It's too early to panic about Javier Baez

It's too early to panic about Javier Baez

There is palpable panic in the air over Baez's slow start on both offense and defense at Daytona.  There are doubts as to whether he's the prospect we all thought he was last year in Peoria -- or even the one we thought we saw this spring. Things can change quickly when it comes to 20 year old ballplayers.

And to be fair, there is reason for concern.  There always is with prospects -- but I don't think it's time to panic.

In some ways, the defensive struggles have been more of a surprise to me. Baez has been playing SS and has made 19 errors.  He made only 17 errors all of last season.  We can say that maybe he's just proving what some scouts originally thought -- that he may not be a SS long term.  But really, that was more of a fear that he'd outgrow the position and not that he lacked the skill to play there.  And since he has not yet outgrown the position we have to logically  ask ourselves a couple of questions:  Has he forgotten how to play SS?  Is SS any bigger a challenge in the FSL than the MWL?  The obvious answer to both questions is no, so we must assume that Baez is struggling with some kind of mechanical issue that developed this year.  Whatever it is, it's likely fixable.  If it isn't, Baez has the athleticism and instincts to play anywhere on the field.

Secondly, there's been some concern about his low walk rate, but if we take a closer look, he's actually improved that rate since his performance in Peoria -- the performance, by the way, that created all the buzz and essentially launched him into top prospect status with the Cubs.  His walk rate has gone from 3.8% to 4.6% since his promotion to Daytona.

His strikeouts have also gone up, from 20.4% to 25.8% but there's no inherent flaw in Baez's swing that makes you believe strikeouts are a fundamental problem for him.  It's not a picture perfect swing -- but it's solid mechanically.

Rather, I see the increased strikeouts as a factor of trying to change his approach and see more pitches.  I haven't been able to see Baez in person this year.  I've relied on secondhand reports and internet radio to follow Baez this year, so I'm not able to make a complete evaluation.  But I've noted that on occasion he has tried to work counts -- he just doesn't seem to have the instinct for it and he has yet to develop a plan other than to try and take more pitches.  There's an adjustment period here and we need to give Baez time to develop that feel for working counts and setting up pitchers. It's not going to happen overnight.  He has gotten to two strikes all too quickly at times and has  struck out looking 4% of the time this year, an increase over the 2.1% mark he had in Peoria.

Meanwhile, there are some good things with Baez's performance.  The power is still there.  His ISO is at a solid .219 while he's slugging a respectable .475.   He is still running the bases efficiently.  And despite the errors, his penchant for the spectacular defensive play hasn't disappeared either.  The skills and instincts are still there.

I think the easiest thing to say is that Baez is being obstinate and just doesn't want to change his approach. Maybe a small part of that is true - -he is, after all, a 20 year old kid who has always had success and it wouldn't be surprising if he was a little hesitant to change what had always worked for him in the past.  But I don't think that fits his personality from a long term standpoint.  Everything I've seen and heard from Baez is that he is very coachable kid.

Not everybody enters the minor leagues like Mike Trout or Jayson Heyward, mature and ready to take a disciplined approach from day one.   Players are different.  People are different.  We got a taste of what Baez could do this spring and perhaps we put unfair expectations on him -- some even speculated that he could join the Cubs this year.

The Cubs front office knew better.  They dismissed such talk right away.  Just because Baez has tremendous physical skills and an instinct for the game, it doesn't mean that his mental approach is at the same level yet.  Baez has a lot of learning to do.  That's why he's in Class A and why the team continues to preach patience with a kid who is not just  young for his league, but has an immature plate approach relative to many of the players at that level.

We an ask one thing of Javier Baez and that is that he continues to listen to instruction and work hard to make progress as the year unfolds.  He is beginning to show signs already.  He has struck out just once in his last 23 ABs versus 2 walks.  He has struck out just 4 times in his last 35 PAs.  His walk rate, as we noted, has been higher since his promotion to Daytona than it was in Peoria.  These are just small steps but they are moving in the right direction.

Progress with players as with teams, isn't always linear.  We sometimes see things click with players and they improve exponentially --seemingly out of the blue.  In reality, it starts with these small signs of progress.  It  starts not smoothly, but with some bumps in the road.

