Baez promotion signals shift to next movement in Cubs symphony

Baez promotion signals shift to next movement in Cubs symphony

I once compared the Cubs plan to a symphony in an age where we have become accustomed to the instant gratification of pop songs.   Symphonies are relatively long and the tempo and mood changes throughout.  But it never loses sight of the overarching theme.  If you listen carefully, you see hints of what is to come and how everything fits together from beginning to end.

The Cubs had been subtle thus far, the promotions of Arismendy Alcantara and Kyle Hendricks were signs of things to come, but they did not yet signal a shift.  Both of those players were already on the 40 man roster, both of them had already had significant time at AAA.  We could see those moves coming but the tempo was still, well, Adagio Molto.  The Cubs just dropped a big hint that the tempo is about to change to Allegro Energico.

I am, of course, talking about the Javier Baez promotion.

We've suspected it was coming because we have been listening carefully, but it doesn't make it any less exciting when it does happen.  Now the anticipation grows...

Baez is different because he was not on the 40 man roster.  The Cubs could have played this by the book by waiting until early next season.  It would have saved them an additional roster decision this offseason and saved them money down the road.  It would have made sense from a technical standpoint to delay this move.

But it would have been, well, boring and predictable.  Variations are also essential and a good composer...errr, um, front office, knows when it is appropriate to introduce them and yet keep the overall framework together.

The Cubs will undoubtedly try to seamlessly adapt this variation.  I suspect they have done their homework here and believe Baez will be open to a long term extension, much like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo were.

But what really has me excited is that the Baez promotion isn't a culmination.  It signals a shift to the next movement of the rebuilding plan, where things begin to really get exciting.  The implications for this coming offseason and stretching into 2015 should be plain for us to see.  The Cubs intend to build on this.  This is not simply a cookie.

Baez has shown a certain pattern in his career and that is to struggle with each new league.  The Cubs likely expect this pattern to continue.  We will probably see some of the initial excitement slow down as Baez works through some rough patches.   We will also catch glimpses of what is to come.   As we have seen throughout his career, Baez will eventually adapt.  The 50 games left will give him a head start on making adjustments so that he can hit 2015 on the ground and running.

We should keep in mind that this move isn't only about Baez.  It is about the big picture.  It's about the organizational plan and Baez is just one part of it, albeit a major one.  But then again, so is Castro, Rizzo, and Alcantara.  So is Jake Arrieta.  And so, come September, is Jorge Soler.

The Cubs will have a foundation of some of the best young talent in the game going into the offseason, yet they recognize that alone will not be enough.  They need to add veterans to the mix.  Some of those veterans are in house but the Cubs will add from outside the organization this offseason as well.  And I am not talking about one year flyers this time.  The Cubs have moved beyond that now.  The Baez promotion is a shift in that the future is not a distant, abstract concept.

The future, the next movement, begins now.

This is what we've all been waiting patiently to hear.  This is where the crescendo starts to build.

It's all starting to come together.

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  • After reading that I can almost picture Theo waving his baton and putting the pieces of the Cubs orchestra in place! Well Done! What beautiful music is to come!

  • In reply to cheerupcubstalk:


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    I love the analogy to a symphony, John...Years 2012 and 2013 were a slow dirge...but the tempo is picking up into a major key with a gradually more upbeat tempo.

  • In reply to Bob from Salem:

    I think the "audience" must include some of the now-to-be unrestricted FAs, like Lester. Equally important that they see the tempo rising before signing on to this.

  • In reply to TZCubs:

    A great point,TZ. It is easier for free agents to believe "the future is now" after this move and whatever else happens later on. A TOR pitcher is not typically going to want to forfeit one year of their career waiting for the FO to act.

  • In reply to Bob from Salem:

    Exactamndo! Thanks Bob!

  • I agree with this article. Now, we need starting pitching. What? What was that? Jacob Turner??? Worth a flyer for sure. Get.Him.Now.

  • In reply to apalifer:

    Agreed! With Turner, Doubront, Straily, Jokish...we may not need to sign a Hammel. Instead, the focus can be on a Maeda, maybe Lester, and/or a splashy trade!

  • In reply to apalifer:

    Absolutely look into Turner. No question.

  • In reply to apalifer:

    Yep. Saw Turner being DFA'd and immediately thought this would be a perfect Cubs pickup. I'd be surprised if we're not on the horn.

    Still only 23 years old... lots of opportunity to rebuild his confidence. He's got TOR stuff.

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    In reply to ripiceman:

    What will it cost to get him in trade?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    It was mentioned at Bleacher Nation maybe someone like BJax. Not a bad idea.

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    In reply to MoneyBoy:

    I would love that! It would give BJax a fresh start.

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    In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Jackson has no value.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    Jake Arrieta 2.0.

