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javier baez aflI like Jimmy Fallon. It’ll probably be years before I can once again consistently take in late night talk shows, but I look forward to clips from his new duties at the helm of the Tonight Show. After all, he’s the guy who did this and this.

  • Javier Baez has arrived in Arizona, and he discussed the year ahead as humbly as possible, saying things like “taking my time,” “I’m still learning,” and “I’m going to work on my defense.” You can see initial interviews here, here, and here, for example. In the end, the story remains the same: Baez is a stud and will probably be a ton of fun to watch in Spring Training, but he’s starting the year at AAA Iowa. And although he might see time at other positions in the Spring, he’s staying at shortstop for now. Rinse. Repeat. And wipe up your drool.
  • For now, Rick Renteria says the plan at third base is to mix and match. (Patrick Mooney) That’s the obvious right answer at this point, particularly given the fact that we don’t yet even know for sure what the roster is going to look like. Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy are the incumbents at the spot, in a platoon, and Mike Olt will remain at third base for Spring Training. He’s about as wild card-y as it gets, with even the Cubs appearing to concede at every turn that they don’t know what they have in Olt until he sees live pitching in game situations. And, even then, I have to wonder: will Spring Training be enough to convince the Cubs in either direction? If not, the Cubs will have to do some serious lineup massaging to make sure he gets regular at bats at AAA Iowa, with Christian Villanueva at third and a potentially crowded outfield picture. Olt may have to dust off the first base glove and/or do some work at DH.
  • Jeff Samardzija tell Patrick Mooney he was “blindsided” by Ryan Dempster’s decision to sit out the 2014 season, which I assume was just a coincidence, and not a veiled reference to Dempster’s “blindsided” comments from the 2012 Trade Deadline.
  • Bruce Levine says Welington Castillo has put on 10 pounds of muscle. I’ll reserve comment until I see him in action, but I will admit that I heard “10 pounds” and thought about Castillo’s knee surgery at the end of the season, and I got a little nervous about the offseason activity. Castillo could stand to add a little pop in his bat, so maybe adding some weight will prove to be a good thing, so long as it doesn’t cost him any quickness.
  • A Q&A with Cubs pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks.
  • Chicago Magazine’s annual list of the most powerful people in Chicago is out, and Tom Ricketts (48) and Theo Epstein (100) slipped considerably from their spots last year, which, shrug. The Cubs are crappy, and have been crappy for a while now. That kind of perception is understandable. If/when the Cubs start winning consistently? That – and so much else – changes rapidly. Jerry Reinsdorf, by the way, was 11th, and Rocky Wirtz was 6th.
  • Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson was on the Top Coach Podcast.
  • Vine Line on the story of Weeghman Park, the field before it was Wrigley Field.
  • Dan Szymborski holds some weird ass, but highly entertaining, chats at FanGraphs. Here’s the latest, with quite a few Cubs mentions (including this exchange, which is funny, in light of many of the discussions around here lately – “Comment From Matt: Dan, Cubs bank on being able to acquire SP when offensive core is ready. Problem: high-end guys keep getting extended – see H Bailey. Solution?” “Dan Szymborski: *Someone* will get to free agency.”)
  • Edwin

    Baez the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, Baez came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!

    • Austin8466

      Um…what?

    • mjhurdle

      Ha! well played sir :)

    • Greenroom

      Are you the gate keeper?

    • Darth Ivy

      Baez is very big in Sumeria

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Are you a god?

    • Eric

      When someone asks you if you’re a God. You say, YES!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Please tell me you had that memorized…

      • Edwin

        Sadly, no. My mind palace is not quite up to snuff yet.

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Its a movie I have ways to much stored in memory but that bit of dialogue is tough.

          • Patrick W.

            Whatever this movie is, I’ve never seen it. I suspect it’s Ghostbusters based on the reactions of everybody.

            • Edwin

              Yessir. Rick Moranis.

            • Edwin

              And for a real Rick Moranis treat, I reccomend Strange Brew.

              • Patrick W.

                Huge fan of Strange Brew. I still occasionally pull the Steamroller move on my wife.

              • CubChymyst

                Spaceballs is another.

              • Eternal Pessimist

                One of my all time least favorite actors!!!

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Ha I had just watched that with Jr the other day and when Zulu was mentioned he started to say “ZOOOOOLOOOO” over and over. Kinda of scary and then cute plus he loves marshmallows so I might have spawned something amazing and frightening.

      • DarthHater

        It’s “Zuul.” “Zulu” is an entirely different film. :-P

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Whoops yeah it was Zuul watching Zulu with a 18 month old would be a bad idea.

        • TWC

          Wasn’t that Michael Caine’s first movie?

  • Stinky Pete

    Is anyone else having trouble logging into Fangraphs? I had issues with home and now work computer. Hoping its not just me…

    • DarthHater

      That happened to me last year. For weeks, I could not connect from work. Then, the problem just suddenly went away. Since then, the issue re-appears occasionally, but never seems to last long. No idea what the issue was/is (and not going to ask my employer to figure out why I have trouble surfing baseball sites when I’m supposed to be working).

    • DarthHater

      BTW, I’m not having any problem today, so Fangraphs isn’t down.

    • hansman

      I tried this morning and my employer blocked it for being suspicious.

      I have had various issues getting around Fangraphs in the past as well (in order to search for a player when I am on the leaderboards, I have to go all the way back to the home page). Seems like their programmers get short changed on funds.

  • mjhurdle

    I look forward to Baez destroying Spring Training to the extent that the most popular debate becomes whether he should start the season in AAA or with the Big League club.
    He would still start in Iowa, but it would be awesome to see him go off in ST and really start forcing the issue.

  • Greenroom

    Brett or Luke, I’m curious to get your opinion on when you see Baez being called up? By that I mean, I get the what if’s, but your true intuition on the topic. Thanks

    • CubFan Paul

      When someone gets injured.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Gut says mid-August or May 2015.

