Even in losing eight of their last 10 games heading into the All-Star break, the Cubs still rank as only the fifth-worst team in baseball.
So Theo Epstein still has some work to do, and the first thing is getting Arismendy Alcantara out of there for the season.
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The 22-year-old second baseman is playing too well to be on the Cubs. Send him down and keep him there. Let Darwin Barney get back to wasting time for a Cubs team bent on losing.
Alcantara is a sign that things are working. He’s an example of what Epstein called the “Cubs way.’’
Yeah, Alcantara came to the Cubs during Jim Hendry’s term, same as a higher-rated prospect, Javy Baez, but drafting and developing are two different things that have to work together or forget it.
That goes for players signed as free agents, such as Alcantara, or drafted, such as Baez, and acquired in trade, such as Addison Russell. However they join the system, they still have to be developed, and Alcantara is at least hope for that part of the deal.
Way back, Alcantara was a shortstop. Going forward, he’ll find playing time at second or center field, or both. That’s why the Cubs continually go after shortstops such as Russell when they get the chance. A guy who can play shortstop can play anywhere, and Alcantara can play.
It has been only five games since Alcantara was called up after Barney went on paternity leave, but he has put up some laughably wonderful numbers: .391 batting average, .400 on-base percentage, .739 slugging percentage, 1.139 OPS.
Geez, in five games, the kid already has positive WAR.
Alcantara has nine hits in 23 at-bats, including three doubles, a triple and a homer -- more than half of his hits have been for extra bases. He has speed and does not looked intimidated by the moment.
I didn’t need to see it and I don’t want to see it for much longer because it’s not necessarily good long-term for the Cubs. No use starting Alcantara’s service clock during another season in which the Cubs need to stink.
There’s also no use trying to humor Cubs fans with a piece of evidence that Epstein’s bunch knows what it’s doing. The smart Cubs fans get it; the impatient fans ought to have another beer.
The plan is the plan, and the plan is for the Cubs to finish the season badly to improve their draft slot. This ought to be the last year of that approach. The one-way shuttle from Iowa should begin next May or June with headliners Baez and Kris Bryant.
If the Cubs finish in last place next year, then it will be because the kids are inconsistent at the major league level, not because the Cubs intentionally put together the worst roster possible the way they did the last several seasons.
I’ve seen enough. Alcantara was like a spot check in a factory assembly line. I’m good. Now let the process continue in the minors where he can play every day for the rest of this season. As Cubs fans know, wait till next year.