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    In reply to apalifer:

    If you believe the Twitters, we're third in line behind the Rangers and the Rockies. If that's the case, I'm hopeful but not particularly optimistic that he slips by Colorado.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Don't they have 10 days to trade him, like we did with Barney?

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Cubs would be second in line for waiver claims, NL worst to first then AL worst to first.

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    I just want Jon Lester and James Shields. With two signings alone, we'd have a pretty good rotation along with Arrieta, Hendricks then any combination of Wood/Jackson/Beeler/Wada/Jokisch in play for the 5th spot, and it appears likely that they will open next season with Rizzo, Castro, Baez, Alcantara, and Soler on the team for sure... maybe even Kris Bryant. That could be a dangerous team for maybe around 70 mil in payroll, but that is also assuming none of those guys fall flat on their face once they get to the bigs.

  • In reply to Jonathan Ley:

    Jonathan, I am with you on Lesyter and Shields, but to get them the payroll would be in the $90-$100 mil.

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    I have been reading your stories forever and I decided to take the plunge and put my 2 cents in once in awhile! You do a great job John! Keep up the good work! I can't begin to say how excited I was to find out Javy was called up yesterday and seeing the wheels of progress picking up steam! Looking forward to taking my son to his first Cubs game this weekend....should be a blast

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    That is award winning stuff John. Bravo!!

  • In reply to Andrue Weber:

    Thanks Andrue!

  • John:


    My thoughts exactly.

    What I think this (the Baez callup) means is that the FO thinks the timetable can be sped up dramatically. I believe they now see the Cubs as playoff contenders next year.
    All of their key prospects seem to be either on or ahead of schedule. Especially Soler.

    What do you (and the rest of Cub Nation) think?

  • In reply to tboy:

    I don't know if I would agree with your choice of the term 'sped up dramatically' - as I think this is more or less along the expected timelines.

    Soler (in particular) may be lagging a bit due to his earlier injury problems - and I'm guessing they were hoping that Vizciano would be further along post rehab,...

    But I think they figured some of the kids would be starting to appear by the end of this season.

  • IDK if I buy into he struggles at each new level. That's not to say he won't struggle at the MLB level. He most certainly will at times.

    I think it was mjsv that posted some statistical data that debunked that myth of struggling at each new level. Really, he has struggled twice. Initially @ Daytona and initially @ Iowa.

    People very very close to Baez & his family have told me that was largely attributed to his emotional state from not making the team out of ST. So while he was obviously told he had no chance of making the team, given Javier's personality or swagger if you will, it's quite conceivable that he would think he was the exception. He certainly performed well enough to earn it based solely on results. Also, the Daytona struggles were largely attributed to him working on his approach. It's natural for players to produce less than optimum results when doing so.

    If free swinging Junior Lake (who cant recognize an off-speed pitch or breaking ball to save his life) can put up .284/.332/.428/.760 line in 254 PA's in 2013, I see no reason Javy can't be Javy in 2014.

    Though immediate success might be the worst thing for his development....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    HD, can you expand on that last point? I think I know what you mean, but I don't want to presume anything.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Just a general statement. Sometimes when players have immediate success they forget what got them there and rely on natural abilities to pull them through each time.

    Javier has an exceptional work ethic. I've seen his off season training/conditioning workouts and the kid is a beast. He has proven to be very coachable and willing to make adjustments so it may never be an issue. But nothing will swell an already very large ego like instant success....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    He also struggled when he first came up to Tennessee and his original intro to pro ball, to the point where the Cubs kept him in AZ for an extended period before calling him up to Peoria in 2012. I think the reason he didn't struggle in Peoria is becomes the Cubs prepared him well first in ext. ST.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He played a total of 5 games between AZL & Boise. I think the ex ST is natural to work with him in the warmer climate vs just sending him to Peoria. He certainly didn't struggle at any of those places and I don't have the game logs of TEN handy, but his TEN struggles were pretty minimal if I remember correctly. Maybe a few games?... it's negligible since he only played a total of 54 games there...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    - After 2 weeks in AA he was batting .220
    - after 4 weeks he was at ~.260
    - after 5 weeks it was .288

    I don't think it is hyperbole to say that he struggled for a 4-5 weeks at AA. He wasn't god awful, but he did struggle to get to a respectable ~.260-.280 BA. (looking up power numbers will be harder than BA since I had to look at old box scores but i'll wager they are on the same upward trend as BA)

    Not really sure why folks are nitpicking the statement that "he tended to struggle at first but then dominate as he acclimated". Plus, AA and AAA are closer to major league pitching so I would more heavily weight his reaction to promotion into those leagues more so than lower A levels.

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    In reply to 104YearsofGlory: (Just click on a series of games--or first and last game of a series--and baseball-reference does the work, you don't have to manually add up numbers or even dig for box-scores).

