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Cubs’ plan a bit confusing

Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014 10:35 p.m. CST
Caption
(Charles Rex Arbogast)
Cubs starting pitcher Edwin Jackson delivers during the first inning Tuesday against the Rockies at Wrigley Field. Jackson thought he might get moved to a contender at the trade deadline Thursday, but he will stay with the Cubs.

Show of hands:  Do you love and hate Theo Epstein because of Edwin Jackson?

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.

Before the trade deadline passed Thursday, Jackson said he believed he could land with a contender. Yes, if that contender wanted to turn into the 1969 Cubs.

Which makes him a perfect present-day Cub. Which makes me hate the situation.

I wanted the trade deadline Thursday to become E-J Day.

I feared that the trading deadline Thursday will become E-J Day.

I don’t want Jackson to pitch again for the Cubs. I wanted 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.

The Cubs already have made some moves, which may signal the start for a few more youngsters.

Like Javier Baez. The prized shortstop prospect has been playing second base at Triple A Iowa.

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.

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.

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