And if and when it does indeed click for Baez, we'll surely start scrambling to find out when and why it happened and we'll probably find a point where the numbers started to take a steep upward trend.  The truth is that the progress would have started well before that point.


Filed under: prospects

Tags: Javier Baez


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    This reminds me, I wanted to bounce something off of you. A guy I know (full disclosure: I trust him, but less than I trust multiple people here) suggested that the issue with Baez's defense is that the game is faster in the FSL. So runners are getting to first faster and that's putting more pressure on Baez to speed up his game -- and that isn't a good thing for a shortstop. Any truth to this?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm hearing it's more about him pressing and trying to do too much. He just needs to slow it down and play within himself. Some of the people I know that are somewhat close to him said he was confident that he could make the team out of ST....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Interesting; I also got that sense with him based on his tweets.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    From a very casual fan point of view I thought it was a little soon to be inviting him to ST. At the worst he's completely overmatched, but probably the true worst thing is that he plays well and the fans start to think he's ready and the next superstar, which seems to be more of what happened along with perhaps some pouting or just disappointment from not making the team - which wasn't the least bit realistic to begin with.

    I don't know if the Cubs fans are different from the Boston fans as far as overhyping and over-expecting their prospects to be instant stars. If Chicago is different than Boston, and I would venture to guess the atmosphere here is, especially after Boston won the WS twice, TheHoyer might need to take that into consideration with how they talk about/promote (as in P.R.) their kids.

  • We all see the highlight plays and power/bat speed and start dreaming about what if.... We forget that not all 20yo's are ready to play at the MLB level just yet. Taking pitches and strategically trying to out-think pitchers is new to him.

    I'm going to try and make the trip for next Wednesday's game. Maybe I can ask him a few questions about the adjustments he's making....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    That'd be great. Would love to hear this thoughts.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, just tweet him and ask if you could do a phone interview. Send him a link to the site so he can see you're real. Phone the Daytona club's media relation's dude and see if he can help you.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I may do that. I don't normally do formal interviews but he'd be interesting to talk to, I'm sure.

  • Hey John, I guess I'm a little late here, but I meant to post in your other article that one guy I think you left out was Jeffrey Baez, he's hitting .347 with 4 hr's in 49 at bats in Ext ST, he's hit for some good power.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Baez is an interesting player. He's athletic. He can run and he's got some pop. He can play CF for now. Someone to keep an eye on at the lower levels. I expect him to be at Boise this year.

  • Thanks for the reminder, John. I can't believe some people are panicking over a 20 year old kid in high A ball. The FO put him there for a reason - to work out the kinks in a good learning environment. It's something Starling Castro didn't get the benefit of. He's doing it in the big leagues, where so many ride on every error he makes and everything short at bat he has.

  • I can't help being concerned about the walk rate. I'm scarred by Josh Vitters, whose abysmal walk rate doomed him to the point where he might not be a major leaguer at all. I know Baez is better. I know his defense is better and the power is off the charts, but lordy those BB numbers scare me.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I want those walk rates up to, but I think it's a lot to ask him to change them overnight. He improved them by about a percentage point since his promotion to Daytona -- and he's been walking more lately. It'll take some time. I think he's trying, but he's still trying to figure out some things.

  • John from reading your draft articles i get the impression the cubs are going to go two college pitchers for the first two rounds. i wouldnt be opposed to that but i would rather have a high upside high school pitcher for the second round

  • Love these random posts, they are, to me, what I love about this blog, only the diehards drink these posts up, and I love it. John, do you know if the FO reads this blog and the fan posts? I feel like these comments are pretty reflective of the general sense and feelings of the die-hards. . ?
    Also, Candelario is stepping up big time, he seems to be the only inherited FO prospect with good strike zone discipline. Hes only 19 and seems to have good instincts and athletic ability (at least for his size.)

  • In reply to Josh Sims:

    Haha! Thanks. Sometimes nice to read about something other than what the media is reporting on. Yes, the FO has read my blog (and yes I'm blown away and completely flattered by that). I do not know how often they read it and whether they read the comments. I do know of at least a couple of baseball people who have read the comments though.

