The AFL Could Give Us a Look at Possible Position Switches and Other Bullets

javier baez aflI’ve going to be in and out a little bit this morning, heading to two doctor’s appointments (one for me and one for The Little Girl).

  • The Arizona Fall League could be used, in part, as a way for the Cubs to see a couple of their top prospects in a variety of defensive roles. Javier Baez has exploded this year, and now appears on the doorstep of the big leagues (by which I mean only that he could arrive at some point in 2014). Kris Bryant is an advanced college player who is tearing up the minors at the kind of pace you’d hope/expect from a top positional pick in a draft. With each player, there are positional issues: is Baez going to stay at shortstop and move Starlin Castro off of the position? Or will he have to learn a new position soon? Can Bryant stick at third base long-term, or will he have to learn the outfield quickly?
  • It sounds like the Cubs are preparing for these possibilities by acknowledging that we might see Baez play some different positions in the AFL (another top shortstop prospect, Addison Russell, is on the same team), and might see Bryant in the outfield. “I’m sure Javy will get some time [at shortstop], but if he moves around the diamond a bit, I think that’s a great thing,” general manager Jed Hoyer told the media, including Patrick Mooney, yesterday. “You watch the Cardinals and I think their versatility really helps them. They can move guys all over the field. The more versatility our guys have, the better. I think you will see some guys move around the diamond. That doesn’t mean we’re thinking about moving him off the primary position. It just means that they can help us more up here. [They can] really help the major-league club more in the future if they can move around.” Hoyer similarly acknowledged that Bryant would be “exposed” to the outfield a bit in the AFL.
  • All in all, we’ll have to see how it plays out, but our ability to draw conclusions will be limited (unless, for example, Bryant plays right field in every single game, or Baez plays third or second base in every single game). Versatility really is a good thing, though I’m fairly certain that the Cubs envision each of Baez and Bryant as full-time starters – whatever their position might be by 2014/2015.
  • Speaking of the AFL, Patrick Mooney has additional thoughts from Hoyer on seeing pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino back on the mound. As expected, the real focus is just getting him out there in a competitive environment again after missing two full seasons. Whether he can still be a starter or is now a reliever-only is an ancillary question that isn’t worth worrying about until later.
  • Jesse Rogers on how Jake Arrieta throws a lot of strikes, but still manages to walk a lot of batters.
  • Tony Andracki on Donnie Murphy’s success with the Cubs, and prospects for the future.
  • It could be nothing more than a professional courtesy, but Mark Gonzales reports that Dodgers President Stan Kasten told him that Cubs Chairman and Owner Tom Ricketts and Business President Crane Kenney toured some of the Dodgers’ stadium renovations this week. It’s possible that they were getting a sense on some specifics of construction.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

93 responses to “The AFL Could Give Us a Look at Possible Position Switches and Other Bullets”

  1. MichiganGoat

    I know it’s not baseball but today is the 50th Anniversary of MLK’s I Have a Dream speech and everyone should take 20 minutes and watch one of the most powerful speeches in history.

    1. Edwin

      The speech is copy righted. That video should be taken down.

      1. Edwin

        Unless they got permission, of course.

        1. MichiganGoat

          It’s been up since 2011 has 3M+ views I don’t think anyone is concerned about copyright issues.

        2. Mike S

          He is not using the speech for his own financial benefit. He isnt playing it at a seminar he is teaching on public speaking. This is a free forum and copyright laws dont really apply in this sort of situation. Maybe I am wrong on that, but I am pretty sure that is the jist of copy right law.

      2. JB88

        There are hosts of exceptions to the copyright laws. I haven’t viewed the video, don’t know where it is located, and couldn’t begin to tell you whether it fits one of the exceptions, but if it has been there since 2011 and has 3M+ views, MichiganGoat is probably right that either someone doesn’t care or it fits nicely into one of those exceptions.

        1. MichiganGoat

          I can’t believe a copyright discussion is what we are discussing about this moment of monumental history.

          1. CubFan Paul

            We should talk about the President showing us his real birth certificate too.

            1. On The Farm

              Hey, I am not sure if he ever really did that or not..

              1. CubFan Paul

                He did.

                1. Scotti

                  He did eventually. After insisting that he already did and that no other form existed. Pretty bizarre moment in political history.

            2. MichiganGoat

              Really, why not just focus on the power of this video on this historic day? Nah lets be a douche and try to minimize the historical event by bringing up something completely unrelated.

