Chicago Cubs super prospect first baseman Anthony Rizzo may soon be coming to the MLB level. Rizzo has dominated at the AAA level with the Iowa Cubs, hitting .367 (.426 OBP and 1.173 OPS) with 22 home runs and 57 RBIs through 60 games. Cubs fans have been clamoring for his promotion for months; however, there is one obstacle remaining: Epstein’s lie.
Theo Epstein reportedly wants Rizzo to play 162 games at the AAA level; his reasoning was because the MLB experience is 162 games. That is a load of bull and anybody with a brain knows it! Rizzo played 93 games in AAA last season; therefore, he would need 69 games this season to reach that magical 162-game number. What kind of fools does Epstein take the fans to be? Everybody knows the MLB experience is not 93 games, an offseason, then 69 more games. His 162-game rationale is nothing but a smokescreen which masks the real reason Rizzo has yet to be called up: money/control.
By waiting until after June 23 this season to call Rizzo up, the Cubs would maintain control to Rizzo’s rights and he would not become a free agent until 2018; if the Cubs had called him up prior to June 23 and kept him there, he would have become eligible for free agency in 2017.
Anybody with a brain knows Rizzo has been MLB-ready for a while now. Rizzo is not only MLB-ready, but also gives the Cubs their best chances of winning baseball games. Rizzo’s upside is also much greater than that of fellow first baseman and outfielder Bryan LaHair and also greater than that of the aging and overpaid outfielder Alfonso Soriano.
Remember: the Cubs can maintain control of Rizzo for an additional year if they wait until after June 23 to call him up. Coincidentally (or rather not), if Rizzo were to play every AAA game from this point forward, he would reach 162 career AAA games on Sunday, June 24 (one day after the June 23 Super-2 cutoff date for Rizzo).
Do not be fooled by Epstein’s lies. General managers lie about their reasons for taking certain actions in dealing with Super-2 prospects. They are cheapskates who wish to hold off as long as possible before having to pay their future all-stars the big bucks. It is my sincere hope that one day, a Super-2 prospect will realize this and refuse to sign with said club in the future when he reaches free agency. General managers are always alienating players in that manner, and it is despicable.
If I were a general manager of a Major League Baseball club, I would not care about Super-2 status whatsoever. My sole concern would be doing my job to the best of my ability to build a winning organization. If I felt a Super-2 prospect was MLB-ready and could handle the MLB experience, then I would call him up without hesitation and give him his shot. If he proves to be an all-star, then he will be worth the big bucks and I would gladly pay him. More importantly, I would establish that I am a general manager with whom players can negotiate in good faith.
Let us pretend we can gaze into a crystal ball and see the future. In the future, Rizzo becomes a perennial gold-glover and silver-slugger. He becomes a perennial MVP candidate and his name is uttered in the same sentence as Albert Pujols in the history of MLB greatness. But he is not doing this in a Cubs uniform; rather, he is performing to MVP standards in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform because he chose to leave the Cubs when he became a free agent in 2018. Rizzo felt jilted by how Epstein and the Cubs organization toyed around with him in 2012. The Cubs’ World Series drought continues as Cubs fans everywhere curse the name of Epstein and how he alienated Rizzo.
If I were a general manager, that is not a future I would want to create for myself or the organization I am employed by. By doing what he is doing, Epstein is running the risk of creating such a future for himself and the Cubs organization. Let me ask you, Mr. Epstein: was it worth it? Was risking the future worth one extra year? If Rizzo indeed becomes a superstar, then you better hope he has a very short memory.