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javier baez aflAlas, 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
  • Chad

    Pat Sajak can kiss Clark’s bear butt!

    • andyb

      Heh. I see what you did there.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Pat Sajak has always had a creepy element to him. In same way Pat Hughes does. Ever listen to Pat describe his intensive hobby of going to conventions on conspiracy theories tied to the Kennedy assasination in 1963? Strange stuff.

      • Jon

        No, can’t say I have heard Hughes go on about Kennedy assassination theories, nor do I think he would.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          He mentions it every now and again as a goofy distraction.

          • Jon

            I don’t know what’s weirder, him bringing it up, or that they actually have a convention for that.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              I’ve never actually considered the possibility that those conventions were a real thing.

              MIND BLOWN.

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

                I am so going to that convention then have a drink with Pat.

  • ssckelley

    Clark is awesome and I don’t care what an old game show host says about him. I seen that episode and Pat made that woman feel really uncomfortable, especially when he asked what her brothers name was.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Clark sucks. Weird hybrid of the Hamms beer bear and a Japanese cartoon character. Why exactly do we need a friggin mascot? For the kids?!? Please. Thing is strange and awkward and destined to receive beer showers by drunken fans at Wrigley. This thing won’t end well…plug will be pulled on Clark within 2 years.

      • ssckelley

        Yes, it is for the kids and I have 2 young boys that are anxious to go to Wrigley to meet Clark. Old farts like yourself can keep drinking your beer and just turn the other way when you see the mascot walking around.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          I tell you what, every time I see Cubbie Bear at an ICubs game I get violently angry and want to assault him.

          BECAUSE HE ISN’T WEARING PANTS!!!!

          • ssckelley

            I find it creepy that you even noticed that.

            • miggy80

              And that creep is in my Avatar! Wait till next time Cubbie Bear

              • ssckelley

                Is this why I used to have those weird dreams as a kid where I dreamt I would go to school and accidentally forgot to wear pants? I would stress out the entire dream hoping no one would notice.

                Damn you Yogi Bear! Damn you Bugs Bunny!

          • Steve

            hans, that was funny.

        • Blackhawks1963

          This isn’t the Lansing Lugnuts for crying out loud. Rather this is the Chicago Cubs, one of the historic franchises in Major League Baseball. We don’t need gimics and warm and fuzzies. We need WINS and World Series trophies. You think the kids at Busch Stadium, Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium sit there and pout of the lack of a friggin mascot?!?

          I HATE Clark the Bear and everything this forced exercise represents.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            They have mascots at Busch and Fenway. And if you think they don’t have kid-friendly activities at Dodger and Yankee Stadiums, you’re very mistaken. You also simply don’t get that Wrigley’s different-ness makes it extremely hard to implement kid-friendly stuff because there’s no space.

            I have young kids. Clark will help improve the ballpark experience for them because kids like stuff like that. And I like the idea of actually being able to take my kids to a game at Wrigley and enjoy it, rather than deal with antsy, pouting kids all day.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              “And I like the idea of actually being able to take my kids to a game at Wrigley and enjoy it, rather than deal with antsy, pouting kids all day.”

              Then you, sir, are a terrible parent. You should get your 4 and 1 year old children to sit there and behave properly. That’s the way it has always been until our generation came along.

              (I find it very interesting that my parents always were of the “GET YOUR KIDS TO BEHAVE” until the Grandkids started coming around and now it’s…”Well, you guys were no different as kids”)

            • Joshua Edwards

              Seriously, Brett, where do you get these crazy ideas? I mean, I’ve been to Disneyland and, yes, it’s filled with pantsless cartoon characters, lights, theater, shows, food, kiddie rides, and just about everything else. But I ask you: where can you find three hours of watching grown men stand around and stare at a ball?

              Clearly, Disney is missing a key demographic by not having the all-important attraction: a row of chairs in the grass for the semi-obstructed viewing of two guys playing catch. You sit in line for 50 minutes so you can sit still for three more. This is a no-brainer.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            You hate a fuzzy character that brings joy to children?