              Can’t believe I’m now regretting posting this video.

              1. CubFan Paul

                …It was sarcasm/a joke Goat.

                1. MichiganGoat

                  Mea Culpa Paul I was still pissy from having this become a copyright discussion.

                  1. K-mister

                    I want to thank you MG for posting the video.

                    1. CubFan Paul

                      Don’t thank him, just give him an old beer can to chew on.

                    2. MichiganGoat

                      As long as the can is a full Founders All Day IPA can

              2. HCS

                Complete aside, but about 5 years ago I still used a radio transmitter to listen to my iPod in my car, which generally worked best on lower-frequency stations, but I would occasionally get bleed-through from local radio stations. I was driving into Northwest Indiana, listening to a Billie Holliday playlist. As the song Strange Fruit came on, I started to get that crossover with a local radio station, that was playing Dr. King’s incredible speech. It was if the speech were superimposed over the song, and it was simply gut-wrenching. It only lasted about a minute before I lost the signal, but it damn near had me in tears. Completely unrelated to the Cubs in any way, shape or form, but listening to this, now, brought me right back there. Thank you, M.G.

                1. MichiganGoat

                  That would be great and now I think I will try to replicate that experience.

                  1. wvcubsfan

                    beware of copyrights, they come at you so fast they will mess you up :)

                    1. DarthHater

                      I don’t think goats can be found liable under the copyright laws. :-P

              3. Andrew

                The copyright issue is an interesting one in general. The idea of a TV station showing the speech while cutting into commercial or something to get ad revenue from Dr. King’s speech is kind of disgusting. Nobody is looking to keep regular people from publishing the speech with the intent to show it’s importance and brilliance but if the copyright is designed to keep people from commercializing the speech, I entirely agree

                1. Eternal Pessimist

                  The speech was delivered publicly giving people to right to record it, view it and share it. They would not be allowed to package it for sale or use it for advertising without permission.

    2. Jon

      Javy doesn’t move positions for Addison Russell. Addison Russell moves positions for Javy.

      1. Featherstone

        Because Javy plays wherever the f*ck he wants/

        1. Stevie B

          Well played, feather, well payed.

        2. mjhurdle

          No one puts Javy in a Corner…inf spot!

  2. On The Farm

    When are you and Sharma going to do another podcast? I would be really interested to hear your two thoughts in depth on the AFL, Rule 5 guys that may get a look in September, and if you talk about Breaking Bad in the begining please keep the spoilers to a minimum.

  3. Senor Cub

    Baez should be the SS of the future with Castro moving. I think this would play well to their strengths or lack there of. Hopefully the move makes it easier for Castro to fall asleep during the games and not be damaging to the team.

    1. Grant

      Castro’s the better fielder at SS. Move Baez over to 2nd?

      1. On The Farm

        For the short term, it makes sense to move Baez to 3B and if Bryant forces him out, Baez can then move to 2B. But as it stands Alacantra and Baez could be up by midseason, and Bryant might be later in the year.

        1. CubFan Paul

          You’re forgetting about Olt. Baez will move to 2B or CF/OF

          1. On The Farm

            I guess I did for get about him. With Alacantra at 2B, Villanueva and Olt at 3B (maybe even both start the year in AAA) it will be interesting to see what they do with Baez. They could move him to 2B and Alacantra back to SS for the time being.

            1. MichiganGoat

              Lets wait until after winter and see if anyone gets moved or until Baez and Bryant are absolutely about to reach the show.

            2. CubFan Paul

              I envision Olt having a good Spring & making the team April 1 (mostly because I doubt Theo&Co will sign/trade/block him with someone other than Valbuena/Donnie Baseball).

              1. JM

                With all due respect, the ONE and ONLY Donnie Baseball, is the one managing the team across the diamond.

            3. terencemann

              I’m pretty sure most pundits believe Alcantara’s future is at 2nd base at this point.

              1. On The Farm

                I think I have seen that too, but if it is the difference between Baez and Alacantra is: (lets just make the assumption the FO decides Baez is going to play 2B in the bigs) if that is the case I am just saying that if push comes to shove Alacantra will go back to SS and Baez will play 2B if they feel that’s where his future is.

                1. Eternal Pessimist

                  Gotta imagine between Castro and Baez one of them will hold on to SS. Alcantara has made a ton of errors at SS and has been even worse at 3B. He needs the easier assignment.

