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javier baez aflIt’s another travel day for me as I head back home, and it could impact the Series Preview for the Padres’ series, which starts tonight. It will either come later than usual, or I may have to miss this one. Apologies in advance in either case.

  • It still sounds like the Cubs aren’t planning too much in the way of September call-ups, which still makes sense to me. There aren’t a ton of options on the 40-man that aren’t already up that make sense. We’ll see a handful, but the main guys who are joining the expanded roster are going to be guys like Ryan Sweeney and Luis Valbuena, who are coming back from injury.
  • And, no, Dale Sveum doesn’t see Javier Baez being called up in September. Even if Baez’s performance was so over-the-moon that you have to give him a new challenge (I guess it’s pretty darn close to that level), calling him up in September accomplishes three things: (1) uses an option year in a lost season; (2) ensures that the Cubs likely won’t get an extra year of control of Baez when he’s 27; and (3) forces the Cubs to use up a 40-man roster spot all Winter on a guy they could have just waited to add at some point in 2014. While fun, calling Baez up in September would be utterly foolish.* I’m not sure it would be good for his development, either.
  • *Unless there are financial reasons – i.e., attendance – that are so overwhelmingly strong that they outweigh all else. I really doubt it.
  • Speaking of them, Sweeney and Valbuena are heading to Mesa today to start getting back into game shape for a September return. Sweeney is coming back from a broken rib, and Valbuena is coming back from an oblique injury.
  • The focus for Junior Lake right now is as much his glove as his bat. It’s easy to forget that he’s still just now learning to play the outfield regularly for the first time in his career.
  • A deep look at Pedro Strop, and the continuing belief that he’s got a very good shot to the be the Cubs’ closer next year.
  • Donnie Murphy, who hit yet another homer in the 9th yesterday, comes in for some love from everyone except the man he hit the homer off of (Stephen Strasburg). That said called Murphy’s homer “tough luck.” Nothing the magnificent Donnie Murphy does is luck, sir.
  • Apropos of this morning’s news that Albert Almora’s season is over, Baseball Prospectus has an eyes-on scouting report of the center field prospect from late June/early July, and it’s all good stuff. It’s a subscription article, so I’m not going to give you the specifics, but Almora reads like the player we believe him to be: polished defensively, good feel for the game, very good hit tool, decent power, not very fast.
  • Don’t forget that the fantasy contest runs today, and there’s still time to sign up for a chance at the $300 prize pool. You can sign up there, and you can see the full details here.
  • macpete22

    Donnie Baseball!

    • On The Farm

      DONNIE BASEBALL!!

      • C. Steadman

        too bad he isnt 4 years younger

        • On The Farm

          Asside from seeing Rizzo for the first time and whoever is on the mound (really Jackson is about the only pitcher I don’t “want” to see) I am the most excited to watch Donnie baseball when I go in September. I am going to enjoy the ride and kind of hope he hangs around next season (for now).

          • C. Steadman

            yeah why not keep him around? he has decent pop in his bat(normally not this much) and isnt embarrasing himself on defense…if we carried Ransom on the 25-man this season why not give Murphy a shot outta ST

            • On The Farm

              Well since he is Irish I would bet he hits about 4 HRs on St. Pattys day and that will force the FO to keep him on the team out of ST.

              • Featherstone

                I love how his babip isnt ridiculously elevated because home runs aren’t in play. Oh his stupid .483 ISO is also just hilarious.

  • sven-erik312

    That’s right. Í still believe that the old Front Office brought Castro up too early, that’s why we’re seeing the problems that he is having today. All these studs have to be brought along with great care, we’ve waited this long, we can wait a little longer. I have no doubt that Baez can hit Major League pitching right now, Castro did too but look where he is now.

    • Mr. B. Patient

      I agree with you, that bringing up Baez would be foolish. Castro hit well for 2 1/2 years after being brought up, so I’d say the ‘too early’ meme with him has been over played.

