Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Cubs Using “Bottom of Depth Chart” out of Desperation


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The Chicago Cubs have lost both of their primary third basemen in the last week, as Jeimer Candelario and Nick Madrigal are both on the injured list with back and hamstring injuries, respectively, So, now out of desperation, the Cubs are starting rookie Alexander Canario, who was called up at the beginning of the month, but was immediately deemed to be, “at the bottom of the depth chart.”

Again, Cubs fans have been up in arms wondering why Canario was called up in the first place if the plan all along was for him not to play much if at all. Canario has had one plate appearance in the majors, a pinch-hit at-bat against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 6.

Last week, when the Cubs were playing the Colorado Rockies, the team optioned Canario to make room for Pete Crow-Armstrong, only to re-active Canario as Candelario went on the injured list the next day.

So, with no Candelario or Madrigal, Christopher Morel is slotting in at third base Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, while Patrick Wisdom gets the nod at first base and Cody Bellinger starts in center against left-handed pitcher Bailey Falter. That opened up the DH spot for Canario, who is making his first MLB start.

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Canario last started on Aug. 30, at Triple-A for the Iowa Cubs. Literally three weeks between starts.

Cubs Starting Lineup: 9/19
Nico Hoerner 2B
Dansby Swanson SS
Cody Bellinger CF
Seiya Suzuki RF
Yan Gomes C
Ian Happ LF
Christopher Morel 3B
Patrick Wisdom 1B
Alexander Canario DH

No idea how you can expect anything from a rookie who hasn’t played in three weeks.

Canario, 23, has had one helluva comeback story this season. The right-handed slugger had a breakout 2022 campaign, and then played Winter Ball in the offseason. Unfortunately, Canario suffered a freak injury running to first base that resulted in two surgeries to repair his shoulder and ankle. The outfielder didn’t return until June and it was rough at first, but during the month of August, Canario showed everyone that he was back to being healthy.

In 23 August games, Canario slashed .305/.356/.632, with 7 home runs in 104 plate appearances at Triple-A.

Pete Crow-Armstrong Sits Again

I understand that Pete Crow-Armstrong has looked overmatched at the plate since he was called up last week and that the Cubs are trying to protect him against left-handed pitchers, but for a club that was supposedly built on strong defense, I cannot understand why their best outfielder continues to sit on the bench.

Also, it’s been 10 total plate appearances for PCA. No way you can possibly say his struggles are guaranteed to continue off that sample size.

The offense is certainly struggling and has been for a while, but when that happens I’d prefer to have the best possible defense on the field to help prevent the other team from scoring. PCA can bat ninth, go hitless and his defense in center field would still help the Cubs overall. It’s not like having Wisdom’s bat in the lineup has meant much for the team lately.

It should be Bellinger at first, Crow-Armstrong in center. That’s your best defense. But hey, hopefully the Cubs can get it going again on offense and this point won’t matter.

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