Significant AFL Roster Shakeup, With Baez and Vizcaino Out and Other Bullets

javier baez aflYou’ll have to forgive the lighter content this morning, as I am headed out to do some deep sea fishing in the Hamptons. That is a true sentence, and one I never thought I would say in my life. (Some good friends of ours are getting married out this way, and I’m taking the opportunity, because why not.)

  • In a bit of a bummer, the Cubs have announced that Javier Baez will not be participating in the Arizona Fall League after all, so the absurdly-ridiculously-amazingly awesome prospect explosion of the AFL will now just be an amazingly awesome one. Jed Hoyer told the media (e.g. Cubs.com) that Baez was “emotionally and physically drained after the season,” and will thus be resting/working otherwise in Arizona instead. It’s a little odd, given that the AFL decision came just a few weeks ago. It’s the kind of decision that necessarily lends itself to conspiracy theories, but which is probably just about a combination of minor things – it really was a long year, he really probably could use some rest, maybe he’s got a nagging minor injury or two (Hoyer mentioned not wanting to see Baez get hurt), and it’s not like he absolutely needs the AFL experience. If the Cubs plan to push Baez next year – he’s expected to begin the season as the starting shortstop at AAA, and then possibly get a look on the big club mid-season (all at just 21) – more offseason rest makes even more sense.
  • In a more significant bummer, Arodys Vizcaino will also not be participating in the AFL. While seeing Baez in the AFL was all about gratuitous enjoyment, seeing Vizcaino there was about his progress from 2012 Tommy John surgery, and then a second procedure earlier this year. The AFL was going to be his first time pitching competitively since the Spring of 2012. Now, he’ll instead throw in the Instructional League, which I can’t help but suspect isn’t a great sign. I guess we’ll see what reports out of Arizona say about his progress (the Instructional League gets underway next week).
  • With Baez and Vizcaino out, the Cubs will have some options for replacing them on the Mesa Solar Sox roster. They could bump Albert Almora up to a full-time spot, rather than a taxi squad spot (he could play only twice a week), for example.
  • Theo Epstein suggests that the Cubs may be done trying to tinker with Starlin Castro’s approach at the plate. Trying to get him to become more selective was a laudable goal (he would have taken more walks, and likely would have improved his slugging, as well), but it just never “took.” Castro will now go back to “see ball, hit ball,” and the Cubs will hope that some of the selectivity preaching will organically take hold over the long term. It might.
  • Pedro Strop might get the next save opportunity as the Cubs look ahead to 2014.

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

228 responses to “Significant AFL Roster Shakeup, With Baez and Vizcaino Out and Other Bullets”

  1. Aaron

    Thanks MightyBear. The Cubs were banking on Castro and Rizzo on having good years that would have translated in making the Cubs a .500 team at best. This would have bought the FO an additional year of re-tooling the lineup through trades and their own players in the minors in moving up the system to the big club. However, their game plan kind of blew up in their face and the team struggled throughout the season in scoring runs. I believe the FO is smart enough to understand this point and will bring in an impact free agent this off-season, such as Jacob Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo or Curtis Granderson.

    1. mjhurdle

      im not sold on Ellsbury (health) or Choo for the price they might get. But even if they don’t get that ‘A’ grade player, i think a couple ‘B’ grade types like Granderson, Hart, etc might make a big impact. Add in Tanaka and that would be a fairly successful off-season.

    2. Voice of Reason

      @ Aaron…
      Why in the world would the Cubs pay all that money for Ellsbury? They are going no where next year, even if they were to sign him! And, they have Lake and Matt Szczur that they want to audition for center field next year.

      As for Choo… ain’t going to happen! Again, even if they signed Choo AND Ellsbury this team is still not ready for competing for the division.

      Next year is going to be just like this year. They are going to let the kids play. If they sign any free agents they will be similar to Schierholtz as they will be cheap players that they will sign for a year or two years. They are not going to commit $150 million dollars for one player next year!

      Another year of letting the kids develop. Once they see who will make it in the big leagues, they will get free agents at positions where they don’t have any kids ready to step in.

      That’s how it will be done, period. It’s the right move! In 2015 or 2016 this team will be ready to compete!!

