The Cubs made three significant moves today. They reassigned Kris Bryant to minor league camp to the surprise of no one and to the chagrin of those who enjoy trying to act morally wronged. Â hey sent Addison Russell to minor league camp despite manager Joe Maddon dry humping him with praise on his way out the door, and they sent Javy Baez to AAA camp so he can strike out in the relative obscurity of Des Moines for a month or two.
None of these are surprise moves, though Baez allegedly told the Sun Times that he had been assured he’d made the team a couple of weeks ago. Â That seems just about right for that paper.
The outrage is about the Bryant move, and it’s tiresome and wrong and short-sighted, and it’s impossible to take a new spin on this that’s either interesting or just batshit crazy. Â But it’s just what former big league GM and current radio bloviator Jim Bowden did.
Bowden has an MLB Network Radio show in the afternoon with Casey Stern. Â It currently airs right after Chris Russo’s screechfest, and anything on after that shitshow will sound like the Algonquin Roundtable by comparison.
I was in the car when Bowden gave his hot take, so I’m going to paraphrase, but it will make no difference. Â You will still want to gouge out your eyes when you read it.
In essence, here’s what Bowden said:
If I’m Theo Epstein I can’t look Anthony Rizzo or Starlin Castro in the eye and tell them that Kris Bryant isn’t one of our best 25 players. Â I can’t sell that to our fans who have been waiting for decades to see a winner.
OK, so far this isn’t anything all that different than what other media dolts have been saying. Â But it’s a 180 degree shift for Bowden who until a few days ago had been backing the idea that it was ludicrous to waste a year of player control for two weeks. Â Why has Bowden changed his mind? Â His stated reason is this:
Bryant didn’t just have a good spring, he had a great spring. Â He leads baseball in home runs. Â How can you send him to the minors even for a couple of weeks?
Well, it involves a bus ticket. Â Nobody cares who leads the Cacti or Grapefruit League in homers. Â It doesn’t matter. Â But that’s not what irritates me about this comment. Â Bowden is only arguing for keeping Bryant in the big leagues to argue it. Â He just wants easy fodder for his radio show.
This guy was a big league GM for two different teams. Â Granted, he mostly just kept trading for Wily Mo Pena wherever he went, but he’s not a complete idiot1. Â He’s a clown on the radio, but he knows it would have been stupid for the Cubs to start Bryant’s season in the big leagues. Â I know he knows. Â He’d been saying it for weeks until just a few days ago.
But even that’s not the asinine part of his discussion today.
Bryant’s earned a spot on this team. He’s one of the best 25, he should be on the team. Â I get that you need to shave two weeks of service time off to get that extra year of control back, but waivers are good for three years. Â So just pick a time sometime in the next three years when you aren’t contending and send him to the minors then for two weeks. Â It all works out the same.
Wait. Â What?
So it’sÂ wrongÂ for the Cubs to send him to AAA for a couple of weeks before his big league debut, but it’s perfectly fine after he’s an established big league player to just arbitrarily option him to AAA at some point in the next three seasons just to cost him two weeks of service time then?
I think the MLBPA’s hollow saber-rattling about filing a grievance over this now is stupid. Â If the Cubs did what Bowden is suggesting I’d not only not think it was stupid, I’d deliver the damn paperworkÂ to the league office for them.
It’s one thing to make a case that a 23-year old who has blown through the minors in two seasons needs a little time to work on his defense at third and take some balls in the outfield to get ready for games that really count. Â It’s another to bring that player to the big leagues and throw him in the lineup and then at some point in the not too distant future send him to the minors for two weeks regardless of his success in the big leagues. Â The only good thing about a stunt like that would be that we could literally watch Scott Boras’ head explode.
Bowden was asked to compare the Cubs sending Bryant down for two weeks to the White Sox sending Carlos Rodon down for the same two weeks for the same reason. Â Bowden said it was fine for the Sox to do that because Rodon’s the fifth starter and teams do that “all the time.” Â The only problem with that logic is that Rodon’s probably the third best pitcher on the Sox2, so he’s only the “fifth” starter in the same way that Bryant needs to “work on his defense.”
Bowden’s assertion that the Cubs need to make this procedural move at some point before Bryant’s waivers expire, just not right now because the big guy tore through some exhibition games, is laughable at best.
Baseball’s not losing young fans because the games are too long, or there are too many of them, or they are on too late at night. Â They lose them because apparently every analyst they hear talk about the game is a fucking moron.