The Javier Baez Watch Continues

Javier Baez picked up Friday night in New Orleans where he left off in July. Baez went 1-for-4 with a run scored and was on base when Jorge Soler crushed his third Triple-A homer. Baez has hit safely in eight of his last 10 games and wrapped up an impressive July with his 21st longball of the season.

After a rough start to the year, Javier Baez has shown steady improvement at the plate and in the field before starting his transition to second base. As the Sun-Times pointed out, since May 15 Baez is hitting .305 with 18 home runs and a .596 slugging percentage.

Javier Baez finished July with a .300/.344/.655 slash line. Baez hit nine doubles and 10 home runs for a .999 OPS in 29 games. Baez’s approach at the plate as also improved as the season has progressed.

Since his appearance in Future’s Game in which he created more buzz with his opposite field shot at Target Field, Baez has hit .343/.377/.714 in 18 games with five doubles, seven home runs and a 1.091 OPS.

Home Run No. 21 – July 31

PrintJed Hoyer addressed whether or not the team would call-up Javier Baez after the trade with the Braves that cleared spots on the field and on the roster for Baez. The Cubs are not in a rush to promote Baez and Hoyer explained that a trade with another team would not speed up their timelines with prospects in the system.

The beat writers caught up with Rick Renteria Friday at Dodger Stadium and asked him about Baez. Renteria said, “There’s no hurry. There’s no pressure to do anything right now. I think when the move is made with him – whenever that is – it will be because everybody’s drawn a clear consensus that the action we’ll take as an organization in right for him, and for us.”

The front office has yet to say Javier Baez will not make his big league debut at some point this season like they did with Kris Bryant. But like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez does not have to be added to the 40-man roster this winter.

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  • Jeff Wilson

    That was a tough pitcher that the Iowa Cubs faced in New Orleans. I can’t imagine a pitcher having to face the sluggers that Iowa has at 3 4 and 5.
    Of the prospects, I look for Soler to be the all star, he seems to pick up the spin on the ball better than any minor league player that I have ever seen!

    • Craig York

      I’d say the top four could really be all stars, but if I had to pick one I’d say Bryant.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Russell, Soler and Bryant all I think will be AS. Bryant is the natural, Soler is the freak, and Russell is the gamer.

        • SuzyS

          so how do you describe Baez? :-)

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            How about…”poquito dolido” :)

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Whaddya think Suzy :-)

          • SuzyS

            I like it. Baez has the capability of being the most flamboyant of our prospects. He can either turn into a great player…or a great flameout. Either way, He’s going to be really entertaining…aka Ozzie Guillen in his prime. ( Not comping him as a player…just personality).

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Agree. I could see him being a player that we, as Cubs fans, all love. And opponent fans can’t stand. :-)

          • SuzyS

            The next coming of Frank Thomas? :-)…”little hurt”?

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Not really the next coming of Frank Thomas. Too lofty, but maybe in that mold.

            It just came to mind. I thought about your question and “little hurt,” came to my mind. Then in honor of his latin heritage I took it a step further. Impressed you interpreted it so quickly. Wasn’t sure if that conjugation of hurt was accurate. :)

          • SuzyS

            Good job on the naming, board. :-)

  • Larry Schwimmer

    Neil: Could you clarify a point of fact? I agree that there is no point in calling up players like Baez this season IF it starts their pay clock and forces the CUBS to pay them more money…sooner. But if a player like Baez is called up (e.g.) in September (when rosters expand) would that be a way to avoid that concern? Please educate me on how that works.

    Also, am I correct: If the CUBS have a player like Bryant play in Spring Training and then send him back to Triple AAA and then re-call him in late April or early May…is that a way to avoid starting the “Pay Clock” on a player? Thank you

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Larry, I apologize for the delay in responding. It appears Tony answered your questions in the game recap. Please let me know if you have additional question on this subject. Again, I apologize for the delay.

  • Tom U

    From Daren Willman:

    Highest combined 2014 draft class BA
    1 #Rangers .308
    2 #Royals .301
    3 #Cubs .298
    4 #Braves .288
    5 #Angles .285

    http://mlbfarm.com/draft.php?sort=1

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      So lowest ERA, and 3rd highest BA? Crazy good draft.

