Chicago Cubs: Why Anthony Rizzo Must Be Called Up ASAP

Tommy Stokke@StokkeTommyCorrespondent IApril 17, 2012

Jed Hoyer worried that he rushed Anthony Rizzo, then of the San Diego Padres, to the majors before he was ready.

At this point, Hoyer can't pick up the phone soon enough to instill Rizzo into the everyday lineup.

Rizzo, a left-handed hitting first baseman, is tearing up Triple-A right now for the Chicago Cubs and is one of the top prospects in the system.

Acquired in the offseason for pitcher Andrew Cashner, Rizzo is hitting .391 with five home runs and 13 RBIs. At this point, there is little else that Rizzo needs to prove at that level.

Sooner or later, Rizzo needs to prove himself and take his lumps in the big leagues, and that time is now. Rizzo positively affects the organization as a whole immediately.

Assume Rizzo is called up for utility man Joe Mather. Mather gets the demotion based on need more so than production, or lack thereof.

With Rizzo in the everyday lineup, he's immediately placed in the cleanup role in the lineup and permanently at first base. This moves Bryan LaHair to right field and David DeJesus to center, therefore benching the struggling Marlon Byrd.

It may make sense to keep Byrd in the lineup to increase his trade value, but at this point all he is doing is diminishing his value. General managers know what to expect from Byrd, as he is a veteran in the league. But if he struggles continue over a longer stretch than two weeks, it will be impossible to trade him.

Looking at the new everyday lineup, it's amazing how one important piece can vastly improve the struggling offense.

The top three spots stay the same with DeJesus, Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro. From there Rizzo hits cleanup, followed by Alfonso Soriano and LaHair. Geovany Soto and Ian Stewart round out the order.

With this lineup, there's power throughout as well as balance between right-handed and left-handed hitters.

It's obvious Rizzo is outclassing Triple-A. His promotion would spark interest in a fan base that is growing increasingly impatient despite the low expectations coming into the year. He may also provide a spark in the clubhouse or a kick in the behind to underachieving veterans.

Forget about keeping him under team control for an extra year by delaying his promotion. If Rizzo is good enough, Epstein and Co. will do whatever is needed to lock him up and get plenty of value. The extra year isn't worth holding both him and the organization back.