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How and why Javy Baez could get a September call -- and possibly stay for good

How and why Javy Baez could get a September call -- and possibly stay for good

When I first saw Javier Baez in a live game, I wrote my observations.  I started that article with this sentence,

Javier Baez has a tattoo of the MLB logo on the back of his neck and walks with the confident swagger of a guy who fully intends to be there one day.

Yesterday, he took a big step toward that goal by playing the position many think he will play at the MLB level -- second base.  Late last night during our recaps, we mentioned that it was not a one time thing.  Baez will play there for the next several days, according to Iowa manager Marty Pevey.

"Next several days" probably means that, barring unforeseen circumstances, he will play there the rest of the year.   Why switch him for a few days and then switch him back?

The move had to be calculated.  The Cubs had to know the firestorm of attention it would bring,  After all, there was quite a bit of stirring when Arismendy Alcantara played CF at Iowa for the first time.  With all due respect to Alcantara, who is a wonderful prospect in his own right, a Baez switch is on a whole different level.  It clearly signals two things: 1) the Cubs have no intention of moving Castro right now and 2) the Cubs are preparing Baez for what should be the position he plays in his MLB career.

But when does that start?

How about September?

Wait, wait, wait...didn't I just warn everyone about calling guys up too early and how it might cost the Cubs money and control in the long run?

Yes that still stands, of course.  But there are ways around such things.

Javier Baez just wants to play and he wants to play at the highest level possible because he's that good and he's that driven.

"What we probably underestimated a little bit was how much Javy loves to play the game, and how much he loves to compete." said McLeod

“His mindset’s different,” Hyde said. “I think he realizes how close he is. He is playing with a lot more confidence than he did last spring and with more determination. (He’s) a pro now. He understands what it takes.”

Now Hyde was talking about what it takes on the field in this instance, but Baez has learned that this isn't just about him.  It is about the organization.  Some of us may have cringed when the subject of switching positions came up.  Javier Baez took it in stride and even chimed in with his preference, which was and is 2B.

Whatever it takes.

But the financial questions remain.  Is it really worth costing the Cubs a year of control?

The answer is no.  But it doesn't have to.  The Cubs could arrange a situation with Baez where he can get his first taste of the majors this year with the understanding that he will go back to Iowa next spring to finish the development process.  It could push him back into a mid May call-up, much like another former SS phenom named Starlin Castro back in 2010.

The other solution is a pre-arranged extension deal, similar to what the Astros have done with top prospects George Springer and Jon Singleton.  That way Javier could come up to stay for good in September as long as he is willing to let the Cubs buy out at least a year of free agency -- and probably more than one to make it worth their while.

The question then is this: Would it be worth it for Javier Baez?

For one thing, we know he very badly wants to do play in the major leagues and if that means sacrificing a bit  down the road in exchange for security today, then he may be willing to make that trade.  It was certainly important enough to Castro and Anthony Rizzo for them to make that choice.

And don't forget this: behind the brash exterior lies a good kid who is very loyal to his family.  He would probably like nothing more than to be able to take care of them for the rest of their lives, particularly his sister, who needs constant medical care.  Maybe having that security now is more important to him then worrying about what happens 6 years from now.  I don't know that, of course,  That is a decision Baez needs to make for himself and his family -- and no one else.

In the end, though, the decision will have to be about baseball.  Baez has improved every year he has been in the minors and even his "down year" at Iowa has been a learning experience.  He has learned to make adjustments and how to work counts more consistently.  With the help of Manny Ramirez and a new emphasis on studying video, he has a better idea of how more experienced pitchers are trying to get him out -- or perhaps more accurately, how they plan on making Baez get himself out.

He is taking the final steps right now toward fulfilling that lifelong goal of becoming a big league ballplayer.  He has come a long way from the kid I saw in Peoria who was still unsure about how to conduct himself around the game and how to reign in that competitive fire.  Baez is still learning his place on the baseball field, both in terms of his ultimate position and his place in the grand game itself.  It's easy to forget he is still just a 21 year old kid trying to grow up and learn his way in all aspects of life.   The learning process is far from over.  He is going to make mistakes and probably quite a few of them.  But from what I have seen from Baez over the past 3 years, he will learn quickly.  We may not have to wait much longer  until he gets to continue that learning process on a major league baseball diamond.

We already know Baez will do whatever it takes to get (and stay) there.

 

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  • I can only sepak for myself - but I would love to see Baez get some play in Wrigley in September - but will understand completely if either roster space limitations, or decisions based on his 'clock' starting keep him in Iowa until Next May.

    If he is going to play 2B this season - that does mean that somebody on the ML-roster is going to have to go. Obviously, that would mean an elimination of one of Bonifacio (given - AA slots in well for him), Barney, Valbuena, or one of Sweeney or Schierholtz.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Frankly, I'm tired of worrying about a player's "clock." How about this: Let's get the best players in the organization on the same team and see what they can do. I have been patient for 4 years believing a full rebuild is the right thing to do. However, at this point, they are obviously just trying to be bad. I can't get onboard with that. The main point is how Soler is still in AA. He is a better option than the likes of Schierholtz / Ruggiano / Coghlan / Lake and he already has an MLB contract. Why not call him up? Because the FO wants to showcase these players while fans suffer through a combined .200 BA. It really is time to start calling these guys up and seeing what they can do. These players aren't running short on options and they are already on the 40 man.