            One part ‘WOW’ another part ‘Doesn’t surprise me’.

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

              Yup

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

            Hey I like going to Lugnut games…

          • ssckelley

            I don’t give a shit that you “HATE Clark the Bear”, the fact of the matter is the kids will love him. I think it is great the Cubs finally got a mascot, something they should have done years ago.

      • Chad

        GET OFF MY LAWN. BASEBALL ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BE FOR THE KIDS, JUST THE IRRATIONAL OLD MEN WHO POST ON THE INTERWEBZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Blackhawks1963

    I wonder if Baez and Alcantara might flip flop positions at Triple A Iowa, seeing how Baez is really opening eyes and the Cubs may want to get him up to the big leagues for good by mid-summer. Alcantara does have experience at shortstop (though that isn’t his ultimate destiny) and Baez can begin learning how to play 2nd base.

    Hmmm.

    • Chad

      I think the obvious answer is NO. They’ll keep Baez at SS as long as they can. He could easily replace Castro as you like to project. Alcantara could move to CF, but I doubt he goes back to SS. They have decided he is going to be a 2B and most say his defense is much better at 2B anyway.

      • Blackhawks1963

        My POINT is that if Baez is going to get called up at some point in 2014 (that’s got to be the big hope, right?) then he needs to get to work pretty damn quick in learning a new position given the presence of Castro. Maybe Castro does get traded down the road, but he probably isn’t going anywhere this season.

        • Chad

          Does he really need much practice at 2B? The biggest and only diff IMO is the turn for the DP, I don’t think he probably needs a ton of work at that. And if he does, then he can get that while learning on a horrible ML team. Alcantara needs as much work as he can get if he is going to be deemed a 2B as well. Unless the ultimate goal is to move him to CF, then do that, or trade him and then maybe he does have more value at SS. But if the cubs want Alcantara to develop as well for the future at 2B they need to leave him there.

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

            No he does not he’s couple play average if not above at 2B or 3B today.

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

              *Could play

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          Eh, a lot of guys played SS exclusively in the minors and then came up and played solid defense at 2B or 3B.

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

            Yeah it’s another myth that players need considerable time to learn a position. If you can play shortstop you can play anywhere without much difficulty. To worry about where a player is playing (catcher is the exception) is just foolish. He will be at shortstop until he has to move and then it will be 2B or 3B. Hell the great Sandberg logged very few games at 2B because he was a SS most the time.

            • C. Steadman

              SS to CF might take a little while but even then

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

                See Lake… these are professional ball players they have been playing there whole life and adjusting to pitchers outside of catcher/pitcher is very easy for them to do.

            • Napercal

              These guys have been playing baseball all their lives at very high levels. While there may be quite a bit of nuance to different positions, the object is the same. In most cases, 2nd basemen are shortstops with weak arms.

          • Kyle

            This. 2b is just SS on easy mode.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              The one exception is that it’s harder to be the “middle” guy on a DP at 2B than SS.

              SS -> 3B is (by most accounts) a slightly tougher transition than SS->2B: 3B is a bit more about quick footwork and a bit less about rapid leg acceleration than SS is. However, Machado made the transition in, what, a week? Boggaerts made the transition upon being called up.

              This really is a non-issue.

              • Chad

                exactly. Not an issue.

  • itzscott

    Nothing but accolades being written about Baez by all writers. But then we read the cliche’ that he “still needs time”.

    Time to do what if he’s so great?

    What does he specifically need to work on that’ll transform him into the next Albert Pujols?

    At what point does it change from “still needs time” to “It’s time”??

    If he can’t pick up on what he still needs time to do, will the time never come?

    • Norm

      Time to succeed at AAA.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      “At what point does it change from “still needs time” to “It’s time”??’

      1. Get less than 172 days of service time this year
      2. Prove that he can maintain an appropriate approach at the plate
      3. Prove that he can hit pitching that is on the doorstep of MLB for an extended period of time
      4. Preferably, not strike out 30% of the time.