                  I still give the fielding nod to Castro unless he is traded. His fielding percentage was a little better in the minors and now his MLB rate is still better. .971 vs .948 (Baez AA)

                  1. Eternal Pessimist

                    My future roster includes
                    1B Rizzo
                    2B Alcantara
                    SS Castro (unless traded to make room for Baez – If Bryant keeps smoking his way into MLB and fielding well at 3B and Baez can adjust to the MLB next year and excel, Castro may need to go in a trade then, and only then)
                    3B Baez (Bryant has a lot of fielding work to do to displace him to SS, but is doing well so far)
                    LF Almora (may move to CF)
                    CF Lake if he continues to show he belongs and improves his fielding)
                    RF Soler
                    C Castillo
                    Trade the underperforming excess for impact pitching. Win in 2015. Win big in 2016.

                    1. Jason Powers

                      Thing about underperforming assets: every team has them, and want to trade for impact pitching….Granted, we did acquire some arms this way. Mostly 3/4 types (Edwards still too early to tell if he’s truly gonna pan into a top rotation guy) and relievers with live arms, but to get a top of the rotation guy, NO GM is gonna take a package of just whatever we don’t want for position players. Pitching is ALWAYS a premium: See Matt Harvey; and now don’t see Matt Harvey.

                      It makes 2014 Draft an imperative to hit on a Starting Pitcher that is close to MLB ready within 18 months of drafting. Should be able to find a #2 starter where we are likely to pick (4-8).

                    2. Eternal Pessimist

                      Definitely agree on the drafting for near-ready pitcher with our number 3 pick (looks like number 3 to me the way things are going)

                2. Jason Powers

                  Is Alcantara bat – hitting 15 dongs, 34 doubles and speed (30 swipes) – lending itself to a move to outfield? He’s 21, realize he’s a bit small 5’10″-160lbs, but maybe he can do 15HR/20SB from the outfield?

                  Just saying, we just put Lake in the outfield.
                  If Javier is 2B, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, and Olt, somehow, gets to 3B, then we have Alcantara, Bryant, and Lake as potential multi-position guys like DeRosa became. But they all could be outfielders at least some of the time …

                  Castro and Olt’s performances will either clear this up, or make the choices to slot who where a good problem. (Unless Rizzo wants to bat 3rd and play SS too…I KID!)

        2. MichiganGoat

          I still hold to the position that these aren’t problems to get overall concerned with until they are actually problems. Right now just focus on them hitting and the position issues will be dealt with when needed.

          1. On The Farm

            I disagree, if Villanueva, Alacantra, and Baez all start the year at AAA like they should, it will be a problem who plays where if they truly want Baez to get time at other positions before he debuts in the MLB. Now discussing what are we going to do with Vogelbach and Almora is a different thing becuase they are a ways off.

            1. MichiganGoat

              Same with Bryant but we don’t know what the Iowa roster will be next year. Still a winter of trades before we can start obsessing over positions until its a true problem I’m not worried about it. Switching positions is not something that requires 100s of games many players switch with just a handful of games. Hitting is what we should be focusing on not where they are going to play.

              1. On The Farm

                That’s fine you have your opinion I have mine. I am cool with that. I still hesitiate on Bryant because I know he will be in AA to start and there is no gaurentee he will make the majors (even though that’s how I imagine next season going). But once the talent reaches the AAA level is when I start to think about position switches. I have said before I don’t think any of the big four get traded this offseason, and I am not sure if Alacantra as a center peice will be enough to land a big trade peice so I really do believe that Villanueva, Alacantra, and Baez could all be in AAA next season.

                1. CubFan Paul

                  “I am not sure if Alacantra as a center peice will be enough to land a big trade peice..”

                  Oh yes he is. There’s been a few trades w/in the last year that had me wishing Alcantara was more ML ready.

                  1. On The Farm

                    Price and Stanton are the two that are mostly talked about, and I don’t think he could land either as a CP, unless it meant tacking on Vogelbach, Edwards/Johnson, +. If there is someone else out there I am not thinking of yeah he could probably land a really good peice, but not an elite peice. Just my opinion of his value.

                    1. Jason Powers

                      I think the PRICE on Price and Stanton is huge. The banter on Stanton to Pittsburgh had them parting ways with Jameson Taillon, and of course, that didn’t happen. Neither the Pirates (who are doing this completely on the cheap) or Marlins (wanting probably a bat with that golden arm) was able to pull that trigger.

