Chicago Cubs road trip worse than I thought; Anthony Rizzo time?

It's time for the Anthony Rizzo era in Chicago. (John Biever/Sports Illustrated)

At the beginning of the Cubs’ 10-game road trip, which is mercifully ending today, I wrote that the Cubs couldn’t hope for any better than 2-8, or 3-7 at best. This was based on their anemic road record to that point, but I didn’t envision that 2-8 would be the best they could hope for.

I set the bar as low as I did, hoping against hope they’d win four, or even five, games to surprise me. But no, they have to win today’s game to even match the low end of my prognostication. And that’s just depressing, to be completely honest.

Setting aside their three-game sweep over the lowly Padres, the Cubs have won just once in their last 20 games. There were consecutive late-inning collapses in Milwaukee on Thursday and Minnesota on Friday, but Saturday’s game in Minneapolis was simply brutal. The Cubs fell behind 11-0, and this team cannot come back from a deficit like that. It then becomes pad-the-stats time, as with Alfonso Soriano‘s two-run homer. It recalled the days when Sammy Sosa was the master of late-inning stats inflation. But it meant nothing in the end.

So, the Cubs will once again try to get the better of what had been — and still is — among the worst home teams in baseball. Then they’ll come home to face the Tigers and the Red Sox. It should be a fun time of the year, with the novelty of interleague play and the beginning of summer for many people. But there’s no joy in it all for this Cubs fan.

Anthony Rizzo has been tearing it up at triple-A this year, and now would appear to be as good a time as any to bring him up and see if the hype is warranted or not. But the Cubs have indicated this won’t happen just yet. I would think Rizzo might draw some interest on this homestand, and attendance could be bumped up as a result. But this apparently isn’t a consideration, for some reason.

Rizzo can hit triple-A pitching, but needs to start learning how to do it at the highest level possible. Taking the training wheels off a child’s bicycle is a scary step, but a necessary one if that child is ever going to get the hang of riding a real bike. With this season officially down the tubes, I can’t see why Rizzo is still stuck with his metaphorical training wheels on.

I understand that the Cubs don’t want Rizzo to get an “owie” when a big league pitcher fools him with a wicked slider, but Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are proving that youth can be served in the majors, if given the right opportunity. For that reason, I’d like to see the Cubs’ caution get thrown to the wind in the coming weeks.

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