click here buttonWe’ll be thinking about the folks in Oklahoma today (and tomorrow and next week … ), and hoping that things come out as well as possible in a situation like this.

  • Sahadev Sharma yesterday wrote about a variety of Chicago Cubs prospects in a piece that’s well worth a read. Of particular note, Sahadev shares his thoughts – derived in part from talking to folks around baseball – on why we shouldn’t yet be panicking about Javier Baez’s slow start at High-A Daytona this year (complete with a million strikeouts and a million errors). The money paragraph: “The fact that Baez’s early struggles were not unexpected, at 20 he’s still young for the league and the Florida State League is known to be pitcher-friendly all make Baez’s problems at the plate a little easier to swallow. As one AL scouting director said prior to the season, ‘It’s OK if we see him putting up bad numbers at Daytona — it’s all part of the process.’ Baez’s disappointing start isn’t something to get riled up about, but how he reacts and adjusts to these issues in the coming months will tell us a lot about his future.” For whatever it’s worth, over his last 35 plate appearances, Baez has just four strikeouts. (Just two walks, though.) Of course, he’s got just one homer in his last 16 games, so it seems likely that there’s some instruction and tinkering going on. Also small sample sizes, and all that. But these are the kinds of micro-adjustments Baez will have to make as he progresses. What you’re looking for is a strong second half from Baez, with a slightly reduced K rate, a slightly increased BB rate, and a stabilization of his power. We’re not even to midseason yet, so there’s plenty of time.
  • Sahadev mentioned to me yesterday while we were recording the podcast – fresh episode coming later today – that Dale Sveum said Matt Garza will be on an 85-90 pitch limit in his return against the Pirates today. That sounds about right, given how long its been since he pitched in the bigs, and the need to temper some of his natural excitement. These first few starts are about staying healthy and continuing to get strong. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Tony Andracki looks at the Sean Marshall trade, and figures that the Cubs are looking pretty shiny on that one, given how well Travis Wood is pitching.
  • The Cubs have another Player of the Week in the Florida State League in the form of Dustin Geiger, whom you might recall had the doubleheader of a lifetime last week. The former third baseman has mostly played first for Daytona, and is hitting a robust .327/.398/.513. Geiger is 21, and his peripherals look good (even if/when the lofty .364 BABIP comes down, that slash line could still look quite good), so there’s plenty to like about the performance thus far. If he’s permanently moved to first, though, the bat is going to have to carry him all the way up the chain, and, even then, some positional versatility is going to be required if he’s going to find a spot on the Cubs’ roster. That’s all a long ways off, though. The best we can say right now: Geiger is definitely relevant.
  • Thanks for a good time yesterday during the first BN Off-Day Q&A on Facebook and Twitter. I couldn’t possibly get to all of the questions, and I learned just how tiring it can be to do an hour of that, frantically scanning questions, flipping back and forth between the two sites, thinking of useful/clever answers on the fly. Hopefully you enjoyed, and for those who missed it, you can see the entire chats by looking here on Facebook, and looking at the #BNQA hash tag on Twitter.
  • I was on the Midway Baseball Today Podcast yesterday, talking about various Cubs things. You can listen here.
  • Don’t forget to sign up for this week’s one-day fantasy contest. It takes 5 minutes, is free, and gives you the chance to win a share of $300. It also helps support BN, so sign up. Full details here.
  • WiCubsFan

    Baez has been much better of late. K’s are down and hits are piling up.

    • hansman1982

      He’s doing better but not amazingly better.

      Looking at the numbers but I can’t help to think it’s just standard fluctuations at this point. His May numbers are roughly in line with his April numbers.

  • Cedlandrum

    You didn’t disappoint in your thoughts on Geiger. That is pretty spot on. He needs to try to play left a bit too.

    • Rcleven

      From watching him last year you could see he had the hit tools. As a third baseman not so much. They need to move him off first and the outfield is the only place to move him. With his arm right field may be a fit.

  • Luke

    A slightly reduced K% in the second half won’t cut it. He was running over 30% to open the season, and in High A that number should be a fair bit under 20%, even for a slugger.

