Patience needed for Javy Baez's struggles

Patience needed for Javy Baez's struggles

It seems like I write a similar article once or twice a year,  The pattern goes like this...

  • Javy rips up a league 
  • He gets promoted
  • He struggles mightily at first
  • Everyone panics
  • Javy figures it out and the world is right again

What makes this all the more frustrating is that this front office was transparent about this call-up.  They said he was struggle.  In fact, that was precisely the point.  With every level Baez advances he is going to struggle.  You can get him out -- but if you make a mistake, he will crush it.  The higher up he goes, the fewer mistakes Baez will see.

Baez is different than Bryant and Soler.  Bryant, for example, is a player that thrives on early preparation.  He anticipates issues and addresses them as they are happening -- even before they happen. Baez learns by direct experience, from trial and error.   He has to fail before he succeeds.  But he has a tremendous amount of confidence.  He goes into each new league with the assumption that he will succeed, that what has worked in the past will continue to work going forward.

That doesn't happen very often in the bigs.  The competition will always work to be one step ahead and right now, they are ahead of Baez.  They have him guessing and guessing wrong, neutralizing his bat speed and great plate coverage.

Other than confidence, what Baez doesn't lack for is competitiveness and an aptitude for making adjustments on the fly.  He takes a lot of pride in his game and he wants to succeed very, very badly.  Right now we see him getting frustrated.  We shouldn't be worried about his outward displays yesterday.  Consider that the next step in his adjustment.  He is understanding that what he is doing now is not working and will be very open to doing what it takes to fix it.  There is a pattern to Baez's transition/adjustment process that seems to go like this...

  1. Denial: I'll do what I always do because it has always worked before
  2. Failure...but with enough glimpses of success to carry him through early on
  3. Frustration: This is the point where the failure begins to outweigh the success
  4. Acceptance and adjustment: Baez understands what he is doing isn't working.  We should soon see an improvement in his approach and thought process
  5. Success: Results begin showing up.

Rinse and repeat for the course of a year or two:  Pitchers will adjust again.  Baez will need to continue to respond.  There will be more bumps, though hopefully not as profound as the initial entry.

I think we are at stage 3.  I expect Baez to start making adjustments but I still wouldn't expect huge results right away.  The adjustment period always shows an improvement in process but results always lag behind a bit.  What I would expect to see is an improvement in the quality of his ABs over the next month.  However, we may not see the results of that until next season.

But hey, that's the whole point.

That's why he's up right now instead of April of next season.  The Cubs wanted to start the Baez adjustment process now in what is essentially a lost season in terms of W-L record.  The Cubs expect to be more competitive next year.  They want to get those initial growing pains out of the way now with the hopes that he can hit the ground running next year when it matters more.

For now we just need to be patient.  There's no need to panic after just 21 games.  Let Baez go through what we should have expected him to go through.  It's part of the process.

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  • Well I was in a panic until I read your last paragraph and now I'm patient again.

  • In reply to carolinacub:

    You panicked all the way through until the end? Ha! I guess it didn't work as quickly as I hoped it would.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I read that you think baez has great plate coverage, but in watching him it looks as if he's standing a good 4 or 5 inches too far away from the plate. no way he covers the outside portion of the plate with any consistancy

  • In reply to menny:

    It also says that pitchers have neutralized that so far, which is what you are seeing right now.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Didn't you write a very similar article about Baez in Iowa in about mid-May?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yep ;) And I wrote a Don't panic article when he was in Daytona the year before.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It's just another step in his development.

    1. Receive promotion with disproportionate "hype"
    2. Struggle mightily while accumulating gawdy HR totals (but not much else).
    3. Fans Panic "chicken little" style.
    5. Things start to turn around. He figures out league and begins to "dominate"
    6. Secretly credits article ;)

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    The funny part is that the team has played well through the "struggles" of Baez. His defense has been strong. He will improve. Remember, he was taken in same draft as Vogelbomb out of HS. Javier is here and Dan is hoping AZ this fall will get him to AA.