                      Pirates made the good choice.

                      So, is Stanton’s price gonna be less? We don’t have a quality pitcher – Samardjiza would be a potential if he were cheaper, given the Marlins – than they would covet likely. (This is hypothetical….)

                      Price: I hate to say it: overrated. Not because he’s not good, but the more we scream, you scream, we ALL scream for Price-scream, his value just goes up and up.

                      Tampa will want A lot more than they got for Garza. A lot more.

                      Baez, Edwards, Alcantara, Soler, likely gets you starting talking….NO deal!

          2. King Jeff

            I agree with OTF, it’s time to start worrying where Baez is going to play. It’s looking more and more like he’s going to be in Wrigley at some point in 2014, and I don’t want him to have to learn on the job like Lake is doing. I’m still of the opinion that Baez will make a hell of a third baseman, and would like to see him get some time in there this fall.

            1. CubFan Paul

              Don’t write off Olt (or move him to the OF). Javy could be a dynamite second baseman.

            2. On The Farm

              Agreed, my thought is if you don’t worry/speculate where Baez is going to play by time he reaches AAA, then you never really think/speculate because the next level is the MLB and if he gets called up we will already know where he is going to play. The whole point of this site is discussion and if AAA is still to early to tell then I don’t know what we are doing talking about Baez making the MLB club at all.

              1. Jp3

                I hope we keep him at SS at AAA because if Castro continues his terrible slash line next year his bat doesn’t play at SS as much as everyone likes to hoot and holler about.

                1. hansman1982

                  If Castro has tumbled down to sub-Koyie Hill level at the plate, SS is the only place his bat will profile at.

                  1. Blublud

                    I was just about to type this.

                  2. JM

                    Can you explain why how a player hits, dictates his position?

                    If Baez comes up and repeats this year’s production, why would that play better at third than short, assuming they wanted to move Castro?

                    1. Patrick W.

                      A player who plays very well at a demanding defensive position can play not as well offensively and vice-versa. A run saved is the exact same thing as a run created. That’s why a guy like Darwin Barney can be a starting player in the major leagues (though his bat would fit better at short, if he is as good defensively at short as he is at 2b which is a less demanding position). Barney plays so well defensively that he probably saves as many runs over a season that a better (but not elite) offensive player would create.

                    2. JM

                      Patrick, there is no reply link on your post

                      Ok, however if that is true, why wouldn’t the Cubs switch Barney and Castro?

                    3. Eternal Pessimist

                      JM,1st, because this is a lost season. In the meantime, the Cubs want to keep Castro’s value as high as possible in case they need to trade him (lots of solid outfielders likely on their way up), and Castro’s trade value at an easier position (2B) is not as high as it is at SS. He is an average bat that can play SS. Lots of teams would like that guy.

                      Barney’s position (2B) is far easier to replace than Castro’s. Most teams would rather have Castro’s production at SS than Barney’s (assumes that Castro returns to form).

                      There is no guarantee that Baez will be able to handle MLB SS and the Cubs may need Castro there for many years. His fielding numbers aren’t as good yet, but he is still very young…hell, so is Castro.

                      I think Barney would be better as a super-utility guy to take over for defensive needs late in games and spell guys that need rest in the IF.

                    4. Eternal Pessimist

                      “lots of solid outfielders”

                      I meant infielders!

                2. willis

                  I do think sooner than later it’s time to project positions. Maybe not with everyone but with Baez and Bryant because I think we all can see their bat is going to play about anywhere at the major league level. They are just special offensive talents. So hopefully Bryant gets some run in the OF in the AZL and Baez gets some run at 2B and 3B also.

                  Olt is starting to resemble a baseball player also, so there’s another possible wrench thrown in the works.

                  I do agree with OTF and other that once the playoffs are through and the AZL begins, from there and into ST, it’s time to shake things out a little.

                  1. Danny Ballgame

                    Agreed on Olt. In his last 10 games his slash line reads:

                    He has been improving over the last month or so and I am under the impression that he is already the best defensive 3B in the system.

                  2. Cubswin2015

                    be careful willis I think I almost saw you say something positive about Olt…. Can’t have that happening! I do hope Olt can continue the recent success so we can get a look at him in Chicago before the end of the year

                    1. willis

                      You’ll hear plenty of positives out of me regarding him if he can turn the corner some. He’s been in a rut all year and has probably put together the best week or so we’ve seen to date. He needs to show a lot more for them to consider bringing him up in September, JMO. If he can finish strong though and have a good spring…maybe just maybe he’ll get some time at 3B for the Cubs next year.