    I don't know that I would even call him "struggling" at AA ball. He had a rough first 4 games (1 for 15, 1 HR, 1RBI .067/0.067/.267/.333). Then starting with his 5th game he his .375/.444/.750/1.194 over his next 4. My point isn't that 4 games is a good sample size (it is not) but comments that he "Struggled" at the beginning are skewed by his atrocious start. His second set of 4 games indicates he got his feet under him, at least in the performance sense of the word. If we even take the rest of the season (AA) removing those first four games his slash line was .315/.369/.675/1.044. LOTS of players will have a rough 4 game stretch. I find it particularly understandable when a player makes a big jump in league.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think the perception that Javy will struggle in mlb is more a function of big league pitching (and more importantly, scouting) that will be able to take advantage of the holes in his swing than his past performance. It's the nature of a free swinger like him. He has the skills, and hopefully the makeup, to make adjustments and not tank like Junior when that happens.

  • In reply to bzalisko:

    I'm not disagreeing with you.... but I am. There is a huge perception that Javier needs time to adjust to every new level. When in reality, it's only been two levels and I have it from good sources that his emotional let down from not making the team out of St had as much to do with that as anything.

    The holes in Junior lakes swing are larger, and he was never considered to be half the prospect Javier is. But he handled himself quite well in MLB last year. Castro had immediate success. Alcantara, etc... There's been several throughout recent history.

    I'm not saying Javy won't struggle with MLB pitching. HE WILL! (at times).

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    He was fine when promoted to Peoria. He struggled for about a month at the end of the season when promoted to Daytona and again the first month of the following season in Daytona. In Tennessee he really only struggled for a week or two, he was just on such a tear when he go there and we all had such high expectations for him that I think it seemed like it was a lot longer than it actually was. He obviously struggled horribly the first 6 weeks or so this season in Iowa.

    My point was more that nothing can really be drawn from any of it since we are dealing with such a small amount of data. Especially given Baez's rather streaky performances even once he "adjusts" to a level. Can we really conclude his struggles in Daytona and Iowa were because of adjustment to the league rather than just a simple cold streak where his mechanics/timing were out of whack. Or wouldn't it be just as reasonable to conclude that perhaps he just struggles early in the season, evidenced by his only two Aprils on record, he wouldn't be the first guy like that.

    It may very well be true that he needs time to adjust, but the people stating this over and over as a foregone conclusion are basing that on faulty reasoning in my opinion.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    You posted some stats though which IMO, debunked the theory that he struggles at new levels. Since his "struggles" were so brief in TEN, IDK how one can make that claim anyways. As most scouts will tell you, going from A+ to AA is as big as of a jump in talent/competition level as going from AAA to MLB.

    Anyways, I was told about this promotion over two weeks ago. John can confirm that. it's all second hand from his family/friends here in Jax so it's not anything I shared publicly. But these same sources are telling me about his emotional state coming out of ST both of those seasons and those seem to be the only times he's struggled.

    i.e. the pattern is: An over anxious Javier Baez dominates in ST and then sulks in the MiLB for 4-7 weeks....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It's most excellent that you're that close to friends/family. And good for you that you kept the news to yourself.

    Thanks for that little morsel of information. It really does help... at least for me!!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    HD, I'm a little concerned with Baez mental makeup with some of the comments I've seen floating around on different blogs the last few weeks. His refusal to sign autographs for kids is a bit alarming and the few minor incidents with his teammates over this past season. However the brooding and sulking because he didn't make the team out of spring training is a bit alarming. What did he do in the spring that would make any player believe he had earned a promotion that skipped AAA? He was far from dominating in Mesa, he hit .265 in game action with 17 k's and a single BB. We've. Even hearing about makeup issues with this guy from the day he was drafted, but I'm I the only one that is already seeing the Primma Donna warning signs flashing here?

  • In reply to Northside Neuman:

    Nope - I'm a little concerned, too. I've read more than one account of him refusing to sign autographs, this "brooding" account and the story link posted here earlier (on another thread) about some inappropriate behavior in EST. I realize he's still young and that he grew up in a different culture, and I'm not ready to tar him with the "attitude problem" brush yet, but I think it bears watching. Renteria may need to jump quickly on any "teaching moments" that occur.

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    I'm still wondering what the plans for Kris Bryant will be. I was thinking he would start the year with the Cubs and fill the hole at 3B. But now I'm not so sure. It easy to just assume he will be at 3B but is that in fact the best spot for the organization? In the long term I think he is better suited for the OF but we have yet to see him play out there.

