Over the weekend, Dale Sveum was asked about what will happen with the rotation when Matt Garza comes back from his rehab assigment with the Iowa Cubs. Garza pitched again this weekend and did so effectively. He’s slated for two more rehab outings before, barring setbacks, he’s activated from the DL and returns to the starting rotation in a quest to showcase him for a trade before the July 31st non-waiver deadline. Dale’s answer, to be honest, pissed me off and, as a result, causes me to step up onto the soap box.
Dale went on record and stated that Edwin Jackson was not being considered for a demotion to the pen to make room for Garza. Also safe are Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood, as they should be. Not safe, however, are Carlos Villanueva and Scott Feldman. I mentioned on Twitter that this was typical Cubs way of handling things, which caused a few reply tweets disagreeing with me. Apparently Jackson is “part of the future” and Feldman and Villanueva are not, to which I reply….that’s BS.
The true reason why Jackson is safe from demotion and Feldman and Villanueva are not has nothing to do with performance and it has nothing to do with potential. Jackson is safe solely due to money. This off-season all three were signed to help heal a rotation that was very much a sore spot for this team once Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm were traded at the deadline. With no servicable names in the upper minors, Theo and Jed needed to do something to at least be respectible from a rotational standpoint and these three, along with reclamation project Scott Baker, were brought in to do just that. The difference was the level of committment.
Feldman – 1 year x $6 million
Villanueva - 2 years x $10 million (split evenly each year)
Baker - 1 year x $5.5 million
Jackson – 4 years x $52 million (includes $8 million signing bonus)
See the difference? It has nothing to do with performance. If it did, then any rational human being would be able to look at the numbers and see that Jackson is clearly the odd man out.
Some would argue that Jackson has more potential, however I’d argue that all are in the same age range at 29-30 years old and only one has been a member eight different organizations in his career. That speaks volumes about your potential. Guys who have tons of potential don’t tend to be moved that many times. In addition, looking at potential, you have to weigh the potential value in trade return for each of the three. Jackson’s contract, while not albatrossesque, is not nearly as movable as someone like Feldman or Villanueva. Given that fact, it makes more sense to let them continue with the success they are having in an effort to showcase them for the trade deadline. Teams would love to have a cheap starter with no long term committment at the deadline to help get them to the playoffs. Feldman and/or Villanueva both accomplish that, while Jackson does not.
In the end, it’s not my call to make, but if Jackson is not the odd man out, it becomes a total Cub move.