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    In reply to joec6108:

    I’m with you: I’m tired about hearing about a player’s clock. Although, I have never once heard Theo or Hoyer mention it. Instead, it is reporters and the commenters on this site and others. In fact, I read a comment from Hoyer that Baez would likely be in Chicago already if he had had a better start. So don’t believe the conventional wisdom. It is very possible that the Cubs feel they can extend Baez. And also possible that they aren’t worried about his contract 5, 6 or whatever years in the future, but instead hoping on building the best team possible, as soon as possible.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    They don't mention it because it's not in their best interests to do so, but the fact they brought up Anthony Rizzo up the very day after they could earn extra time on his clock says they do pay attention to it very much. Actions speak louder than words here.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    i agree with this. i have never heard the front office speak about a player's clock or delaying a clock. i think it's the conventional wisdom argument behind the prospects remaining in the minors. well, what if the players just haven't been forcing the front office's hand yet? kris bryant is still striking out too much, bryant is starting to turn it around and has looked vastly improved over the past three weeks. look at arismendy alcantara, he forced their hand. the arguments about 40-man roster spots, delaying player's clocks, etc. just seem to be smart fans looking for an excuse.

    i don't buy it. and i don't think the front office buys it either. i think the players come up when they prove that they are ready. simple as that. baez is proving he belongs, while bryant is proving that he still has some work to do. soler just needs to stay healthy. i think soler makes his mlb debut before bryant but after baez.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    *baez is starting to turn it around and has looked vastly improved over the past three weeks.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    This. This FO's over-cautious approach to promotion and development is holding back the major league club. Bryant has made a mockery of the minors. Baez is one of the five most talented and productive players in the org. Russell was at AAA for the A's. There is nothing developmentally magic about hanging around Des Moine. Ask BJax or Sczcur or Vitters how much better they got there. They got worse. If Epstein ran the Dodgers, Puig would still be terrorizing AA while he mumbled about benchmarks. If he ran the Angels, Trout would be OPSing 2000 in AAA while Hoyer talked about maturation. Get the 12 most talented position players with at least a year in the minors on the big league squad.

  • In reply to h vaughn:

    This argument is more tiresome to me than the one the FO makes because it has no merit and it is made under false pretenses. The people who make them are only acting in their own short term entertainment interests. They want their cookie, they want to see these players now. There is no consideration made to the very real costs of doing so and only lip service is paid to the proper development of players, something which the average fan knows little about anyway.

    There is no known benefit to making this kind of move, only known costs. I think that people want to trade a couple months in a meaningless season for an entire year of a meaningful one -- when the player is in his prime -- where is the logic, the prudence, the responsible action? You wanted a responsible, intelligent FO -- now you have one and you want them to do it the way Hendry did, which was to appease fans at the expense of good baseball sense. I'm truly baffled by this line of thought.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's presumptive to assume I'm some short sighted fan begging for an entertainment cookie. Your argument amounts to saying the Cubs shouldn't bring up Bryant and Baez because Theo says we shouldn't. You have no way of knowing whether or not they'd succeed at the ML level, so your argument is safe from refutation. When they are finally brought up next summer after holding down the payroll for some mythical date six years in the future, you'll claim the half season they spent serving cookies in Iowa was responsible for any success they have. Kris Bryant is a better ballplayer than Luis Valbuena or Nate Schierholtz right now and the odds that he'll improve more than they will in the future are pretty good. The idea that facing pitchers with effective secondary pitches and advanced game plans will somehow damage his psyche beyond repair unless he spends more time with the wizards in Iowa to armor himself is not aligned with any concept of development I'm familiar with. Javier Baez may indeed end up as a low-contact hacker who runs into an occasional homer but it won't be because he came up half a season early from Iowa. He has vastly more talent than Valbuena, Barney or for that matter, Castro, who was brought up at 20 and hit .310. And being able to pay to retain top performing players six years from now? Really? When has that ever been a problem for a high revenue major league team? When's the last time the Cubs failed to hold onto their best players?

  • In reply to h vaughn:

    I just wrote a whole article on why they shouldn't. It doesn't quote Theo, All the ideas are mine. I have no idea if he would even agree with me here, though as a rational front office person, my guess is his idea on the matter is similar but more sophisticated and calculated than my article.

    Your arguments are all subjective with no data behind it to back it up. It's purely speculative and it ignores and casually downplays real consequences that have a ripple effect on the organization as a whole. It is willing to take on risk and costs later for no provable gain now. The financial costs, cost control loss, and roster inflexibility are real tangible losses. I don't know why anyone would make this trade when any potential gain is only speculative while knowing that there are certain losses and consequenmces that are attached. There is willingness here to trade for a month or two in a meaningless season for a full year of the player when the team and he is in his prime later. The odds are heavy that there will be a loss in value there. Since payrolls are limited, any amount you have to spend unnecessarily on a player just so you can get an early cookie is a little less you can spend on the rest of the roster down the road. None of these reasons are rational and all those losses are real, measurable and quantifiable. It's just not a tradeoff that any responsible FO would make. If there were things you could point to, say a correlation between September play and a greater probability of success in the future, then it becomes interesting, but as far as I know, no such correlation exists.

  • In reply to joec6108:

    I worry about any Boras client and that player's clock, because of the seeming unwillingness to sign these team friendly but still lucrative deals. But otherwise I don't care about clocks.

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    In reply to jorel1114:

    I agree with you on Boras. Maybe the Cubs are about to trade Boni and Barney and will need someone to play second? AA was moved to the big club because there was a need. Or maybe this was just the plan all along -- to play Baez and 2nd -- and nothing has changed. It will be fun to watch.

  • In reply to joec6108:

    Baez is not on the 40 man, neither is Bryant.

    Soler and Alcantara are, so maybe you get your wish there. I do think there is a chance they consider adding Baez, but not Bryant.

    It's costly if they don't make contingency plans like the ones I outlined above. If they don't do it, they cannot press forward with these kind of moves because they have real, tangible long term effects.

  • In reply to joec6108:

    Soler is NOT ready for the MLB. Bringing him up now is much more likely to hurt his development than to help it.