    Forget the Adam Dunn/Kingman/Reynolds comps. He is a unique beast. Everyone counting the Ks needs to remain calm and shift their angst to the fact the Cubs will end up picking 12th or 14th in June.

    Winning: its kind of fun.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    It is strange to be winning...and I like it. I don't like losing the draft pick, but it feels good to see these guys play good baseball.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I realize the Cubs are right on the fence now regarding the protected draft pick, but the schedule is tough. I think they will have to play really good baseball to even split their remaining games given what most of their opponents will be playing for, though I'm with you in hoping they do and end up outside the bottom 10.

    Because of his approach, and despite playing relatively few games in the minors, I have a good feeling about Soler. I think he's going to put up some decent numbers the rest of the year. It's going to be interesting to see how the season plays out.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Don't forget Cubs picked up arguably #1 prospect in all of baseball in Russell, not to mention Mckinney. Kind of makes up for the lower draft pick. And winning IS fun.

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    Small Sample sizes think 21 games are a small sample size.

  • I have plenty of patience with Javy. I am finding I have way less patience for the people who have no patience with Javy.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Haha! Maybe that is the subject of my next article.

    "Patience needed for the impatient"

  • In reply to mjvz:

    ^^ This! ^^

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I figured John would be posting an article like this soon. I've been stewing about this for a few days as the comments on here regarding Baez have turned more fatalistic. I've really tried not to respond to the other posters but I finally gave in last night.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    I think it depends on what those people are saying. If they're trashing trolls, sure, but I think Cubs fans are entitled to be a little anxious after so many years of watching prospects flop. For me, constructive observations good or bad are always welcome.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    I understand the anxiety. But Javier is not the cause of that. Expecting a 21yo kid to suddenly change what got him to the MLB at such a young age, when he's only played in 20 MLB games is a bit ridiculous.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I totally AGREE!!! At a point in this game Baez has Reached Baseball is always going to be a game of adjustments . Baez has made all his . He is a natural and make them again. You keep hearing of 2nd year jinx, no it's always adjustments. They adjust to you you readjust to them

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I mention 2 words-Darwin Barney. Works every time.

  • That makes sense John. He probably wants it too much right now. Baez has a lot riding on his success. He has a ill sister he wants to be able to care for. That's a lot of pressure for such a young man. I'm rooting for him, not just for the Cubs benefit, but for his family's too.

  • While it is true that at present Baez is hitting only ~0.200 BA, and has only walked 4 times in a bit over 90 plate appearances in 21 games,...... and has struck out 40 times already,.... in that short period he has also had 7 HR, 12 RBI, scored 11 runs and played more than adequate defense at 2B and SS.

    He's got another month to get some of the kinks worked out of his game against some very good upcoming competition,.... Even IF he becomes the Cubs version of Pedro Alverez (at 2B) that's an above league average guy. His ceiling is (obviously) much higher than that.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Add into that list of 'facts'... the fact that during the 3 weeks Baez has been manning 2B or SS - his team also has a winning record,..... and may be running through their best looking stretch of the season.

    Obviously - he's not hurting the team while he gets his wrinkles ironed out.

  • I find it humorous, and predictable; that so many have been up in arms about his free swinging approach. But at least it's slowed the trade Castro for prospects push...

  • When he develops patience he is going to be so fun to watch.

  • In regards to patience with Baez. Here's where watching Barney hit an empty .210 for the last 1.5 years comes in handy. After the golden sombrero you can just smile and say, "at least I didn't have to watch Barney".

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    Ha! True. At least there is hope for drastic improvement with Baez.

  • There are different methods to learning. Some people learn and grow through failure. Others learn through study and planning.

    Javy strikes me as a person that learns from failure.

  • In reply to mjvz:


    And I think sometimes it's hard for one to understand the other. I definitely learn on the fly and sometimes set my own rules for doing so, while my sister studies, plans, and follows the rubric to the letter. I used to drive her crazy while I found her way incredibly confining.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    There's that, sure. But so many are complaining about his pitch recognition, when they've probably never seen anything above Babe Ruth or Little league level of play. Good luck picking up the difference in Cueto FB @ 95 and a change-up at 85 that dives into the dirt.

