MILWAUKEE -- To bring up Brett Jackson or not to bring up Brett Jackson?
That's the question for the Cubs these days.
Actually, it's a question fans and media seem to be asking as the Cubs don't seem inclined to bring up their first-round draft pick from 2009 despite the 23-year-old center fielder putting up some pretty good numbers at Class AAA Iowa.
Interim general manager Randy Bush did not get into specifics Saturday when I asked him about potential minor-league call-ups when rosters may expand after Sept. 1.
"We're not ready to make any announcements on that," Bush said. "I've had some preliminary discussions with (manager) Mike Quade and (pitching coach) Mark Riggins so they all know who's on the table. We're talking about different things. We're going to meet next Friday, when the team gets back from San Francisco, and firm it up.
"The guys who come up will join us the following Tuesday. Their season ends on Monday, Labor Day. I can certainly say we are extremely pleased with the progress he (Jackson) has made and how he's playing there. We think the world of Brett. He got off to a little bit of a slow start, and he has really performed well. You just like to see him getting his at-bats."
The way things are looking, those at-bats will continue to come at Iowa and will end next week. We'll take a look at both sides of the Jackson argument, but first, let's look at his numbers entering Saturday.
Jackson began the season at Class AA Tennessee, where he had an average/on-base/slugging line of .256/.373/.443 with 10 homers and 32 RBI. At Iowa entering Saturday, Jackson was at 323/.397/.595 with 9 homers and 25 RBI.
The combined numbers were .282/.382/.502 for an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .884. Between the two stops, Jackson had 19 home runs, 57 RBI, 65 walks and 130 strikeouts in 404 at-bats.
Had he not injured his finger early in the season, he might have been up when center fielder Marlon Byrd went on the disabled list after being hit in the face by a pitch.
Jackson struggled early in his promotion to Triple-A, but he's come on of late and certainly looks like someone deserving of a big-league call-up.
Byrd figures into the equation again. Had the Cubs been able to trade Byrd this summer, that might have paved the way for Jackson. But there were no takers, and Byrd still has one year left on his contract. The Cubs and whoever their new GM is likely will try to move Byrd this winter, opening the way for the Jackson to take the job and run with it in spring training.
As long as Byrd is here, he's going to play, but I can certainly envision a scenario where you could give Jackson starts in left, center and right, keeping most of the outfielders reasonably busy and maybe even reasonably happy. The Cubs also need to continue getting playing time for right fielder Tyler Colvin.
Byrd's batting average has been good this year, but his run production has dropped, and the Cubs may feel that they'd "devalue" him further for any possible trade by putting him on the bench.
The 40-man roster does not seem to be an issue, but the Cubs don't appear in any hurry to start Jackson's "service-time clock." Currently, the 40-man is at 37, and it will go to 39 when pitcher Andrew Cashner comes off the 60-day disabled list and first baseman Bryan LaHair comes up from Iowa, as expected.
So one spot could have Jackson's name all over it. Having interviewed him several times in spring training, I wouldn't expect a call-up to faze Jackson. He's a confident kid out of the University of California and can handle the media.
My verdict on Jackson: Bring him up next week and let him play every day. But the Cubs didn't ask me, and I don't think they'll start taking my advice now.