      • C. Steadman

        about #3…AA is loaded with some live arms too though…but i’m all for 1,2 and 4

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          I agree with that. AA usually has more prospecty goodness. AAA has some guys who have seen big league action.

          Maybe not more difficult, just a different kind of difficult.

          • C. Steadman

            yeah, its hard to pick which is tougher bc AA guys usually graduate to AAA but the PCL is regarded as having hitter friendly ballparks

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              Ya, although I seem to recall that Principal Park is fairly neutral but we do get some strong S and SW winds in April and May.

              • C. Steadman

                yeah PP is neutral too if i recall as well, i’ll need to catch a few games there this year, i played on that field in HS, its spectacular

                • Melrosepad

                  I’m looking forward to watching them on opening day. Wife and I got our tickets ordered already. Now I just need to get me that snazzy BN shirt.

    • Blackhawks1963

      A. He doesn’t have a position on the field yet given that Castro is the incumbent shortstop and Baez hasn’t played anywhere else so far in his professional career

      B. Baez needs work defensively at shortstop, in the off chance the Cubs see him replacing Castro

      C. Baez is too swing and miss…he struck out nearly 28% of the time at Double A. That sort of thing will be exposed and exploited by major league pitchers

      Patience Grasshopper…

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

        Your “C” is the only one that matters, defensively he’s ready (that’s not saying gold glove caliber) at any position- most prospects can handle the defense the field doesn’t change from HS to MLB it’s the pitching that changes dramatically.

  • Tremendous Slouch

    I’m actually a little disappointed that Baez is being viewed more so as a potential 2B rather than 3B. I was really hoping to see AA land there long term and wind up in the leadoff spot ahead of the big bats. Do really have a long term plan for who is going to bat leadoff? Almora?

    • ssckelley

      You should be happy that Baez is being looked at for 2nd base. There is a log jam starting to form at 3rd and having a bat like that playing 2nd base would be incredible.

      • TWC

        [img]http://26.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l1nmgw4qBM1qzezj5o1_500.jpg[/img]

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

          Damn TWC beat me to it – exactly what I thought when I saw that worm.

          • Joshua Edwards

            He fixes the cable?

    • C. Steadman

      good 2B defense is more useful than good 3B defense, plus i think Alcantara might stay in Iowa till September while Baez has a better chance for a call up mid season…also Olt is close to the bigs while his only landing spot is 3B or 1B against LHP

    • Blackhawks1963

      Nirvana for me would be an eventual lineup like this…

      LF – Bryant
      CF – Almora
      3rd – Villenueva
      SS – Baez
      2nd – Alcantara

      With Castro traded for pitching…

      • Chad

        If this happens it would be great. But I would guess one of those won’t work out. I would actually prefer Olt make it at 3B and Villanueva be the utility guy for 3B and 2B.

    • Chad

      This log jam is a great issue to have. I believe the cubs will put the best players they have on the field (when they are ready) in a position to make them succeed. Whether some go to the OF or stay in the IF we will see.

      I could see Alcantara moving to CF. You never know.

      • itzscott

        Using the words “logjam” and “Cubs” in the same sentence has always been the ultimate oxymoron.

        Like when have the Cubs EVER had a logjam at ANY position other than m-a-y-b-e Palmiero and Grace at 1st base?

        • ssckelley

          Not sure what you are trying to say, are you saying that you do not see surplus talent at these infield positions? One could say there is a “logjam” forming at 3rd, short, and 2nd. This happens when you have multiple good prospects coming up through the system that play the same position or have someone at the MLB level blocking them (ie Castro at short). We have not seen this very often because it is rare the Cubs have had a good farm system or enough talent at the MLB level to block anybody.

          This is a good thing to have, as we all know the odds of prospects making it are not good and it is nice to see the Cubs have multiple options.

          • itzscott

            Ummmm…. To clarify:

            I think this is a PHENOMENAL thing that has NEVER happened within my lifetime as a Cub fan (55 years) other than (like I wrote) maybe Grace & Palmiero.

