The Chicago Cubs are continually praised for all of the smart moves they have made to gather up the best collection of hitting prospects in recent memory. They have played the draft and made trades to make that happen.
But, this group of management also has one large black eye from its biggest mistake.
No, it has nothing to do with still paying Alfonso Soriano. It's Edwin Jackson and his four-year, $52 million deal.
Jackson has two years and $22 millions remaining after this season, but he hasn't pitched well enough to be a guy the Cubs want to keep throwing out there every five days next season and the year after.
He's currently 6-14 with a 6.04 ERA. Since July 1, he has just one victory, holding a 1-6 record with a 7.66 ERA.
On Thursday, the Cubs sent him to the disabled list with a lat strain.
Is Jackson really hurt?
Sometimes, struggling pitchers are really hurt and it explains what's wrong. Other times, struggling pitchers are sent to the DL simply because the team needs time away from them.
The crazy part is that it's probably in the Cubs' best interest to lose games and get a better draft pick at this point. Jackson is bad enough that they can't stand watching him continue to go out there every fifth day, even knowing that.
The Cubs have other pitching options that they want to see and should give an opportunity to. But, they also don't want to discard a guy that might turn things around. He was actually a decent pitcher back when he went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA for the Tigers in 2009.
He threw a no-hitter for the Diamondbacks in 2010.
“I don’t think I’ve proven to the fans or the organization of Chicago what I can do, what I’m capable of doing,” Jackson told ESPNChicago.com.
“Maybe a glimpse here and there, but I still think I have a lot of upside and I still have a lot to bring to the table. I just haven’t proved it. At the end of the day, you have to go out and do it on the field.”
What should the Cubs do?
Like with Soriano, it's probably time for the Cubs to say goodbye and simply cut Jackson.
It will hurt to pay $22 million to someone not playing for them, but it will hurt less than watching him pitch every five days.
The Cubs need to allow Jackson a change of scenery, because some other team always is willing to give a guy another shot. The Cubs are the masters of turning change of scenery guys like Scott Feldman, Jason Hammel or Jake Arrieta into value. They are trying to do the same currently with Dan Straily, Jacob Turner and Felix Doubront while Kyle Hendricks gets a shot too.
There is simply no longer room for Jackson.
The Cubs are smart enough to realize it, but to do that they will also have to publicly own how large of a mistake the 30-year-old Jackson's contract was.
“I’ve never been one to make any excuses,” the right-hander told ESPNChicago.com.
“I’ve never said anything to anyone about anything. You go out and you have a job to do. Once you choose to take the field, you choose to handle anything that comes with it. That’s pretty much the approach I’ve taken.
“I haven’t been out there pitching like I know I could, and I haven’t really made any complaints about anything going on with my body, because as a professional, you go out there and you don’t live by any excuses. But you battle, you battle, you battle, and it comes to the point where you have to suck up pride and do what’s best for yourself and the team.”
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