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    In reply to joec6108:

    Hard to be patient about a rebuild for four years when Theo/Jed haven't even been with the Cubs for three. I'm happy you're not the GM. For the only time in my life since a few years under Dallas Green, the Cubs are actually doing something right. There's a ton of swing and miss in both Bryant's and Baez's game at AAA. The idea of seeing Baez come up to hit 9 homers while batting .205 and striking out 100 times in half a season does not interest me.

    Soler is mashing AA pitching which is great. His next step should be AAA, not Wrigley Field.

  • In reply to Harry Towns:

    I couldn't agree more Harry, every last word!

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    In reply to Harry Towns:

    Agreed. You know the same people calling for Baez to come up, before he is ready, will be the same people calling for the Cubs to waive Baez if he did put up that 9 HR, .205 average.

    They've learned nothing from how Pie and Patterson turned out, but want to make the same mistakes from the Hendry era.

  • In reply to JimL:

    Very similar to my thoughts guys.

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    John, this is just nuts. I have suggested over and over that you can't always play it the way a computer tells you is best. Sometimes, the desire and will is stronger then any book on the subject. AND YOU TOLD ME IT CAN'T HAPPEN this year about 20 times. Now, you are making all my points and doing a full 180.

    Nice to see you are not a beyond "coming around"!

  • In reply to Randy Michelson:

    I said nothing of the sort. Nothing has changed. Read carefully and don't just look for confirmation bias, then you'll understand it as I intended. Contingencies are always possible, but they cannot be relied upon. The last article was about things that are known quantities or at least ones of good statistical probability.

    Pre-arranged understandings or deals change the equation from an unknown to a known quantity. Nothing about the last article itself has changed.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I see no inconsistency from what I have read in the past. I WOULD love for him to be able to come up and stay.....I ain't gettin' no younger!

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Yep. We would all love to see him play in the right circumstance. And changing the circumstance, changes the original equation. This is a speculation "what if" type article. the other was one based on statistical probability and known quantities, two different things.

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    I like the extension idea, but calling Javy up means also putting him on the 40-man roster. With the depth of the Cubs farm system, I'm sure there will be some good players we'll want to protect during the Rule 5 draft, and giving Javy a cup of coffee in a lost year means there's one less guy we can protect.

    Worth it?

  • In reply to Grant Michalski:

    It depends on who they have decided to keep and how likely they are to lose certain players they are on the fence with. I am sure they will do their homework on both of those fronts.

  • In reply to Grant Michalski:

    Pitchers that will return (17):
    Arrieta, Beeler, Grimm, Hendricks, Jackson, Parker, Ramirez, Rondon, Rosscup, Rusin, Schlitter, Strop, Straily, Vizcaino, Wada, Wood, Wright
    Pitchers that need to be added (4):
    Edwards*, Hatley*, Jokisch*, McKirahan (Cervenka also has a chance but I figure they will only protect one or the other).
    Pitchers that should be added but don't need to be protected (1):
    Rivero*
    Pitchers that probably don't return:
    Fujikawa, MacDonald, Russell, Villanueva

    IF that will return (10):
    Alcantara, Baker (or some other veteran C), Bonifacio, Castillo, Castro, Olt, Rizzo, Villanueva, Valbuena, Watkins
    IF that need to be added (1):
    Lopez
    IF that should be added but don't need to be protected (1):
    Baez*
    IF that probably don't return:
    Barney

    OF that will return (6):
    Coghlan
    Kalish
    Lake
    Ruggiano
    Soler
    Szczur
    OF that need to be added (0):
    OF that should be added but don't need to be protected (0):
    OF that probably don't return:
    Jackson, Schierholtz, Sweeney, Vitters

    So that is 40 guys with Baez included (22 pitchers and 18 position players) that figure to return or should be added to roster. But that is with an awful lot of replaceable filler still on the roster. Bonifacio, Strop and Wada are guys that could be moved in certain circumstances and Kalish, Lake, Olt, Rusin, Szczur and Watkins are all fringe guys that one or more could be dropped from the roster if/when space is needed for free agents.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    No need to protect Baker. You can always add another scrap heap, non-tender type guy anytime.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    If you drop Baker and put someone else on the 40 man roster, then in the spring when you sign Baker's replacement, you will have to waive the last guy you put on the roster. Since he will not have to be kept on the 25 man roster, you will lose him.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    so, you're saying that there are ways for the front office to call up stud prospects if and when they earn the call up? interesting. i like it. thanks for doing the leg work!

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Sweeney has a contract for 2015. It's not a option year, it is gauranteed.

  • In reply to Grant Michalski:

    One thing we have to accept with this new-found wealth & depth of talent is that we are going to lose several "fringe" players every year. We can only keep our top 40 guys (based on timeline) and we're now so deep that the 43rd guy fits nicely with someone else's roster.

    Ideally we trade those away, but as we saw with Brooks Raley, etc... there's nothing of value to be had....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    My eyes have certainly been opened to how important talent evaluation is at all phases of a ballplayers career. Evaluation is ongoing and certainly does not end with the draft. You're always being testing on with "which marbles to put in your bag."

  • Get him up here so my preseason prediction that Baez finishes second on the team in HRs can still come true. I figure Castro finishes with around 18, so if we give Javy what... 20 games. Could totally happen :)

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    Ironically I can see a bunch of cubs leading the Cubs to a world series. Quite possibly can be one of the youngest teams to do so, IF and only IF all there skills carry over to the show, but it would be awesome to see.

    2015 Champs

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    I thought an early call-up article would be about Bryant, not Baez. Bryant seems closer to ready; Keith Law thinks he is ready right now

    But it also seems like the odds of early extending Bryant are slim. He has Boras for an agent, comes from a well to do family, and just got a $6 mil bonus. He doesn't need security, he has it already.

    It seems like most players to sign early come from less well to do families, AND/OR did not receive a large amatuer bonus. Which makes sense.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    So, bringing up Baez is a bit of thumbing of the nose at Boras.