      • When The Musics Over

        If he’s performing well, gut reaction says it would be weird for him to spend ~1.25 years at AAA. Is that normal for a tip top echelon prospect? I don’t mind it at all if it makes sense, just wondering if that’s atypical.

        • Chad

          It’s all about his clock. Waiting til next May would give additional control. I still believe he will see some time this year at some point.

          • When The Musics Over

            If clock is the only concern, may as well wait until July 2015.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          My gut, as that of a Cubs fan, skews pessimistic.

      • hansman

        I’ll take the over.

      • Brocktoon

        If Baez performs as expected this year and they hold him down into mid may of next year they aren’t committed to winning in ’15. There is such a slim margin for error next year that they can’t afford to throw away any wins and doing it for service issues 6 years down the road when either the cubs start spending money or are the worst franchise in baseball is nuts

        • noisesquared

          Completely agree. If Baez hits like he did last year, I expect him in Wrigley in June. They have shown no hesitation to promote him when he’s not being challenged. I think they see him as a special player who is going to be promoted based on his performance without any arbitrary needs of MiL time put in at any level. It’s all contingent on Baez killing AAA off the bat though.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Something stupid organizations do: give up an entire year of player control in his prime in exchange for three weeks in April when he’s 22.

          • hansman

            Just getting the sharpening wheel going for the ax in 2015.

          • jh03

            I had a dream that I saw this about 35735498435 times on Twitter last night…. Oh, wait…

            (And that’s not a shot at you, Brett. The fact that it even needs to be debated is a total facepalm.)

          • Jon

            Didn’t the Cardinals do this very thing with Michael Wacha?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              No. They get six years plus the time they brought him up last year (which was almost 1/3 of a season, and also got them some use from him in the playoffs – kind of important).

              So, actually, make that a much louder “no.”

            • Patrick W.

              He came up in May and went back down 12 days later, then came back in August. I don’t think he even made Super Two cut-off, did he?

              • Jon

                I wasn’t sure if they avoided super 2 or not on Wacha. I’m pretty sure the A’s lost super 2 on Jarrod Parker in 2012 though. It’s been done.

                • Patrick W.

                  They did, and maybe it’s a different calculation for 23 year old pitchers like Parker and 22 year old SS like Baez? I mean bad decisions are made all the time. Mike Fontenot was a Super Two.

                  But Super Two doesn’t cost you a year of control, it just costs you more money because they get an extra year in arbitration, no? I don’t think the point is avoid Super Two with Baez, even if he’s crushing it, it’s avoid losing a year by waiting 30 or so days.

                  • Chad

                    It’s based on the number of days spent in the majors (pitcher or postion it’s the same) and it is based on the top 22% of all players with 2 years or less service time, So the number changes based on how many rookies get x amount of service time.

                    http://www.fangraphs.com/library/business/super-two/

                    • Patrick W.

                      No, I get that. I meant the calculations on whether to risk Super Two status for Pitchers v. Position players and based on the ages of each.

                      Meaning, a FO might be more willing to risk Super Two for a pitcher, because it’s easier to send him down for a period of time to avoid it because you could send him down for 30 days and only miss 5 of his games, whereas with a position player you send him down for 30 days you miss 28 of his games.

                      My main point is (and I think I’m right) you can be a Super Two and not lose “a year” of control. That is, a team can have 6 years of control where they have arbitration for 4 years or 3 years. So you can bring a guy up for a full season in 2014 and he becomes a free agent after 2019. Or you can bring a guy up 3 weeks later, have to pay him more money over the next 6 seasons, but he doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2020 season.

                    • Chad

                      “Since these players are still under team control for another three seasons, that means Super Two players get four year of salary arbitration instead of the typical three.”

                      Yes, 4 years of arb.

                    • Patrick W.

                      Right. So my point remains. There is a different calculation here. One, break camp with a guy in 2014, lose control for 2020; or, two, keep the guy down for 25 days and keep control of 2020. You might well be willing to pay more over the almost 7 years you have the guy by waiting instead of paying less for only 6 years. If you wait for about 21 games, you gain 162.

            • Brocktoon

              No but those morons did it with Albert pujols

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                A team that was projected for playoff contention brought up one of the best players in the history of the game? No way. Thirteen years ago, you say? No way.

                Also: they were stupid for not waiting three weeks.

                • Brocktoon

                  Cardinals dumb, Brett smart. Profits above all else. We’re not he fucking rays and if we need to prioritize having Javier Baez under control in 2021 over an attempt to actually winning the most games possible in 2015 then we aren’t putting long term ahead of short term, short term isn’t even entering he equation. More fetishizing dollars/win and cost control over actual competition

                • hansman

                  Those three weeks netted them somewhere around 1 win above replacement.

                  Considering they had to buy out an extra year of free agency to get that 1 win just so that they finished with 93 wins instead of 92.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    I’ve got it as closer to 0.5 WAR when you factor in other options available to them (not necessarily replacement level) – and he was literally one of the best players in the history of baseball.

                    But, yeah, the point remains.

                    • hansman

                      Ya, he posted an OPS over 1.100 for that first month. He finished the season with 6.6 (according to B-Ref) so I just did some fuzzy math.

                      That was a pretty good offense they had.

                  • Jon

                    I’m sure the cardinals regret that decision to this day. What an awful course of events it set that franchise on.

                    • hansman

                      I bet they would have rather had those extra millions every year.

                  • Brocktoon

                    Detroit tigers, run by king of the morons, Dave dombrowski break camp with Austin Jackson in 2010

                    Ad wizards down in Atlanta do it again in 11 with Freddie freeman

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Freeman: debuted the year before. Jackson’s a good find; though he was a 23-year-old on a clear playoff-caliber team at a serious position of need. You aren’t going to find a Baez parallel there (or anything close to it).

                      Also: it was stupid.

                    • Brocktoon

                      Freeman was up for 20 games the year before, if the braves were truly committed to the process they could’ve held him down for all of April. Or better yet not called him up the season before. God how do these jokers even have jobs??