    Candelario has an incredible feel for hitting for his age and strong wrists and hands -- and the size to eventually hit for some power. He's an average athlete at best though. He's certainly not the fastest guy on the team.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I feel like they must want to know where the real fans stand, and its tough to accurately gauge that 'fan feeling' from the papers or the local ESPN site, even the radio shows are centered to the real casual fans in addition to hosts always ranting and raving, or complaining to drive ratings. I feel like this would be an ideal place for them to look and asses fan satisfaction and perception. So, if your reading Theo, hi.
    Keith Law, for whatever he is worth, said if you squint, you can see Panda in Candelario, sign me up!!

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    Well, I am one who has been on the forum critical of Baez. To answer the question, is it too soon to panic? I would say yes, for sure, it's too soon to panic.

    ....But there is enough data to say that the contact issues are not a statistical blip, it is an issue that needs to be called that and corrected. In his favor, he is young and there is time.

    His K-rate and error rate bear watching. I don't know why he has committed more errors; someone posted about the speed of the game, maybe, but it's WAY up from last year, even at A+ level

  • Just too early to worry about him. All I look for is progress and his numbers are better this year at Daytona than they were at the end of last year. Seems like a lot of his brain power is going toward figuring out the improved pitching, and that may explain his defensive woes. Like when you move a 1b to left and suddenly his offensive numbers fall off a cliff.

  • And Almora is going to KC, gotta make the trip now. .

  • In reply to Josh Sims:

    If his Twitter feed is to be believed, then yes, looks like he's coming to Kane County. And, of course, I'm going away this weekend :( I do have tickets for next weekend, however.

  • "Panic" is such a loaded word.

    Baez's strikeout and walk problem is a serious negative indicator most commonly associated with prospects, even highly regarded ones, who will fail at making the transitions to higher levels and will not successfully hit in the major leagues. It is not "panicking" the acknowledge this.

    He certainly has plenty of positive indicators to balance this against and they still leave him as still a highly regarded prospect, but there's no need to whitewash what's happening here.

    The improvement in the last week or two is intriguing and I hope it keeps up, but as fans who want him succeed, we're easily seduced by such arbitrary endpoint arguments. This isn't the first time I've heard "Well, obviously he's coming out of it," and each previous proclamation has been subsequently followed with a slump.

    Nor do I see no evidence that the strikeouts are a byproduct of trying to incorporate a new approach, which I have seen some put forth. His BB rate is essentially the same as it has been his whole minor league career. His swinging K rate is up by the same percentage points as his looking K rate. To me, that's just stretching for a positive spin that we want to see, rather than taking what's there.

    Javier Baez has a severely deficient ability to tell the difference between pitches he should and should not swing at. That is not something a prospect usually grows out of, though it isn't unheard of. He also does not seem to possess any particularly impressive ability to make contact with difficult to hit pitches, which wouldn't be a big problem if not combined with the previous problem.

    The idea that Baez has a large flameout potential is not new. There was the famous quote from McLeod that said when he scouted Baez, he called Jed and said he wasn't sure if he'd seen the next Manny Ramirez or a guy who wouldn't make AA. Well, if it were going to be the latter, this is what it would look like. Getting punked repeatedly and consistently by A-ball pitching. (He's not literally going to not make it to AA, of course. Pedigree and hype alone should carry him to the majors for at least a cup of coffee).

    All that said, the errors don't concern me too much. It'd be nice if he didn't have them, but as noted it's not entirely unusual for young SS's to have that problem. If his bat can adjust, it'll play anywhere on the field at the MLB level.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Nothing is easier than looking at walks and strikeout rate and making this judgement. It's a safe play to look at numbers and overall trends without bothering to evaluate anyone on an individual basis.

    You make a lot of statements, such as the one on pitch recognition, as if you have actually evaluated him in person and took note of the pitches being thrown. Is this the case? If not, then I don't see how you can speak to his pitch recognition skills.