  • John_CC

    Its mostly hope of course, but I really do think Baez will be called up September, at the latest. He is ready now and needs the adjustment period.

    Consider that they probably had it in mind that he’d be up by now but his rough start delayed it. Like most, I’d really love to see Baez and So let get at least a month in Chicago this year, but hold off on Bryant and wait till the Super 2 clock passes on him. With Bora’s as his agent it is almost guaranteed that he won’t be up till next May or whenever it is.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      I agree on all John :-).

      I don’t understand why guys wan to sign with Boras. It’s not like he will get a client boatloads more money than any other agent. And Casey Close, Jeff Moorad and others seem to be really good at what they do.

      When you sign with Boras it’s as if you sell your soul. He owns you. And all decisiôns will be made with his best interest, not necessarily yours. He has a good track record but he’s also blown it for some guys with his posturing.

      I just don’t understand it. Anybody have any insight into what his pitch looks like opposed to other agents. His facilities and the plan he puts together for plays eras. I would imagine his pitch is pretty impressive. But wouldn’t they all be? Whats he offer that others can’t? His reputation isn’t very good with anyone other than his current clients. And there are guys that leave him. I just don’t understand his appeal.

  • Tom U

    Another post from Daren Willman:

    Lowest ERA by 2014 draft class
    1 #Cubs 2.33
    2 #Giants 2.38
    3 #Orioles 2.84
    4 #Tigers 2.96
    5 #Rays 3.03

    Breakdown:
    http://mlbfarm.com/draft.php?sortp=11&tab=1&dir=asc

    • Denver Mike

      Extremely small sample, but Carson Sands and Justin Steele seem to be pitching well in the AZL.

      Sands: 7.1 IP, 1.23 ERA, .955 WHIP, 9/2 K/BB
      Steele: 9 IP, 1.00 ERA, .889 WHIP 12/2 K/BB

      While the ERA and WHIP look very nice, the control they seem to be showing so far is promising to me. I look forward to watching their progression in the coming years.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Love that stat about lowest ERA by draft class in 2014!

  • SuzyS

    Here’s a question for you guys…If you were to trade either Castro or one of the top four prospects for pitching…which one would you choose and why?

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      Right now, I wouldn’t trade any of them. I’d prefer to wait until we’ve seen Bryant, Soler, Baez at least play in MLB. But really Russell too.

      But if I had to choose one, it would be Castro. I know some will say that’s dumb as he’s proven to play in MLB. But I just worry about his consistency. And I’m afraid if he gets any worse he may lower value beyond getting a great return. But also, I think in future if he can bat 6 or 7 hole he’ll excel. One other reason, is that because he has had MLB success we could get a big haul for him. Baez would be other candidate but not as big of return. I wouldn’t trade Russell, Soler or Bryant for just about anything, especially Bryant then Soler.

      I realize they are only prospects but I think these 3, 4 with Baez are all going to be great MLB players. And really I think Baez will too, but I worry about him most. Teams trade off all-star caliber types often when they have a stud prospect tearing it up in AAA. And usually the prospect turns out. That’s because most FO’s know what they are doing and know their assets better than anyone else. With their experience, when they

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Sorry, clicked off and couldn’t finish. With their experience, they come to a consensus about a prospect when they are close to MLB. And more often than not they are right. Many top prospects end up showing their potential flame out before they ever get to MLB. So far, all of these guys appear to just be getting better.

        So if I had to trade. It would be Castro. Bigger return, lower ceiling than the others. But I’d prefer to keep them all, build a solid 1-8 and then reasses. And get as much pitdhing through FA as possible. If we have to augment by trading a great prospect/player, do it when absolutely necessary and it’s time to go for the championship.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I think Castro either is who he is, an sometimes consistent hitter that will be around .280-.300 with low OBP and 10-15 HR power.

          Or I think Castro will continue to grow and bulk up and become a guy that bats more like .270-.280, but hits 25-30 HR. If this 2nd scenario happens then I would absolutely want to keep him. But the guy he is right now, if that’s all he is, I think he can be replaced eventually. Maybe by Alcantara.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            And again, this is just my opinion, going off the eye test, and stats I have access to on all 5 total of the players. I will admit, I’ve seen very limited live action of the prospects. I’m going off numbers, stats and analysis by people much more qualified than I.