    I am also still sticking with my predictions of the Cubs making the playoffs in 2015, signing Jon Lester by overpaying and one major trade this winter.....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Hey BocaB. I was remembering when Albert Pujols came up he played 3B. The he went to the outfield and played the corners. From there he went to 1B. I think the same thing could happen to Bryant. He could start at 3B and when Russell comes up, he could be moved to the outfield. Has there been any comment from Bryant about playing 3B vs. the outfield? I can hardly wait though. It's gonna be fun!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    i also thought that bryant would be 3b, and now am not so sure. i think it depends on the development of russell. if he starts out in aaa next year with bryant, and russell is dominating, then i would expect to see bryant move to the outfield. now, if soler is playing rf at wrigley and doing a fine job, i would expect to see bryant in LF. but, what does that do to the plans of kyle schwarber? does he stick at catcher then because he is blocked from OF? and what happens with castro if/when russell is knocking at the doors? or does bryant stick at 3b, and do the cubs trade castro?

    wow. my head is spinning.

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    In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    Better to have too many good options for positions than having to say, "I bet Olt could play CF. He has two functioning legs after all!" LOL

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    I don't like the sound of any plan that includes the phrase "by overpaying" unless it is in the context of another team such as the Angels "Overpaying" by giving us Trout for Lake. While Lester is a good pitcher, our team still has too many holes and unknowns for me to be in a position to plan on overpaying for a (going to be) 31 year old pitcher. If I were confident that we were just 1 player away I am OK with overpaying, but we are looking at holes until our minor leaguers are ready. I don't want to have that much of our financial flexibility blown by overpaying for anyone at this point.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I think it's too early to take Olt out of the equation. If he's doing a credible job at 3rd, Bryant may move to LF in order to get both bats in the lineup before Russell is ready. I think he (Olt) will eventually be traded for pitching, especially once Russell puts on the pressure for playing time, but it might be fun to watch until he is.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    It make vastly more sense for Bryant to remain at 3rd base. No one in the minors has a bat that can replicate Bryant's all around offensive production potential while playing defense at third. You're wasting an opportunity to have another impact bat in the outfield if you have Bryant play there because no one else can fill the potential power Bryant has at an infield position. Baez maybe can with power but he doesn't have the hit tool or strike zone coverage that Bryant does.

  • I've been back and forth on this. Originally, I didn't like the move but I've warmed up to it. I realize that Baez is a slow starter when he reaches a new level so bringing him up now gives him 2 months to build confidence and good habits on the major league level. On the other hand, I hope bringing him up now - when just started to settle in and develop a good approach and game plan at AAA while learning a new defensive position is not a mistake. I think I still lean towards being against the move because of the high timing risk on such a boom/bust type player.

    I believe Baez's promotion does not necessarily signal a clear shift in the organizational timeline. I think Bryant will signal that clear shift from rebuilding to contending. Baez's promotion might get lost and appear that way especially if Baez does really well. Truthfully, I think the promotion is more isolated and related to Baez's development plan and the "shift" in that plan. I think they feel that it is best for his development to bring him up now - to play out 2 months on a lost season, get him acclimated at 2B and working out any issues and allow him to learn the league and learn how to make adjustments now rather than doing it in a new season where optimism and expectations would be higher and pressure would be on. If he struggles, he should continue to play in the majors this season but it would be justified starting next year in AAA for more seasoning. If he is making progress and developing, then it leaves him on a high note with things to work on in the offseason and for a clear and clean slate for big things in the new year.

    However it goes down - this is a momumental and extremely risky decision by the Cubs FO not because of the big picture but because of Baez and his development and progression. The shift in Cub philosophy is not "going for it" in 2015 but rather it is a shift of his development plan from "patience and letting him work things out in minors" to a more accelerated, trial by fire approach. We may look back and say that this was an extremely prudent decision that goes onto helping him reach elite status or a decision that may have broken him down as a young player and push him back developmentally.

    I'm equally excited and nervous to see how this all pans out. At the end of the day, Baez's performance in 2014 should be marked by the quality of at bats and approach and not statistical outcome.

  • We have a really really good front office leading the Chicago Cubs. I think we all appreciate it...but I don't know if we truly comprehend how great they are.

  • So what do we name today? A day that shall forever live in Cubs history....

    JavierBeaz Day seems to be the theme on twitter

    I also like Javypalooza and Feliz Javidad

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Feliz Javidad!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Me Likey John!

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I like Feliz Javidad! lol

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Feliz Javidad is pretty brilliant.

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    In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    felzz javidad?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yes - congrats on Feliz Javifad.
    Can we get Jose Feliciano to do Take Me Out for the 7th inning stretch?

  • Reading that article all I could hear was Ravel's Bolero ...

  • So - have the Cubs announced the corresponding 40-man roster move yet & I just missed it?

    Who's been released or traded?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Nobody needed to be released or traded. Fujikawa and McDonald are both on the 60-day DL, meaning the Cubs 40 man roster sat at 39 yesterday.