                    • CubFan Paul

                      Mike Leake and Xavier Nady

                    • hansman

                      “Freeman was up for 20 games the year before”

                      But he was up for 33 days the year before, meaning that just to gain the extra year you have to hold him down until mid-May and since teams don’t want to rile the player’s union, you would have had to wait a couple weeks more.

                      Now you are talking about a 1/3rd of a season where the decision becomes more gray.

                • Brocktoon

                  Also those drooling buffoons down in Atlanta. Broke camp with jason heyward in 2010, won wild card by a game

                  • Jon

                    Don’t forget Pedroia breaking camp in 2007! Sure they won a world series that year, but it wasn’t efficient!

                    • hansman

                      After he had been called up the previous year.

                    • hansman

                      And the Red Sox finished 2 games ahead of the Yankees for the division.

                      So now we have anecdotal evidence that shows it sometimes works and it sometimes doesn’t pay off.

                    • Chad

                      Tampa Bay was able to get an extra year of control through 2015 by waiting on David Price. I’m sure they would have rather brought him a few weeks earlier and allow him to hit FA at the end of this season instead.
                      Works both ways.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Pedroia had already made his debut the year before. But keep on rebelling against facts and reason, man.

                    • Brocktoon

                      I’d argue really good teams like that ray’s team are able to play those games a lot more easily than a team like the 15 cubs who will need to bleed every win out of their existing talent possible to contend. You guys are prioritizing winning in 2021 over 2015.

                    • Jon

                      Brett, you set the gauntlet …. “only stupid teams bring players up in April”.

                      There are cases when it might be stupid, there are other cases when it might not be, every situation is fluid. And there have been plenty of examples of smart teams with smart track records bring players up in April when they could have manipulated the players clock even more.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      It’s always stupid. I’ve dug in my heels.

                    • Jon

                      That’s pretty obtuse.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      If you’re asking my opinion, and I’m the guy running the show, I would never condone bringing up a kid (with 0 service time) on April 2 when doing so costs me a year of control, and waiting until April 25 gives me an entire additional year of control in that player’s prime. Never ever ever.

                      Maybe that’s obtuse. But that’d be my policy, and I feel perfectly comfortable with it.

                    • Brocktoon

                      So you stand by calling the tigers, cardinals, and braves “stupid organizations”

                    • Patrick W.

                      Tampa also did the same thing with Evan Longoria, which probably got them a discount on his extension.

                    • hansman

                      The Angels did it with Trout.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      I stepped back and thought about it some more. I’m wrong to say it’s ALWAYS stupid to start the season with a stud youngster on the roster rather than waiting until April 25. 99 times out of 100, I would stand by it, but there is an exception:

                      If you’ve got a true stud prospect who fills a clear position of need (like, a dire need, where the guy taking the job for April would otherwise be replacement level or worse (emphasis on worse)), and the team is a clear playoff contender, then I say go for it. Preferably with a prospect who is 22 or older (because if he’s younger, the year you’re losing is a really, really prime year).

                    • Brocktoon

                      Fair enough, I was most put off by the “stupid organizations” line. Seemed very Sheehan/Cameronesque and rather unlike you.

                      I guess it would depend then on what you expect out of the 15 cubs. If they look like another 2014esque disaster then whatever, but if they’re projected as a 500 team or so, the cubs should run out the best team they can.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    It tickles me to know that you’re spending time on this exercise. Keep going.

                    I’m extremely comfortable with my position on this one.

                    • Brocktoon

                      More or Less comfortable than your position on termination pay?

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Being that I was the only person on the day he signed even mentioning the fact that he was going to get more than the Major League minimum when he made the bigs (as opposed to a traditional player under contract who was released)? Being that no one else even *tries* to understand the real meaning of “non-guaranteed” arbitration contracts? Well, I’d always like to know more, but I think I’m doing all right.

                    • Brocktoon

                      Will you call the from office stupid of they ca up Baez for meaningless ABs at the end of this year? What’s your dream lineup for opening day 2015? 3 AAAA players while Baez, Bryant, and AA accumulate sweet sweet service time in Iowa?

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Getting pretty riled up, are you? You’re always so pleasant.

                    • Brocktoon

                      I’ll take that as a confirmation that’s your ideal lineup?

                      Regarding termination pay I was talking about your condescending lecture about how it never happens at the major league level, followed with Bonifacio receiving it almost instantly

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      I know what you were referring to – and it wasn’t remotely condescending (it’s hard to be condescending when you admit openly that you don’t fully know parts of the rule).

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Oh, and one more important thing on the termination pay item: I know for certain that Bonifacio was not released under the arbitration provision that we were discussing in the context that you mention (which had to do with booting Darwin Barney, if I remember correctly) – that provision is the lack-of-baseball-ability thing. Since Spring Training hadn’t even started, we know that’s not why Bonifacio was released and received termination pay. If I had to guess, there’s another rule out there that folks don’t really discuss, or it was particular to Bonifacio’s contract and/or negotiations between the two sides.

                    • BT

                      Brett can fend for himself, but seriously Brocktoon, you are becoming fairly unpleasant here. Moreso than usual I mean.

                    • Brocktoon

                      I don’t feel I’m being unpleasant, downside of the medium I guess. Brett said only stupid organizations do X, I brought up 3 universally respected organizations who did X, brett got hostile and dismissive

                    • Brocktoon

                      I don’t think it’s asking a lot for consistency. If it’s dumb to start Baez in the big leagues in 15 then why is it not dumb to call him up in mid august? If it is dumb, then in spite of their readiness I’d assume he’d want those 3 to be held off until the cutoff point for 15. If we hold off those 3 until the cutoff point in 15 we are severely handicapping our chances in 15(a season that currently looks like we’ll need to fire on all cylinders IMO) in order to preserve 2021

                    • BT

                      We have markedly different ideas of what constitutes “hostile” then. Perhaps dismissive works, because it’s hard to see how his point is even arguable (trading a year of control for .5 to 1 win at the very best seems absurd). You seemed to then go the 6 year old route and started bringing up everything you could think of that Brett got wrong on the blog he writes multiple posts a day on, every day, 365 days a year. It’s beyond childish.

