If you hadn’t already heard – apologies for the delay (travel problems) – Arismendy Alcantara’s performance thus far in the big leagues has earned him a stay of demotion.
The stated plan for Alcantara all along had been a short, two-day call-up to fill in for Darwin Barney, who was out on paternity leave. Now, the Cubs say, Alcantara will stay until the All-Star break (when he’ll get to head back to Iowa for the PCL’s All-Star Game). No, Alcantara hasn’t taken Barney’s spot, necessarily – the Cubs instead optioned Kyle Hendricks back to Iowa, since they will not need him to start again until after the break. Thus, Alcantara can be accommodated for another few days, at least.
In his two games in Cincinnati, not only did Alcantara play well at second base, but he notched four hits and a sac fly in ten plate appearances. He struck out three times, and a couple of those hits were a double and a triple. He showed off speed and pop, which is a brutal combination for defenses (which showed on a couple infield hits – you can’t cheat up on him as much as you’d want to).
In some ways, you don’t want to think that the Cubs will make promotion/demotion decisions on the basis of a couple games (both for sample size reasons and for “pressure” reasons), but I’m not so sure that’s what’s happening here. Although the message all along was that Alcantara would go back down after two games, that could have been a mere calming technique. Further, you do want to send the message that guys have to earn what they get. Alcantara came prepared, and it wasn’t just that he had success in terms of notching some hits, it was that he looked like a guy who was ready to spend some time in the big leagues.
So Alcantara’s hard work is rewarded with a slightly longer stay in the big leagues. As a fan, that makes me tickled pink, because that means I’ll get to see him today at Wrigley Field. Even with Darwin Barney back, the Cubs could see how Alcantara handles center field, where he’s been playing a bit at Iowa.
After the break, we’ll see how quickly Alcantara comes back. I suspect it will happen, and for good, but likely not until there’s a clear starting spot opened up for him via trade or injury.