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.

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