    Yes, he's taken a few FB's right over the plate and swung at off speed and breaking balls in the dirt, etc... Like John said, he's guessing wrong. It's probably what the hitting coaches told him to look for in those situations. Trust me, if he knew Cueto was going to throw a flat FB on the corner, he would have hit it to Cleveland, not looked at it for strike 3.

    He's 21, had 21 career MLB games. He'll figure it out. But even while he's struck out way too much, he's prob still the safest bet for NL Rookie HR leader in just two months of MLB games...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think it comes from having extreme confidence in oneself....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    You're preaching to the guy that still believes Baez finishes second on this team in HRs.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    One could argue that if he learned from failure he wouldn't keep making the exact same mistakes at each level...

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    Any word as to weather or not Manny will be brought to Chicago this September in some sort of coach/mentor position?? He seems to be a very positive influence on the young kids especially the Latin kids.

  • In reply to Nick Faulkner:

    As far as I know there are no plans to do this, but that could change.

  • Nice article John. Personally I haven't been all that worried with Baez start because just like you said, this has all been expected. To me it's more about how dangerous he currently is and can be. I think the point is putting together a dangerous lineup, which doesn't always mean it's successful but it can be in a hurry. Would rather see Baez go through struggles right now than to see Watkins or (previously) Barney out there where you are hoping for a bloop hit. Soler coming up today just adds another "weapon" to the lineup. Fun stuff!

  • He is still young and my need more time
    to develop as a hitter. If he has to start
    2015 in AAA so be it. Having so many
    Spanish speaking players around him
    should help alot. I know from experince

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I don't think he needs AAA. He already figured that out. He is working on the next challenge.

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    I really think the only folks that may be in panic mode are those that never really followed his minor league development. The person that may have just about the big guns we have in the minors and now that they see Baez struggle they immediately think of guys like Felix Pie.

    The great thing about being a member here at the Den for over two 2 years now, is we have seen the pattern. Many of us actually went out to see these guys play with our own eyes and saw the development take place. We've read the scouting reports. I would hope most of us are not in full panic mode but more of anticipation mode for what will soon take place at Wrigley.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    "The person that may have just *heard* about the big guns"

    I gotta start reading my posts before I click "comment"

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Don't bother, noboby else reads them either! LOL. (I just did!)

  • I can have plenty of patience with Javy. I think he will be fine. Once he learns through his baptism by fire its the ball we should worry about. If the shortstop catches the cover of the ball and the string ball unravels to the ivy is he out?

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    Thanks for the article John - great reasoning as always! Add to all of the above that he is one of the youngest players in MLB yet - lots of time for him to work through his struggles. And his potential is very obvious amidst those struggles. Better days are coming!!

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    I'm not too worried about Baez, but I admit that my personality is to be a little concerned that this will be the time he won't be able to adjust - and of course, this is the time it matters most. Some of his comments also give me pause, but it may just be his personality.

    If Baez was the lone savior I think I would be more worried, but I recall when Bryant got to Iowa is when he began to adjust at AAA and I think that could happen again with Soler and later Bryant at the MLB level.

    All that said, I think Baez or Almora are the two elite players I would dangle for pitching this offseason. Not saying I want them to be traded, but that if the Cubs have the opportunity to bring in an elite pitching prospect they should be looked at first.

    I'd rather use currency that elite prospects to acquire pitching, but employing both methods to bring back more than one top pitcher/pitching prospect is OK too.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    I'd say a year or two early for trading them. We have the money to pay for a TOR. Why trade unless we have to? I don't think any of our top prospects should or will get traded until we are competing at the deadline.

    Agreed about Baez not being the lone savior though. Everyone mentions prospect attrition, even among the best. As our top prospects move up, it seems more and more likely that all of them will at least contribute to the big club in some way. Or eventually be traded to put us in a better spot to win it all.

  • With some much good/great prospects
    up and more coming soon we have to
    let them develop slowly if need be.
    After all these years we should be in
    no hurry and see them fail. Batting .150
    after 100 AB's can really set you back.