          • Denver Mike

            Castro is the type of hitter that will benefit from having a better lineup around him, thus getting better pitches to hit. His struggles this year seem to coincide with hitting in the 4 hole regularly. I think if he was dropped to the 6th spot behind Bryant/Rizzo/Soler, and had a power bat like Baez behind him you would see him getting more strikes thrown his way.

            I know our system is pretty stacked right now, but your first scenario, a shortstop that hits .280 with 15HR is among the best in the league. In scenario #2 you are essentially saying that if he can’t be the best shortstop in baseball we should trade him.

            As you know, I wouldn’t move him off of SS, let alone to another team, until multiple prospects prove they can do better.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I guess I’m still used to all those crazy SS numbers from the Nomar, Jeter, Tejada, Rodriguez heyday. You are right, those numbers would be pretty good. But I’d love for our SS to be closer to Tulowitzki.

            I think Russell is a better SS defensively. Castro is above average. But I’d love to have a gold glove over there. From what I read Russell is that type of glove.

            And no, I don’t want to trade him now. I wouldn’t trade one of them. I like where we are and the approach we’re taking. We could trade Baez or Castro for 2 top pitching prospect at AAA and then 2 months later one goes down with TJ. I’d prefer to work out our prospects, develop a championship 1-8, allow Arietta and Hendricks to develop and ensure they are what they both appear to be. Sign Lester/Price

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            And wait on the lineup to finish taking shape. At that point, Edwards could be ready to come up, Black too. Also we’ll have a clearer picture on Sands, Steele, Underwood, Maples, Zastryny, Pinyiero, Ramirez, Vizcaino and Johnson. It’s entirely possible that from that latter group we develop some great starters within 3 years max. At least by the end of next year the picture should be clearer.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Then if it doesn’t look like that group will produce any good starters soon we can consider a trade for a proven MLB pitcher or two.

            Also by then, we’d have a good 1-8 worked out. And we’d know which bats we can afford to trade and still produce 5 years of solid batting.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I realize Cease, Steele and Sands are probably 4 years away at closest. But maybe one becomes that phenom type and can come up at age 20.

          • Denver Mike

            I agree, I personally don’t want to trade for any young pitching prospects for exactly the reason you mention. Sign proven arms until our own pitching prospects begin to develop.

            Offense is down across the board, the lowest in most categories since 1992. It will take some time to get used to, but we can’t really compare the numbers that today’s players put up vs. the steroid era guys like ARod and Tejada, for obvious reasons.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I think overall, patience is the key. We’ve been patient up until now and if we can continue to be somewhat we’ll avoid regretful decisions. I’d hate to trade Castro or Baez, then have the guys in the pipeline behind them underachieve. Torres is still years away likely and between Castro, Baez, Russell and Torres there is potential but nothing like what we have now or what Torres appears to be capable of.

            Just take it slow. We’ll be much better next season regardless and we can compete in 2016 for sure. May even compete next year. It wouldn’t surprise me. But if we will let what we have play out for another 2 seasons, we’ll have such a clearer picture and can make more educated moves. I can handle two more years before a WS. I don’t know if any moves would guarantee it anyway so let’s be better and fun to watch and let things play out.

            NOw if we go into all-star break le

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            If we go into all-star break next season leading the division and seem to be clicking on all cylinders but still have Wood and EJax in rotation then maybe we make a decision and trade. But we better be really sure about what we’re doing. I don’t want to watch Baez in a Mets uniform smashing 40 HR and winning MVP and us have the next guy up struggling. I’d rather be patient.

          • paCubsFan23

            I agree with a lot that you say. I’m not sure theres anybody out there with 2 top pitching prospects in AAA. I like Heaney from the Marlins.If we could swap Castro for him, I’d be happy with that.