    And changing your approach absolutely affects strikeout rates. If you're taking strikes and not swinging at them, then you're going to fall behind in the count. If Baez goes up taking 3 swings, he's much more likely to make contact then if he takes two pitches and fall behind 0-2 and gets one swing. Not to mention that the pitcher has an enormous advantage from the moment he throws a first pitch strike. And when you're Javier Baez and you're still learning what it means to work a count,then you're going to take strikes -- maybe it's even premeditated on his part to take a certain pitch. Until you know what you're doing up there, then taking pitches without a plan can cause you to fall behind in the count -- and that alone makes you more vulnerable to strikeouts.

  • Kyle, is this the same guy from Bleacher Nation.

    If so, I always wondered why you didn't post here; the quality of discourse is more your speed.

    Unfortunately, I agree with your theory about us, as fans, looking for positive spin on facts that can just as easily be skewed the other way.

    Defensively, I'm not worried , if for no other reason than his likely binary outcome as a hitter will make him perfectly acceptable as LFer, if things break right. Bottom line is that Baez' meal ticket is his bat and it seems it is either going to work out in a big way or not so much. If it works out as we hope and maybe expect, he'll add value at any position on the diamond.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think the easy article to write is an analysis based on the walk and strikeout rates. Results based evaluation lends itself to a pretty straightforward analysis -- and I'm not sure if you can find any real new insight in such a piece. It's the kind of piece that's been written over and over again.

    An evaluation based on process is more difficult, more abstract, and well, maybe uncomfortable. That's always the case when we're looking at uncertainty. Stats, numbers are concrete things we can hold on to and we can say "3% walk rate or 26% K rate" -- we know what that means when we compare that to general statistical trends and outcomes. Trying to learn what's behind the numbers isn't as straightforward.

    I don't call this a positive spin so much as an attempt to explore the process behind the numbers. The piece admits concern, it just doesn't jump to conclusions.

    I've heard similar rebuttals when I wrote a piece on Jeff Samardzija and his potential as a starter. I heard from a few guys quoting stats on why he'll never succeed. I think the emphasis sometimes is too much on statistical snapshots without regard to a more global analysis of a player. As much as we try to make player evaluation strictly a science, it is still very much an art.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think the easy article to write is the one that says "everything is fine" when we all want it to be fine.

    I'll grant that I resisted Jeff Samardzija for as long as I possibly could, and I'd love for Baez to be the same story. But I see a lot more Corey Patterson (with the flaws going to even further extremes) here than anything else.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    Trying to find positives in Baez's performance and taking the time to talk to baseball people and listening to games (since I can't watch them) is not easy.. Pointing at obvious stats and drawing the most obvious conclusion from it is straightforward and would have been the easy path to take. Seeing the positive side in things doesn't make it easy. Many times it's much easier to see the negative.

    The bottom line is you are comfortable with a sort of results oriented analysis -- and that's fine. But baseball at the A ball stage is much more about process and that requires a willingness to look beyond the numbers -- especially at the A ball level. That's what makes projecting young players difficult -- no team, not even the once who use advanced metrics, make conclusions on a purely statistical snapshot. In fact most will tell you it's less than 50% of the equation. There's more to the game at that level. While you wait for results, you can be a step behyind by people that look at process.

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    Soler is back in the lineup tonight -- so apparently no big deal yesterday. (I'd guess he didn't run out a pop up or the like.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    In the lineup and already has a hit! Doesn't miss a beat.

  • I am going to buy the analysis that Javy had a mental letdown after he did not make the team out of ST. Realistic or not Baez was that sure of his talent and projected that confidence except when he slept. His errors would indicate that something threw him off his square.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That's possible. I hope that part of the equation didn't last too long. Maybe he tried to swing his way out of Daytona.

