Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals Preview, Thursday 8/11, 1:20 CT: Looking To The Future

Tony Campana, Marlon Byrd and Reed Johnson of the Chicago Cubs hug after a win over the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field on August 10, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Nationals 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

It's three weeks until rosters can be expanded (most likely, we won't see callups until after the minor league season ends on Labor Day, Sept. 5).

A note in this Chicago Tribune article this morning gives me pause:

The Cubs aren't sure yet how many actually will make the trip from the minors, although outfielder Brett Jackson, and infielders DJ LeMahieu and Josh Vitters are possibilities. Apparently, so is Bryan LaHair, the 28-year-old who has been at Iowa for two years.

"What a year he's having. We expect to see him up here and take a look," Quade said. "He has been doing a great job at Triple-A for a number of years. …"

I've written about LaHair before. He's almost 29 years old. Yes, he's mashing Triple-A pitching. To which I say: so what? Is Quade really going to sit Carlos Pena to see LaHair play? He has played some outfield in the past, but only six games there this year. And if you call up Jackson, what's the point of LaHair? Especially since Quade specifically said:

"He has been doing a great job at Triple-A for a number of years."

That should be your first hint, Mike. If a player is at Triple-A for "a number of years", the likelihood that he's going to be a good major league player is pretty small. The organization seems to like doing this -- giving the mashing Triple-A player a "gold watch" of sorts with this "reward". He's really not part of this team's future. More likely, he's the new Brad Snyder. LaHair isn't on the 40-man roster, either. Why waste a 40-man spot with him, when you're likely going to put Jackson on the 40-man anyway?

Call up Jackson? Great. Get him playing time. Call up LeMahieu? Great, too. Let's see what he can do. Call up Vitters? Seems like it's a bit early for that, but at least that would be looking forward, not wasting time with a nearly 29-year-old player who is likely the next Micah Hoffpauir.

Cubs lineup:

Castro ss, Johnson rf, Ramirez 3b, Pena 1b, Byrd cf, Soriano lf, Barney 2b, Hill c, Dempster p

No Colvin, again. Why is he even here?

Nationals lineup:

Ankiel cf, Espinosa ss, Zimmerman 3b, Morse 1b, Werth rf, Nix lf, Desmond ss, Ramos c, Zimmermann p
Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan
Dempster

Cubs
vs. Jordan Zimmermann
Jordan Zimmermann
Nationals
9-8 W-L 7-9
4.87 ERA 3.12
134 SO 106
51 BB 24
15 HR 7
vs. Wash -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Ryan Dempster 9-8 25 24 0 0 0 0 140.1 149 79 76 15 51 134 4.87 1.43


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Jordan Zimmermann 7-9 24 22 1 0 0 0 138.1 128 53 48 7 24 106 3.12 1.10

Ryan Dempster has not faced the Nats this year, but in two starts against them in 2010 he had a 1.80 ERA and 0.53 WHIP in 15 innings. Naturally, that resulted in a 1-1 W-L record. Current Nats are hitting just .188 (13-for-69) against him with no home runs.

Jordan Zimmermann faced the Cubs in DC on July 4. As has been so common this season, they hit him pretty well (eight hits and four runs in six innings) and the Cubs had the lead when he was removed from the game. Cubs bullpen failure, etc etc etc. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Pena have homered off him in the past.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago and MASN2. Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Nationals site Federal Baseball.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 1:20 p.m. CDT and the overflow threads will post at 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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