          • SuzyS

            Alright board. Here’s the thing: Our minors are loaded with great hitters…not so much on the pitching side.
            Just got finished reading some Boston sites where they pointed out Boston’s reluctance top give out contracts to pitchers over thirty…(Lester).
            The Cubs FO is similar in philosophy. Can you really see us giving a FA TOR 6 or seven years to a 30 or over FA?
            I don’t see it. And yet, that is the going rate for TOR FA….usually 30 and over.

            I do believe the Cubs have to address pitching this offseason. How to do it…given our FO philosophy.

            Take flyers on guys like Doubrant (SP)? International FA…who is out there? Trades. Trades???

            What about trading a ss prospect to the Mets for one of their young arms.

            What about the Pirates that need some offense but are limited financially?

            The Marlins have some great arms…etc. With Hendricks and Arrietta we have 2 young guys that appear to slot into next year’s rotation. I look at EJAX as a dfa candidate…Wood is questionable…and possibly replaced by Doubrant…who is also questionable.

            The closest thing we currently have to a top pitcher is in AA (Wilson) coming off the DL. So what to do?

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I can agree with you Suzy. And those good proven guys will be tough to sign. I would select the one we feel can still be effective as his power declines and do what it takes to get him. My opinion is that guy is Price. I think he’d love to come to Chicago and would be signable.

            I wouldn’t trade for the Mets or Pirates pitching, too many variables like injury. But if they were to go that route, I’d trade Castro. But I prefer the wait and see approach. I mentioned all thosenames of guys we have that coudl develop into effective pitchers for us. Let’s ascertain a better idea of what we already have before we trade off any of these potential all-star bats. Including Castro.

          • Denver Mike

            Young arms are way too risky, which is why I’d rather we draft and develop our own (regardless of how long it takes) vs. giving up top hitting prospects for them. It may be in the lower levels, but we do have some legit pitching prospects in our system.

            I’d be all for giving out big $ to TOR FAs in the late 20s up to 30, so long as there is some risk provision. Lackey’s contract was pretty interesting, where if he went down with an arm injury his final year’s salary dropped significantly.

          • SuzyS

            OK…but that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that provision in a pitcher’s contract. Given that we will now be on the open market…competing with LA/Boston/Yankees etc…Do you see many TOR guys agreeing to that type of a provision…or less years then the going rate??? I don’t….and that is why I look at possible trades.
            When it comes to pitchers, all of them are subject to health issues…which is why at one time, Reinsdorf did not want to commit to more than three years on a contract….but the market is far beyond that now.

          • Denver Mike

            It’s the first time I’ve seen it as well, so I’m not exactly banking on that provision as a prerequisite for signing a FA arm. The way I look at it is if the hitting prospects we have develop into viable MLers then our payroll is going to be very reasonable. At that point I don’t really care if we have to overpay a couple proven pitchers to anchor our staff until our teenage arms develop. So yes, I do think we will easily have to payroll flexibility to outspend LA/Boston/NY when the time comes.

            Just look at all of the young top pitching prospects and how often they go down with major arm injuries. Way too big of a risk vs. top positional talent, which is why I think our minor league system has been built the way it has.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Agree with you MIke. And the way our lineup is shaping to look in 2016, we may be able to win with the pitching we have. There’s a better than average chance that in two or three years we wil have an all-star candidate at every position on the diamond. With a lineup like that we can absorb average pitching.

          • JasonPen

            I was on a Met’s blog, and those guys are clamoring for Castro OR Baez.
            I say get Snydergaard and 2 lower level SP for Castro. That is, if they want to move him. Snydergaard is a stud.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I’d prefer not to trade him, but if we did I wouldn’t be upset. I’d really be excited actually.

            That’s kind of my attitude. Either way there is something to get excited over. I prefer one over the other, but I’ll support either decision if it gets a guy like Syndergaard. I trust the guy in charge here. His track record in Boston and his time in Chicago tells me he’s dang good at what he does.

    • Denver Mike

      I don’t think I would trade any of them at this stage. but hypothetically if we had to trade one this off-season I would choose Baez.

      Defensively, I believe he’s always been thought of as average at shortstop. It has been pointed out in the past that many of the spectacular plays he makes at short are a byproduct of his below average range for the position. While he seems suited for second base right now, I’ve read where as his body fills out he may be more suited for third or even the outfield, which lowers his value somewhat.