  • Add to the fact list that Baez prophesized he'd be denied 3 times before the rooster crows in spring 2015.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    So what are you doing with those 30 pieces of silver?

  • Baez seems to be having an effect on the rest of the team. I haven't researched the numbers but it certainly seems like the team as a whole has been swinging and missing a lot of late.

    What happened to working the count and the OBP approach?

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    I was thinking Baez had an effect too, but the effect I saw was winning games!

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    In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    I share this concern, but am hoping that Soler and later Bryant will start to turn the approach the other way.

    It took me a long time to realize that the manager can't just say "OK everybody, we need to be more patient" and change the approach (though I think most managers try too hard to not endorse what they see as a lack of aggressiveness). The reason for that, I think, is plate discipline is so much more complex than just taking pitches. It's about being aggressive when you get a good pitch to hit and being patient when you don't (pitch recognition). It's also about wasting pitcher's pitches when you have two strikes. And about being willing to take a borderline pitch with a full count even though you might get called out - and then not overreacting if you do that and get called out on strikes two or three times in one game or over the course of a couple games. And on and on.

    There's no doubt that strikeouts are contagious, but walks can be too I think if the whole team starts to develop that mentality.

    I think the Cubs can find consistent success year after year being a high strikeout team. But I'm almost positive that they can't find that year-to-year consistency by being a low OBP team.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    "There's no doubt that strikeouts are contagious, but walks can be too I think if the whole team starts to develop that mentality."

    I'd love to see ANY statistical evidence of this... Without fact substantiating it, it just comes across as a nervous twitch. This team has been void of any offense for the better part of 3 seasons. is that Baez's fault too? You seriously believe that one rookie can influence the entire team to abandon their approach in less than a few weeks?

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    I think the increase in K's has much more to do with the pitchers the Cubs have been facing than a Javy strike out contagion...

    Anderson (2.91 ERA)
    Lyles (3.72 ERA)
    Archer (3.33 ERA)
    Odorizzi (3.89 ERA)
    Cobb (3.41 ERA)
    Galardo (3.44 ERA)
    Peralta (3.46 ERA)
    Lohse (3.49 ERA)
    Fiers (1.29 ERA)
    Wheeler (3.49 ERA)
    Niese (3.50 ERA)
    Torres (3.41 ERA)
    Vogelsong (3.73 ERA)
    Bumgarner (3.17 ERA)
    Gausman (3.81 ERA)
    Norris (3.91 ERA)
    Gonzalez (3.75 ERA)
    Cueto (2.26 ERA)

    Also the Cubs have faced some good bullpens as well since Javy came up. My guess would be that it's that combination which is the most likely reason for the increase in team K's...rather than Baez having some sort of strikeout virus and infecting the clubhouse.

  • John, do you know what time Mauricio is going to be on the Score? Bernstein said he'll be on to talk about Soler.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    4 pm but not official

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    4 PM. Just saw the tweet.

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    I missed the game last night: was Baez actually wearing a golden sombero or his regulation Cubs hat? I kid my friend Javy! Like John writes: struggling initially is his pattern. He'll be fine!

  • "He goes into each new league with the assumption that he will succeed"

    I think it's unfair to assume what Baez is thinking.

    Most people are overthinking this. He's 21. He's going to struggle. It's normal. It's ok. Whether he can adjust is something people need a crystal ball in order to form an answer. But struggling now is not a big deal.

  • In reply to Cubbie Sam:

    He is not struggling because he is 21. If he and the Cubs think that, then he will continue to struggle. He's getting beat and he will need to adjust accordingly. It is what he has always done. It's what baseball is all about.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He's struggling because he's doing a new task at a level he's not accustomed too.

    It correlates with his age because it speaks to his inexperience at the level and the bell curve that happens in a typical players career as they produce more as they get older and more experienced in doing something.

  • In reply to Cubbie Sam:

    Age trends can tell us generalities about ballplayers, but they don't tell us anything about specific issues with specific ballplayers. It isn't an excuse for everything. Baez has work to do. To ignore that would be irresponsible.

