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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cubs’ Javy Baez showing ‘major’ deficiencies - Chicago Sun-Times

Hitting a baseball is hard.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 14, 2014 at 11:11 AM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, javy baez, prospects

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   1. McCoy Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4706614)
2017 is just around the corner!
   2. KT's Pot Arb Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4706644)
Bryant & Soler are crushing though.
   3. Scott Lange Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:53 PM (#4706676)
I think most folks would agree that Rizzo, Castro, Baez, and Bryant were the four most important pieces coming into this year.

Anthony Rizzo- .860 OPS (134 OPS+)
Starlin Castro- .771 OPS (108 OPS+)
Javier Baez- .502 OPS.
Kris Bryant- 1.045 OPS.

Rizzo and Bryant both way above my expectations, Castro a bit above, and Baez way below. That feels like a win to me, no?
   4. Brian C Posted: May 14, 2014 at 01:53 PM (#4706677)
Soler's had 25 PA, though. Maybe a little early to start talk of "crushing".

Bryant's interesting, in that he actually is crushing, but also strikes out a ton. Not the worst thing in the world, I guess, but he's on pace for 165 K over 600 PA. That's a lot in AA ... basically Brett Jackson K levels.

   5. McCoy Posted: May 14, 2014 at 02:56 PM (#4706763)
The other issue with Bryant is that he isn't going to make it as a third baseman which at the very least is going to delay his full time role at the major league level.

At this point I think even if he keeps on hitting I doubt we'll see him until the mid point of 2015.
   6. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4706798)
I'd be shocked if we saw any of our top prospects(Bryant, Baez, Soler, Alcantara) until late-April 2015 so we can delay FA by a year, and delay trying to win games by yet another year while we're at it. Best thing to look forward to is whether Hendricks or Wada can be a servicable starter at the end of the year? Yay?
   7. Walt Davis Posted: May 14, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4706905)
If Bryant continues to mash like this he won't be held back. He'll have to go to AAA for a bit and show it there but (unless Southern League numbers are like PCL numbers) you don't play service time games with top prospects putting up 1000 OPS's. He'll show up in Aug, no later than Sept, if he keeps up a good pace.

Otherwise the Cubs are doing great! We've now got a worse record than the DBacks and, very impressively, are only two back in the loss column to the Astros. Meanwhile those 17 runs the other day have done wonders for our pythag record so us saber-folks can claim the Cubs are really much better than their record.

The bad news is that Bonifacio's BA is back above 300 so the apocalypse continues to loom on the horizon.

   8. McCoy Posted: May 14, 2014 at 09:06 PM (#4707028)
I don't think they bring up a guy who has no position in a wasted season simply because he's knocking the cover off the ball in AA.
   9. VoodooR Posted: May 14, 2014 at 10:41 PM (#4707087)
I don't think they bring up a guy who has no position in a wasted season simply because he's knocking the cover off the ball in AA.


You must not have noticed the part where he said he'd first have to go mash in AAA immediately.
   10. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 15, 2014 at 03:28 AM (#4707154)
There is no way this money-grubbing miserly ownership allows Bryant to take away a year of control so he can have 80 ML ABs this year. He'll come up in May '15 after we're 8 games out like we are in every May of Ricketts wonderful ownership.
   11. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2014 at 07:53 AM (#4707172)
You must not have noticed the part where he said he'd first have to go mash in AAA immediately.

Um, no I did but if it helps I can amend it to "I don't think they bring up a guy who has no position in a wasted season simply because he's knocking the cover off the ball in AA and in AAA for a bit."
   12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 15, 2014 at 09:31 AM (#4707227)
I still think Alcantara will be up at some point this year, given how lousy Barney's been. Maybe after the trade deadline, if they send Bonifacio somewhere?
   13. Charles S. will not yield to this monkey court Posted: May 15, 2014 at 10:22 AM (#4707300)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember Baez struggling for at least a few weeks at every new stop in his minor league rise. I don't think it's shocking that his struggles are lasting a little longer at AAA. Also, I think it was Kasper who mentioned in a radio interview that Baez is the youngest player in all of AAA.

Keep in mind, Wittenmyer has been putting the worst possible spin on everything about the Cubs for the last 12 months or so. That doesn't mean he's entirely wrong (I certainly agree with him about ownership's cheapskate ways), but it's no surprise that he chose yesterday to write about Baez's struggles while the other paper in town is writing about Bryant's success.
   14. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4707411)
Outside of a 3 hit day a week ago Baez has been terrible at the plate. This isn't a slow start but a guy lost at the plate so far this year. Doesn't mean he can't turn it around or improve but this is more than just a little bit of struggle in the first few weeks of the season.
   15. alilisd Posted: May 15, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4707478)
The other issue with Bryant is that he isn't going to make it as a third baseman


Why do you feel he can't make it as a 3B?
   16. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2014 at 01:04 PM (#4707492)
By all accounts he is atrocious out there and even Kris himself knows he isn't very good defensively at third.
   17. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 15, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4707496)
Bryant has never played anywhere but third for the Cubs. If his bat is going to push him to the MLB roster (and he can't cut it at third) then the Cubs will have to season him up in the OF. So that probably adds a few months to his minor league stay after his bat is "ready."

