that he can hit righties. (His “slump” is just a sample size flux, btw.)

      Moreover, 2 months would be completely inadequate to make a decision. Half seasons do lousy jobs of predicting subsequent seasons, after all. However, there are multiple years of minor league data on Vitters: it is the FO’s job to use those to figure out if they need a new 3Bman.

  • Josh

    Hey Brett when is Austin Kirk and Matt Loosen getting called up to AA.

  • MichCubFan

    I’m going the other way and saying Jackson’s K rate is going to go down to 26-27% for the final month or two once he gets called up. Nothing behind it…

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