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    Great article John, and I concur. It's way to early to panic over Baez. Still, I can't help but feel he's not this FO's kind of player, and they would more willing to include him in a trade than Soler or Almora. Looking at the next 10 picks after Baez, I see a number of prospects I think this FO might have taken over Baez. George Springer stands out to me, and Hoyer and McLeod did draft Spangenber with the very next pick, though that may have had more to do with signability issues.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I do think they would have taken Spangenberg -- and whatever we may think of the new regime, we should be glad they weren't in charge of that draft. Baez, warts and all, has significantly more value than Spangenberg likely ever will.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed. Spangenberg's a nice player but the upside is probably a little limited. He can run and play middle infield, which immediately gives him a pretty high floor, even if it's as a utility guy.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks. I think he's not their ideal guy. He's certainly not this FO's kind of player in terms of patience, but they also like players who slug, athletes, and good defense -- all of which Baez potentially gives them. Not a perfect fit, but if he hits and hits with power and plays solid D, I think they'll live with it.

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    Javy Baez struck out in his first at bat tonight. The sky is falling. Baez is a sham. We ought to just cut him instead of letting hype carry him to the next level.

    The next two at bats? I'm not sure what happened. I'll get back to you.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Jokes aside, I should say that I was nervous about Baez. Not panicked, but nervous. Thanks for this, John, to once again get me to see the game in another (more accurate) way.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm nervous too. I think this year has been a huge struggle, but hopefully a big learning experience for him. I don't know if it's a more accurate way to see the game (I hope it is!) but I do like to look at a bigger picture if possible. I love stats but for me it's also about process and progress -- especially at the lower levels.

    Baez has two more doubles today, by the way ;)

  • John, you were talking about Albert Almora being activated... I just heard he played his last game in Ext ST and will be joining Kane County tomorrow... Change in plans?

  • In reply to Caps:

    That's what I meant. Sorry. He'll be playing in Kane County tomorrow. I decided to take a road trip to Des Moines to see the I-Cubs this weekend and unfortunately will miss his home debut. I will, however, see him in the next weekend.

  • What could help Baez is a visit from his family....maybe he is home sick.......

    I don't think Theo will wait until the end of July to pull a Feldman trade.....if Garza shows five quality starts, he might be gone 30 games is crucial for many Cubs players future.....

    If Appeal is taken by Houston, then the Cubs need to take the best position player, not pitcher......Appeal is less than a year away from MLB......reports say Gray is 3 years away......

    I heard Rickett's are looking at new stadium proposals from various out of area Architects.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I think the Cubs should -- and will -- take the player they think is best at #2, regardless of position.

  • John I agree Baez' SO/BB being directly related to his attempt to change his approach and please his coaches. Perhaps the changes at the plate are affecting his play defensively as well. We may have to wait until he gets more comfortable with the changes to see an improvement.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    I think so too. It's hard to change something you've done you're whole life in a certain way. I think it's natural that he struggles.

    We expected Brett Jackson to have up and downs. I think we should expect the same of Baez and others who are trying to adapt their approach.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I know one guy who doesn't need a long adjustment period is Jeimer Candelario, he already has the good approach, 4 for 5 today and he's been real hot... Only 1 hr, but 15 doubles already... The hr's will come, let's keep in mind he's only 19.

  • In reply to Caps:

    He's got a great feel for hitting. I don't him imagine him every struggling for a long period of time. Just a question if he can develop a bit more power.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think adapting to the 'Cubs Way' is effecting a whole bunch of hitters, including Star Castro, so I think rather than make rash judgements we should give it some time. John, you hit it on the head. These players are doing something they have never done before, so give them time.
    We need to remember, Baez has about 500 pro PA's. Give him time.
    BTW, I love your work.

  • In reply to djriz:

    Thanks DJRizzo!

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    I don't think he's doing it just to please his coaches, I think he realizes that he needs to work on his approach if he wants to succeed in the majors... Raw talent alone will not get players by in the majors and this approach could mean the difference between a good power hitter and a solid all around player... Would hate to see Baez turning into Jeff Francour at the plate.

  • I have absolutely no concern regarding Javier Baez. You can count on one hand the number of people on the planet with his bat speed. Guys with that ability do not fail to make the majors. While there is no guarantee he becomes a star, there is no chance he stalls out in AA. Especially in this era of down offensive output, Javier Baez is guaranteed to get multiple opportunities at the major league level to tap into his power. At worst he will be Rickie Weeks. And there is a very good chance he will become similar to Soriano at the plate.