      • sven-erik312

        Well, my reason for believeing that he came up too early was that it would only be a mattter of time before the pitchers could adjust to him. I think that part of the problem has been that he hasn’t been able to adjust to the the way he is being pitched. The other problem is that the rest of the hitting in the lineup is so weak that there is no one to protect him. Being in the minors a little longer might have helped him to handle the changes that the pitchers made on that level which possibly could have made that part of the problem easier at the Major League level. But who knows, since we’re not in the locker room, none of us really know. This is just my guess

        • Pat

          The protection argument really doesn’t apply to Castro, even if you believe in the concept in general. The belief is that if there is a stronger hitter behind you will get better pitches to hit, because pitchers are less likely to nibble around the edges of the plate, for fear of walking you and having to face the better hitter with men on base. Where this breaks down when applied to Castro is that he doesn’t take walks in the first place, so what pitcher is going to be afraid to walk him?

    • RizzoCastro

      Castro hasn’t made many adjustments to help himself over the last year +. Castro has played better in the second half on D, but the bat is still a struggle for him. I think he feels has a lot of pressure on him. I have a feeling the Cubs may be looking for a new hitting coach after the season. Our hitting has been awful this year by most everyone.

      • Scotti

        “Castro hasn’t made many adjustments to help himself over the last year +.”

        Castro had an excellent September of last year (.324/.380/.486/.866). Even if you add the final four October games he hit .311 Sept/Oct.

        ************

        There is no doubt that the “Hendry” Castro (.304/.343/.422/.766 OPS+ 106) was a far better offensive player than the “Theo” Castro (.263/.301/.388/.689 OPS+ 87). We KNOW that the current crew have been trying to change Castro for the last 1 1/2 years. Sveum has been public about it for nearly that entire time frame and, interspersed through the reporting, we’ve had reports of stuff about Castro being “resistant to change”–career .307 hitters (his career average through early June of last year) SHOULD be resistant to people messing with their stroke.

        When you’re in a young player’s ear–day after day–telling him that you’re unsatisfied with an aspect (or two) of his hitting, that is going to have a serious effect upon his confidence. Even someone as confident as Starlin Castro. “We don’t like your leg kick. Take more pitches. You aren’t doing enough. You aren’t doing it right. You’d have success doing it our way.”

        Castro started the new regime batting .321/.332/.445/.777 over the first 209 AB in 2012 (again after batting .304/.343/.422/.766 in 2010 & 2011). I don’t know exactly when they started in on him but he’s had only a handful of Starlin type months since. And he has been trying to do what they ask of him. His pitches per AB are UP significantly this year (total career–including this year–is 3.66 P/AB and this year it is 3.90), however, his OBP is DOWN (career .336–including last year–vs. this year’s .274). It ain’t working.

        This isn’t about Castro making adjustments, this is about Sveum, Theo and Company forcing him to make adjustments that he didn’t need to make. Now it’s about them getting off his case and letting him regain his confidence. They’ve basically said that’s what they’re doing the rest of the year. 1) It’s too long in coming 2) He needs more than just one month.

        There’s nothing wrong with .304/.343/.422/.766 from your SS. Some of those numbers (power) would improve, somewhat, if only because his body filled out more. Get him back to where he was (by “letting Starlin be Starlin”) and then live with it. The kid SHOULD have the attitude of “I’m Starlin Fucking Castro–I’m hitting my way.” And the Cub brass should applaud him for it. Baez is going to come up and he’s going to grip it and rip it. When they tell him to “Use the whole field” I pray he tells them to piss off.

        Finally, for the “It took the league two years to catch up with Starlin Castro” crowd. No, it doesn’t work that way. The league makes adjustments within days of a player having success. It used to take weeks but technology has shortened that down. It has never taken two years. There is no possible way that the league didn’t try everything they could–every possible scenario numerous times over–during his first 1,346 AB. Playing in AAA wouldn’t have helped him. Playing in AAA WOULD have hidden some of the mistakes of youth from the fan’s eyes (and the FO’s eyes, as well, if you believe what the FO has said, but that’s more about having an excuse to leave Baez, etc. down longer than fans want). However, leaving those 400+ hits in Des Moines wouldn’t have accomplished anything.

        (FWIW, I took some liberty here. Starlin’s middle name is really DeJesus.)

        • Soda Popinski

          Thank you!

  • Jon

    “No, You Should Not Expect a Javier Baez September”

    You could write this headline every day, and some people would still not get it.

  • http://permalink john delia

    Let the baez era begin.

  • Jon

    Albert Almora is a china doll.

