Working Hard to Pump the Brakes on Javier Baez and Other Bullets

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Working Hard to Pump the Brakes on Javier Baez and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

javier baez aflHappy Labor Day to folks who are laboring or not today. We did the cookout thing yesterday, which was swell, but it’s back to relative normalcy for me today.

  • Javier Baez hit another homer yesterday – his 37th on the minor league season, and his 20th in just 53 games at AA – and his numbers are just stupid good. We long ago reached the point where superlatives fail to adequately describe how well he’s doing (as a 20-year-old in AA, playing shortstop), so I’m just going to go ahead and focus on the bad right now. We need some grounding, because his absurd success is going to have fans foaming at the mouth next year when Baez (a.) struggles early at AA or AAA, or (b.) has more early success next year and isn’t called up immediately. In his last 10 games, Baez has hit for a ton of power, but some of his strikeout issues have returned: 12 Ks in those 10 games, with just 2 BBs (.286 OBP). After a long, downward trend, Baez’s K-rate has climbed back up at AA, going back over 28%. Alone, it isn’t a concern when he’s doing the other things he’s doing, but it has always been something to watch. Contact issues at this level portend worse contact issues at higher levels, especially in the bigs. Baez will probably always have a large number of strikeouts as a part of his game, but you don’t want to see it become a significant enough issue that he’s not putting enough balls in play (with authority, moreover) to take advantage of his talents.
  • That all said … that’s me working very hard to focus on the negative. The young man is eating worlds with his bat right now. Let me put it this way: it is not implausible or laughable to advance an argument that he’s the best prospect in all of baseball. I don’t think I’d go that far, but I wouldn’t slap anyone who did.
  • Anyone wonder what kind of numbers Jorge Soler would be putting up in the second half if he hadn’t gone down with the stress fracture in his leg? What if he was right there alongside Baez at AA right now, humbling the league? Until the injury, the duo was doing it together at High-A.
  • You just can’t do it. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. I’m referring, of course, to the annual story of someone trying to take a piece of Wrigley Field home with them – this one included some Phillies fans who broke into Wrigley after hours to try and take some ivy. I get the allure, and it’s a compliment to Wrigley … but don’t be that person. It’s a legit crime, and the Cubs have no choice to push for criminal charges when folks do this kind of thing (if they didn’t, think of the possible long-term consequences).
  • Speaking of the ivy-covered wall, anyone else hold their breath when Ryan Sweeney leapt into the wall on the Darin Ruf homer yesterday? Dude was activated that day from a broken rib injury that he sustained leaping into a padded wall. I appreciate the obvious gamer in Sweeney, and I appreciated even more than he appeared to pull up just enough to ensure that he didn’t actually crash into the wall this time around.
  • Although they were up last year, neither Josh Vitters nor Brett Jackson will be coming up this month, per It’s not really a surprise; the former is injured and the latter is struggling at AA. What a difference a year makes.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.