                    • bbmoney

                      “I don’t think it’s asking a lot for consistency. If it’s dumb to start Baez in the big leagues in 15 then why is it not dumb to call him up in mid august?”

                      These are really different things entirely. If the FO thinks Baez is ready mid to late summer 2014 he’ll come up and the Cubs will still control him for 6 years after this year. If he’s not ready this year and doesn’t come up there’s close to a 0 % chance he’s in the MLB before May 1st 2015. Because 162 > 25 or so.

                      But 162 probably isn’t worth holding your top prospect down in the minors half of July and all of August, September and April if he’s not learning anything in AAA anymore.

                    • Brocktoon

                      But you’re trading a year of service time for worthless wins(and loss of draft position, budget, ifa budget, etc)

                    • BT

                      So of course you will take it to the ridiculous extreme that Brett’s point is that as long as the Cubs are bad, they should never bring up a prospect, right? Do you honestly believe that is what anyone thinks?

                    • Brocktoon

                      It’s been stated by several people that it’s better to win 65 than 70

                    • bbmoney

                      I’d prefer to think of it as trading a year of service time in order to not make a prospect sit in AAA for 3.5 months (assuming we’re talking mid-July) if he’s really got nothing to learn there. Especially since it keeps him from seeing things and learning things the last two and a half months of the year that could help give him things to work on the whole off-season.

                      It’s more about not stalling his development for half a year than the w/l if it’s a lost year.

                    • BT

                      OK Brocktoon. If you want to continue to have a free flowing context free argument with yourself, feel free. If it makes you feel better to think that there are people out there who want to keep Bryant and Baez in the minors until they are 30 because the Major League team stinks, you will win every imaginary argument you have with them.

                    • Brocktoon

                      Well mid-august was the original jumping pint which leaves a little more than a month of AAA time. I can’t imagine much changing in javys development in that span. I imagine they’d send him to Arizona if he wasn’t a call up to get some work?

                    • miggy80

                      Damn, am I late again?

                  • Patrick W.

                    Smart teams do stupid things.

                    • hansman

                      NO! Only the Cubs do stupid things.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      ‘Smart teams do stupid things’

                      That’s one way to look at it, but using stupid to describe is probably the wrong thing to do.

                    • Patrick W.

                      You are off topic :)

          • noisesquared

            I don’t think anyone says he should be breaking camp with the ML team, but at some point if the kid is ready, he needs to come up. Not to placate the fans (although that will help), but to let Baez (or Bryant, or Almora, or whomever) get accustomed to big league pitching. I think this is going to be a big year player-development wise – I expect to see Olt, Baez, and possibly Alcantara and Bryant (post ASB), get some significant big league at-bats this year.

            All I’m saying is if on June 1, Baez is in AAA with 1.000+ OPS, BB and K rates are good, d is improving, why not bring him up and let him start figuring it out?

          • Brocktoon

            Why bother with him in May ’15 if were just looking at a 500 record that year? What a waste

          • Brocktoon

            What on earth would make the cubs stupid for starting 2015 with Baez on the opening day roster but not calling him up in august 2014 in a season where they’ll lose 95 games? Why call him up in mid May and cost ourselves another year of league min pay if we called him up in July 15?

      • roz

        I’m all for being patient, but if Baez doesn’t hit the majors until May of 2015, something went horribly wrong.

        • YourResidentJag

          I’m okay with letting him figure out defense and start up here after the trade deadline.

    • Jon

      When is the “super 2″ deadline for Baez this year? June?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Not before mid-May, I think. Mid June wouldn’t surprise me.

  • CubFan Paul

    “with Christian Villanueva at third and a potentially crowded outfield picture. Olt may have to dust off the first base glove and/or do some work at DH”

    Uh no. Villanueva would stay in Tennessee before all that. Olt is still the better prospect & blue chipper that Villanueva is not. No way the Cubs tank Olt’s value by moving him to 1B/DH (if healthy).

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Uh, no.

      • J. L.

        Precisely.

    • Austin8466

      In what way would moving Olt to 1B tank his value?

      • CubFan Paul

        25HR, plus-defending third basemen are worth a lot

        • Jon

          Mike Olt shit his pants in the PCL league, so I don’t see him hitting 25 HR in the majors.

          • CubFan Paul

            Sound analysis Jon.

            • Jon

              It’s a pretty big leap of faith to assume Mike Olt is a 25 HR(hitting those HR with a reasonable avg/obp) player in the majors.

              • CubFan Paul

                “It’s a pretty big leap of faith to assume”

                I’m not assuming anything, besides health. Olt is the better player/prospect

                • Chad

                  besides health, well yeah, but if he isn’t healthy that obviously makes him a pretty big non-prospect, only time will tell. Also, if the cubs put him at 1B/DH it’s not to increase his trade value, it is too see what they have and if he can hit consistently. By putting him at 1B or DH his glove at 3B just doesn’t disappear. They see Villanueva and Olt as 3B prospects but Villanueva probably needs more time actually playing 3B. Also Villanueva is a pretty good prospect in his own right, some could argue a better one based on the uncertainty of Olt’s vision, so it is very important to get him reps at 3B. He isn’t going back to AA either because that is where Bryant will be.

              • ced landrum

                Sure it is a big leap unless you know the guy had some sort of medical condition or was injured.

                • brickhouse

                  It is a big leap because only 5 3b hit 25 or more HR’s last year. I see Olt in AA for a lot of this season.

                  • hansman

                    If Olt goes back to AA this year, you can throw him in the “failed prospect” bin.

                    • brickhouse

                      Meant AAA and not AA but still a good chance he is a failed prospect or becomes a 4A or bench player

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “but still a good chance he is a failed prospect or becomes a 4A or bench player”

                      Why?

                    • hansman

                      Because he still hasn’t shown he can hit big league pitching. Even when healthy.

