Kris Bryant hit two mammoth home runs in today’s Cactus League game and once again the drum beats. The voice of those wanting Bryant to start the season Easter night at Wrigley Field is getting louder and seemingly every week there’s another story about the plan with Bryant. Part of me is surprised that it is mid-March and we are still having this discussion. So let’s clear it up once and for all. There is no legitimate reason what-so-ever for the Cubs to start the season with Bryant on the big league club.
I know Cub fans are eager to see a winner, but it’s time to ratchet down those expectations a bit and think rationally. You can have a 22-year-old Kris Bryant for nine games in April. Or you can have a 28-year-old Bryant in his prime for 162 games. That’s it. That’s the whole story. I don’t want to hear anything about “if they want to win now”. They do and Bryant is a big part of that plan. But don’t think for a second that the Cubs brass is looking at 2015 as “the year.” This team, while hugely talented, is still very young and very raw. It’s going to take some time despite what should be huge improvements.
CJ Nitkowski wrote a great piece for Fox Sports on the Braves decision in 2010 to start the season with Jayson Heyward. He mentions the Braves winning the wildcard by a game and Heyward’s early season production likely being a big reason for that. But he also discusses the long term impact of the decision, which resulted in Heyward leaving
Atlanta at least a year early and the Braves
getting back a diminished return for the outfielder.
The bottom line is this Cubs team is built around bats in their lower-mid 20’s. Rizzo, 25; Castro, 24; Soler, 23; Baez, 22; Russel, 21; Schwarber, 22. Wouldn’t you rather have Bryant for an extra season when this entire entire group is in their prime? The Cubs front office has a responsibility to do what is best for the long term goals of the organization. And while the rule sucks and should be changed in the next collective bargaining agreement, that’s the way the game is played. And the Cubs shouldn’t be faulted or called cheap for doing the smart thing.