The front office is building the 2013 Opening Day roster without Brett Jackson, while the marketing department is putting him front and center promoting the Cubs Convention.
That push-pull dynamic will be fascinating to watch as Theo Epstein builds The Foundation For Sustained Success (even the president of baseball operations seems tired of using that phrase) while the business side tries to sell the actual product on the field.
The media still snickers at the Three Cs campaign that once featured Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner and Starlin Castro. And the explosion of information on the Internet makes people fall in and out of love with prospects all the time. But Jackson doesnt have to be rushed, and he doesnt need to be hyped.
The Cubs can start negotiating with free agents at 11:01 p.m. Friday, and they are going to be in the market for outfield help this winter, perhaps a short-term bridge to Jackson. They dont feel hell be ready after striking out 59 times in 120 at-bats. They saw this coming before they called him up from Triple-A Iowa in early August.
Brett Jackson was promoted for specific reasons, Epstein said. We sat in (manager) Dale (Sveums) office (and) we all said: Right now, his swing is not ready to compete up here. He does a lot of other things very well, but we dont think hes necessarily ready to succeed up here.
But there were other reasons to get him up here. Dale wanted to see it firsthand. We wanted Dale and (hitting coach James Rowson) to have a chance to work with him. We wanted to show Brett certain things, certain adjustments that he needed to make to ultimately have success at the big-league level.
Hes going to have a much more productive offseason because of what he was exposed to (rather) than if he had stayed at Triple-A in what was generally, for him, somewhat of a disappointing season.
Jackson wouldnt argue that point. On the final day of the season, he was philosophical while packing up his stuff inside the Wrigley Field clubhouse before heading home to the Bay Area.
Youd like to bounce back from a below-average year, Jackson said. Im not proud of my numbers. That being said, Im proud of how far Ive come and whats been learned. Its not necessarily on paper sometimes the value of an experience.
Jackson is again ticketed for Des Moines after a season in which he struck out 217 times. But he still walked 22 times in 44 games with the Cubs and saw 4.24 pitches per plate appearance in the big leagues.
Jackson was smart enough to go to Cal-Berkeley, so there are reasons to believe that he can figure it out. He was fast enough to steal 27 bases at Iowa and cover a lot of ground in center field. He showed his fearless nature by almost blowing out his knee while making a spectacular catch at the PNC Park wall in September.
So even if no single part of Jacksons game is spectacular, hes still the kind of well-rounded player Epstein likes to build around.
Remember that at this time last year there were also questions about Anthony Rizzo, who fixed his swing, crushed Triple-A pitching for almost three months and firmly established himself as a core player on the North Side.
As Jackson said: Rizzos a good example of somebody who took an experience, learned from it, made adjustments in the offseason and came out this year and did some damage.
Epstein would love to see Jackson force the issue.
The ball jumps off Jacksons bat when he does make contact. He still managed to post an .817 OPS at Iowa and generate four homers, six doubles and a triple with the Cubs. The staff believes theres enough to work with here.
Id like to see him completely revamp his swing and lower half, Sveum said. (But) theyre not things (where) youre asking somebody to stand on their head. There have been players in this game that have made drastic, drastic adjustments (which) have propelled some of them to Hall of Fame stature (and) long careers in the big leagues.
Ill go to my grave saying if you dont make any adjustments in this game, youre not going to stay here very long.
Lets not overlook the obvious: Jackson is still here, unlike Colvin (Colorado Rockies) and Cashner (San Diego Padres), two other first-round picks traded away by the Epstein administration.
Jackson showed up at the last Cubs Convention and had a money quote about the new bosses, saying how people are raving about the new bosses being rock stars, so everyones excited to see what kind of show they put on here.
I feel very fortunate to be a part of it, Jackson said. I believe in them. I think they believe in me. Im motivated to work hard to be that player for them to be someone that can help this team win. Theyve proved themselves. Theyre good at what they do. (Its) going to be up to us the guys on the team to put it all together.