"Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago says the Cubs aren't keen on starting the Major League service time clocks of their top prospects, so Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters look to remain in the minors for at least a few months, if not all, of the 2012 campaign. Also from Levine's chat, he discusses the lack of news about possible trades of Matt Garza or Marlon Byrd and now Alfonso Soriano is virtually untradeable even if he enjoys a good first half of the season."
Vitters I can understand.....but there will be something seriously wrong if Brett Jackson spends all of 2012 in the minors. I don't buy the whole "he needs more seasoning", or "we shouldn't start his clock" lines that overly-cautious GMs employ. Everyone knows he's ready. Keeping him in the PCL for a whole season serves no purpose.
At the very latest he should be up by 8/1 after Byrd is (hopefully) traded.
Jackson will not be held back later than necessary. The FO has been very clear about that, and they generally say what they mean. There are only three scenarios that would prevent Jackson from coming up in June. They are:
1) he gets injured2) he is in a slump for the first two months of the season3) the Cubs are fighting for first place in the division and Byrd is enjoying an All-Star caliber season
As for Vitters, he hasn't played at the AAA level and he has serious defensive problems at 3B, so the likelihood of him not seeing much playing time at the MLB level in 2012 is kind of a no-brainer--it's not exactly breaking news.
1) Stewart has a nagging/chronic wrist problem, and wrist problems usually sap hitters' ability at the plate--especially their power. And Stewart floundered with the bat all last year.2) Baker is not an everyday 3B because he can't hit RHP.3) Vitters will be playing in the PCL, and we all know that a lot of guys put up huge numbers at Iowa
so it's not out of the question that we may find Vitters manning 3B in Wrigley come August.
Vitters is still only like 22. 3B is a very tough position--they don't call it the hot corner for nothing. In fact, 3Bmen generally have the lowest fielding percentages of any position. Adrian Beltre had a 895 fielding percentage in High A ball, and a 910 fielding percentage in AA. Vitters had a 912 in High A and a 903 in AA. Aramis Ramirez, in case you were wondering had sub-900 fielding percentages all the way through the minors, and Vitters has done quite a bit better than that. A 950 fielding percentage for a 3Bman is very good. Vitters has a way to go, but he's probably capable of it if he devotes himself to improving his defense.
I think his chances there are better than you think. IMO, the Cubs are going to keep him at 3B as long as they can and give him every chance to improve his defense, because he's probably not going to hit enough to be a good 1B or RF, but he probably will hit enough to be a decent 3B. He projects to be a guy who could hit 280-290 with 20 HR/year in his late twenties. If he can get to the point where he can play MLB average defense, that's a valuable player. I like his chances in the long term--it's really up to him and his attitude and approach.
By the way, I checked out the link you posted--thanks for that. I then went from that story to the Bruce Levine chat link from that, and was a bit disgusted at how ignorant Levine is about the Cubs. (I don't usually read his stuff and had assumed he knew what he was talking about.) Here's an excerpt from his chat, answering the question of whether the Cubs have any chance of trading Soriano:
"None in my mind. If you look at their organization they really don't have a lot of OFs, not that that would prevent them from trading him. He's just too old and making too much money to really interest many teams. You'd almost have to eat the whole contract if you traded him."
You notice anything strange in that quote? He says that the Cubs organization doesn't have a lot of outfielders!!! Uh, what about Dejesus, Johnson, Jackson, Byrd, Sappelt, Campana, Ha, Szczur, and then possibly LaHair and Lake if you want to move them there, or Mather, etc. The organization doesn't have a lot of outfielders? And this guy's a Cubs beat writer?
Yes you are correct, he has very good range and is good at getting the glove on the ball. His problem is much like Castro's in that while having a strong arm, once it is let go he has no idea where it is going.
It is on reason why 1st is being considered. Why would they put a guy who can't get the glove on the ball at first?
Of course the Cubs aren't keen on starting these guys in MLB. Vitters, Jackson, and Rizzo are the "wait till next year" or wait 2-3 years hope. When those guys play people will see they aren't so terrific.