  • RizzoCastro

    Baez needs to work on his fielding this winter. He has come along way this year. I love to see everyone say he has 40 errors this year and that is true, but he has played much better at AA. Also he is 20 years old. I think the Cubs have to a lot think about this winter. When I look at Baez I can’t help but think on Manny Machado with a little less glove but more raw power. Do I think Baez could play 3B idk. I myself think they need to slide Castro over to 2B and let Baez play SS next spring and see what the Cubs have with those two in that role. Castro may need to be traded and I’m not against the Cubs trading Castro if Baez is ready next spring. I also think Baez will put up numbers that Cubs fans will be like wow! Castro still has a ton of value and could net you some MLB ready pitching from someone like the Mets, Dbacks, Marlins, Rays, or list of other teams. I have no idea what Theo and Jed will do, but whatever they do I will bet it will help the Cubs for the long term and short term.

  • Jp3

    While I understand the thought of an extra year of control for Baez I do think its irrelevant…. That’s not our FO’s MO. We lock players up generally before they’re eligible for FA such as Rizzo and Castro, shark is different because he’s older than the other 2 and he thinks more of his talent the the Cubs do to this point. Don’t get me started on the 40 man roster spots are super tight, any team that loses as many games as we have has very few people that are “must haves”.

    • JB88

      I don’t see any real reason to start Baez’s clock right now. From not having to deal with him on the 40 man this winter to losing an extra year of control to the relative meaninglessness of September stats, I just don’t see the upside to bringing him up this year.

      Let him enjoy playoffs, let him get ready for the AFL, and let him end the season basking in the glory of what he accomplished this year. We’ll have plenty of time to start the Baez watch come next spring.

      • willis

        I agree, no reason to bring him up for a month of meh baseball when it would only help I think slightly with his development, while starting his clock. It’s more about service time than 40 man because on the 40 man it’s littered with jokers.

        I’ve been on the side of late April/early May for Baez next season, but with all of Castro’s struggles and his continued nose dive at the plate, not going on close to 1.5 seasons, the ears of the FO may be perked up a little more than expected if there are suitors. If that’s the case and he is moved, Baez is the starting SS to begin next season.

        • JB88

          Moving Castro now would be a very bad decision IMO. He is coming off his worst professional season and would be viewed by some as a buy low candidate. If the Cubs really think there is an incorrectable flaw in Castro’s approach/swing/demeanor, now is not the best time to trade him.

          • willis

            That’s the gamble and the tough decision. Is Castro this? Or is he the first 2.5 years of his career? With each game he’s getting worse and worse at the plate and at times it’s carrying over to his defense. Do I think he’s toast? Nope, not in the least. But I also don’t see him bouncing back to what he was offensively either. You give to get in this case. If you can spin Castro to another team in a positive enough light to land someone like a Price or Stanton, you do it. Otherwise you work like hell with him and get him ready to go for 2014. I’m not “for” trading him unless it’s an absolutely win deal. Otherwise I think he still has the tools to be a decent SS (or 2B of they put Baez at SS) and help this team. He just isn’t a cornerstone to build around.

            • JB88

              Let’s take Stanton off the table because it would cost so much to land him and Castro isn’t going to be the piece to make it happen.

              Maybe you could build a trade package around Castro for Price, but I also think that the Rays’ asking price is going to be so ridiculous that it isn’t really worth the exercise.

              If you were really going to trade Castro, rather than focusing on the Marlins and Rays, your better bet is to focus on other emerging teams, the Mariners, KCs, Indians of the world. Teams that think they are a few pieces away from contention and who have pieces in the minors that you want to pick up. If you were going to do a Castro trade, those are the teams on which I’d be focusing. Teams that aren’t truly rebuilding, with fanbases that are somewhat desperate to contend, and FOs that are feeling the pressure to put a winner on the field.