    You have a history of playing hardball, then we play hardball.

    If you had a history of being reasonable, then your client would be playing major league hardball sooner.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Whatever we may think of Boras, there is no way Epstein and Co. will try to piss him off. Boras has a bunch of good clients, and we'd want a good relationship with him in our future free agent dealings. Matt Weiters, anyone?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    didn't know about the $6M bonus. that ain't peanuts. all good points. but, so what? that means we need to wait until late april to see bryant (his 30% k rate could use some improvement anyway), but baez could be an early call-up possibility.

    i just have to believe that as we get close to competitive, the front office cares less and less about fallback six years down the road. the players should get called up when they earn it and check all of their progression boxes. bryant needs to cut back on his strikeouts, and maybe shore up the defense a bit - or perfect a corner outfield spot.

  • If the Cubs are serious about competing next year, this would also make sense because Javy has a solid history of needing several months to adjust to a new level. It would be better to make those adjustments in 2014 than 2015.

  • In reply to bscwared:

    It makes more sense for Javy than anyone else for that reason.

  • In reply to bscwared:

    Javy the past 3 seasons:
    Year one Javy destroyed EXST. He was then promoted all the way to Peoria and destroyed it right away. He was then promoted to Daytona and struggled for the final month or so.
    Year two Javy struggled for the first month in Daytona then destroyed the league. Promoted to Tennessee he struggled for about 3 weeks and then destoyed the league.
    Year three Javy struggled for 2 months in Iowa, had some ups and downs for another month and has since begun destroying the league.

    I see no discernable pattern there. One leagues he had no problem adjusting to (MWL), another he quickly adjusted (SOU), and two others he struggled for a couple of months (FSL and PCL). I think the whole "Javy needs a 2 month period" is a myth. You are dealing with a small sampling that shouldn't be used to draw conclusions and also that adjustment time has only occured half of the time when he has been promoted. I think the whole thing is overblown.

  • Yes it will take up a spot on the 40-man roster, but if they trade a
    veteran or 2 by the end of Aug for lower minor league prospects
    it will solve the problem. I like his drive to the majors

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Agreed - this move only makes sense of some of the current 25-man roster are traded/released and the return is somebody who doesn't need to be rostered.

  • What would be a fair extension? Maybe 6 years 30 million plus some club options for years 7, 8?

  • In reply to Craig:

    signing a deal for that long is and advantage for the club.. if any options are there, the contract length would be shorter.. you dont as a player @ 30 and still having the club having options over you

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    I could be wrong on this but I don't think Springer actually signed the extension. He refused, the Astros sent him to OKC, he threatened to file a grievance, Houston called him up.

    However, I agree it's a good way to go with Javy. They could work out a deal that's fairer to both sides then the one sided deal Singleton signed and everyone wins.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Singleton is not very good. I think he won that deal.

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    In reply to John57:

    Tools are all there. He's having a miserable first try at MLB, but so did a guy named Rizzo. Unlike Rizzo, though, his makeup is a serious concern.

  • I also like the idea of Baez coming up before Bryant (applies equally to Bryant coming up before Baez). I just think that staggering their debuts by having one of our "killer B's" getting acclimated/assimilated first before the second comes up works out better for team chemistry. Especially if he gets off to a slow start, which has been his pattern. If one guy gets off to a slow start and then adapts, it helps the second guy if he also gets off to a slow start. If both are brought up together because that's the way the clock works, then I think there's real issues if they both get off to a slow start.

  • I just day dreamed at work about Javy hitting home runs at Wrigley. I am beyond giddy with excitement right now. The Cubs are going to be a lot of fun real soon!

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    The Crowds for BP are gonna be insane again!!

  • In Theo we trust

  • Love it, John! The extension idea is genius. But even if they don't extend him now, the same factors that would propel him to extend now would still apply two years from now -- maybe even more so -- although it might cost less to do it now rather than after he's a first year all star. I hope Bryant moves to RF tonight.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Thanks...but I don't know if I want to take that chance, As I've said, I am not a big fan of unknowns and like to erase whatever uncertainty there is out there.

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    In reply to TTP:

    There's no reason to move Bryant yet. We need a third baseman on the major league team next year and he's in the best position to fill that need. In addition, there's a pretty good right fielder in AA who may need a slot in the Iowa lineup sooner rather than later.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    "may need a slot in the iowa lineup" - why so modest?

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    In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    That was genuine. Unless he keeps this tear up for the rest of the month, don't think they'll waive the 300 PA in AA requirement just because he's been out with injuries.

    If he does, however, keep this up for the rest of the month, keeping him in AA is a hard argument.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    he's got 62 plate appearances and like 43 games left at aa? if he is required 300 plate appearances at aa, that would mean he would likely be starting next season in aa? i just really don't see that happening.

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    In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    It all depends. They have to be done with development by the last day of the season next year, so he'll be where they think he needs to be.

  • Let's keep our fingers crossed that this happens. Small probability, but we can dream...

  • The Cubs can also do the same thing they did with Rizzo. Let him play, learn what he needs to, then send him back to AAA next year too make his adjustments and extend his service time. Or, he comes up and kills it, shows all the naysayers wrong and become a star. It'll work out.

  • In reply to djriz:

    yep. and extend him after he shows the promise of living up to fans' expectations - same as they did with rizzo.

  • In reply to djriz:

    The situation with Soler is totally different. Next year is his last option year. And he is already on the 40 man roster.They lose very little if they bring him up in September 2014 just to give him some experience with tough at bats. I would fully expect him to then start next season at AAA, and perhaps play there for most if not all of the year.

  • That's one powerful second baseman. Crazy.

  • If Manny is responsible for some of Javy's success over the last month, does he get promoted to be an asst. major league hitting coach?
    (I have the feeling the Manny hire was to mainly work with Baez. I think Theo had a feeling their personalities would click).