    I'm guessing that Valaika or a relief pitcher will be sent down.

  • In reply to JB88:

    Yes, Cubs roster was at 39. Valaika would be my guess.

  • In reply to JB88:

    Cool- thought that they were already sitting at 40. Personally - I hope that it is one of the RPs sent down as I would like to see Valaika get some more PT.

    Then again - with Baez at 2B - it's one less spot in the lineup that is available for Valaika to fill - so maybe he's the better choice?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Yes, but shouldn't they keep a back-up IF'er? Valaika was just added to the 40-man before the weekend. Why do that, promote Javy-baby, then send Valaika back? That seems unusually short-sighted for this FO.

    I think Schierholz is more likely. He has had an awful year, is a FA, and does not fit into any plans for 2015.

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    With a short bench, I think Valaika gives them some positional versatility that was lost when Bonifacio was traded.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I agree with this, Mike!

    In addition, HD says this move has been in the works for a couple of weeks. *That* might be the reason for the Valaika call up!

  • Has anyone heard of the shohei otani from japan? I was wondering if anyone knew anything about when he would possibly be coming over to the MLB

  • In reply to INgold91:

    Yes, have heard of him and he is a potential monster -- but also has a rather slight build. Don't know when/if he wants to come to MLB.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hes only 19 if Im right John. It would likely be several years before he even gets a chance at the posting system.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    So the posting system is based on age? Cause iv'e read that the club he plays for told him they won't hold him back from the mlb. He looks to be really really good so i was just wondering

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    No, I don't think so, he actually told teams in the NPB not to draft him in 2012 because he wanted to go straight to the U.S. but relented after his family, and the Japanese system coaxed him into it.. Read this story from a week ago if you are interested, it sounds like promises were made to him that he will be posted soon than later. As John said, the kid sounds like a monster, some comparing him to Jose Fernandez! Here is a snip from the article...

    But with each game it seems as if his departure for North America could come sooner rather than later. The 6-4, 190-pound right-hander is 9-1 this season with an ERA of 2.14 and a WHIP of 1.06. Earlier this month he struck out 16 batters in a complete-game victory over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (Masahiro Tanaka's old team).

    As if that wasn't enough, Otani then topped it by twice throwing pitches at 100 miles per hour in the second NPB All-Star Game on July 19, where he was the winning pitcher for the Pacific League. It was the fastest a Japanese pitcher has ever been clocked.

    Shohei Otani is a badass

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    YES! Please!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I know Hoosier! If the Cubs are going to overpay for a pitcher I want it to be the Japanese Phenom with a 100 mph FB and plus command/control! #Drool #Want

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    From what I've read he definitely is interested in playing in the MLB. He almost didn't even sign with a professional team in Japan in order to pursue a career in the MLB. After long and hard negotiations he eventually signed in Japan, but he definitely still wants to come to the MLB.

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    I hope that this shift will help free agents see the potential for success with the Cubs over the next several years instead of just using the Cubs to get more money from another team. The young talent on this team along with the chance to be part of a playoff atmosphere in a great city like Chicago (maybe not immediately, but soon) should be a great draw.

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    Thanks John. I am excited, and it is really nice to have a place to share it with others! I think you are right about the shift. Although I actually think the key day was when Ricketts released the Wrigley Field video and said they were asking for seven scoreboard: damn the torpedoes!

  • Grand Slam!!! Mike Olt!!! Great at bat by Bryant with 1 out (with Watkins and Sczur on 1st and 2nd respectfully) to load the bases. Soler hits a single to score a run and keep the bases loaded....and then BOOM goes Olt!

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I love that Olt is hitting and hitting with power since his return to AAA, but it all seems hollow to me because he's struck out 18 times in 57 PAs while walking only once. Yikes and ouch.

    Not saying we shouldn't get excited about anyone hitting a grand slam. They're rare and a lot of fun. Just saying, from the standpoint of how they apply to the future of the Cubs, I'm more excited with Bryant working that walk and Soler getting a bases loaded single.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Yeah, to be honest I was more happy that Bryant drew a very nice walk in that pressure spot to load the bases, and then Soler came through with an RBI hit for the 2nd at bat in a row (RBI Double in his first at bat)...but if Olt can keep up the numbers for the rest of the year, he could at minimum could be a nice trade chip (as part of a package) for pitching. Look at the Mark Trumbo for Tyler Skaggs deal ( I know AZ sucks), teams will pay for power, and are willing to sacrifice avg.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    ...and Soler hits a Homerun!!! Now he is 3-3 and is only a triple short of the cycle!

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Makes ya' giddy, doesn't it?

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    god, i love me some soler.

