Yes, Anthony Rizzo is raking at Iowa right now and Brett Jackson is the OF of the Cubs very near future, but Adrian Cardenas needs to be called up now and replace either Ian Stewart or Blake DeWitt on the active roster, and get a lions share of the time as a three-bagger.
Stewart is picking up where he left off last season with a triple slash line of .188/.258/.318. This is compared to .333/.376/.544 of Cardenas at AAA Iowa right now. Cardenas been playing mostly second base but has also seen action at shortstop and third base.
I have some invested interest in Cardenas as he’s been a minor league player of mine in a franchise fantasy baseball league.
At this point the only exciting hitters maintaining a qualifying batting average over .300 in the Cubs lineup are Starlin Castro and Bryan LaHair. It’s worth noting that Tony Campana and Joe Mather are both over .300, but have 32 and 25 ABs respectively.
It’s very true that Cardenas doesn’t have a true position, and won’t play any of them all that well, but I think the team can sacrifice a little defense to have another solid contact hitter in the lineup that can work counts. I’m most impressed by Cardenas BB:K ratio right now as it sits at 8:5.
In the lineup, I would put him ahead of Castro, while Campana leads off. Campana has some scary fast speed; seven SB in only 11 games. Coupling that with a guy who rarely strikes out and puts the ball in play could mean more RBI chances for both Castro and LaHair. He’s not going to hit for a lot of power, but moving base runners is what he could do most effectively. He swings a lot, but also puts the ball in play a lot. I might add that he bats from the left side, so it keeps a fairly balanced lineup and would still give Jeff Baker plenty of chances to rake against left-handed pitching like he’s done in the past.
Side Note: There has been a lot of discussion about LaHair’s hot start and if he should be considered trade bait or kept around and moved to a corner spot in the outfield to make room for Rizzo. As much as I’ve liked LaHair in the past as the labeled “AAAA” player, moving him if he continues to play well is the right call. He’s 29 right now and for fans to make a Jose Bautista “ugly-duckling” is pretty absurd. I’ve seen several claims that this is the case. It is not.
LaHair is not going to be part of the team’s long-term plans as soon as Jackson, Matt Szczur, Rizzo, among other prospects are ready for Major League play. Would I prefer to see Alfonso Soriano shipped out for a bag of peanuts and move LaHair to left, making room for Rizzo? As a Cubs fan, of course I would. Realistically, though, that is never going to happen. Even if the Cubs pickup upwards of 80% of Soriano’s remaining contract, he’s not even hitting well enough to be a DH in the American League.
Ideally, LaHair continues to rake at a high level till June or July, thus increasing his trade stock. It’s possible the Cubs could acquire two top 15 team prospects for a player like LaHair if he keeps up close to his current pace. Not too shabby for a Minor League “AAAA” free agent.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis, Fantasy, On the Farm - Prospects Tagged: | Adrian Cardenas, Alfonso Soriano, Anthony Rizzo, Blake DeWitt, Brett Jackson, Bryan LaHair, Chicago Cubs, Ian Stewart, Jeff Baker, Joe Mather, Jose Bautista, Matt Szczur, Prospects, Starlin Castro, Tony Campana