  • In reply to Cubbie Sam:

    "I think it's unfair to assume what Baez is thinking."

    I know Javy, though I haven't seen or spoken to him personally since last winter. But I have been around several that are close to him. I can assure you, he is thinking he will be what he has always been... "Dominant". Personally, I wouldn't want it any other way. But there is always going to be a certain amount of youthful enthusiasm in his swagger...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Love the swag...I think the Cubs could use some.

  • Last night's frustration seemed more about not connecting on pitches he should hit than a long building of frustration. He missed or tipped some hittable pitches last night. Seemed like he was pulling off the ball. That will be easily fixed.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    There have been a lot of pitches Javy has missed that he normally destroys, but it's not an accident. He is being set up routinely. He will need to adjust.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly! He is missing those pitches because good pitchers have him guessing and not anticipating what is coming. In a masochistic way it's actually been fascinating to watch the way he is being kept off balance (it's why we love baseball, though it's sometimes painful when the victim is on our team). Hopefully, Baez is watching the "film."

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    He'll be fine. I for one am rejoicing a bit. I was actually worried he would mash from day one and go into the off season thinking he had it all figured out. This is actually a good thing for him, his development, and managing fans expectations.

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    In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    When you are right then you "anticipated" the pitch and when you are wrong you were "guessing" at the pitch?

    It sounds like the old baseball adage that "if you lose 3-2 you were 'shelled' with 8 hits, if you win 8-3 you 'scattered' 8 hits."

  • "We shouldn't be worried about his outward displays yesterday."

    What happened yesterday? (Other than the 4 Ks).

  • In reply to IThrewSomeRocks:

    Not much that I saw. I didn't see all the strikeouts, but he looked like he wanted to break something. Never really did anything about it that I saw.

  • In reply to IThrewSomeRocks:

    Just some visible frustration on his face. Nothing major.

  • I seem to recall Mike Trout hit 220 with 5hr and 16 rbi in his first 40 games 30k/9walks. Ryne Sandberg started out what, 0-32 or something similiar? please . patience. Javy has always improved with time. Last nights golden sombrero was at the hands of Johnny Cueto. Cueto makes LOTS of hitters look foolish.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I had the same thought about Mike Trout and looked up the same stats. Trout in his first stint with the Angels was .220/.281/.390 for a .672 OPS. Javy has been .198/.23/.465 for a .698 OPS. Obviously Trout got a few more walks and made a bit more contact, but he did not light the world on fire. I'd bet that any fans calling for him to be traded in 2011 are forgetting that they made those statements.

    I am not trying to say Javy will end up being Trout, just that it is way too early to jump to conclusions.

  • I think what Javi has brought with him is attitude. Adding him to the mix has brought one more guy with confidence in himself. With Soler coming tonight and more soon I can see the team getting more confident. The Cubs have been winning recently as a result of the winning attitude this kind of confidence has brought. Once the lineup is full of our young stud prospects this will have a huge impact where it counts most. Winning Games/Winning Series/Winning Divisions/Winning World Series.

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    I don't read all the comments from every post, but it doesn't seem to me that there is all that much Baez angst here. And I think anybody who says they have no concern is flat out being disingenuous. My limited concern is no different today than it was after that first series in Colorado. It's simply based on the fact that I want these guys to succeed so badly that any red flags worry me a little. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    I don't write everything in response to the readers on this blog. There is a lot of angst in social media about Baez's start.

    There is certainly some concern with Baez. There is always concern with every prospect until they prove themselves over a large sample size.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I get it. I was talking more about the commenters but I guess they are also addressing what they read elsewhere. I don't do Twitter, but other than the folks who don't look like they are serious fans, I haven't seen too much Baez-is going-to-be-a-bust stuff.

    Still, I think this is a timely and useful post. You always make a ton of well-measured and insightful points that work nicely to counteract my tendency to see the negatives (not talking just about this article because I too expected Baez to struggle and realize that history tells us he will figure it out).