    I think he can do it, though, and it looks like he’s already well on his way there.

    I’d still like to see more walks.

    • Feeney

      Has there been any indication that he was working on something? Maybe changes to his swing that might have led to the strikeouts. I don’t follow these things that closely. I know the reports are that he swings at everything so that seems the most likely problem. But I am just wondering if there’s more to it than that?

      Also, I am wondering if a front office, or a minor league coach, would come out and say that a guy is making changes in order to reduce some of the scrutiny? Not necessarily in relation to Baez or any other prospect in particular. Just in general does it happen?

      • Luke

        Most likely he still had the attitude that he could hit any pitch he saw 450 feet. And it took him some time to finally admit that he couldn’t.

        If that’s all it was, then he’s in good shape. A lot of players go through that.

        However, statistically that attitude is indistinguishable from a guy who can’t tell the difference between a breaking pitch six inches outside and a fastball down the middle, and that in turn led to a lot of the early concern.

        • hansman1982

          We do have 2 guys who seem to have that attitude in the Cubs system in Almora and Baez. The question then becomes, what is the underlying skill sets.

          • BluBlud

            Almora has much better contact skills then Baez. He may have some of the best contacts skills currently in the minors. He will never strikeout a whole lot. He will never walk a lot. I’ve taken heat for this comment before, but he reminds me so much of Barney at the plate. Almost a carbon copy.

            as for the camparison, Almora has a much more consistent skill set where as Baez has a much more potent skillset. It gives Baez more bust potential but also nmore super star potential.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          “statistically that attitude is indistinguishable from a guy who can’t tell the difference between a breaking pitch six inches outside and a fastball down the middle, and that in turn led to a lot of the early concern.”

          Ah, but a lot of us had that concern before this supposed attitude kicked into play! I’ve written it before, but it bears repeating: if Baez’s problem is a lack of batting eye, then his “hot” and “cold” streaks will come according to the opposing pitching, especially at this level. In particular, when Baez faces pitchers who are trying to throw strikes, then he’ll hit well. When Baez throws pitchers who are trying to get him out (or who can’t throw strikes!), then he’ll flounder. These are two very different strategies that different managers & pitching coaches employ. Particularly in the low minors, the former strategy will be common: the opposing pitcher is going to be promoted based on his ability to throw strikes in many systems. (Gettting the Javier Baez’s to K on pitches a foot outside is nice, but someone is keeping track of the fact that some K’s are on the pitcher and some are on the batter.)

          At some point, however, you will get managers and coaches trying to get pitchers to adjust to each batter. After all, in the majors, successful pitchers throw to the particular blue zones of each individual batter. The “one size fits all” approach for A+ ball will get you killed in MLB! (Well, unless you are 1999 Glavine or Maddux and can just throw the ball into the other batter box for called strikes all day long….)

        • Feeney

          Yeah I have not seen him play at this point so I just look at the stats. Thanks for the response.

        • BluBlud

          “Most likely he still had the attitude that he could hit any pitch he saw 450 feet. And it took him some time to finally admit that he couldn’t.”

          This what I have been saying about Baez all along. Now, there is no way he sustains the 11% SO rate he has in his last 34 PA’s, just like there is no way he can sustain a 30%+ SO rate. He’ll settle in somewhere around 20%. But without watching hi games, I can imagine he has calmed down lately and we are seeing the results. I’m hoping someone told him that power should be natural and not forced. Great power(dont like the term HR hitters) hitters look to make solid contact and hit liners, or hit the ball hard, they don’t look to hit homeruns. The more you make solid contact, the more the ball flies. If he starts to get this, as looks like he is, the results will speak for themselves.

          As for the walk rate, well he and Almora both need to work on that.

          • Kyle

            Almora moreso.

            If Baez can keep the Ks at 20%, he’s got the power to make you live with a low-ish BB total. Almora does not.

    • hansman1982

      That’s my biggest concern about Baez. I think he has just enough power to neutralize a high K rate but if he can’t walk more than 4% of the time, it’s all a moot point.