                    2. Danny Ballgame

                      Yessir. Murphy has come back down to earth and it could be a nice way to boost Olt’s confidence going into next year.

                    3. Eternal Pessimist

                      I’m still excited about Olt’s chances of recovery, but I think he is 3rd after Baez and Bryant on my 3B depth chart.

                    4. JB88

                      @ Eternal Pessimist – Regarding Olt, if he is offering a ML bat, I’d probably slot him ahead of Baez and Bryant on the 3B depth chart, simply because Olt is certainly a better defender than Bryant at 3B and because I trust Baez to slot in somewhere else on the diamond better than Olt would. If Olt fully recovers and becomes a better than average ML player, what a nice problem the Cubs would have WRT Baez and Bryant’s future positions.

                    5. Danny Ballgame

                      I don’t see how he could be third on your depth chart when Baez has played only a couple of games at 3B and it has been implied that Bryant will not be able to stick at 3rd due to his size.

  4. North Side Irish

    Did not know that Kim DeJesus was doing The Amazing Race…

    1. On The Farm

      Looks like I know what team I am cheering for! She did tweet Monday or Tuesday that she had big news coming out this week and that she was heading to LA.

    2. terencemann

      “married to the Tampa Bay Rays’ David DeJesus”

      Cheers to their copywriter for having to update that twice in the last week.

  5. Brian Peters

    Baez could be Sandberg 2.0. Outrageous pop for a 2nd baseman.

    1. Kevin

      And hit 2nd

      1. willis

        He’d have more pop, but I’ve always liked the idea of Baez at 2nd. Castro makes some bonehead mistakes but eventually I think his glove plays the best of anyone at SS. If one of Olt or Bryant can develop into that 3B, Baez will be the 2B.

        1. Blublud

          I like Baez at 2nd, Bryant at 3rd also. Baez can cover more ground at 2nd. I’m still not to worried about Castro, but he better start back hitting next year. With a IF of Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez, who cares if we can put power in the corner OF slots. If we do, its a bonus. If we don’t, we will still have plenty.

          1. Eternal Pessimist

            Baez: “I heard you didn’t want to hit second”

            Rizzo: “Yeah, can you believe they hit me 2nd”

            Baez: “Well, you’re such a great player, I guess I could hit 2nd for you”

            Rizzo: “Wow, you are a really stand-up guy” (thought bubble – “sucker”)

            Baez: “Anything for you Riz” ” (thought bubble – “sucker”)

  6. MichaelD

    The one positional issue the Cardinals have is one of the few positions where their current versatility cannot necessarily help: Shortstop. If this all works together, the Cubs may have versatility including multiple players capable of playing SS.

  7. Cheryl

    I agree MG. it is a powerful speech. I’d also mark Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address right near the top of memorable speeches too, But what stands out in great speeches is the memory of them and the actions that follow them. Both King and Lincoln had that quality of speech.
    Taking it back to the baseball arena though, Lou Gehrig gave a speech within baseball that few could equal. Remember that speech and the death he was facing from ALS.

    1. MichiganGoat

      As for sports Jimmy V’s ESPY speech has few equals.

      1. Cheryl

        Unless you’ve seen what ALS can do to someone, you will always come down on Gehrig’s speech as being without equal.

        1. gocatsgo2003

          Wait, what?

          1. Cheryl

            ALS, in other words, is something that those who have a tremendous amount of courage must face – there was no cure for it in Gehrig’s day and there is no cure for it today. It is the overcoming of obstacles that marked that speech, just as the overcoming of obstacles marked MK’s speech. My brother just died from ALS so that’s why Gehrig’s speech strikes such a chord with me.

            1. gocatsgo2003

              That’s what I figured — I initially read “unless” as saying one would discount Gehrig’s speech if one had watched someone suffer from ALS.

        2. JM

          GGehrig’s speech was undeniably powerful, yet Jimmy V’s was a call to arms. Very different purpose for each.

          1. Cheryl

            You are right JM. But I hope there will some day be a call to arms against ALS just as there was in Jimmy V’s speech.

            1. JM

              I hope so too. I’m sorry for your loss.

              1. Cheryl

                Thanks JM.

  8. Okie Cub

    ….and Josh Vitters has officially fallen off the edge of the world.

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