The Cubs’ present imbalance

Now that Arismendy Alcantara is up in the majors, some fans like myself will need to readjust their top three Cubs prospects. Alcantara was number three on my list, with Javier Baez at one and Kris Bryant at two. I think that Addison Russell is probably number three now, if for no other reason than I will be curious to see if Starlin Castro is moved to another position, or if Russell will be moved. But the fact is that they can’t both play shortstop.

If a hundred Cubs fans were to list their top three prospects, each of those three names would come up a lot, as would Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, and perhaps a few scattered others that I’m not in the know enough to identify. But how many fans would put a pitcher in their top three? I would venture to say that nobody would, and therein lies the problem.

The trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on the 4th of July opened up two spots in the bullpen for prospects down on the farm. And Kyle Hendricks has acquitted himself fairly well so far, but Tsuyoshi Wada…not so much. I saw his start against San Diego at Wrigley the other night (thanks to WrigleyvileNation), and was less than impressed with his outing (4 IP, 5 runs allowed, all earned, 4 BB, and 4 Ks). As I said at the time, Wada gave the Cubs nada that night.

It’s just one bad start, but it reminds me that the team’s minor league prospects are heavily tilted in favor of bats over arms. Does the enthusiasm for Wada come anywhere near that for Alcantara? And what does the answer to this question tell us about the direction of the franchise at the moment? It tells me a lot.

From the very beginning, this front office has valued hitting over pitching. Anthony Rizzo was acquired for the price of Andrew Cashner. Yes, Rizzo plays every day and Cashner plays maybe twice a week, but the old saying is that pitching wins championships.

So will Wada do better in future starts? Hopefully yes, and this will be nothing more than some overanxious fan rambling. But it seems clear that Jake Arrieta is the one quality starter the Cubs have at the moment.

Maybe Travis Wood rebounds from this down season, and maybe he doesn’t. Edwin Jackson is looking more and more like a lost cause. And after that, what do we have? And more importantly, where will the arms be found, so that the pitching can hold up its end of the deal down the road?

At the moment, I don’t like what I see in this organization, at least on the pitching side of the ledger. Who can tell me what I am missing?

R. Lincoln Harris is a guest contributor for Wrigleyville Nation. He also writes for BlueBattingHelmet.Wordpress.com, ChicagoSideSports.com, ThroughTheFenceBaseball.com, and FiveWideSports.com. Thanks R. Lincoln for the contribution!

Photo: 20120429-361a / Tom Hagerty / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / Alteration: None