  • I agree with this shift or step up to the next part of the plan. As with most Theo/Jed moves (and, yes, a symphony), the Baez move works on multiple levels. I trust that it is right for Baez's development, but it also helps the organization better plan for this off-season and next season. Both in developing Baez, seeing what they have, showcasing more talent for possible trades, and pushing current players.

    But the fact they called up a player not on the 40-man roster doesn't signify much to me one way or another. This has been a 5th place team for five years. If you can't find players on a last place team's 40-man roster whom you can do without, then you have a real big talent evaluation problem. The reality is, no one would miss a Josh Vitters, Logan Watkins, Ryan Kalish or Carlos Villaneuva if it meant calling up a Bryant or signing Jon Lester. Those are very easy calls to make.

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    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I would like to keep Watkins around as a utility infielder, but your point is well taken. I would add Jackson to that list as well as Schierholz. As pointed out in an earlier article by John, I would like to hold on to Jokisch, but clearing space on the 40-man roster shouldn't be a problem.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    What do you see in Watkins that makes you want to keep him?

    I've only seen him a few times. I see the utility/versatility, but I don't think any of his defensive skills are elite, yet his bat is very Barney-esque. I just dont know that he sticks with this club beyond 2015.

    I think he's probably more of a AAA/4A type player. But I'd be happy to be wrong.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Part of it is I think I have a soft spot for utility infielders. Guys who show up at the park with 3-4 gloves because who knows where they will end up playing. And I agree that his abilities are Barney-esque. However, Darwin Barney will likely have a career where in 10 years I'll be watching SportsCenter and he will show up making a dazzling play at 2B for some team and I will stand in shock saying, "Is he still around?" There is a place for players like that in the major leagues. The starting line-up for a championship team isn't one of them. However, as a 25th guy on the roster they can have value.

    Also, If I were constructing the roster I would want bench players with maximum flexibility. I would actually have relatively few bench guys so I could load up the bullpen, especially at the beginning of the season when starters generally don't go as deep. If I am going to have this kind of bench I need guys that can go out and play a maximum number of positions.

    If we do wind up with a defense of Bryant LF, Almora CF, Soler RF, Russell 3B, Castro SS, Baez 2B, Rizzo 1B, Schwarber C (I can dream) I would want to keep Alcantara simply to have a switch hitter who can play 2B, SS, CF. I would then like someone like Olt (if he can get his K rate down closer to 25% as a back up corner infielder and corner outfielder with some thump off the bench.

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    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    The 40 man concern was NEVER about who to jettison now. You're right, no one would miss a Vitters or Schierholtz, etc. Where the implications come in is over the winter, with regards to protecting prospects that must be added or be exposed to the Rule V draft in November.
    Beaz (and Bryant) aren't at the point of needing to be added, so doing so means one less player like Jokich or Beeler will be protected over the winter

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    You understand Rule V properly, but my comment was in reaction to the article in which it was said, "Baez('s promotion) is different (from Alcantara and Hendrick's promotions) because he was not on the 40 man roster."

    And your point that Baez isn't at the point of being added to the 40-man is actually wrong. You can't have someone on your ML squad without being on the 40-man. But the Cubs had an open slot after the Barney trade, and was able to add Baez without another move.

  • They are paid to make financial/baseball decisions and I wonder if this move has anything to do with ratings/the new tv contract?

    They wouldn't promote him if they didn't feel like he was ready but I think the tv contract vs the extra year of control could come into play in the financial part of the call up.

  • I feel like tonight is a turning point for the Cubs. Tonight is like the opening night. The season starts today. Today marks a day where we starts building and winning. Today, we play for keeps. Today, we play baseball.

  • John thank you for this great site... I've never comment but had to this time. "But what really has me excited is that the Baez promotion isn't a culmination". Is the best thing I've read anywhere re: :The Plan". I've seen a lot of plans over the years and been disappointed, but this one seems different because there isn't just one guy all hopes are pinned on. Your observation summed it up perfectly for me! Thank You!

  • Love the analogy to a symphony. The best thing about this excitement of Baez getting the call is that he is considered the Cubs 3rd best prospect (Bryant, Russell)!! That's crazy...and Soler is another stud. The Four Horseman. It's a definite possibility that if Soler is up by Sept., Bryant is up by May of next year, and if Russell goes to the AFL and then starts the year in AAA next year, he could very well be up between July & Sept next year as well. That could be the "crescendo" of Act 1.

    The future "fantasy" lineup suddenly doesn't seem like such a stretch of the imagination anymore. Could this really be the Cubs lineup next September? It still seems hard to believe that it will happen (and not even considering Almora, Schwarber, McKinney, etc, etc that are not far behind)...

    Alcantara -CF
    Russell - SS
    Rizzo - 1B
    Bryant - RF/LF
    Baez - 2B
    Soler - RF/LF
    Castro - 3B
    Castillo - C

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I think Olt could be the 3B by next September too. It does appear that we have more good players than positions to play. What a problem to have.:)

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Yea it is fun to dream on the line-up possibilities. Just saw Baez batting 2nd tonight.