                      It’s the same risk that every prospect carries.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “Even when healthy”

                      Smh

                  • CubFan Paul

                    If by big leap you mean consensus upside/ceiling then yes at Olt being a 25HR 3B

      • Edwin

        At 3B Olt can make an impact with his bat and his glove. At 1B, he can really only make an impact with his bat.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        And Olt plays a good 3rd base, which isn’t easy (cut to moneyball scene)

    • Jason P

      Considering literally every major prospect list this year had Villanueva ahead of Olt, I’m going to have to disagree.

      • CubFan Paul

        Olt was injured & played through. Villanueva was healthy, of course Olt fell back in prospect status.

        Villanueva’s floor/ceiling and upside didn’t change over the course of the ’13 season.

        • Jason P

          And we still don’t know (A) if Olt has permanently solved his vision problems or (B) if his struggles last year were 100% related to his vision. If we did, he wouldn’t have dropped on prospect lists.

          Villanueva’s not starting at AA. I can guarantee you that much. He needs the reps at third more than Olt, so either he’s going to get all the reps or they will split time there with the other playing first or DH. Olt isn’t suddenly going to forget how to play third is he has to move across the diamond for a while.

          • CubFan Paul

            Villanueva’s has approach/on-base issues that weren’t solved last year. AA isn’t a punishment.

            • Jason P

              I’m not high on Villanueva either, so no argument there. I’m just saying Olt’s not head and shoulders above him.

              • CubFan Paul

                “I’m just saying Olt’s not head and shoulders above him”

                I’m saying, if healthy Olt is. That’s all.

                • Jason P

                  If the Cubs feel Villanueva is ready for AAA, I still don’t see the drawbacks of having Olt play first while Villanueva develops further on defense.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    Villanueva’s defense is ‘fine’. He’s always been a slick defender. It’s his offense/bat that’s the issue.

                    • Chad

                      Olt’s defense is fine too, he just needs more at bats. Bryant needs to work on both, so moving Villanueva to 3B at Iowa and Olt to 1B/DH and leaving Bryant at 3B in AA is a best case scenario.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “Villanueva to 3B at Iowa and Olt to 1B/DH and leaving Bryant at 3B in AA is a best case scenario”

                      Olt making the team out of Camp is the best case scenario (if we’re talking about the same thing).

                    • Jason P

                      But I think most would agree Olt’s glove is better.

                    • Chad

                      True, Olt in Chicago is best case, but I also don’t think that is overly realistic, but maybe it is.

            • Jason P

              I slightly misread your comment. I should add that while I’m not high on Villanueva, it’s not my opinion that matters and league-wide he is still viewed as a legitimate borderline top-10 prospect in the system.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Olt’s glove isn’t in question, only his bat. Play at first or DH won’t cause him to lose his 3B skills.

      If need be, the Cubs could play Olt off of third, and if he hits well it won’t hurt his value at all.

      • D-Rock

        +1

    • hansman

      If Olt returns to the player he was before the injury…why would you want to trade him?

      I love the discussions around here about trading off well-performing young players but then getting pissed when we trade away old guys on expiring contracts.

      • CubChymyst

        Cubs have a lot of depth at the infield. If Castro and Rizzo stay you’ve got Baez, Alcantara, Bryant, Olt, and Villanueva to find spots for if they work out. Someone is going to get moved. Yes you could move someone to the outfield, but I’d rather trade a younger guy for some pitching. If you want good pitching back your going to have to give up a good player.

        • CubFan Paul

          “and Villanueva to find spots for”

          Villanueva will be a Valbuena type. A better utility guy.

          • CubChymyst

            Villanueva could be a utility guy. I’ve mentioned trading players before, but always with the caveat that enough of the guys work out. If the cubs want to trade for a pitcher they will need to give up something good to get a good one. If Villanueva and Olt can both play 3rd, do you keep both or trade one for a pitcher? If Olt can bring back a better pitcher do you trade him and keep Villanueva or trade Villanueva for a lesser pitcher and keep Olt?

        • hansman

          If all 5 of them put you in the shoes of having to figure out where to play them, the only question mark you really have is CF (which, if that were the case it’d be Castro or Alcantara, probably).

          In that world I’d go:
          1B – Rizzo
          2B – Alcantara
          3B – Olt
          SS – Baez
          LF – Villanueva
          CF – Castro (hoping his range at SS translates)
          RF – Bryant

          If we are going the optimistic route, then you have to worry about Soler (trade Villanueva) and then Almora (trade Alcantara and move Castro back to SS and Baez to 2B) and then you hope the NL has the DH when Vogs comes up.

          • CubFan Paul

            1B – Rizzo
            2B – Baez
            3B – Olt
            SS – Castro
            LF – Lake
            CF – Alcantara
            RF – Bryant

            That could be 2015

            • twinkletoez

              1B – Rizzo
              2B – Watkins
              3B – Olt
              SS – Castro
              LF – Vitters
              CF – Lake
              RF – Jackson
              C – Castillo

              That could be 2014

              • CubFan Paul

                “That could be 2014″

                I’m all for it. In another lost season, I’m super excited about player development

                Watkins, Vitters, Olt, Castro, BJax, ….(everyone you listed)

              • twinkletoez

                I am glad I am not the only crazy person that would love to see that lineup, at least for a short period of time, during a lost season.

              • Eternal Pessimist

                I suspect watkins will be a distant memory soon enough with all the better options we have now…stacked infielder porospet pool and all.

                • hansman

                  Like Andres Blanco?

                  • Eternal Pessimist

                    Who? :)

              • Brocktoon

                1b Choi
                2b Hill
                SS Montanez
                3b Kelton

                • Patrick W.

                  Montanez doesn’t belong on that list. He was still in Daytona when Choi and Hill were in Iowa.

                  • Brocktoon

                    It’s referencing Hammond talking about the cubs infield of the future when Montanez was drafted

                    • Brocktoon

                      *gammons

                    • Patrick W.