            The Cubs have always had “lifers” at a position that they just plugged in year after year (and who got VERY comfy and created the country club atmosphere). If that player retired, was traded or left there was never a prospect ready to fill the void, let alone create a logjam of capable talent.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Palmeiro was moved to LF before Grace even came up: Durham was the incumbent at 1st.

          At any rate, a logjam at 1B & LF is a much bigger issue than a logjam at SS or CF. Downward mobility in position is easy whereas upward mobility is really tough, and 1B & LF are sort of fielding serfdom.

      • nkniacc13

        I’ll be interested to see what the Cubs do with Barney. If they move him before ST is over then I think they expect Baez up before June but if they wait then I think its a move at the trade deadline. The other thing is with how much will Baez play at 2nd in Iowa with Alcantara as a top 100 prospect there as well.

        • Voice of Reason

          Interested to see what they do with Barney? Why? He can’t hit a lick. He can’t even play every day for the Cubs, a team that will lose 90+ games again this year. The Yankees passed on Barney and signed Brian Roberts instead. Barney has zero value on the trade market.

          • nkniacc13

            Because I think that depending on what they do will tell us when they expect Baez to Chicago

            • Voice of Reason

              Barney could break camp with the team and be a utility infielder.
              Barney could be sent to Triple A because he stinks.
              Barney could start the season as starting second baseman because they don’t have anybody else and they don’t want the clock to start ticking on service time for Baez…

              Barney has nothing to do with the next move for Baez!

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

      I think they are saying 2B because 1-they hope Olt locks that position down 2-there no competition at 2B as compared to 3B (Olt/Bryant) and 3-shifting from
      SS to 3B is easier since you see balls come from the same direction. However it doesn’t matter he can play anywhere and adjust quickly, hell Lake had barely touched the OF before coming to the show.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        If the report from Rosenthal is correct, Olt is, likely, to be the Opening Day 3B.

        By the end of the season you could see:

        CF: Alcantara
        SS: Castro
        1B: Rizzo
        2B: Baez
        3B: Olt
        RF: Lake
        C: Castillo
        LF: Ruggiano

        With Bryant and Soler coming up in 2015. Good God, a realistic prospect-heavy lineup.

        • itzscott

          Ladies & gentlemen….

          hansman just introduced your new core for the next 10 years

    • salesguy

      Actually, the logjam isn’t that big of a deal, IF they all hit, you could easily kick Alacantra out to the outfield, or if that is not a fit Baez can goto third, AA can slot in at second, and you could kick Olt out to left. Not perfect, but if they all hit in the next two years, great problem to have.

      With all the talent starting to bubble up, someone will get moved, most likely for pitching, but the cubs will have the luxury of a surplus of interesting arms with upside, and position players both cost controlled, and vets, that can be dealt. I think either this year, or mid next year is when we get that big deal for the TOR talent we’ve all been dreaming on.

      • nkniacc13

        I agree that a trade is coming but I expect it to happen in july in regards to the 3rd base problem unless they are added to another deal that brings back high valued arms.

        • itzscott

          Why is it a “problem”???

          More like an embarrassment of riches with which to use to fill potential holes going forward to make a strong team stronger.

      • Chad

        What about Bryant? In that scenario he has to go to left, or can he make it in right???? I don’t know. Just saying. At some point IF everyone works out then you have to make a trade at some point because Soler and Villanueva need spot too right?

  • Voice of Reason

    This reminds me of the time the Cubs had a rookie named Kerry Wood and sent him back to the minors after a great Spring Training.

    It prompted a coach for the Angels to say, “If they have 5 better starters than Kerry Wood then I’d like to see them”.

  • ChrisFChi

    Javier Baez is the Chuck Norris of the Cubs.

    “Only Javier Baez can injure Javier Baez”

    “Baseballs pee themselves at the sight of Baez”

    • Darth Ivy

      Just think if he grew a beard….slap me around and call me susan

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

      We want a Tidrow not a Norris and a stashe not a beard. This BN 101.

