Javier Baez has the talent to be successful in the big leagues. As the front office has pointed out, Baez has a lot of extremes to his game – extreme bat speed, extreme swing and miss and extreme power. Baez is working hard this spring on making the right adjustments knowing he has to make enough contact to stay in the majors.
Baez’s numbers in the Cactus League do not look good. In nine games this spring, Baez is 3-for-26 with only one extra basehit, a home run. Baez has struck out seven times without a walk for a .115/.115/.231 slash line and a .346 OPS.
The adjustments Baez is making in batting practice and in the cages are not being carried over to the games. And he appears to be altering his plan from at bat to at bat, simply said, there has been very little consistency for Baez at the plate this spring.
Joe Maddon took responsibility for Baez’s struggles while pointing out that Baez is thinking too much. Maddon explained Baez is “getting a lot of information from all of us, and I think at some point, sometimes it’s our fault.” Maddon said he wasn’t concerned about his second baseman and the plan for Baez 10 days ago was to leave him alone.
Javier Baez admitted to Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette during MLB Network Radio’s stop in Cubs camp that he’s struggling with his timing.
“It’s getting better and working on other things, especially with my timing and my leg kick,” Baez said. “It’s all getting on time. Every day we learn something and we watch video, so it’s going really good.”
“It’s a slow process. Whoever has a leg kick knows it’s very hard to get the timing down and whenever that’s not with the timing it’s hard to get it back.”
“With my leg kick, I’ve got my hands, my leg kick and my timing and right now is all messed up,” Baez said. “My legs are moving different at a different time than my hands so that’s why I can’t get it right. But we watch some videos and we figure it out. We’re just trying to get it back.”
Baez likes watching video but admitted sometimes it’s easier just to relax at the plate.
Throughout his time at the big league level at the end of last season, Baez did not let his offense affect his defense. Baez takes pride playing in the field and it’s not hard for him to let go of his struggles at the plate when he’s on the field.
“My defense, I love playing defense,” Baez said. “No matter what happened at the plate, I want to continue to play my defense because you still got to do a job and that’s what we’re here for.”
Javier Baez is still expected to begin the season with the big league club and it’s believed he is penciled in as the Cubs starting second baseman. Baez, arguably more than anyone else in the clubhouse, should be relieved Kris Bryant has created so much noise this spring. The attention quickly shifted from Baez to Bryant when he went on his homer binge before the shoulder fatigue sidelined him and Scott Boras talked to the media.
The Cubs have a little over two weeks left in Arizona before decisions have to be made and the games actually count. And if anyone on the Cubs roster could use a strong finish to Spring Training it is Javier Baez.