  • I think 2B was his natural first position. It should come back easily.

  • Remember last September when John mercifully let Felzz off the hook from writing up everyday recaps? Wouldn't think Felzz would be asking off September if Alcantara stays up and Baez joins him! :)

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    Great article, as usual...and thanks for linking the article from 2012! What I found MOST interesting / exciting from that 2012 article was reading the comments...specifically this one:

    John Arguello said June 4, 2012 at 12:00 am
    In reply to Ryno2Grace:
    His bat will get him to Wrigley quickly if he develops a good approach. I could see as early as 2015.
    I do agree the time is coming soon where he won't be able to rely on his natural talents. He'll have to continue to develop as he moves up. The Cubs are in no hurry right now. They want to do this right. They may have just two, maybe 3 impact talents in the minors right now. Two of them will be up later this year in Rizzo and Jackson. Baez has some growing up to do, both physically and from a maturity standpoint, but his talent won't allow the Cubs to be too deliberate.

    What I like so much is the third to last sentence - "maybe 3 impact talents in the minors right now" ---- my, my, my how much has changed in 2 short years!

  • In reply to cking6178:

    and one of those three? brett jackson.

  • In reply to cking6178:

    Indeed! Thanks!

    We weren't always so crazy about this farm system :)

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    I think they need to change the rules so that an April 3 call up is the same as a June 5 and an August 4. The players, their agents and even management are all probably tired of making decisions based on something other than whether the player is ready for the big leagues. Maybe they could not count September call ups. Other than that, call them up and let them play when they're ready.

  • In reply to Terry Huebner:

    Totally agree. The problem is with the rules. The rules should serve the game and the fans first. Pretty sure there is no representation for that in the CBA meetings. There should never be an incentive given for losing - or for holding back on guys who are ready to play - and who might have a chance to set home run records, etc.

  • I wonder if Baez was any good as a catcher?

    Hey HoosierDaddy, didn't you watch him play there?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Yes indeed and he was very good! I actually called one game that he caught in a 18U tournament. Being a former catcher myself, I'm biased. But he handled the blocking chores well and he made a snap throw from his knees to pick a runner off @ 1B.

    He's never played the OF at any level, though I've seen him out there shagging fly balls in practices, etc... but has played all the other positions and I think he could still play all 9. The only thing I haven't witnessed him do was pitch. Though I did see him throw a Bullpen @ a tournament in his Jr year. Javier played Catcher as his primary position until he moved stateside.

    His HS team is not part of FHSAA (small private school - well funded athletics & scholarships, etc). So they were really more of an elite travel team and played all over between Atlanta, GA to Pensacola, FL down to Miami, FL. ,etc. So double & triple headers were not uncommon. Ass a result, the coach would move the kids around more than most. Javier actually played a lot of 3B & SS in HS. Some 2B and Catcher too.

    Fun fact, Javiers brother was also a catcher and PR national team teammates & friends with Gio Soto... Who I am told pushed their regional scout to him and then Tim Wilken came to Jax and saw him and the rest is history...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks a lot. I've heard that he played well all over the field. It sounds like he could be valuable as an emergency catcher when he's up with the big club .

    BTW, cool story.

  • Speaking of Baez, Law just blasted him again in his chat:
    About Baez's makeup concerns:

    "I've heard about coaches having trouble with Baez, and I've had scouts/execs from other teams saying he's got some questionable off-field relationships. But I'm much more concerned about a guy who has shown a habit of taking plays and at bats off from the moment he got into the minors, and even in a nationally televised game on Sunday still couldn't bother to make a routine throw properly."

    I find the 'questionable off-field relationships' remark offensive.

  • In reply to djriz:

    I have some questionable off-the-field relationships myself.

  • In reply to djriz:

    Law has some 'questionable off-field sources'

  • In reply to djriz:

    And this too:

    Klaw (2:47 PM)

    I've seen Baez every year since his senior year of high school - when he was always last out on the field to start each inning, and wore a different cap to stand out from his teammates - and there's always been something. An at bat mailed in. A play not made, or not made correctly. A groundball not run out. Baseball's a hard game for most players. Even Manny Ramirez was a ridiculous worker when it came to hitting. (Fielding, not so much.) You don't see or hear the same concerns on Bryant or Soler or Almora.

  • In reply to couch:

    Something must of happened to cause dislike early on and he just can't shake it and is sticking to his guns. An eisegesis if you will.

  • In reply to couch:

    I've seen several of his HS games and never witnessed any of that.

    He got a bit of a bad rep because he wouldn't commit if he wanted to play in the MLB or NCAA (the tattoo should have been a telltale sign) and so scouts from both were making the trek to his games. But Javier later admitted he only did that so his teammates could get more exposure because he felt some were college and draft worthy.

    Ironically, every one of his coaches and team mates rave about the kid. Keith Law doesn't....

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    Wonderfully written article! I love this blog!!!

  • In reply to Melancubby:

    Thanks!

  • There may be something to the "I don't care about clocks" opinions beyond cynicism. It may be that the chances of a mere prospect being a superstar on a team 6 years in the future that isn't able to be extended (that being the most important point. Lots of young stars are extended) are so low that the value of holding on to that last year of control is outweighed by mental issues here and now. If you over-value players' clocks, you may miss the best opportunity for early success or make a player feel like the FO is trying to take advantage of him. That has further ramifications in signing FA's. If the FO does things "the right way", that may be the best strategic plan as well.

  • In reply to bzalisko:

    May, but statistically and historically that has not been the case. So when you have limited and/or uncertain information, you go with probability, which was the point of the last article.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't remember the last article getting into specific probabilities, but merely tactics that I agree with. One would need to compare the probability that a prospect succeeds and cannot be extended and the value of the lost final year v. the probability that the prospect, future prospects, or organization is hampered by such tactics and the value of the prospects lost career. The short time a prospect has to establish himself may tip the scales to the latter.