                      Is that a universally known reference point? Sorry I wasn’t aware of it. I’ll send my protestations to Peter Gammons. :)

                    • Brocktoon

                      Sorry just the way my memory remembers things instead of calculus or anniversaries

          • Kyle

            I can’t imagine an older Castro moving back to SS after spending a year or more in CF. That’s almost always a one-way move.

            • hansman

              The move wouldn’t be because he couldn’t handle SS, it’d be because him at CF and Baez at SS > Castro at SS and someone else in that list at CF.

              The only other scenario I could see there would be Baez at 2B and Alcantara at CF.

          • CubChymyst

            I don’t see that line up happening if all of them work out, I see one getting traded for pitching. The most likely scenario is that one or 2 fail and it gets it self sorted out that way.

            • hansman

              Ya, I was going to post that as a response to your comment above. I like to live in fantasy land where they all pan out close to ceiling and our offense is so amazing we don’t need to trade them for pitching.

              • CubChymyst

                They all don’t have to workout, and we could still trade one or two for pitching. Lets say just Baez, Alcantara, and Bryant work out and all 3 can play the infield. One could still get traded for pitching instead of moving to the outfield.

                My point was the Cubs have depth, if Olt returns to form he could still get traded. Getting that TOR in free agency is looking less and less like a possibility, so it will likely need to get traded for from an area of depth which is currently the infield.

                • bnile1

                  ‘so it will likely need to get traded for from an area of depth which is currently the infield.’

                  It’s also a position of strenght at 3rd base which is also a position the is very weak around baseball both at the Major and Minor league level. Villanueva was a AA allstar, it he can hit, someone will want him bad enough to trade for him.

                  They could alway have Olt play this year prove he can handle 3b at the majors then trade him next season when bryant is ready etc. All these situations are actually good problems to have. Competition has a way of solving these problems for you most of the time.

                  Heck they could even trade olt, villanueva and bryant, and play Baez at 3rd with alcantara at second. AS far as I’m concerned them more guys they “have” to trade, the better.

        • YourResidentJag

          I’d rather see if Shark could be traded for that TOR type out of high A or AA ball instead of having to tap into any high potential offensive prospects whatsoever.

      • CubFan Paul

        …I don’t want to trade Olt at all

        Seems i’ve been the only one here to point out the flawed thinking of trading Olt for whatever after a good 2014

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          If you get a top end starting pitching prospect with 1 potential for Olt after a good 2014, with the depth in the system, you absolutely take that deal

          • CubChymyst

            It will likely take more than just Olt, but if he recovers he could be a good starting point.

          • CubFan Paul

            “with the depth in the system”

            What 3B depth? Outside of Baez (who’s getting groomed for 2B) there’s no other slugging, plus defender that has Olt’s ceiling/upside.

            I expect the 6’5″ Bryant to be in the OF, with Olt at third.

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              In my opinion (and Jim Callis’ opinion), Baez is best suited to play third base. Bryant could be an average to slightly above average third baseman defensively and elite with the bat. Villanueva is a well above average glove with power potential at the plate. That is 3 players who could very well be able to start in the big leagues in 2015. A little further away, there is Jeimer Candelario.

              Third base is probably the deepest position in the Cubs minor league system

              • CubFan Paul

                “In my opinion (and Jim Callis’ opinion), Baez is best suited to play third base”

                Mine too, but from Day One when Theo came here & was asked Baez’s future, the first thing he said was second base. And it’s still looking that way.

                Alcantara will probably need most of the season at AAA to work on his switch hitting.

                • mjhurdle

                  I have seen the Theo’s comments from last Dec saying that Baez can play everywhere. And in 2012 he said that Baez could play 2B or 3B if the team needed him to change positions.
                  But it seems that the prevailing theme is that he will be a SS until they had to move him, not that he was being groomed for 2B.
                  Do you have a link or something for this? Not saying you are wrong, just want to see what he was saying, because if the plan is to have him at 2B, that would be interesting/exciting.

            • CubChymyst

              I agree Bryant is most likely going to the outfield, but reports say he could be passable at 3rd. If Alcantara can play 2B I think he makes more sense there than Baez, which would push Baez to 3rd. Villanueva put up a good year in AA at 3rd. Personally I don’t have much hope for Olt, this is all figuratively speaking. If I had to make guesses for 2015 I’d put Rizzo 1B, Alcantara 2B, Baez 3B, Castro SS, Bryant OF. The other 2OF either prospects that surprise like Andreoli or free agent like Sweeney.

            • Chad

              You can say that about Olt, but then you can’t say that Bryant does not possess a higher ceiling at 3b than Olt. You will say Bryant doesn’t have the glove, but Olt doesn’t have the power of Bryant, and currently does not have the same potential as an all around player. I’m not saying Bryant will or should stick at 3B, but based on upside alone Bryant has more than Olt.

              • CubFan Paul

                ” but then you can’t say that Bryant does not possess a higher ceiling at 3b than Olt”

                I don’t view Bryant as a 3B (after seeing him in the AFL (rocket arm but no where near ‘plus’ at third base defensively))

                • Chad

                  I know you don’t, but right now he is still a 3B prospect until the cubs move him off of that position right? So right now he is depth, and IMO he still has a higher ceiling (even at 3B) than Olt does.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    That’s not the topic and as you said it’s your opinion.

                    • Fishin Phil

                      What makes his opinion less valid than yours?

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      The subject is the Cubs depth at third base in the Minor League system. Kris Bryant is currently a third baseman and until he is moved off of third base, he is part of the Cubs third base depth in the minors, regardless of your opinion on whether he can stick at third or not

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “What makes his opinion less valid than yours?”

                      Never said it was. Just staying on topic.

                    • Chad

                      I too was on topic, and that was of 3B depth, which is what Bryant is. How was I off topic. Are you arguing too many different things at one time that you actually forget what the topic is?

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “How was I off topic”

                      The topic was Olt v Villanueva if Olt fails to make the team, not Bryant’s future ML position

                    • Patrick W.