  • Soler!! Man, these young Cubs can hit.

  • Excited about this Friday. I took back my season tickets from my grandson until further notice.

  • I've been saying this for the entire season. Get Baez up, let him see ML pitching, fail and adjust. I thought they would bring him up in September, but soon the better. I also think its important to get him exposed to all the dynamics off of the field. How to prepare for games, what the party scene looks like, dealing with crazy fans, living in Chicago (finding a neighborhood he likes), how to handle yourself with the media, etc. These are intangibles, but the Cubs don't have a bunch of veterans that can help shepherd a rookie around.

    I'm planning to take Baez's first 300 AB's and throw them out the window. Whether he hits .280 / .330 / .500 or .200 / .225 / .400 with a 40% K rate.

    Also, I doubt they bring him up to showcase him for trade purposes. They probably realize he will look terrible, so if they planned to trade him this off season, they would have just kept him down in AAA and let him continue to dominate.

  • Great piece John. For a while there it brought me back to the Music 202 days at NIU...

    In 2013 the Cubs were 49-61 after 110 games, two games better than this years club. Last year the Cubs were dealing with season long slumps by Castro & Rizzo and losing a team favorite in Soriano, resulting in a 17-35 record down the stretch.

    Despite dealing away 40% of the starting rotation on July 4th the whole vibe surrounding this team is light years different than last year. Arrieta, Rizzo & Castro have emerged as team leaders, Hendricks & Wada have been solid starters thus far, the young bullpen continues to improve, and big shot prospects like Alcantara and Baez are energizing the lineup.

    The Cubs have a tough schedule after playing the Rockies this week. And I bet none of those teams really want to be facing this new version of the Cubs for the rest of the season.

  • Great article John. This may be a day us Cubs fans want to mark on our calendars. It's not just because Baez has been promoted, it's more what it signifies to the team (as you pointed out). This is where the Barrel Wave of talent begins to wash ashore to us sunbaked, dying of thirst, Cub fans. Add in Hendricks and Mendy, and the times they are a changin'...

  • For you fans old enough this could be the start of a new "Latin connection"

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    You must be referring to the golden days of Heity Cruz and Davey Rosello. jk/lol

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Dejesus and Trillo

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    DeJesus was basically traded for Sandburg so DeJesus really helped the Cubs.

  • In reply to John57:

    True, but he was an excellent SS for the Cubs before being traded. Dallas Green was criticized for trading him off for a "washed up" Larry Bowa and some unproven prospect named Ryne Sandberg...

  • the front office has proven that they will call up their prospects when they are ready and not based on one year of cost control six years in the future (kris bryant being the current exception to the rule), or wasting a spot on the 40-man (there are as many as seven players currently on the 40-man that won't be on it next year).

  • at this point with the way Soler is hitting i would bring him up with Javy or shortly after to get a good sample size/ feet wet thing so both can hit the 2015 ground running , no 40 man or service time issues and with his approach i think he would do just fine. Only danger is that they do too good and blow the protected pick in draft and the slot cash. another point think the Marlins would be open to a Turner / Sheerholes trade ?

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    To answer your Turner for Nate trade, No Miami will not do that trade. Nate is not worth anything right now.

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    In reply to John57:

    Especially to a team that is out of contention. I would love it to be BJax or Vitters or someone like that. Those are two guys who could use a "change of scenery" trade and are young and very possibly could make another run at the major leagues, just not with Chicago.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Turner needs to get past Colorado first. But their goofy ownership might just take a pass, which would be perfect for the Cubbies.

  • In reply to John57:

    What if it's Lake or Watkins? Or Lake AND Watkins? The Cubs won't have a spot for them anyway, once Soler is up, with more coming.

  • I just ordered a Javier Baez #9 custom home jersey!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Is that going to be his number?

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    LOL I knew you would. It was my first thought as well but just not sure he will always wear the same #......

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    I doubt it changes. Usually when a player gets a single digit number it is his as long as he wants it. Now if his number was 56B (as it was for Sutcliffe years ago) then I would say it would probably change.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Is that accurate, HD?? The Cubs website doesn't have him, or a jersey #, yet!

    BTW... same site has him hitting 2nd.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Cubs announced Javy's # on their Twitter.

  • Baez batting second tonight.

  • Baez batting second tonight.

  • Hey everyone this a really really funny article about Baez and how he could "end the world" lol.

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    That was awesome! Thanks.

  • A few questions for John /anyone,

    Why delay Soler, there doesn't seem to be anything specific he needs to improve upon in Iowa.

    Why do we have an affiliate in Daytona, do we have opportunities to move or do we have a long term contract?