              • THEOlogical

                My issue with this whole “trade Castro and bring in Baez” scenario has been brought up before. First, you don’t bring up Baez for a September callup if your a smart FO. Second, for all of you who want to slot Baez in at SS and push aside Castro, who’s to say Baez doesn’t have the high error total and slump season? What do you do then? Wait on the “next” prospect who emerges as a can’t miss and then do the same to Baez? This FO has shown great patience with it’s core players. My thinking as to how the FO will handle it, is have Castro do his thing and when they’re ready (and his clock), bring up Baez. Slot him at 3rd with a few Castro day offs at SS. If Castro continues to struggle and Baez has handled ML pitching and his defense is sustainable, they’ll make a trade at the deadline next yr. That will give plenty of time for Castro to work on his issues, for Baez to get acclimated to the majors and it will increase Castro’s value at the deadline for teams desperate for a SS. Me personally, I don’t see Castro continuing down this path. I feel he’ll have a much better season in 2014.

  • David

    Castro to the Rays for Archer.

    • THEOlogical

      So your real name is David, Diehard?

  • kluv

    Would you guys rather have Elvis Andrus whose hitting 255 with 1 homer and getting paid $15 million a year or Castro whose hitting about 15 points less with 6 homers more? I think I’ll take Castro over Andrus even right now. Given Castro’s recent struggles, I still think he can turn it around. It’s not easy to find a good hitting SS but if Castro can play solid defense, hit 270ish which I think he can soon, will be good enough.

    • David

      I’d rather have Archer.

      • lukers63

        I’d rather have Miguel Cabrera, but what is your point???

        • David

          My point – Castro for young/ ready to go starting pitching this winter. If we can get a decent quality return.

          • mjhurdle

            that is a pretty vague point.
            Who on the Cubs right now would they NOT trade if they were offered a good, quality return on them?

            • RizzoCastro

              agreed

              • David

                I would hope everyone is able to be moved at the right price. Castro in particular since he has value, and Baez is waiting. I just hope the plan is to focus on getting starting pitching in return since our top dogs in AA are position players. Also, trading may be the way to get better faster since the free agent class is not very strong in the next couple of years.

      • On The Farm

        Well go fire up your Xbox and make that trade.

  • Smitty

    Brett, considering how well Murphy has been playing, do you think he has a shot to make the team next year?

    • willis

      Surely. He could be the right handed side of a platoon with Valbuena at 3rd and spot start at 2B or SS for a little while. Eventually, Baez and Alcantara will be ready, and when that happens (sooner on Baez) Murphy would be come a good bench bat to have around, if he can keep his performance somewhat up.

  • Senor Cub

    Ryan Sweeney and Luis Valbuena……I am overwhelmed with excitement. Instead of bringing people up to see what you have and give them a good taste in their mouth for what’s ahead. Look they were so high on Vitters and Jackson and learned some lessons about them. Had they waited until this year, the results would have been the same except one year later. So bring them up!

    • Eternal Pessimist

      Yes, bring everyone up, start all the clocks, get them to free agency a year, or two, or three sooner so they can all sign high priced contracts which the Cubs can’t afford, so the Cubs can field a lousy team for an eternity on their middling budget. Great strategy!

  • North Side Irish

    Was surprised to see BP give Almora a higher future grade on both his bat and power than the did for his glove. I’ve always heard his glove was extremely advanced, but they gave him a Future 55, which is average-above average. Was really expecting it to be higher than that and certainly expected it be higher than his offensive grades.

  • Cubswin

    I don’t think Baez should be brought up this year either but Jp3 does have a point.. If Baez comes up and rackes or plays anywhere near we think he can than there is no way that the FO waits until he is 26 or 27 to worry about extending him. This FO has shown the willingness to extend parts of the “core” at an early age. If Baez does what we think he will easily be signed to a long term around 24 if not earlier

  • Since 58

    Starlin is Shawn all over again without the clout. OTOH, I’d love to see Rizzo become Starlin’s Mark Grace with the extra 20-25 HR.

  • MoneyBoy

    Brett … Since you did bullets, I will too. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in this post.

    ** It wouldn’t surprise me if the Cubs cut Ransom loose when Valbuena comes back.
    ** I’m really hoping the are able to keep Sweeney. I have a feeling that it’s going to come down to either/or with him and Bogusevic though.
    ** Junior Lake has looked pretty wonderful to me at the plate. I wonder if they send him to AZ and have him work with McKay and/or the minor league staff on routes, jumps and catching the ball with both of his damn hands.
    ** Jim DeShaies has taken to calling Murphy ‘Donny Baseball.’ Funny stuff. I’m going to flip your words and suggest ‘Donnie Magnificent.’ You really have to be happy for the guy.
    ** The Feldman trade could be a monumental win for the Cubs if both Strop and Arrieta work things out!
    ** I have a 22 y/o son. Selfishly I wish his baseball skills had been higher. Realistically I know having a skill set like Javy Baez is … le sigh!