      • Darth Ivy

        such forgiveness, please

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Ted Lilly is the ultimate bad-ass. He doesn’t need facial hair.

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

          I was just thinking if Lilly will one day step into the Tidrow role.

        • Darth Ivy

          From now on, it’s “Javier Baez, the first”

  • candyland07

    I think rumbling about a mascot is dumb. Do I feel that a mascot is good for the Cubs. I personal don’t feel positive or negative about the whole fiasco . I am sure I was not the target audience for this promotional premium outlet for this Cub teddy bear. The target audience is children and families. Listen Chucky Cheese may serves the worst pizza but I have taken my children to the place and My children will take their children. a child cares not what and adult see in a product but the fun factor and if Clark is then its all worthwhile – Cause the next generation will bring – Like i said i was not the target audience . Clark will be great for the children and the adults that embrace the memories created. I never go to Chucky cheese for the pizza but I do go cause it enjoyable for the kids. I think its positive move by the Cubs.

  • Edwin

    I always figured the blow up over the mascot was more about emotions spilling over from a relatively quiet offseason than actually being upset with the mascot himself.

    • TTH

      Relatively quiet?
      But, yeah, I agree. The timing was terrible. And it isn’t nearly as damaging to the team as, say, bring back Ian Stewart. The fans trying to justify that move were almost as annoying as those continuing to bemoan Clark.

  • Voice of Reason

    Who cares if they have a mascot?
    Who cares if they sell the naming rights to Wrigley Field?
    Who cares if they put advertising wherever they can in and around the ballpark?
    Who cares if they add a huge jumbotron?
    Who cares if they sell sushi and other sorts of food besides hot dogs?

    All I want is to win a World Series.

    All the other stuff is petty and stupid.

    • TTH

      But, but, but those things will ruin the charm of the losingest place on Earth!

    • Darth Ivy

      1) Fine with me
      2) Fine with me
      3) Fine with me
      4) Fine with me
      5) As long as they still sell hot dogs, fine with me

      Yep. Just win a freakin world series before I die.

      All the other stuff is secondary (not pett and stupid, but secondary)

  • Jon

    I’m not wearing any pants as I type this

    • ssckelley

      You must have watched a lot of cartoons as a kid.

      OMG, BUGS BUNNY NEVER WORE PANTS!!!!

  • Voice of Reason

    They should sell the naming rights to that furniture store called “The Dump”.

    Could hear Pat Hughes open up the broadcast:

    “Hello again from The Dump, it’s time for Cubs baseball. The Cubs will try to break their 9 game losing streak today and hopefully avoid losing their 100th game of the season. On the mound today at The Dump for the Cubs…”

    • C. Steadman

      yeah but if i hear that broadcast i’d assume they’re playing a road game against the white sox

  • tymx9

    I find it kind of funny that everyone (or mostly everyone) seems to understand that keeping him down longer is the right step for many reasons. Most fans seem to get it too, which is odd because normally those are the ones that need conviencing.

    When you think about it though, wouldnt having a rookie break camp with the club benefit the rookie? it normally takes pitchers a month to 6 weeks to be in shape for the season and theres a lot of pitches that flat line due to that and the weather.

  • DarthHater

    I am forming a public morality committee to protest the pantsless state of Clark, Winnie the Pooh, and Paddington Bear. All those interested in joining, please let me know.

    • Fishin Phil

      I can get on board with that. I may only be a damn puppet, but at least I wear pants!

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

      As a goat I say NO PANTS!

      • Jon

        [img]http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/19ctxlerzr53kjpg.jpg[/img]

    • ssckelley

      I’m in, as long as once we get pants on these characters we can then move on to real animals. I have to cover my kids eyes every time I drive by a farm and there is animal sex going on in the fields. Dogs and cats should be made to wear pants as well.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      This whole discussion would be doubly funny to someone from the UK.

      Now, if we could just work in “shag carpets”…..

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