Do you love and hate Edwin Jackson because he’s Edwin Vexing Jackson?
I hate Jackson because he stinks and represents an egregious Epstein decision, his first big-money episode here. For all that Epstein has done in razing the Cubs' system and making it the best in baseball, it’s reasonable to hold some concerns about high-end free-agency issues.
But then, I love Edwin Jackson because he stinks and will remain in Epstein’s rotation because that’s exactly what the Cubs need to improve their draft slot. They can do that only by playing badly, something at which Jackson is the runaway MVP.
Jackson is coming off a four-inning, 105-pitch outing Tuesday in a game that ended Wednesday. Catcher John Baker got the win in the 16th inning. So, yeah, the backup catcher pitched better than the Cubs’ highest-paid pitcher.
As the trade deadline approaches Thursday, Jackson said he believed he could land with a contender. Yes, if that contender wants to turn into the 1969 Cubs.
Which makes him a perfect present-day Cub. Which makes me hate the situation.
I want the trade deadline Thursday to become E-J Day.
I fear that the trading deadline Thursday will become E-J Day.
I don’t want Jackson to pitch again for the Cubs. I want some sucker to relieve me of this nightmare.
But I also want the Cubs to continue their surge toward baseball’s overall basement and the No. 1 of No. 1 picks to stock the system with quality, so I want Jackson to pitch every third day.
Hate you, erstwhile boy wonder Theo Epstein. Love you, evil genius Theo Epstein.
Also on Wednesday, the Cubs seemingly traded utility man Emilio Bonifacio three times, if you believe the rumors about the Reds, Giants and Royals.
Trading Bonifacio would open up an interesting opportunity for the Cubs to call up Javier Baez, one of their prized shortstop prospects who has been playing second base of late at Triple-A Iowa.
But wherever he has played in the field, Baez has overcome a horrible start at the plate to hit 19 homers, slug .486 and post an OPS of .800.
Baez would be the second highly rated prospect to reach the big leagues. Arismendy Alcantara showed up to replace Darwin Barney for what was supposed to be a short paternity leave. It turned out to be the end of Barney’s Cubs career.
Playing second base and center field, Alacantara killed it at the plate, hitting .391 and slugging .739 in five games before the All-Star Game. Five of his nine hits went for extra bases.
I had seen enough. I didn’t need to see Alcantara’s clock started. I didn’t need to see him help the Cubs win games, and fortunately or unfortunately, he hasn’t. In 48 at-bats since the All-Star break, he’s hitting just .188 with only three extra-base-hits.
The Cubs don’t want to send Alcantara back to the minors. The Cubs also don’t want to kill a prospect’s confidence. That goes for Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, you name it.
The trick is to know when the future is now, but the Cubs’ future wasn’t supposed to be now. Not as I understand the Cubs plan, anyway. While the process isn’t linear, it is a little confusing.
I’m rooting for Alcantara to succeed. I’d be rooting for Baez to succeed. I’d be rooting for the plan to work even as young players fail. I’d be frustrated by a kid’s learning curve. I’d be hopeful waiting for him to adjust to the league. That’s all part of the process. I get that learning curve. I can deal with that.
But if that’s the case, then why is Jackson still around? He’s a dead-bang loser in most of his starts. I mean, it’s over in most of his first two innings.
That’s fine for a team that wants to lose, and hopefully this is the last year of throwing a season. But keeping Alcantara and perhaps bringing up Baez and, I don’t know, Soler changes things. I don’t know how a rotation that includes Jackson can be part of the same plan that includes top prospects in the lineup.
And so, if it’s even possible, I will hate Jackson even more.