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    OMG. Didn't Mark Twain say there is nothing so uncommon as common sense.
    Thank you, John.

  • Based on his previous promotions what I am seeing now at the plate does not surprise or disappoint me. What DOES surprise me is his defense. Smoother than I envisioned and terrific defensive awareness. VERY impressed with his throw behind the runner at second base last week.

  • In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    I agree. He looked real smooth at shortstop while Castro was out too. He doesn't have that little bit of indecision in his movements as he readies his throw like Starlin.

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    In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    Indeed. The idea that John and others have promoted about having an infield of shortstops is looking better and better.

  • In reply to JimmyLeeMcMath:

    Absolutely, Jimmy!! Really played a smooth SS. And yes, the throw behind at 2B was impressive.

  • You would be surprised at the number of Baez naysayers around here in West-Central IL, even before he hit the bigs. They're gloating in their, "See, I told you so" moment now. I am patiently waiting for a year or two down the road when I can unleash MY, "See, I told you so" moment. Until then ... Onwards. And we can enjoy glimpses of Baez's progress and potential in the process.

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    In reply to lblegacy:

    Are these Cubs fans or haters?

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Everyone south of the northside of Chicago are either White Sox or Cardinals fans (not really but it seems that way).

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Those Red bird fans had better worry about all the "sore arms" there pitching staff will keep coming up with in the next few years just before playing the Cubs.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I live near Galesburg in what I refer to as the Mason/Dixon line of the Cubs/Cards rivalry, mjvz. There are a good plenty of Cub fans here. But there are a good plenty of Deadbird fans as well. If you get as far south as Quincy, yeah, it's straight out all Cards territory down that way.

  • In reply to lblegacy:

    I used to feel that way about Peoria. It was pretty even there between Cubs-Cards, but the balance shifted as you went south.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yep, John. You are spot on. As always.

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    In reply to lblegacy:

    Bloomington Illinois has tons of Cubs fans, probably because of Illinois State University. I would say (guess) it is around 70/30 Cubs/Cardinal fans around here.
    I'm from St Louis and I was like .01 % Cubs fan down there!

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    Surprisingly, some are Cubs "fans".

  • In reply to lblegacy:

    Sorry, typo. I meant to write they are instead of some are. They are Cubs "fans" who would choose to wallow in past disappointment rather than see the truth behind the solid plan that Young Theo and Hoyer are building/implementing. They are taking the, "I'll believe it when I see it" outlook.

  • To me, Baez looks a lot like Castro last year. Castro was taking fast balls down the middle then swinging wildly at breaking stuff never in the zone. I've seen Baez go down without swinging at 90 mph fastballs right over the plate, I've also seen him struggle to catch up with those same pitches. He's in a guessing game now like you said and losing badly.

    Also, is it just me or has he just missed a ton of pitches this year. I'm not sure I've seen a player foul so many balls directly back like he has through his first 21 games. I don't know what that means, but I've found it striking.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Old time coaches always said that fouling a ball directly back meant you were "right on it." Players still say that today. Not sure it really means that but if they are right, its probably a good sign.

  • In reply to RTGrules:

    It means they aren't fooled by the location, or velocity... they just missed it.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    His timing is off right now. It may the leg kick/bat waggle or pitchers may just be outthinking him. Either way he is caught in between, ahead of breaking pitches, behind fastballs. He'll get straightened out eventually.

    He may very well be similar to Soriano where stretches like this are just part of the package.

  • Just my take but from following this blog I was certainly prepared for what has happened. Maybe I am just too old to panic but I have waited since '58 for good things. I can wait as long as I can hang on.

  • I am wondering how Javy will react, or if it will have any impact, if Soler starts off very hot?

  • Baez struck out about 1/3 of his plate appearances in AAA. Bryant has almost exactly the same rate in AAA. Taveras, Polanco were both sent down this year after a stint in the bigs. Its the process most young players follow. There a precious few Mike Trout's who come up, stay up and never really have an adjustment period.

