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The Mortality of Anthony Rizzo

By bullpenbrian at 06.24.2012 4 comments.

This is a Guest Post by John Guminski. He’s a Junior at the University of Missouri majoring in Journalism.

As the Cubs dropped 2 out of 3 to the Red Sox a few days ago, I was sitting in my seats during the Sunday night game and heard the usual banter that seems to come after every error, strikeout, or loss.

“Did you hear Rizzo had another home run tonight? That’s 23! Bring him up! This can’t get any worse!”

Well, the time is almost here for the arrival of Mr. Anthony Rizzo. Manager Dale Sveum said, “It’s obvious he’s coming soon but we don’t have a date yet.” With all of this hype, I am afraid Cub fans are setting themselves up for potential disappointment.

We have seen lots of “Can’t Miss” prospects in the Cubs system over the last 10 years. Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tyler Colvin, Ryan Harvey, the list goes on and on.

These players had all of the tools necessary to succeed, but fell short. In 2010, Starlin Castro emerged as a diamond in the rough, signing as an undrafted free agent to become a cornerstone of this franchise.

Errors and mental lapses have caused fans to begin calling for a trade. Lost in all of this is that he is 22. Most 22 year olds are sitting on a bus headed to another city in AA. When will this madness stop?

If Rizzo puts up similar numbers in his next 150 plate appearances in the big leagues, when will Cubs fans turn their heads back to Iowa to look for the next savior?

When hearing so much positive about a player in a season filled with so many negatives, fans are susceptible to reading his Iowa stat line and assume those numbers will instantly translate. Micah Hoffpauir will tell you how AAA success leads to MLB numbers.

In short, it doesn’t always work out that way. Several factors come into play that could possibly explain Rizzo’s struggles such as PETCO Park being a pitcher’s paradise, bad luck, and a small sample size.

It is a reminder that he is mortal. It might take Rizzo a year and half to live up to the hype, it might happen right away, or it also might never happen.

I believe that Anthony Rizzo will succeed. Jed Hoyer wouldn’t have drafted and acquired him for high prices in San Diego, Boston, and Chicago if he didn’t believe in him.

Scouts rave of his ability at the plate and in the field. He even has his own twitter campaign vying for his freedom from the cornfields of Iowa (#freerizzo).

Rizzo, who turns 23 in August, will experience growing pains. It is crucial for Cubs fans to treat him right and understand that his success might not come from the first at bat.

John G

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4 Comments

  1. Lisa H says:

    Unfortunately human nature is, as a rule, disappointing. No matter who comes up from “AAA” ball there will be changes because, triple A ball is different than Major League ball. Its all baseball, but its different. The culture is different, the fans are different, the fields are different. I’m not saying Rizzo can’t play ball, but he is only human and when he hits the “differences” the fans need to give him some room to grow and learn the differences. Plus, I don’t think its really fair to Rizzo to expect him to carry the team. Its asking way too much – which in turn will produce the disappointment the majority of fans are afraid of.

    • bullpenbrian says:

      Well said, Lisa.

      The atmosphere surrounding Rizzo is a fragile one. He’s being held to great expectations on a team with little expectation to finish out of last place. The idea one player will greatly alter the outcome this season is ridiculous.

      It is, however, worth celebrating Rizzo’s arrival and the excitement of the Cubs’ bright future being one-step closer.

      But this kid obviously needs the support of his teammates and fans more than ever. For Cubs faithful to write him off before season’s end would be a real shame.

      Let Rizzo be Rizzo. It’s tough enough as it is for a major league ballplayer without the fans reminding him of what he’s not doing.

  2. Christine says:

    Stellar performance in the minors is far away from a good performance in the majors. In a difficult season, more hope is transferred to the prospects. Cubs will need a blend of the old and the new.

    • bullpenbrian says:

      Absolutely, Christine.

      Rizzo’s stellar minor league production is nothing more than a promising ‘chance’ he’ll be successful at the major league level.

      Cubs fans should stay mindful there are no guarantees for Rizzo, or any player, for that matter.

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