EDIT: the Cubs also have Villanueva playing third in Iowa. He's not a great prospect but he's enough of one that he shouldn't just be pushed aside. Really, they need to find a new home for Valbuena to open up some more playing time at third in MLB.
   18. alilisd Posted: May 15, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4707529)
Thanks, McCoy. I did not know this. In the ultimate small sample size, I saw him play once last year at USD, and he made two very athletic plays. I was surprised given his height, but it made me think he might be agile and athletic enough to play the position.
   19. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4707530)
Problem with Villanueva and moving Valbuena is that Olt and Villanueva are both righties so moving Valbuena won't really open up playing time for the Cubs. Plus Villanueva has never really hit well enough or play fantastic enough defense to deserve a call up.
   20. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 15, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4707666)
If his bat is going to push him to the MLB roster (and he can't cut it at third) then the Cubs will have to season him up in the OF. So that probably adds a few months to his minor league stay after his bat is "ready."


Junior Lake played 6 minor-league games in the outfield in his entire career (all in RF in 2013) and hasn't played a game in the infield in the major leagues. In fact, Lake's only major-league positions so far have been LF and CF, neither of which he had every played professionally before, according to Baseball-Reference.
   21. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4707735)
I believe Lake played the outfield including centerfield in winter ball at the very least.
   22. Charles S. will not yield to this monkey court Posted: May 15, 2014 at 04:55 PM (#4707739)
Plus Villanueva has never really hit well enough or play fantastic enough defense to deserve a call up.

The few times I've seen him play, and multiple reports I've heard, have Villanueva as the best defensive 3B in the org. He'll still have to hit his way onto the big club, but unless something has changed this year his defense is MLB ready.
   23. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4707741)
Being the Cubs best defensive 3Bmen is kind of like being the Cubs' best positional prospect in the time between Mark Grace and Corey Patterson.
   24. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 15, 2014 at 06:11 PM (#4707787)
My point isn't that Bryant can't make a swift transition but that it will be enough of a basis for service time games to keep him down in the minors through 2015. I don't think the Cubs were particularly worried about when Lake hits FA.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: May 15, 2014 at 07:26 PM (#4707824)
He will see ML time this year if he continues to mash. No team plays service time games with guys who hit like this.

And in case you haven't noticed, the Cubs have a bit of a PR problem and, as they close in on 100 losses again, they will want to do something to get some PR. The fans are increasingly impatient for the future (see "Baez showing major deficiencies") and want to see the kids. The guy was the #17 prospect coming into the year -- where do you think he's gonna be if he puts up a 1000 OPS? And as evidenced in this thread, the fans are starting to see Ricketts as cheap, not investing.

Playing a kid in August/Sept doesn't cost you a year of service time, it costs you two months of service time. It's a cup of coffee. It rewards guys for doing well. It's only a problem if you keep them on the roster the entire next season but keeping them down only burns one option. And what does this supposed extra year of service time buy you? It saves you maybe the cost of one Feldman/Baker and that's only if you're not smart enough to buy out his arb and early FA years.

If you don't bring up guys who mash then you send them the message that no matter how well they perform they will not advance. You waste their time. You don't #### around with the development of young talent especaially not when you have the Cubs resources.

And now folks are talking about keeping him down for 2015, regardless of how well he performs. So you really think the Cubs plans for their #3 pick is to keep him in the minors until he's 24 even if he's performing? Has any franchise ever had success using such an approach?
   26. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2014 at 07:37 PM (#4707830)
And yet the Cubs did exactly that with Rizzo.
   27. Scott Lange Posted: May 15, 2014 at 07:59 PM (#4707840)
The Cubs kept Rizzo in the minors until he was 24? He's 24 this year, isn't he?
   28. zonk Posted: May 15, 2014 at 08:00 PM (#4707841)
Just want to toss out some kind words on Villanueva because I've always liked him... Sickels and plenty of others have tagged him as a sleeper for the last couple years - and while he's off to a rough start, he's a gamer.

He's got a plus glove, good enough to play all over the IF except maybe regularly at SS. Decent pop.

I'm not saying he's gonna be a star - but I think he'll carve out a nice Steve Buechele type career.