  2. Aaron

    mjhurdle – I’m not certain which one of those I would go with either. Ellsbury a few years ago and healthy would be a certain choose. However, he has injury issues this season and he’s not getting any younger. However, when healthy, he is an impact player. I don’t know that much about Tanaka other than he’s unbeaten in Japan. Too bad that “Edwin Jackson” money is no longer available from last off-season.

    1. Voice of Reason

      Aaron,

      When the Cubs don’t sign Choo or Ellsbury or Granderson, remember your comment about the “Edwin Jackson” money.

      The same reason they shouldn’t have signed Jackson (biiigggg waste) is the same reason they shouldn’t sign Choo or Ellsbury or Granderson. You have to be patient and see what minor leaguers develop.

      THEN, they will have all sorts of money to fill in the holes with free agents.

      Even if Edwin Jackson would have won 30 games this year, the Cubs still wouldn’t have won the division! I still shake my head at Jackson! When the Cubs are ready to compete again in a couple of years there will be plenty of Edwin Jackson’s to sign at that time!

      1. wilbur

        Jackson was a “value” signing to fill a near term need for starting pitching. He’s a veteran who takes the ball every 5 days and gives you a consistent effort each time. The results may seem disappointing but which cubs pitcher has done any better? Sharks results are about the same aren’t they?

        As far as the money goes, Jackson’s signing didn’t cost the cubs a draft pick, that is worth what? A left handed pitching prospect, you could say that is more valuable to the team long term than anything Jackson does on the field during his time here. And what he does on the field is valuable because he is eating innings as expected and has stayed healthy while doing it. The money may seem high this year but if he makes 30 starts and goes for 200 innings again next year it will start to seem like this was a bargain signing. If he does the same again in the third year of his contract with the price of pitching free agents continueing to rise, this will then look, in hind sight, like one of the best bridge signings this front office has made. Of course he’ll need to stay healthy for this to play out, so we’ll see.

        1. Voice of reason

          Do you believe what you write?

          Your first paragraph said Jackson was a value sign and a guy who gives you a consistent outing each time.

          Your first paragraph makes me want to laugh my ass off then cry because there is no value in this bum!! Do you know how much money we are paying him? If there was any value at all we could have traded him. The problem is we would have had to eat a bunch of his salary which totally makes your “value” comment a joke.

          And, consistent outings every 5 days? He has been horrible, pathetic, miserable, I could go on!!!!!!

          And then you say he is an innings eater. Why does one of the worst teams in baseball need an innings eater? If anything I would rather see the youngsters pitch and use every inning to see what we have for the future instead of employing an innings eater…… Gggggrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!

          By the time he is in his final year of his contract the cubs might be decent.

          The right thing to do would have been for the cubs to sign fransico liriano or someone they could have flipped for more prospects to build for the future.

          1. Soda Popinski

            Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

  3. Bill

    Rizzo and Castro should be better with Baez and Bryant as opposed to Valbuna,Barney and Murphy at some point next year.

  4. Mike F

    Castro is not a core piece to this organization. He doesn’t fit their concept, their approach or in any way how they perceive the game. To continue to stick our heads in the same and blame everyone for Castro’s regression the last two years but Castro is goofy. Castro should be wished well and traded instead of continuing to act as though somehow he is Jeter is counterproductive. He is what he is and that is not the face of the Cubs.

    1. cubes

      “concept” is a stupid concept. good is good and that’s all that is good.

    2. praying the cubs get ready to win

      I think we trade Rizzo(Vogelbach) Castro and Olt and maybe some international money to TBay for Price and some minor leaguers. Then sign Tanaka. When Baez, Alcantara Valbuena, Bryant and Vogelbach are ready we will fill our infield. And maybe Bryant plays in the of if the other 4 workout. Our SP next year will be amazing. When we have a youngster ready to start, we trade Jax for what we can get. Price, Tanaka and Shark is a nice improvement.

  5. Mike F

    I don’t think I buy that. Players are what they are and have to be responsible for their performance. This is year two of this Castro approach. While I didn’t like the tinkering, Castro has always shown a tremendous lack of discipline. If people wanted a non-sabermetric old school approach they should have never hired Theo.

    Theo has built the organization on the philosophy that you have to work counts and approach the game smartly. Castro simply can’t. For the sake of both the player and the organization it is best to trade him. It is what it is.

  6. CGruegs45

    Thuck Fheo

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