                      I’m going to wade in here and issue a ruling:

                      In the question of “what was the topic” I rule in favor of Paul. The topic was in fact Olt v Villanueva if they are both in Iowa to start the season.

                      That said, the initial topic was the above, but there were sub topics that turned the overall conversation into 3B depth. Therefore, adherence to the original topic cannot be reasonably expected.

                    • Chad

                      Actually this was the original topic that sprouted into what I was discussing:

                      “What 3B depth? Outside of Baez (who’s getting groomed for 2B) there’s no other slugging, plus defender that has Olt’s ceiling/upside.

                      I expect the 6’5″ Bryant to be in the OF, with Olt at third.”-CFP

                    • mjhurdle

                      Seems the topic was depth at 3B, at least in part.

                      This thread started with the topic being “Olt won’t be moved off of 3B for Villanueva because that would hurt Olts value”
                      There was debate about whether it would actually hurt his value moving to 1B for awhile.
                      Then Hansman asked why we would want to trade him if he had a good 2014.
                      You responded saying that you have been against trading him for some time now.
                      Someone mentioned that, with the depth at the 3B position, trading him isn’t out of the question if you get the right return.
                      The response to that was
                      “What 3B depth? Outside of Baez (who’s getting groomed for 2B) there’s no other slugging, plus defender that has Olt’s ceiling/upside.”
                      That is what started the “is Bryant 3B Depth” back and forth.
                      I will defer to Patrick W’s rulings of course, but i think that Chad was on topic with his posts.

                    • mjhurdle

                      wow, wasn’t expecting a ruling so quickly.
                      Patrick W is the model of speed and efficiency in a judicial process.

                    • Patrick W.

                      I’m sorry, but the very first post in the thread set the subject as this:

                      “Villanueva would stay in Tennessee before all that. Olt is still the better prospect & blue chipper that Villanueva is not.”

                      Please note in my ruling that I am ruling for Paul in the specific, but in the abstract, no reasonable poster or reader can be expected to only talk about that based on the sub topics in the thread. My ruling for Paul only pertains to what the topic was originally.

                    • Chad

                      Patrick, after review you are correct that was the original post, however, I would now like to argue to the court that CFP did not stay on topic throughout the discussion as he stated he did. Thus losing credibility!

                    • Patrick W.

                      Noted. Ruling stands.

                • Fishin Phil

                  You said “I don’t view Bryant as a 3B”.

                  That is your opinion.

                  • CubFan Paul

                    “That is your opinion”

                    And others.

                    • Jason P

                      And there are plenty of qualified others who also think he will stick at third.

                    • Fishin Phil

                      Unless your mysterious others include members of the Cub’s Front Office, who cares?

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “And there are plenty of qualified others who also think he will stick at third”

                      Who?

                  • Patrick W.

                    My official ruling here is for Phil. Phil is right that “I don’t view Briant as a 3B” is Paul’s opinion, and the fact that others share that opinion is inadmissible.

                    • Fishin Phil

                      I like this judge!

  • Edwin

    I look forward to the inevitable posting of batting practice videos of Baez, and the 100+ comments that go with it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      So do I.

    • Norm

      I don’t look forward to the using of Spring stats to back up the “Baez should be on the team on Opening Day” comments.

      • ced landrum

        I would be soooooo pissed if he made the team out of spring training. I am seriously pumped to see him and Alcantara in Iowa. Literally giddy with excitement.

        • miggy80

          That’s what I’m talking about Ced. Maybe if we’re lucky Bryant makes his way up to Des Moines while Baez and Alcantara are still here.

          • ced landrum

            I have a boner.

            • Fishin Phil

              Well, if it lasts longer than 4 hours, call a doctor.

              • ced landrum

                I hope it lasts longer then 4 hours. I haven’t been this excited about a AAA season since well ever. I was pretty pumped around 2001 and 2002 with He Soop, Bobby Hill, Zambrano and the short stay of Prior, and don’t forget Julio Zuleta. That man was huge.

      • Kyle

        Thin air and a bunch of pitchers trying to get their arms warmed up for the season by grooving fastballs?

        Javy might hit 20 homers.

  • When The Musics Over

    I thought the more interesting question in that fangraphs mailbag was if the Cubs and Mets would be a good match for a position player / starting pitcher prospect for prospect swap.

    What would you give up for Syndergaard?

    • Jon

      Jeff Samardzija

    • Jon

      Oh and those fangraphs chats are worthless, they are inundated with nerds asking questions about their keeper leagues. How about some actual baseball questions?

      • When The Musics Over

        Kinda unfair, as even if that’s true, I don’t see how that means every single question is irrelevant.

        Anyhow, just always think prospect for prospect trades are interesting and that given the Cubs high-end starting pitcher quandary and the market in general, curious if they see an uptick.

  • Patrick W.

    I doubt I’ll read anything funnier today than the last sentence in the Wellington Castillo bullet.

  • itzscott

    This shapes up as the most interesting spring training that I can remember in a long time.

    My eyes and ears will be glued on Baez, Olt, Junior Lake, Vitters and Brett Jackson.

    Hard time imagining that ALL of them will fall on their faces with likely one or two of them with strong showings.

    Who’d I miss?

    • Chad

      How about Bryant and Almora? I’d like to see how they do. Is Soler at ST? I am guessing yes, but don’t know.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Depending on Soler’s residency situation, he may not be able to report early as easily as guys like Almora and Baez can.

      • Jon

        Much like rounding the bases, Soler will take his sweet ass time reporting to camp :)

    • CubFan Paul

      “Who’d I miss?”

      As far as guys with a chance to make the team: Vitters, Lake, & Watkins

      Lake has started the last two years late because of Spring injuries.

    • Darth Ivy

      I’m most excited about Bryant. I understand he didn’t play the whole season, but his numbers from 2013 were jaw dropping. If he does that again this year, how won’t he be the #1 overall prospect in baseball? I know, I know, that’s a big if. I don’t actually expect that, but I’m just trying to point out how ridiculous he was last year.