His problem is that things are getting pretty crowded in the IF and he doesn't really have the bat to man a corer OF spot (even if you wanted to move him).

I also want to point out that, putrid ~.180ish BA though he has -- Mike Olt is leading NL rookies in HR and RBI despite only logging about 100 ABs thus far. He's K'ing too much to expect to get out of Branyan/Reynolds/Deer territory, but if you can slug .470 with a ISO of .275 -- I think you can find a home on a major league roster.

Yeah - the Cubs suck. They have some huge holes, with Schierholtz crashing down to earth, Barney being dreadful, and a bunch of the older guys being pretty bad, too...

But - Castillo has been solid to better than solid... Lake has some tools - inconsistent though he might be.

It's hard not to be at least... satisfied with what the under 27 component of this team is doing. No one with a potential future has really disappointed - and a few are actually showing quite a bit more.

If nothing else, I think the first 6 weeks speak well to the Renteria hire as being the right guy to nurture the kids.

Don't worry - I'll be snarking on this 100 loss season just like everyone else - but I'm feeling pretty solid about how almost everybody with a potential Cubs future is playing.
   29. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 15, 2014 at 08:43 PM (#4707853)
Walt, you think the Cubs are going to call up Bryant for August/September, and then send him down for 3 months to start next year? Because unless you're doing that, 2 months is a year of service time. The Cubs don't have resources(or are choosing to not have them), that's the thing, and with every new article on a renovation that still hasn't begun and a partial TV deal that still hasn't been signed, and debt payments that last another 5 years, I don't see the "resources" changing any time soon.

I can't imagine them keeping Bryant down past May of next year, but there's enough plausible deniability there with his K rate and his defense to bump him to AAA in mid-July and let him "figure things out" there until May '15. Being able to point to Baez who similarly dominated AA last season will be a big help to their money-grubbing ways.
   30. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 15, 2014 at 08:51 PM (#4707858)
And I don't want to be the corn flake pisser zonk, but Junior Lake has a K rate of 40.4% Olt's as you said is too high at 31.4%, but he's also sporting a likely unsustainable 26.7% HR/FB ratio, and a pathetic 10% LD%.
   31. zonk Posted: May 15, 2014 at 09:33 PM (#4707869)
And I don't want to be the corn flake pisser zonk, but Junior Lake has a K rate of 40.4% Olt's as you said is too high at 31.4%, but he's also sporting a likely unsustainable 26.7% HR/FB ratio, and a pathetic 10% LD%.


I know - Olt has a pretty long swing and Lake is basically Shawon Dunston without the plate discipline.

That said, though -

Neither have ever really been thought of as a big part of the future. Edwards was the centerpiece of the Garza deal, despite what the previous year's top prospect lists say. Given the lost year, well, year and half - I don't think it's unreasonable to see Olt as having quite a ways back. Russell Branyan-lite has value, even if it's just a lefty basher that backs up 3B/1B.... not a building block, but a nice guy to have while he's cheap. I think it's still too early to get calibrate his future - and let's not forget, while he continues to K plenty - he's looked a bit better the last couple weeks. I'm looking forward to another consistent 100 PAs from him.

As for Lake, sure - he just doesn't have a future in the starting lineup. Supposedly, he's awful in the IF and he'll never have the bat to be a good option in the corner OF spots... even if he could handle CF - and from what I've seen of him in LF, the best I can say is that at least he's not Lonnie Smith. Still - Lake was a bit of sleeper prospect. The complete opposite of Olt at the plate - I think Lake does have a quick bat. Problem is that he approaches PAs like he's got the bat of Yasiel Puig and it's not that quick. I'd really like to see him play more IF. Maybe he could be useful for a few years as a sort of bizarro Tony Phillips.

The good news is that neither guy is part of the 'plan' if you will... Olt is just there to keep 3B warm until either Bryant gets a shot to be Ryan Braun for a season or Baez moves. Lake is a guy without a position. We're not talking 29 yo Micah Hoffpauirs here - they're gonna be cheap for 2 more years and I think I've seen enough to be fine with giving them a season of PA lottery tickets.
   32. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 15, 2014 at 11:17 PM (#4707914)
So you really think the Cubs plans for their #3 pick is to keep him in the minors until he's 24 even if he's performing?

Sorry, when I said "through 2015" it certainly seemed to imply that it would be for all that season but I meant for all of 2014 and the beginning of 2015. So, into 2015 would be a better description.

It depends on what you mean by "performing" I guess. Although his raw stat lines are great the team can nit pick issues like strikeouts and his defense. Sure, there are scenarios where his game is flawless enough to force Chicago's hand but, IMO, he's not doing it now.

