Barring a trade of a veteran outfielder or two, the Cubs seem to have six of their eight everyday starters already lined up for next Opening Day.
Whether a seventh also is currently in-house depends on what center fielder Brett Jackson can show manager Dale Sveum and the front office over the next couple of months.
Among talent evaluators throughout the game, opinions remain split on whether Jackson has the potential to be an All-Star-caliber outfielder or nothing more than an athletic, defensively versatile bench player.
Sveum, for one, said he thinks Jackson – the Cubs’ first-round draft pick in 2009 – can make the same kind of performance jump next season that Anthony Rizzo did this year from a .141 debut with San Diego last year.
“You give everybody the benefit of the doubt,” Sveum said. “It’s up to them to make the adjustments and to learn from their experience in the big leagues.”
The adjustment the Cubs want to see from Jackson (.174 with strikeouts in nearly half his at-bats) is significant.
“I’d like to see him completely revamp his swing,” Sveum said, “with his lower half and a lot of things. But they’re not things that you’re asking somebody stand on their head about.
“There’s players in this game that have made drastic, drastic adjustments, and it’s propelled some of them to Hall of Fame stature, to long careers in the big leagues. I’ll go to my grave saying if you don’t make any adjustments in this game you ain’t going to stay here very long.”