      For how highly he’s ranked, I still think he’s underrated

      • CubFan Paul

        “I don’t actually expect that”

        I do expect a .300/.400/.600plus line at Tennessee

        • Darth Ivy

          I think the key is that he never went through a slump which may have been an effect of only playing part of the season. We can only assume his inevitable slump will bring his .336/.390/.688 2013 numbers down a bit. Then we have to see how he gets himself out of it. Hoyer talked about this being the most important part of his development

          • CubFan Paul

            I still expect a .300/.400/.600plus line at Tennessee

            • Noah_I

              I think the split between his average and OBP is a little bullish, but I could see .300/.360/.600 at Tennessee, although my guess would be more along the lines of .280/.350/.550, just because I’m a bit more conservative. That would still be awesome in a pitcher friendly Southern League.

              • Darth Ivy

                that’s my thought. .400 OBP might be a little high.

                I’m more impressed with his advnaced stats. His ISO makes me giggle

                • Noah_I

                  Agreed. I love having two guys at the top of our system who have at least 70 power, and might both be 80s.

              • Darth Ivy

                and his wRC+

      • TheDondino

        Unless Byron Buxton graduates to the Bigs (very unlikely) or regresses (more unlikely than Bryant regressing), he keeps a lock on the #1 spot no matter how well Bryant does this year. If Bryant does explode, I think it’s more likely he comes up to Chicago to stay and gets taken off prospect lists altogether.

        • Darth Ivy

          good point about Buxton.

  • Pingback: Spraying to all fields | Cubs Den()

  • Spriggs

    Looks like Baez has gained a little weight… doesn’t look like muscle either.

    • JB88

      Basis? Not challenging your observation, just looking for a source/pic to consider myself. Thanks.

    • ced landrum

      That weight is just awesomeness and not fat buddy.

  • CubChymyst

    I will chose to watch Conan before Fallon.

    • Noah_I

      In some ways, Fallon is as much of an innovator of the format as O’Brien is, though. O’Brien is the far superior comedian, but I think that Fallon has really transitioned his shows from pure comedy and interviews to general entertainment and interviews. For example, the playing popular songs with elementary school classroom instruments thing isn’t funny, but it’s awesome.

      Overall, though, we’re probably in the best era of late night television, at least from 10 to 11:30 central time, at least since Johnny Carson retired. You have the back end of Letterman’s career on CBS, Fallon is far superior to Leno on NBC, Kimmel is far better than I thought he’d be on ABC and taken good advantage of his abilities to come up with entertaining pranks and be self deprecating, and on cable you have O’Brien, Stewart and Colbert.

      I don’t get to watch many late night shows, but that’s a solid set of options in that time frame.

    • YourResidentJag

      I’m a Craig Ferguson watcher myself.

  • Kyle

    Someone probably will get to free agency. And then he won’t be enough to turn us into a contender so we’ll pass on him.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      Agree with the first part of your two part comment. I really think the cubs will be willing to overpay for one number one or number two pitcher with all other fielding and cost containment issues (and revenue?) finally adressed by the 2015 offseason.

      • Brocktoon

        There won’t be a “#1″ on the market

        • Eternal Pessimist

          Yeah, unless someone emerges in the 2014 as a legit #1 or they can trade for one somehow.

  • MightyBear

    That last question to Hendricks was from me.

  • JulioZuleta

    Have there been any reports about Baez’s physical shape? Not to be the guy that criticizes 21 year olds (I’m not THAT much older than him anyways), but I saw some pics on Twitter/Instagram, and he didn’t necessarily look like he was in playing shape, at all. Hopefully they were just bad pics. I would be slighty concerned if he reported to camp out of shape, especially after skipping the AFL because he as burnt out.

    • CubFan Paul
      • hansman

        I like how low the hoop is there. Makes me feel better about my upz.

      • Isaac

        He looks to be in outstanding shape, from some of the pictures and videos I’ve seen. That being said, he certainly seems built more like a 3B/RF than a SS/2B.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        Does this outfit make me look fat?

        Uhhhhhh…no dear.

    • Jon

      It does look like he has a spare tire, doesn’t it?

      [img]http://i61.tinypic.com/23kog0l.jpg[/img]

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Not really sure you can tell from that picture, given the folds in the shirt – could be a bit of an optical illusion situation going on. Jesse Rogers just tweeted out some Vines that show Baez in motion, and he doesn’t look much bigger in the middle to me.

        • Isaac

          I agree. Rogers’ video was one of the ones I was referencing. He looks very in shape (but very built) to me.

        • DarthHater

          Sure, Brett, sure. It’s the shirt. Is that koolaid you’re drinking sugar-free? If so, you might want to send some to Javier. :-P

          • hansman

            Maybe you should send him some of your Haterade. I heard that is zero calories.

            • DarthHater

              Haterade: for that deep-down body thirst to incinerate a planet.

      • JulioZuleta

        This is actually the picture I was mainly referring to. I’ve been busy the last couple days and hadn’t had a chance to look at the Spring Training pics/videos, but now that I have, I think it’s probably just a bad picture.

    • DarthHater

      KFC > AFL

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    So he ate well and had a few too many beers over the off season. Big deal! He does seem larger, but to me he looks strong as hell. You can’t tell with guys that age, because they are still growing. It looks to me like he may be growing into a corner infielder. All this talk about when he or the others come up is driving me crazy. So many are talking about Bryant coming up mid-year and Baez in June etc..I believe that Theo means what he says. If Baez cuts down on his strike outs and increases his walks along with improved defense then I think you will see him. The way attendance has been falling I think it may be a neccesity to have someone that can sell tickets. I personally don’t see Bryant coming up until September at the earliest. The intriguing thing about Baez last year was that when he got two a higher level in AA he doubled down and put up better number there than in Daytona. We just have to wait and see if he is challenged at Iowa and whether he can improve his plate disipline without affecting his hitting.

  • Diehardthefirst

    According to 42 JR hit .625 in ST and still had to wonder if race would prevent call-up- — if any minor leaguer hits this much wonder what could prevent call up? Options!

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