Friday, July 18, 2014

What Does Baez Move to 2b Mean Overall?

So Javier Baez has been moved to 2nd base.  So what does that mean?  Well it can mean a lot of things so lets run down the reasons.

·         The front office is simply seeing if he can handle 2b.

·         He is showcasing he can handle 2b to lessen the idea that the Chicago Cubs front office “has to” trade one of their stud infield prospects.

·         The front office could be showcasing that Baez can handle 2b which shows versatility and increases his trade value as well as his value to the Chicago Cubs.

·         Javier Baez is making the move to 2b because he is getting closer to being called up to the Majors.

·         Baez is being moved to 2nd base to eventually make room for recently required SS prospect Addison Russell.

·         Baez is being moved to 2nd base to decrease the Castro trade chatter.

·         The front office has decided this is his primary position that he will be playing in Chicago so he needs to get comfortable there in Iowa.


Truth is it could be a combination of all of these things but the underlying message is the Cubs front office is getting closer to making a move with Javier Baez.  Whether that be a promotion, trade, etc. But before I give you my final thoughts on this impactful decision we must take into consideration what Iowa Cubs manager Marty Pevey had to say about Javier Baez and 2nd base (special thanks to for getting these good quotes):


"Everything's backwards, but he's such a good athlete that he won't have any problem with the adjustment," Triple-A Iowa manager Marty Pevey said of moving Baez across the infield. "It's just footwork [that's different]."


"He looked like an All-Star shortstop playing second base. You can put an All-Star shortstop anywhere in the infield," Pevey said. "He had the most range of anybody I've seen at second base in a long time."


"I'm working with [Baez] there over the next several days," Pevey said. "We'll see him mainly at second base at least over the next several days."


So after those comments it seems more clear that this may turn into a permanent thing.


With everything I laid out above I believe that Javier Baez will be called up to the Chicago Cubs sometime in early August.  I believe this front office sees great strides in Baez plate approach and production from the dish recently to have him earn a Big League call up within a month.  For example; Arismendy Alcantara logged 11 games in CF before being called up and the front office always suggested positional movement would be in late stages of the minor league player development process for any prospect.  So Javi being moved to 2nd base tells me that he is in getting closer to being called up to the majors.  What it is also saying with the move to 2b is this front office believes his best value to the Chicago Cubs is at 2b because if his best value was at SS then he would remain there; same thing goes with 3b or OF.  I have always said that the only two places Javier Baez would play is 2nd or 3rd base for the Chicago Cubs because his bat plays well at both positions and Castro would remain at SS. I also am pretty confident that when Baez is moved to the parent club that Addison Russell will be moved to Iowa and start off playing SS (I think he ultimately ends up at 3b with Bryant in the OF). Now I feel we have a good snippet of what the Chicago Cubs front office is going to toward 2015 which is Javier Baez at 2b and Arismendy Alcantara in CF.  And for us patient fans waiting for this rebuild to materialize this is gold!


Until Next Time…




Monday, July 14, 2014

Why Can't The Cubs Keep All Their Top Prospects?

That is my question.


Why can’t the Chicago Cubs keep all their top positional prospects?


(Side note:  I consider Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Addison Russell, and Jorge Soler their top 6 positional prospects.  I got mad love for Alcantara but do not think he has the ceiling that these 5 players do thus not making my top 5.)


The media, writers, bloggers, and many others have stated that the Chicago Cubs cannot keep all their top positional prospects.  Well I am here to say they can and I think they will.  There is going to be at least 5 valid rebuttals to my statement so lets review those first.