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    In reply to RTGrules:

    RTG, Trout batted .220 with a ton of K's in his first call up and was returned to the minors.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    He had 40 games and struck out in about 25% of his at bats and batted .220. I didn't remember he got sent back, I thought it was at the end of the year and he was up full time the next year. Either way, its another reason to be patient with Baez (and Bryant, and Solar and Alcantara).

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    In reply to RTGrules:

    Yeah, he started the next year in AAA and wasn't back up til June

  • In reply to RTGrules:

    And even if he did hit the ground running, its not like he would be immune to struggles later on. We all should be painfully aware of this. Some kid named Starlin Castro came up as a teenager, had one of the best debut games in MLB history, hit .300 his rookie year and again his second season. He then proceeded to have a shitty 4th season in the big leagues as he attempted to make adjustments to his game.

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    So you're saying Javy is hopeless and doomed to be Brett Jackson at second?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Who me? Lord no. Just the opposite. He has a similar trajectory to other young players. At this point, there is no more reason to be worried than you would be about any young player. And there is certainly nothing in his first 90 PAs to get overly concerned about. BTW I was just looking at Gary Sheffield's numbers since Baez bat speed is so often compared to his. I forgot how infrequently he struck out. His high was 83 in 574 PAs in his age 35 season.

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    In reply to RTGrules:

    I was just having fun with John.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Brett Jackson and Mike Olt rolled into one.

  • Looks like Rizzo's not in the lineup tonight. Castro will be barring 3rd, Valbuena 4th AND Soler 5th.

    Valaika looks like he'll be playing 1B and batting 8th.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Might be nice if Soler has a Castro-like debut.

  • Your description of the learning process reminds me of something we went through at my company. Everyone gets sorted into four buckets: D1-D4 with D1 a beginner and D4 a master. Each level has different skills to learn on the way to mastery. Frustration and acknowledging failure are a big part of learning and becoming better at the skill you're trying to master. Sort of what's potentially going to separate players like Javy from others like Junior Lake. Learn from your mistakes or be destined to stay at your current skill level. Great article!

  • Predictions for the three amigos tonight? 4-14, HR, SB, 2 BB

  • All is right with Cubs world! Just the fact that we need to write "be patient" articles about our 21-year-old middle infielder who, if we extrapolate his numbers to a full season's worth of plate appearances, would be hitting 40+ home runs...that excites the hell out of me.

  • In reply to BenCerow:

    I like that perspective.

  • This definitely hit the spot for me. I'm not panicking, but at the same time I was a bit worried about Baez's extreme lack of bat-to-ball contact. I keep having to remind myself that the same happened when he first began AAA. And even though he's been striking out, I've been impressed by his composure. Last night was the first time I've seen him show some frustration since the promotion.

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    John, this was a really good article. I think you are right that Baez tends to assume he can do the same thing that was wildly successful at the previous level of baseball ("It is the same game after all"). Just for fun I thought I would look at his first 21 games at AAA since they are not remote in time at all:
    87 PA, .141/.230/.295 33K, 7BB, 3HR.

    Also, his BABIP (MLB) is .256. That seems at least a little bit low to me. I think we can agree that while he didn't put together the greatest AAA season ever he was reasonably successful. There is reason to believe that he will continue to be successful. His struggles are just more public now.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    ?Thanks and that is a great stat...had to tweet that out. I knew he started poorly but wow, forgot it was THAT bad.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    That's a great visual for someone like me. Thanks!

    AAA: ( 87 PA ) .141/.230/.295 33 K--7BB--3 HR
    MLB: (90 PA) .198/.233/.465 40 K--4BB--7 HR

    So he's actually doing better in his adjustment to the majors?!? Yikes. More than 2x the HR. The K/BB ratio is worse at 10/1 (vs @ 4.5/1), but otherwise better.

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    In reply to cubbie steve:

    Until we get at least 150 (bare minimum), but better yet 200-300 PAs a single "hot" stretch or "cold" stretch will vastly skew the numbers. With his number of PAs a single AB can change the over 10 points. He had a hot stretch for HR that is skewing the number. It took a long time to get a walk at all, that is skewing the number. It is kind of like looking at stats in the last half of April. You wind up with names at the top that have no business being there.