  • I don't want to see prospects brought up yet until the new clubhouse and batting cages are built.

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    Would be a better welcome

  • I for one don't want him brought up this year.

    He's playing better as of late but as far as I can tell he's not crushing AAA quite yet. And his K/BB ratio is still not very good.

    If I had a general rule, I'd say the lower a player's floor, the safer you play it with him in the minors.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Baez had terrible month and half. Since may 16th, he's hit .295 and .911 ops.

    His numbers are similar in that stretch to what Alcantara did in his hot stretch.

    I think we just hold him to a higher standard.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    Actually, I seem to recall AA's streak being much more torrid than this. Certainly these are good numbers, but still not dominating.

    I also think that Baez's numbers, especially his powere numbers, need to be higher than AA because that is his game.

    Some work to do yet for Baez, but he is inching closer.

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    he's hit, what?, 12 of his 15 home runs since may 16th, which is like 56 games (he's also had 32 extra base hits in this time). his power numbers aren't a concern of mine. his obp from like may 16 to june 22 was barely over .300 but his slugging was around .550. since june 23, his obp is .396 and his slugging is .584.

    that is real progress and a pretty torrid streak.

  • I think Kieth Law has some qustionable "writing" skills. And definitley some questionable colleagues. Does that make your character "questionable", Mr Law?

  • Could we be overthinking this? Prior to the season it was widely expected that he'd get the call this year. I'm sure even Baez and Theo thought so. No one believed he would struggle like he has.

    So maybe they gave him some goals at the beginning of the season that, if he met, they would call him up (we often hear them refer to "player plans"). And now that he's playing a lot better, and meeting those goals, they're staying true to their word and bringing him up.

    Perhaps they feel it's more important to be true to their word than scratch out another year of service time. After all, if he was down there til next April, that would be a TON of time for one of your top prospects to be sitting at one level.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    i agree.

  • Break out your scuba gear and surf board,
    Cubs fans! We got ourselves a barrel wave of talent coming in soon ;-)

    I know Baez hasn't exactly raked this year, and needs to improve his contact rate, but for whatever reason, I'm just not worried that either him or Bryant will struggle much in MLB. They are going to be stars.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I get that same feeling. I think Baez will be fine. Won't hit for a high average at first, but I think that will get better as he adjusts.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    "I know Baez hasn't exactly raked this year, and needs to improve his contact rate..."

    K/BB % and contact rate by month

    April - 35% K, 6% BB, 55.9% contact
    May - 34% K, 7% BB, 57.6% contact
    June - 29% K, 9% BB, 67.7% contact
    July - 25% K, 9% BB, 71.8% contact (entering today's game)

    Consider it improved and improving.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    good stuff Q, thx!

  • Jon Morosi ✔ @jonmorosi
    Starlin Castro has drawn some trade interest, but the Cubs do not plan to move him this month, sources say. @FOXSports1
    1:57 PM - 18 Jul 2014

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    The Cubs aren't trading him at this point. Don't want to say never because things change, but right now it's not on my radar.

  • Of note tonight, Schwarber is catching and Zastryzny is on the bump.

  • In my personal opinion, the "service clock" is a much bigger issue with Bryant then with Baez due to the players' representation. Boras has a well-earned reputation for getting his clients to free agency as soon as possible. That is why I believe that Bryant will not be brought up until around May 1 of next season. If Baez is brought prior to that time, I still believe there is a reasonable probability that a long-term extension could be worked out thereby diminishing the importance of the extra season of control. By this time next year the Cubs I think the Cubs lineup should look something like this:
    LF - Coghlan/Ruggiano
    CF - Alcantara
    1B - Rizzo
    3B - Bryant
    2B - Baez
    RF - Solar (assuming he is ready)
    SS - Castro
    C - Castillo
    That is potentially a very impressive lineup. But there still are some concerns.
    Would you like to see an upgrade in LF? Sure, but I do not see free agent that would make sense on a contract that extends beyond next season. I am definitely not in the go and get Stanton camp either. He is a great talent, but does not make sense based on where the Cubs are in the timeframe of the rebuild and any surplus value he provides ends after the 2016 season. He would be great to have, but not at the prospect cost it would take to acquire him.
    Are there going to be growing pains associated with playing so many rookies? Undoubtedly, but I think this risk is reduced by erring on the side of bringing up the prospect a little too late instead of too early.
    Are any of the prospects going to flame out before they reach the major league team? Most definitely, but that is why the multiple waves of talent have been obtained to fill, or be traded to fill, holes that arise due to prospect attrition.
    Where is the pitching going to come from? That is the million dollar question. I believe that the payroll flexibility the Cubs now have will allow them to take advantage of any opportunity to obtain TOR pitching.

  • In reply to rdacpa:

    this is what i have been arguing to anybody that is willing to listen. it makes sense. and i also think that they spend money to acquire at least one TOR pitcher.

  • In reply to rdacpa:

    I think the TOR pitching is a multi-million dollar question. Maybe even a $100 million dollar question.

    Completely agree with the lineup. Maybe I would add that Russell could be a September call up and force Bryant to the outfield. That would fill the "upgrade" requirement.

  • Watching how all the prospects play out as they settle into new positions to play in the field is exciting. Is there a top 10 Cubs organizational pitching prospects list. That is something I would like to see, so we can get a feel for who is in getting closer to coming up for auditions with the big league club.