      The worst part is he is having a high K rate in a league that doesn’t K much. Of the Minor leagues that are active so far this year, FSL ranks 4th in strikeout percentage (and it’s a statistical dead-heat from 2nd to 5th).

      If/when he’s traded this offseason, I won’t lose much sleep.

  • Rich H

    I remember after the season last year there was a report that Conception was not allowed to use his fastball most of the season because he leaned on it entirely too much. Do you think that the Cubs would go so far as to make Baez take x number of pitches per AB to get him to be more patient? Not something I would be in favor of but his pitches per AB has gone up and the results so far have been mixed. If something like that is happening then you can understand the sudden spike in SO rate.

    • BABIP (MichCubFan)

      What i’ve heard people say is that it was his curveball. Not sure if it was true or not, but thats what some people were saying.

  • Satch Dobrey

    Any chance the Cubs trade DeJesus and bring up Bogusevic? He’s hitting .372 with 9 SBs. Surely he can play center.

  • Fastball

    The coaches in Daytona are most likely doing a reset on Baez. It’s an instructional league for a reason. I am sure he didn’t project out the way the intended for him at the end of last season. He is most likely learning a lot and his head is spinning everytime he gets up to bat it’s a whirlwind of thoughts until what they are teaching him becomes natural to him. They probably are doing the same thing in the field as well. They are most likely trying to undo a lot of what he learned from coaches all his life that the Cubs org doesn’t like. I wouldn’t worry about him too much. The light bulb will go on and he will start producing they way expected.

  • Tremendous Slouch

    The worst thing that could have happened to Baez was the window of success he had in spring training… It put him on everyones radar and probably gave him a bit too much confidence, which can be a bad thing for a still very raw player… Hopefully we’re starting to see him come back down to Earth and any bad habits (i.e. over swinging) he might have developed will start to fade away…

    I realize that he’ll always be a free swinger, I’m just saying he might have been a bit too amped coming off of that success…

  • Dynastyin2017

    Has anyone here seen Baez play everyday? The Cubs are asking him to do something he has never had to do before. Maybe he’ll make it, maybe he wont, but we just dont know.

  • LER

    Baez’s four errors on Thursday night were on routine ground balls. He didn’t have enough experience at 3B to read the bounces.

  • 5412


    Baez has a lot of growing up to do. They are going to keep hyping him as the next Babe Ruth ro keep his trade value up.

    He is from the Daytona/Jacksonville area. I suspect if the Cubs farm team was in Fort Myers, 5-6 hours away that Baez would be doing a bit bitter. He is too close to home. He is a 20 year old, with a lot of money, and his high school buddies are nearby. It is hard enough to keep a young kid focused; but doubly dificult when he is playing in his own home town.


    • Noah

      Baez is from Puerto Rico. At most he spent his high school experience in Jacksonville, and I think he might have actually only spent the last year or two of high school there.

  • Kyle

    I refuse to take my hand off this panic button.

    K/BB is the single most important indicator, imo, of a prospect’s ability to handle higher levels.

    The only real positive indicator is his last week or two. If that continues, we’re fine. But I’ve said that several times during this long-term slump.

    • Justin

      Yep, the strike/BB thing is proven time and again that it is the hardest thing for a prospect to correct. And the chances of him being a true stud Major Leaguer are under 10% imo. To me he has been by far the biggest disappointment anything Cub related to date. I am sure he will play better there, but there are red flags all over the place at this point with him..

      • Dynastyin2017

        What do you see when you watch him play?

  • Bryan

    I am in the camp that thinks a lot of Baez K/BB issues are just him being young and learning to harness all that talent. One thing that I find interesting about his elevated K% is that against lefties he is batting .324 and has a 48.6% K rate, and then against righties he is batting just .252 but has a 22.9% K rate. Far lower and at least more respectable. To me that screams young guy trying to mash and make an impression every time a left-hander is out there. He crushed lefties in the spring so I can see how he would try to carry that over and is/was causing some of the issues that look to be starting to lessen now. Lets hope the current trend continues.

    He’s still so talented and young for the High-A level. I still see tons of star potential.