    His defense does not concern me either. He has enough athletic ability to play SS, and there is a good chance he does not outgrow the position, at least in the near future. I haven't seen him this season in Daytona, but in Peoria he tended to showboat a little on defense and looked to make the highlight reel play a little too often instead of just playing it safe. So I may not want him at SS at the major league level, but I don't think that is a that big of an issue anyway because the guy can literally play every position on the field if asked. He is the one guy who allows us to be flexible in the future, because no matter which other prospects progress or what positions the team chooses to pursue in FA or trade, Baez can be plugged into whatever hole remains in the lineup whether is IF or OF.

    Baez has supreme confidence in himself. You can tell by the way he carries himself, the comments he makes, and the way his teammates and coaches speak of him. There is no thought of failure in his mind. Sometimes this can lead to a guy that is slow to adjust, because he has such trust in his own ability, but ultimately the desire to succeed will win out. I will put my money on confident people succeeding.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Wow. You are more optimistic than me! I like it.

    No doubt about that confidence. He believes in his ability. He won't get down, you just hope he can make the adjustments.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    There are 5 position prospects in the system that are no doubt major leaguers to me:
    1. Baez
    2. Soler
    3. Alcantara
    4. Watkins
    5. Ha
    They may not become stars, and in the case of the bottom three guys no one expects them to be, but all 5 will contribute as MLB players. Almora may be another, considering what I have heard about his defense, but I have not seen him in person yet so I can't speak intelligently regarding him. Baez and Soler are discussed often enough, and you can probably tell from my above response, I believe Baez will be a star.

    Alcantara has the strong wrists/hands and quick twitch athletic ability to be a starting 2B or CF (his throwing issues lead me to believe he can't stay at SS), but at worst he will can be a valuable super sub that flashes impact abilities. Watkins has similar abilities, but lacks the same upside, though he is a little more polished offensively and defensively. He will be the main backup utility IF and see some time in CF next year for the Cubs. The choice of Ha probably surprises people but the guy plays solid defense at all three OF positions, and hits LHP well enough that he will become one of those guys that hangs around MLB rosters for years as a productive backup and a guy managers trust.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Seeing Watkins and Jae-Hoon Ha on your list doesn't surprise me, having seen them play too. I'm puzzled by Watkins's numbers so far, but he is a guy who contributes in a lot of ways.
    Ha has been on the Smokies' "7-day DL" for seemingly a long time now. Looking forward to him coming back and doing well in AA, with a call up to Iowa later on.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Minor league DLs are always 7 days, so it's no indication of the severity of the injury. I believe it's a back injury for Ha, which for anyone who has ever had one, knows they can be tricky and linger longer than expected.

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    Baez gets most often compared to Gary Sheffield because of the bat speed. Well, here is Sheffield's pages from Major League Page from Fangraphs and his Minor League Page from Basaeball Reference for comparisons sake.

    Sheffield's Major League Page:

    Sheffield's Minor League Page:

    Baez's Minor League Page:

    It goes without saying that Sheffield as a Major Leaguer is where you hope Baez ends up, but Gary Sheffield in Hi-A ball was 2 years younger and light years ahead of where Baez is now. Just saying!

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    No doubt Sheffield was well ahead of Baez.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sheffield was a phenom. Baez is not. So the comparisons aren't really fair.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Yeah, everyone with great bat speed is compared to Sheffield because he probably had the best ever. If Baez becomes 80% of Sheffield than we should consider ourselves lucky as fans.
    Weeks was compared to him too when he came out.

    The thing is though, the guys with that particular talent have such a built in advantage that in some ways it is almost impossible for them to fail completely and wash out. Even if they never refine their games or reach great heights, they will be able to turn around a MLB fastball, which means they will always have some value as long as they possess that bat speed.