And add me to the Mike Olt fan club, zonk.
   33. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: May 15, 2014 at 11:34 PM (#4707926)
He will see ML time this year if he continues to mash. No team plays service time games with guys who hit like this.

Gregory Polanco says hi.
   34. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 16, 2014 at 02:17 AM (#4707963)
Gregory Polanco says hi.


And he's property of a team who's actually trying to win games.
   35. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 16, 2014 at 02:45 AM (#4707964)
Polanco is 22, and going to be up in June. He was a good prospect coming into the year, but he wasn't putting up crazy numbers until this season, so it's not like they've been jamming him up for an extended period of time.
   36. Boxkutter Posted: May 16, 2014 at 08:38 AM (#4707987)
My guess is Bryant is up late this season and butchers it at 3B for awhile. He isn't a longterm 3B though. Already 9 errors through 39 games. Next year, they'll start him in AAA again, but to "teach him how to play the OF". He'll stay until sometime in May when he'll get called up permanently. Then in 2017 or 2018 he'll sign like a 6 or 7 year deal for 10+ a season, buying out a few arbitration and a few free agents years.

My guess is that Javier Baez is their longterm 3B. Olt becomes a bat bench until he gets too expensive. Villanueva (who, like others, I am a fan of) becomes their utility player. Castro stays at SS for now unfortunately. But if Bryant magically becomes only "less than league average" defensively, he takes 3B, Baez stays at SS, and Castro moves to 2B.

If the Cubs had the 8th pick in the draft, instead of #4, I would predict that they draft Trea Turner for their longterm SS. Still may reach and take him, but I doubt it.
   37. zonk Posted: May 16, 2014 at 09:33 AM (#4708006)
That's the one thing that depresses me about this season --

The upcoming draft supposedly has 3 marquee talents.... and the Cubs pick 4th.
   38. Boxkutter Posted: May 16, 2014 at 09:44 AM (#4708017)
That's the one thing that depresses me about this season --

The upcoming draft supposedly has 3 marquee talents.... and the Cubs pick 4th.


I'm no great judge of talent, but I think the draft is more of a Top One, and then the next two fall into the next tier of players. And even Rodon has a great deal of uncertainty around him. It's not like drafting Strasburg, or even Appel. Rodon has his warts. I do hope the Cubs skip on Beede though (who I keep reading they'll draft). Something about him makes me think he'll be... meh. Mid-rotation arm at best. I'd rather see Turner, Pentecost, or Finnegan... or even Hoffman, Conforto, Newman, or Zimmer before I want to see Beede.
   39. Charles S. will not yield to this monkey court Posted: May 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4708048)
Walt, you think the Cubs are going to call up Bryant for August/September, and then send him down for 3 months to start next year? Because unless you're doing that, 2 months is a year of service time.

Is this right? If Bryant comes up in August, 2014 and stays up, he'll be arb-eligible after 2016, and FA after 2019? That doesn't sound right to me. I thought you were FA-eligible after 6 full and arb-elibible after 3-full, unless you were a Super-2, which Bryant wouldn't be.
   40. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 16, 2014 at 11:52 AM (#4708128)
No, my point is if they hold off on Bryant until May 1, 2015, he becomes a FA after 2021 rather than 2020 if they call him up this year. He would hit arb at the same time, but throughout the league super 2 seems to be of much less concern vs that extra year of control.

The Cubs are a terrible team, and by time it came time to call up Bryant, they will once again be dropping all pretense and actively trying to lose games in order to get higher draft position/IFA budget.
   41. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 16, 2014 at 11:54 AM (#4708131)
THAT's the one thing that depresses you about this season?
   42. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4708144)
He was a good prospect coming into the year, but he wasn't putting up crazy numbers until this season, so it's not like they've been jamming him up for an extended period of time.


Just to reinforce this point, last year Polanco hit .263/.354/.407 in AA. That's perfectly fine for a prospect of his age, but not exactly a promote-me-now performance.
   43. zonk Posted: May 16, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4708163)
THAT's the one thing that depresses you about this season?


Well, I had few hopes for success coming into this year.

Baez's dreadful start can go on that pile, too, I suppose... But like I said, virtually everyone in the meaningful under-27 set has had moments - and some of the K peripherals aside, they've all at least been able to tread water or better.

I understand how stupid it sounds -- but for a 100 loss team, things have gone about as well as could reasonably be expected thus far. I'm not so much looking for silver linings here as much as just reinforcing the same thoughts coming into this year: the team will be terrible again, probably 90+ losses, but I mostly wanted Castro and Rizzo to rebound (and they have) and a few of the other youngsters to at least prove they had a future (and they have, even if for some of them, that future is more complementary rather than foundational).
   44. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 16, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4708169)
Cheer up, Almora went on a patience tear and is now up to 4 walks this season.

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