      Offensively, his bat speed and power are pretty much unquestioned. His plate discipline, and pitch recognition still leave something to be desired. I know he has improved considerably in those areas in the second half of this season, but I wonder how much of that will stick he gets called up to the bright lights of the big leagues. It has been pointed out how he struggles with his first taste of each new level, likely because he feels the need to impress and over-swings more than he should. He does always seem to adjust with time though, which is promising moving forward.

      Overall, I just think Baez is the highest risk of the top 4 (and Castro). While his ceiling is likely equal to Bryant/Soler/Russell, and higher than Castro; his floor is also the lowest of all of them. For that reason, he would be the first to go in my fantasy GM world.

    • JasonPen

      I would say, in my opinion, it all has to do with the question: Can Bryant stay at 3B longterm? If the answer is yes, then I would move Castro. I like Baez at 2B, and Russell at SS. I think Baez has the perfect build for 2B, and you are seeing that 2B can really be a power position. Look at Robinson Cano or Chase Utley. Those guys aren’t small by any measurement.

      Now, if they dont see Bryant staying at 3B and he ends up moving to the OF like Ryan Braun, then I keep all 3.

      I dont want to play musical chairs either. They’ve already moved Baez to 2B, so keep him there. I would move Castro to 3B before I move Russell over as well.

      Let’s be honest, Castro is a liability on defense for a Championship contender.

      • SirGladiator

        That’s right. There’s no good reason to move people around unnecessarily, and I think at this point it’s pretty clear that won’t be necessary. Bryant is already solid at 3B, and only getting better. Sadly the same thing can’t be said for Castro, who had another bad night in the field last night. Russell at short, Baez at 2nd, Bryant at 3rd, and Castro traded for a bigtime pitcher or two (or Stanton, if possible) , that’s how I’d do it as GM.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Or Castro in a corner outfield spot. I think he’d be a really good LF.

        • JasonPen

          If the Front Office could some how get Stanton for Castro and some lower prospects that would be the steal of the century… I’d have to name my first born Theo after a move like that!

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        He is. That’s kind of the elephant in the room I feel. I hear guys like Mike, who I respect and knows what he’s talking about, say that Castro should stay at SS. He’s not a great fielder there. It’s the most important defensive position outside of catcher and our guy is average at best after 4 years in the league. If we have an upgrade in the pipeline that can hit (Russell) why would we not move Castro?

        Also, I know most have moved past him but guys like Olt can still play into this discussion. He’s been outstanding at AAA and he hit 11 HR in Chicago playing 3 or 4 times a month! No reason to thing he can’t improve on his short stint this year. Let him play consistently for severl months in a row, get into a rhythm and then get another shot.

        Or he could factor in a trade. If Baez or Castro isn’t enough for that Syndegaard and 2 lower level prospect scenario, perhaps adding Olt could be? Olt still has loads of potential. I don’t understand at all the idea that he’s done and will never get better. He came up for 3 months and barely played! And still hit 11 HR!

    • SirGladiator

      I’d trade Castro, for multiple reasons. First, he’s got the highest value, being a proven MLB player, and the lowest ceiling of the group. Secondly, his main value is his bat, which is good for his position. But it’s a position he isn’t nearly as good at as Russell. Just last night was a great example, an error in the first inning, an ‘infield single’ later in the game that was given up because he played the ball casually against a fast runner, he’s never going to be a very good SS, and if he changes positions suddenly his offensive numbers don’t look so good anymore, to say nothing of the fact that his already not-great (to put it generously) defense will get even worse when he moves to a position he’s unfamiliar with. So I’ll be quite happy to see him traded and replaced by a true Superstar like Russell, gold glove D and offensive powerhouse. The fact that Castro will almost certainly command the best return of the four right now just makes dealing him a super-easy call.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Yep, if we trade anyone I think he makes most sense. Best return and he’s got lowest ceiling IMO.

        But I still say wait a bit and let it play out. Move him to outfield when Russell is ready. He’ll be just fine in outfield.

  • SuzyS

    Gotta go…Have a great day, everyone.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      You too Suzy! Good chatting with you. Be good…