  • In reply to Ed Beach:

    Not a full list and it doesn't include the recent draft picks but it would look something along these lines:
    Edwards (AA) ETA 2015/16
    Johnson (AA) 2015/16
    Tseng (A) 2017/18
    Underwood (A) 2017/18
    Blackburn (A) 2017/18
    Clifton (R) ETA 2018/19
    Hendricks (AAA) 2014
    Black (AA) 2015/16
    Zastryzny (A+) 2016/17
    Beeler (AAA) 2014/15
    Jokisch (AAA) 2014/15
    Torrez (A) 2017/18
    Mejia (R) 2018/19

    Relievers
    Vizcaino (AAA) 2014/15
    Rivero (AAA) 2014/15
    Paniagua (A) 2017/18
    McKirahan (AA) 2015/16
    Rosscup (AAA) 2014/15
    Cates (AA) 2015/16
    Cervenka (AA) 2015/16
    Conway (R) 2017/18
    Maples (A) 2017/18

  • I can't be the only one nervous that bringing them all up (essentially) at once can turn out badly. I like the thought of bringing them all up a bit at a time so they can teach each other from the mistakes they might have made in their first few months. Any successful team is going to need some veteran leadership and teammates who have "been there" and right now it lies strictly with Rizzo and Castro.

    Naturally, I'm sure more vets and experience can be added through free agency - I just like the idea of them coming up one at a time. Seems a bit safer.

  • SolEr guys.. not Solar.

  • I absolutely would love to see all the blue chippers tomorrow, so no qualms with calling Javy up whenever. I will say that of all our top guys Javy is definitely the one that makes me the most nervous even though I acknowledge that his ceiling is the highest. If I were the FO I would stay in the 25-35 M range with my offers instead of the 40-60, Castro/Rizzo range.

    Ultimately, its not my money so I don't really care. I just want to watch the kid hit and become a star. I love the swagger. Either way he's going to make enough money to clean up that awful tattoo, and thank goodness! That one's not gonna play at this level, Javy.

    Another great piece, John.

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    Jim Callis just tweeted that Aiken and Nix DID NOT sign with Astros. WOW!

    You can count on greivances, arbitration, maybe lawsuits, and alot of folks slamming the Astros

    It also bumps us down a slot in next year's draft

    What a mess! I feel particularly bad for Nix, who was caught up in this mess

  • In reply to Zonk:

    This new CBA is BS! It protects and benefits the owners first and foremost and penalizes FA's and Drafted players. I still can't believe the players union let this get through.

    We can complain about Boras all we want to, but he was right when he publicly complained about this thing.

    I read that because Astro's owner publicly said that they were negotiating with Aikens agent that the NCAA is not considering him eligible for NCAA play now.

    man, poor Nix and his family traveled to HOU to sign his deal and then had it rescinded...

    What a mess!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    So what does this mean in terms of where they can play? Can they sign with another team as a free agent? Or play in an independent league until next year's draft?

  • In reply to Henry Loose:

    Independent League is an option, they can appeal the NCAA decision, but it's the NCAA who decides so... They'll be eligible to re enter the draft next year, no FA

  • In reply to Henry Loose:

    Unless they file and win a grievance, they will return to the draft either next year or in three years, if they enter a 4 year college.

    In a grievance, it is possible that they would be granted free agency. Unless bad faith can be proven, (a very difficult thing under these circumstances), they would probably lose, especially Aiken.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It certainly penalizes draftees, but I think it helps free agents substantially. Teams can no longer spend tons on draftees and IFAs as Boston and others formerly did. Now, the only place to spend money is with free agents. Which is why top free agents are getting 30 million per year. A sum that would have been considered impossible less than 5 years ago.

    I'm not sure how owners, especially large market owners benefit. Any money they save on draftees will be spent on free agents. Payrolls are soaring.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I hope Aiken and Nix sue the Astros, MLB, the MLBPA and the NCAA. This whole thing is a bunch of bs. The way MLB (and all professional sports leagues) depress the rights, earning power and freedom to seek employment opportunities with other organizations of young players is completely against the free market mentality of the USA.

    I hope one of Nix or Aiken sacrifices himself for future players and takes everyone involved to court in an effort to burn the system to the ground. Some player needs to step up and sacrifice his career the way Curt Flood did. Its only going to get worse once the owners push through the international draft.

    And the NCAA. If they don't let these kids play...

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    In reply to mjvz:

    are we then not going to reserve judgement until we have more information about what the MRI really showed?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    K Law & Buster Olney about this and the bottom line is there is nothing new, no injury. He's been cleared to play by multiple physicians and has recently been clocked at 97mph with no ill effects from mound work.

    They will likely drag all kinds of medical professionals into the court room if it gets to that point. But the last thing HOU & MLB want is a public trial because apparently there was nothing new discovered vs what was in his pre draft medicals...

    There's speculation that this all stems from them signing a 21st round pick to $1mm plus over slot and had planned to use the "abnormality" from Aikens bonus to cover that and when he balked, they rescinded the offer to Nix (after flying him and his family to HOU to sign it) rather than face fines & loss of picks for being over slot. if any of that speculation is true, Houston is a shady shady organization....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    At the very least, Nix needs to be granted FA. And if the NCAA rules that Aiken is ineligible because of a comment made by the Astros owner he should be granted FA as well.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    The medical exam found that the ligament is much smaller than a normal person's ligament. This is the first time that I have heard that this was known from exams conducted before the draft. do you have a link or source for that? someone that would actually know, as opposed to Law and Olney? More specifically, did they cite a source for that information.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    No link. It was Buster Olney's podcast or radio show that I listened to. K-Law was his guest and it was earlier this week. But they described it as an "abnormality" and specifically said nothing new was discovered, it was apparent on pre draft MRI images and that he was cleared to pitch by several docs and still throwing 97mph...