Rebuttal #1:  Prospect Flame Out


A sad but true point.  Prospect flame out or PFO is a part of baseball.  We have been several top prospects (unfortunately several with the Chicago Cubs) flame out before or during their time in the big leagues.  Yes it is a part of the game and yes it does happen but with the way teams are using a wide array of tools and data it seems prospects that have flamed out is on the decline especially when you talk about top prospects such as the Chicago Cubs front office has drafted in the past few years.  Top 10 draft picks are guys you have to be right on and thus carry the most weight when drafting them.  I think because of this; and the tools that our front office and scouts have, PFOs are not going to be as common on the north-side of Chicago.  Now, do I think the numbers Kris Bryant is putting up with translate to MLB pitching? Not likely but he does not have to hit .350 with a .440 OBP and 50 bombs to be successful in the Majors.  I would be thrilled with a .270 average with a .350 OBP and 30 homeruns a year from Kris Bryant and so would the scouts and player developers in the Cubs system.  All I am stating is that I do not think one of the top 5 positional prospects currently in the Cubs system will be a bust.  They might not all be Hall of Famers and All-Stars but I think all will be solid Major League players for the Chicago Cubs.


Rebuttal #2: Trade Prospects


Trades are a part of baseball. Thinking the Cubs front office is going to trade one of their top 5 prospects to address other needs (like pitching) is an easy thing to assume and frankly see.  The Cubs front office is stocking themselves with the most demanded goods in baseball; young controllable hitters.  To make things even more appealing they are stock piling young controllable players in the infield which just adds to the value.  Because they are adding so much depth to the infield it is easy to see why the speculation is on the uptick about them dealing from that depth.  But they are not going to do it.  The value of something like young controllable hitters is so high it may not be as high as it is for the Cubs.  The idea that they can have an cost effective infield combining to make under $20M is more valuable to the Cubs long-term success than it is to trade away.  Because the cost effectiveness of keeping these players is so high and valuable it lets this Cubs front office allocate resources to the other needs (which currently is pitching) and lets them keep the young controllable hitters.  They are not losing anything in terms of talent by keeping their prospects and spending on Free Agency to address other areas.  It is a win/win by just adding valuable talent without taking any away.  So trades of the top 5 positional prospects is not going to happen.


Rebuttal #3: Trade Current Big Leaguers


So if the Cubs are not going to trade any of their top 5 positional prospects then that means a guy like Castro is going to be traded right?  Again I say no.  Another common mistake is trading young proven commodities like Castro (or even Rizzo who some suggested move which is CRAZY) that have a team friendly contract.  Going back to the PFO where you do run the risk of one of the guys flaming out in the big leagues.  If you trade a guy like Castro and then Baez, Russell, or Bryant does not live up to expectations then you may have a hole in one of your infield positions leaving the Cubs to wait for another prospect to develop or addressing the need via free agency.  Both could further delay the competing process.  So I am also saying yes you are going to keep Rizzo and Castro.


Rebuttal #4: Pitching


But what about pitching?  The Cubs need pitching!  Well I agree they do need pitching but please lets not forget that there are young pitchers in the Cubs farm system that may not be elite but they are not slouches either.  Dallas Beeler, Kyle Hendricks, Arodys Vizcaino, Armando Rivero, and Paul Blackburn are some examples.  Plus let us not forget that a guy like Neil Ramirez could also get a chance to start for the Cubs.  Add a guy or two from those names to Travis Wood and Jake Arrieta (EJax is not likely to be a part of the rotation next season) and then you are looking at adding maybe 1 or 2 more starters not the 3 or 4 like some of you are suggesting.  Now as you stated the Cubs do need pitching and it just so happens the next free agent class has some pretty dynamic names on it that the Cubs could even “overpay” for with all the money they plan on saving by keeping their top positional prospects.  Those names are Jon Lester, Justin Masterson, Brett Anderson, Francisco Liriano, James Shields, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Max Scherzer.  The Cubs chances of landing one of those pitchers is very good especially when they have the money to do spend.  So yes I agree the Cubs need pitching but I think they just go the free agency route to compound talent and cost effectiveness.


Rebuttal #5: Where will they all play?


Please view my post on this found here.



Thoughts and Conclusion


Whether the Chicago Cubs front office goes the route I laid out or not remains to be seen.  But please don’t forget that this front office has been on the cutting edge of advanced statistics, talent analysis, front office construction, and player development.  What is to say that fielding a team internally with top positional prospects to control cost while maximizing talent which in turn allows you to spend abundantly on other needs is not the next big thing in baseball?  To me I think it is the next big thing and I think once again Theo and Jed will be on the cutting edge of things.



Until Next Time…