    Safe travels today!!

  • On The Farm

    Baker is headed back to Kane County to start baby!

    • willis

      Joy…

      But seeing that Daytona is being rained out every freaking day I suppose to get Baker at least two more rehabs, KC is the place to go.

  • RizzoCastro

    For anyone who doesn’t understand my point on Castro here it is plain and simple and how it relates to Baez. I think Castro has taken a downward trend over the second half of last season and this year for sure. Yes I think he is still a top 10 SS in his prime. As it relates to Baez… Baez may have some D struggles and for that matter O struggles at first, but I think he will be a superstar player in the Bigs. Do I see Castro being that No. I also feel that Castro has more value being traded than just moving to 2B or CF unless he is willing to do that without any hesitation. This all my be something that doesn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things anyway. Baez may move to 2B or 3B so there’s that as well. I think Castro has had a lot on his shoulders for the Cubs or so in his mind and I think sometimes a fresh start can help players when they feel that way. A fresh start may mean at a new position or on a new team. This is what I have been trying to say all day and some have pointed out that I have contradicted myself so this should make my feelings more clear. I want what’s best for the Cubs that’s all I am saying here. If that’s Castro at SS than so be it.

  • Bilbo161

    Seems obvious to me that Baez should not be called up this year. Too many reasons not to. I am hoping that the FO will not think the same way next year if he rakes in Spring Training. If he does not make the team right away next season I would expect him up sometime well before call-up season if he takes to AAA as well as we all hope and even expect (in my case anyway). I think the same way about Bryant actually though I don’t really know if there are any weaknesses in Kris’ approach that would require extra time in the minors to work on while still facing lesser pitching.

    I’m really looking forward to the time these two are up together. All we needed this year was a couple hitters and a couple bullpen arms and we would have been a 500 team. Once these two are here the others will trickle on in and we will be in for a nice ride to the playoffs over the next few years.

  • Roggan

    Anyone know how many batters spend their time in the on deck circle timing out pitches compared to those who dont? It seems pretty beneficial to a batter to “Mock swing” at pitches as they wait and keep an eye on speed and movement.

    Castro doesn’t do this, I noticed in a few differant clips that he was standing in the circle with the bat leaned up against him, watching with the same look as the fans behind him. I guess he just makes sure he is loose and then waits his turn at the dish.

    He doesn’t seem to be into the game anymore.

    • jkppkj

      I have no idea off hand, but I think there would be no problem finding good hitters who don’t time pitches on deck and bad hitters who do. If this is what would “fix” Castro I would be dumbfounded.

  • cubbie Forever

    I used to love it when I could time 4 or 5 pitches from the circle. Just felt ready to go.

  • Soda Popinski

    I enjoy seeing that the “best” power hitter in the minors has a .234 .330 .548 line with 15 HRs at AA (Miguel Sano) while Javy has a .311 .368 .659 line with 17 HRs.This makes me very happy. Granted, Sano is a year younger.

    • Soda Popinski

      Scratch that. Sano is 20 and only 5 months younger than Baez.

  • Steve

    I don’t think we should trade Castro, the guys still young, and basically learning. He was bound to have an off year, he will learn from the year, and I think be better for it. Rizzo is a little different, he don’t really have any protection in the lineup, and clearly is pressing, trying to live up to that new contract. If we can get another good bat to hit behind Rizzo, he will be fine. I also think Castro is trying to live up to his deal, and pressing, I think next year both will have productive years. As for Baez, no need to rush the kid, he’s a beast right now, let him continue to develop, and when he’s ready, Castro will slide to second and the three, Baez, Castro and Rizzo will be great building blocks to a good team. Throw in Bryant, who I think will come fast next season as well, as Almora and soler, and we will have a very good young group of kids to grow together into a monster, throw in a few good signings here and there and we are heading in a great direction. I think we just have to realize how young they are, what they have around them, and see that the situation that Castro and Rizzo are in just is tough for the both of them, it will be alright by this time next year.

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