    I like stats as much as just about anyone, but I just keep reminding myself that while 90 PAs may sound like a lot, it really isn't enough to make any real judgment. I am just enjoying the ride right now.

  • While Baez is exciting to watch, that's not the same thing as tuning in to watch good baseball. "Cock shots" thrill the fans, and guessing how many knees he might fall on with his next torque-errific swing is a great drinking game. But the biggest problem with Baez for the Cubs actually has a name, and it is "Bryant." In considering how to put together a championship team, one must realize that no World Series winner has ever had two 150 K hitters in their lineup, let alone 5 players with more than 100 Ks (Rizzo and Castro would be three others with more than 100 Ks). Both Bryant and Baez have averaged 175 Ks per 150 minor games played. While one can hope/expect Baez to eventually lower his 40% K rate, it would be a bit much to expect him to fall much below 25% or 150 Ks for 600 ABs. Same goes from Bryant. It's not their game.

    High strikeout hitters are what gives credence to the playoff credo that "good pitching beats good hitting." You can get away with a few in your lineup but you can't feature a lineup with more than half having bats so easy to miss. (Think of this as the negative corrollary of desiring pitchers with the ability to miss bats.) Look back to the Cubs in 2008 with their lineup with five 100K hitters. Good news is there is no rush to address this problem, as 2015 will be a development year at the major-league roster level, But it would be an Achilles Heel for the team if not addressed in the following year or two.

  • I seem to recall that Willie Mays started out 1 for 26 and went up to Leo - yes, that Leo - crying and said he just wasn't good enough to play up in the big leagues.
    What ever happened to him anyway?
    Everyone develops at their own pace and in their own way.

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    I was just looking at some stats the other night and noticed that both Trout and Stanton are 2nd in their respective leagues in strikeouts. Hasn't stopped them from putting up great WAR numbers.

    Javy obviously is striking out too much, but I agree that was the point of bringing him up now. I think it's just good to know that if he can wrangle the K monster a little bit next year, his potential is pretty great.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Note that Trout led the AL in walks last year, and Stanton is tops this year in the NL. Very different from Baez's current game. So if you strikeout 175 times and walk 40 times in a year (which were Baez's minor league rates), that's a problem. That means you have to almost get 200 hits just to have a league average OBP.

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    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Wasn't saying he will (or even CAN) be as productive, just that in today's game, K's don't preclude success.

    We've always known that with Baez we will be happy with a league average walk rate.

  • I'm not panicking. I just get annoyed by people who do the exact same thing all the time and expect different results. Do I think he'll be fine, of course. Does that help me to not want to take a swing at my tv screen after he K's 4x a game? No.

    I have four little kids. I know what patience is. I have age level expectations of each one. If I didn't, I'd go mad. But on the other side, I do have certain expectations for adults of at least average intelligence. And I really don't have patience for people who continue to do the same thing over and over and over again. That said, the fact that Javy has more home runs than rookies who've played 3x as many games in the majors as he has this season (looking at you, Gregory Polanco), along with what you've said, John, helps me to be a bit more patient in realizing that those little nuggets of success probably have stopped Baez from getting to that frustration and adjustment stages faster than I'd like to see from a sane, intelligent person. So thanks. And before I forget all of this, I'm going to go bury my baseball bat in the woods.

  • He has made adjustments at every level, which provides hope. There is a HUGE difference between the minors and the majors, that adds to the concern and panic. Let's be honest, Baez is not going to hit for average. We are just going to have to hope that he can at least get the average up to .250. With the team we hope he is surrounded by, the team won't need him to hit for a high average. Just hit his 30-40+ HR's and drive in 80-100+ RBI's.

  • outside of the 1st ab, seems Baez took until he got a strike tonight.. that could help him alot..

  • All I can say is that opposing pitchers better enjoy the moment now, because there is going to be the day, in the near future, when they are going to feel their nerves jumping just seeing Baez in the on deck circle.

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