    It's all speculation obviously, but they're making it out like the Astros got greedy and tried to take advantage of the kid, and when they couldn't they screwed over Nix.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    No. The state of Aiken's elbow has no bearing on the issue of whether the government sanctioned MLB monopoly, the CBA with the player's union or the entire premise of a draft and the fact that a drafted player can be bound to a single organization for a decade before being granted freedom to pursue outside opportunities are good things. The only thing the state Aiken's elbow would matter for would be for the strength of a potential lawsuit.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    I have to respectfully disagree. 1200 draftees and 29 teams abided by this draft system and CBA which you feel is so evil; free agency rules and the CBA are issues for a different fight in a different place. The issue here is, Houston claimed there were new "significant" findings on this particular player's post-draft MRI and I for one was not ready to call the Houston FO scumbags until I had more information on whether that was true or not. Given Hoosier's comments above and his referrences to Law and Olney, I'd have to now be inclined to say the Houston FO are not only despicable scumbags but are shooting themselves in the foot with future player agents, potential draftees and free agents, over what is paper clip money to a baseball franchise. Really, really a stupid move.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    My question is why do MLB teams not have more/better access to players' medical information before the draft? I believe all other sports get chances to give physicals to players before their respective drafts. Why is this not possible for MLB? (And my comment is not meant to support the Astros, I'm truly wondering why this part of the MLB draft seems to be residing in the Middle Ages).

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I agree that none of those things are necessarily good things.

    However, both Congress and the Courts have decided that they are legal things.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    They will have a tough time suing MLB over the things you mentioned, since they have a legal exemption from the anti-trust laws. And courts have already said that the players association can represent draftees.

    Just out of curiosity, would you want to eliminate the draft entirely? If not, what rules would you want to see?

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I'm not a Labor Attorney, but this is a grey area. Since draftees can not sign a MLB contract nor join the MLBPA (unlike NFL, NBA, etc) until they have played in the majors (IFA's over X age, etc the only exceptions), so they aren't technically represented by the MLBPA.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    Very well said.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Doesn't bump us down if we have the first pick!

    More importantly, I hope they get punished somehow for their treatment of Nix. They screwed him over based on their questionable treatment of Aiken.

  • I might have to change my screen name.

  • Would the cubs still bring Baez up even if he only hit .250? Or will they leave him hungry in hopes to motivate him for next season??

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Probably both. Call him up now with understanding he starts again at Iowa to iron out a few more things.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    He's hitting about .300 since mid may. I think the fact that he's adjusted and is trending upward is a more important factor than his season-long BA.

  • I can't wait to see him. Last summer he threw a ball to my 3 yr old daughter, so he gained r love. I notice that tatoo right away. Does this mean AA will focus on cf?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I took my son to our first minor league game this year, and I think that is so important to building a "relationship" with a player. My son got a ball signed by Kris Bryant, and I know that's going to keep him interested in his career as he gets older. We also got Ligan Watkins to sign a ball (we are also from Kansas, and wanted to emphasize that connection a bit), so we will root for him as he works his way to the big leagues again. Maybe best of all was to see Alcantara hit a home run and do some exciting things in the minor league game, then get to see his first game at Wrigley last week. We cheered as he got that two-out hit, stole a base, and scored the game winning run. I think my son will be a fan for life. Cool to see that your daughter got a ball from Baez!

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Great story. Daughter loves the smokies. We sat behind dugout and between innings we danced on dugout and got on jumbo tron. She is hooked for life!!!!
    Can't wait to see Hendricks AA Baez sczur all get a chance.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Quick story on my last I-cubs game. It was Kris Bryant's first weekend in Iowa. We were sitting about 3 rows up in left field by the bullpen. Everyone was warming up before the game along the foul line. Vitters air-mailed a warm up throw and it hit a little 5-6 year old girl in the head. She was obviously hurt from it, and the parents took her out of the stadium as she was crying. Another family member stayed behind and Vitters came over to talk to her. He ended up signing an autographed ball for them and talked to her for a bit.

    I don't mean to ruin the good vibes around this blog, but these children stories reminded me of it. We were two rows behind them, and the ball probably would have hit me if it missed her. It was one of the most messed up things I have seen at a baseball game. I am glad everyone on here has feel-good stories to tell about their kids at the ballpark, but that isn't always the case.

    I obviously felt bad for that family, but also for Vitters. I would have a hard time trying to play a baseball game after something like that. It is one of those things that reminds you how it is just a game. I hope the little girl is doing alright.

    On another note, it ended up being a pretty good game, as Kris Bryant homered twice and the Cubbies won the game!

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    I wouldn't blame Vitters. It is the parents' responsibility to protect their children from the ball. I always seat my children w that in mind.

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    Will be waiting for the article tomorrow that describes how and when Castro might be traded. Sometimes it's fun to be the red headed step child of the blog. LOL

  • Many years ago I took my family to Wrigley Field (we were 6 rows behind the Cubs dugout. Our daughter, who was then also three, would go down and stand by the gate in the wall next to the dugout.

    Leon Durham came over and told her he would give her a baseball in return for a kiss. She still has the ball. And I still have a soft spot for Leon Durham.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    That's awesome Dave!

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Great story! I am young enough not to remember Durham's error in 1984, but do remember '87 when he hit 27 homers. I always liked The Bull.

  • I'm curious about just how much information Law would have had on medical records to rake the Astros over the coals. I'm not sticking up for the Astros but it would seem that there might be something about this whole thing that we don't know. Were the medical records fully released?

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    The Astros mess will definitely have ramifications on the teams picking high next year. I would expect some analysis from the Cubs Den staff on this soon.

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    In reply to pricewriter:

    The Astros themselves aren't even claiming they found an injury.

    Aiken is pitching and pitching well.

  • Alcantara walks, steals second. Rizzo homers. 2-0 Cubs over DBacks.

    Welcome to the future, it's looking good.

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    In reply to springs:

    Bryant n Baez homer tonight in Iowa !

    Big Schwarber hits a bomb as well !

    Edwin Jackson dealing thru 4....does he melt down in the 5th or 6th ?

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    5th AND 6th

  • In reply to Csanad:

    And the bullpen lives up to the high standards set by jackson...

  • Another bomb for Rizzo!!!

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