CHICAGO – While the Chicago Cubs continue to take it slow with their prospects, the Los Angeles Dodgers are prospering with one of theirs. Maybe it was easier for Yasiel Puig to break into the big leagues on such a talented team, but who’s to say he couldn’t have taken the league by storm in April instead of early June when he was called up?
“We were reluctant to throw someone to the wolves,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said before his team played the Cubs on Friday. “We’d like him to have a slump and fight through it, but we don’t want him to be overmatched.
“He clearly had more things he could work on. It was valuable time down there (in Triple-A).”
If it’s good enough for Puig, then it’s good enough for the Cubs' young prospects. Puig was sent to the minors after hitting a whopping .517 in spring training. He’s off to a torrid start in the majors, with 11 home runs and a .367 batting average. There isn’t a day that goes by when a fan or reporter doesn’t ask general manger Jed Hoyer or president Theo Epstein when one of their phenoms will see Wrigley Field.
Kasten says there is no set formula.
“There’s a fine line you need to be mindful of,” Kasten stated. “In our case we didn’t have an opening. The worst case would be bringing him up and having him sit on the bench.”
The Cubs don’t have that same problem at most positions. They’re there for the taking, but Hoyer and Epstein have repeatedly said they aren’t rushing anyone -– no matter if there is a Puig in waiting.
“I love what they’re doing,” Kasten said of Cubs' brass. “I love how they’re going about it."
Kasten understands it’s a math game right now. Acquire as many prospects as possible and let them fight it out for playing time and positions. He built the Atlanta Braves in a similar fashion.
“In the early years in Atlanta we added another minor league team,” Kasten recalled. “We needed a place for 10 more pitchers to pitch. Branch Rickey said this in the '30s. It’s quality out of quantity. If I have twice as many players as you, I’m going to graduate twice as many players as you.”