  • John, I wasn't questioning the article, itself, or its logic earlier. I'm speaking more of my own hopes/letdowns withCub prospects. Vitters, in particular, and , to a lesser extent, BJax are guys that we, as Cub fans are always looking to see "green shoots" from, with respect to their developmental challenges. Baez is just a scary proposition because he might flame out; he
    might turn into a poor man's Cabrera; he might be dealt and flame out ; and he might get dealt and really blossom. The possibilities are exciting and frightening , at the same time.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    No problem. And I do agree with you. I just wanted to clarify that I wasn't trying to spin, just trying to step back and see the big picture. I think Baez is trying to adjust -- but I'm not yet convinced he can be the kind of hitter the Cubs front office would like him to be. In all honesty, I have my doubts. My guess is he'll never be a perfect fit for their philosophy -- but you hope he can show just enough discipline to allow him to utilize those tremendous skills -- and make enough impact in other parts of the game that they can live with what will probably be a below average walk rate.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Or you hope that he makes enough progress that another organization will want to acquire him as part of a package in a trade that significantly improves the Cubs both short and long term.

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    John have you seen Almora's most recent Tweet?

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Which one?

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    He's on his way to Kane County.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    You mean about him going to Kane? I did. I mentioned it in next piece.

  • Baez will be fine- just needs a little more age and PT. He's close to getting his OPS back to .800, so even with his plate discipline and fielding struggles the power is still there. The Sori comp has more validity to me than the Sheffield references, and if this FO wants high OBP guys in their lineup I'm not sure Javy will ever be their man- he just doesn't seem to want to take a BB. But he definitely has value as a trade chip, and I'll love it if the Cubs dangled him out there with guys like BJax and Vogelbach to pry Stanton away from the Marlins. That's ultimately where I think Baez' primary value is to the Cubs.

  • I'd agree that he might be part of a package if they try to corral a marquee talent, whether it's a bat or an arm. If they were to listen on him, you can bet that they'd be leveraging his positional scarcity, in a big way.

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    The other thing about Baez, it looks like his numbers are going to start trending upward. (We can hope so, anyway.) If he finishes with reasonable power numbers, we can trade him for pretty good value this offseason and the new regime won't have to worry about whether or not he'll take walks. And, perhaps, he'll perform better in an organization that let's him be aggressive.

  • I agree completely with your statement here. Baez's sample size would be too small were he in the majors, let alone in High A ball. At this point it's hasty to make a proclamation either way as to his ultimate projections...which is the EXACT point you're making here. This is not sugar coating at all, it's a plea for patience, and one I completely agree with. Are there some red flags? Absolutely. Does Baez possess the talent to overcome these concerns? Absolutely. The point is, "It's too early to panic"...

  • I think I read recently that strikeouts in MLB have been increasing for several years and are at an all time high right now. Maybe the conventional wisdom is changing and a higher strikeout rate, when combined with prodigious power, isn't considered as much of a detriment as it was in the recent past. Boom or bust. I don't know if Theo and Jed have adjusted their secret formula for what an ideal power hitter should look like, but maybe they will be less fixated on high OBPs.
    I think it's okay if Baez struggles a little as long as he's trying to make changes to become a more complete hitter. It seems like Castro wasn't given enough time in the minors to experiment with changing his approach. Once a player is in the majors and expected to produce every game, it's harder to experiment.
    Baez should make for an interesting case study regarding just how much Theo and Jed's new system, with its focus on The Cubs Way, can improve a player.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    They had an article on that in SI, I believe and then Dave Cameron wrote a rebuttal -- though I don't think he was a really successful one.

    Baez is about as hard a challenge as the development team has. If they succeed in changing his approach I think they'll have done an excellent job and it'll give us hope that they are able to work with any style. Though if he succeeds or fails, Baez must be given some of the credit either way.

  • Baez's approach is similar to Soriano and Castro. Maybe in the end he will replace Sori in left. There is only room for a couple of aggressive types in a lineup.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Those are fair comps for approach. None of them are genetically designed to take a lot of pitches or walks. They WANT to HIT! But Baez could possibly be even more of a "feast or fathom" mindset.

  • So there's been a lot of talk on this page about whether or not Baez's increased strikeouts and walks are indicative of progress/adjustments or just issues.

    What are his average pitches seen per at-bat? Wouldn't that be a good way to support or deny the hypotheses above? I would guess that the average pitches seen is up if both strikeouts and walks are up, which would tell me that Baez is indeed working on taking more pitches overall.

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