Alas, my Mesa sojourn is at an end, and I head back to Columbus today. It’s been an informative and productive trip, and I’ll have much more on it in the coming days.
- Rick Renteria says that if Javier Baez had been hit in the foot by a foul ball off of anyone else’s bat, he would have been fine. But since it was a ball off of Baez’s own bat, it’s understandable he went down. (Cubs.com) Note that Baez is OK, and RR was mostly just complimenting Baez’s power.
- Speaking of Baez, RR tells Mark Gonzales that we could see him make a start at second base soon. Baez has already been working out at the position, and could eventually see time at third base, too. But the primary secondary focus (if that makes sense) after shortstop for Baez right now is second base.
- Speaking of Baez again, there’s a lot of speaking of Baez going on at Cubs camp. Patrick Mooney says Baez was mentioned 11 times in a 9-minute media session with Renteria yesterday. Given the state of things, it’s understandable that Baez is getting so much attention. But let’s say it again: no matter how well Baez performs this Spring, and even if there were injuries ahead of him, Baez is going to AAA to start the year. He still has things to learn, there is an extra year of control to grab (and maybe even avoiding Super Two status if the Cubs keep him down long enough), and he would probably really struggle at the big league level right now. Remember: Baez has had a few nice hits off of fringe roster guys in fake games. It’s fun as hell to watch and follow, but it’s not the same thing as tearing up AAA for a couple months and demonstrating a readiness to face the best pitching in the world day-in, day-out. And, even then, he’ll probably struggle for a while.
- In the same piece, Gonzales reports that Jake Arrieta threw for the second time off of the mound and felt good once again. No one expects him to be ready by Opening Day at this point, but it remains not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things.
- Emilio Bonifacio is already becoming something of a leader – and a fun guy – in the clubhouse.
- The Cubs have just one Article XX(B) player this year: Tsuyoshi Wada. If you’re wondering what that means, you can read this great MLBTR primer. The gist is that certain veteran players get special rights when they sign a minor league deal. Such players must be added to the 25-man roster within five days of Opening Day (or at least receive a binding promise to be added by Opening Day), or they get a $100,000 retention bonus. From there, the team can maintain the player’s rights at the minor league level through June 1, at which point the player may opt out into free agency if he hasn’t been added to the 25-man roster.
- The Cubs are working very hard with Kris Bryant on his defense at third base, trying to accommodate his large size. Bryant very clearly has skills over there, but it’s just hard for a guy who is 6’4″ to stay low enough and agile enough to play the hot corner long-term. There’s no point in moving him just yet, though, so that’s where Bryant will start the AA season.
- Pat Sajak doesn’t like Clark the Cub, which, whatever. But it appears that his primary gripe is that Clark isn’t wearing pants. You know, like virtually every cartoon bear in the history of ever, and tons of mascots before him