    Why is Olney suggesting that the Cubs get involved on Hamel. A salary dump doesn't make sense to me.

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    In reply to rsanchez11:

    A couple of reasons off the top of my head to have an affiliate in Daytona:
    1. Gives us a "pitchers league" team to see how our players (pitchers and batters) perform.
    2. Gives us a warm weather minor league site especially important when rehabbing at the beginning/end of the season.

  • Javy issued Hank Sauer's old uniform number:)

  • "Why delay Soler, there doesn't seem to be anything specific he needs to improve upon in Iowa."

    He's played 13 games and has a .243 BA prior to todays game. While we are all impressed, I don't think you can say there's nothing he can't improve upon. Secondly, whats the rush? With baez, it was determined he had accomplished all of his development goals in AAA. the next step is to get him acclimated to the MLB and adjust to superior pitching. This may be as crucial for Soler. I'm sure Soler will be there in Sept. Another 25+ games at AAA isn't going to hurt and should actually help.

    I think the whole "oit rains everyday in the FSL is blown completely out of proportion on here. They've been playing in the FSL since 1919 and there are many advantages.

    No clue on Hamel other than we need pitching... But reading into the cryptic messages of the timeline from Jed Hoyer, I doubt they go overboard to land anyone before 2016/2017. That's not to say they won't go hard after the likes of Lester, etc...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree about your opinion on Daytona. To those that don't live in Florida, it only seems like it rains all the time. I've been here since 1992 and I've seen the rainy season be somewhat dry as well. Anyone remember the fires in Central Florida just a few years ago? That was a really dry summer! Point is, the weather just runs in cycles and there are great reason to have the Cubs in Florida.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks for responding, I don't have #s but the gut reaction was the players must be affected with the rainouts.

    Agree to a point on Soler, only rush for me would be to give him a test prior to next year.

    I don't see a strong case for Hamel either, but I do think that they will go all out for Lester.

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    Just a curveball folks but if the Mets come a calling this winter for a shortstop I'm still offering up Castro for both Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard.

    I then put Baez at SS until Russell is ready. Then we would see Russell at SS and Baez at 2B. Valbuena would be at 2B until the Russell call up.

    With Soler and Bryant also added to our lineup and hopefully signing Lester in the winter, the Cubs would be extremely competitive next year.


    You can call me crazy now. But these are the type of bold moves that I see being made this winter!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I would prefer Matt Harvey to both Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. Castro is a stud. Harvey is a stud. Even trade.

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    In reply to John57:

    I may do that trade as well. My point was that I'm not against trading 1 of our studs for the needed pitching. That and signing Lester makes the Cubs much stronger than standing pat because we fear it might be awful to watch a guy like Castro do well somewhere else. I'm soooooooooooo over the Lou Brock thing it isn't funny.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I think Wheeler could be the beginning of an offer but no way you get both Wheeler AND Snydergaard. Dont even think you'll get Wheeler and deGrom. I think Wheeler and another lower level pitching prospect is max you'll get.

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    In reply to ripiceman:

    Then I move on to raid Seattle's farm system. No biggie. Someone will eventually pay the large price for a major league ready All-Star shortstop. Nothing has to really be done until Russell is ready which could be 2016 or so......

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Good point. There are a lot of moving parts with this organization, all of which are good at this point. Someone is going to have to be that trade piece, and I trust this FO will, at the very least, get value for value.

  • John, what do you think about Olt at this point? Seems hard to imagine a place for him on the ML club so that would seem to suggest a trading piece. He has been hitting in Iowa, think there is any real value there?

  • John, I'm a rock 'n roll guy, don't do classical or opera, so I don't understand the analogy at all.

    Are you saying the fat lady is about to sing?

  • In reply to TTP:

    Haha! I am actually more of a rock and roll fan as well.

  • Are you ready for some Baezball?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:


  • I don't think this promotion is because the Cubs front office wants him to struggle and then have the off-season to adjust.

    I think the front office knows he will struggle at first. Even Pevey said, "It'll be a learning curve for Javy. He'll want to hit every ball 600 feet. He's such a great competitor."

    The reason the Cubs are calling him up now, is so that he struggles until September instead of starting in September. In my mind, the Cubs front office wants Javy to have some success before the season is over, not just go into the off-season having failed. I think there is a major psychological advantage to experiencing some success this year first.

  • In reply to nukee:

    Not to mention, if Javy comes up and struggles, it will leave more questions in the minds of guys like Lester, who to me, seems to be the guy to get this off-season.

    Javy is a big wildcard. Everyone knows his ceiling is amazing. However, unlike Bryant, Baez's floor is also, I believe someone mentioned this before, but something along the lines of Dan Uggla with better defense (can't really be worse defensively)

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