I Javy Funny Feeling About Baez

I Javy Funny Feeling About Baez

Listen, I know what Jed Hoyer just said. And I know that my colleague/Twitter nemesis Gunther Dabynsky would curse me for even thinking what I'm thinking here, let alone committing it to print. But since I reside somewhere between nostalgic Cubs honk and uninformed meatball, I'm going to go ahead and risk those slings and arrows.

So here goes: Why not call Baez up now or at least prior to September?

In talking with Kap and Haugh the other day, Hoyer reiterated the statements he made after the deadline-day win over the Rockies, the one in which we saw Emilio Bonifacio hug it out after receiving news that he was headed to Atlanta. In case you didn't click the link, here's what Hoyer had to say:

We’re not going to change our timetable on any of the prospects based on a move we’ve made at the big-league level. When we feel like those guys are ready, and they can contribute, we’ll do that.

Certainly, a deal like this doesn’t speed that along.

Okay, that's pretty clear. Or is it? He's not saying the Cubs won't be bringing Baez up soon, just that the move itself won't result in a knee-jerk reaction. Of course, Boni wasn't the only middle infielder the Cubs jettisoned either. Darwin Barney was DFA'ed and then given a soft landing in Los Angeles.

In case you're counting, that's two guys who can play second base, the position at which Baez has been getting a lot of time lately. Just as Arismendy Alcantara's move to CF precipitated a call-up earlier in the season, Baez's shift is certainly an indicator that the Cubs are tracking him that way.

Bonifacio had also been getting some time at 3B, but with the trade and Mike Olt's demotion, it would appear that Luis Valbuena has got the hot corner on lock for the most part. And with Junior Lake struggling mightily, both at the plate and in the field, one would think that Alcantara would see a bulk of the starts in center.

So that leaves second open for Baez, right? Well, not really. The Cubs recalled utilityman Chris Valaika from AAA Iowa to fill the roster spot vacated by Bonifacio and he will be with the team in Los Angeles. Valaika has played every infield spot for Iowa (with 52 games at 1B) and has even logged a couple games in the outfield.

This move appears to be essentially an audition for a spot on next year's team as a jack-of-all-trades. Valaika's pretty handy with the bat, slashing 278/.344/.423 with 21 doubles and 10 home runs in 352 at-bats in AAA. He's had stints with the Marlins and Reds as well, though the 127 AB's don't provide an adequate sample to truly judge his .244/.281/.362 and two home runs.

So Hoyer says they'll promote Baez when they feel he's ready and can contribute. I'm no scout, clearly, and the only reports I receive on Baez are through the interwebs. But from what I can gather, he's been pretty darn good every since Tommy Cook wrote this prescient post a few months ago.

But beyond Javier Baez's ability to contribute now, I'm looking at his ability to be a cornerstone in the future. It's well known that the guy struggles with each new promotion through the system; that was actually the crux of Tommy's piece. If we assume that the same will be true of his promotion to Chicago, why not get it over with now?

Rather than wait for next year, when the Cubs could conceivably field a team that isn't an abject disaster, they could call Javy up and give him a couple months to adjust to the Bigs. It took him into May, several weeks into the season, to regain his form at AAA. It's oversimplifying things, but I'll say that it could well take the same amount of time to find his footing with the Cubs.

And what if he's called up in September and slumps, but doesn't find his way back out by season's end. Do those struggles stick with him and affect him psychologically? By all accounts, Baez's prodigious confidence rivals his prolific skill, but the human psyche is a fragile thing.

At the end of the day, I will defer to the Cubs' braintrust; mostly because I have to until they give me control of the team. But they know the development plan for these kids at a level that I can only imagine, and they're not going to put Javy's career at risk.

So while I'm glad that Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein are kowtowing to the business logic for calling Baez up, the meatball in me is still screaming out for them to do so. I love what Anthony Rizzo has done for this team and I love what 'Mendy is doing, both on the field and in the community.

I have been told not to fall in love with Jake Arrieta, but he's quickly earning himself a spot in my fan's heart. But with all the talk about the future and the young guys, I can't help but feel that it's time we all get the chance to see what all the hype is about. And I Javy funny feeling that we might see Baez before too long.

What do you think? Should Baez come up now or should the Cubs keep him down at Iowa? Should he come up in September or at the start of the season? We'd love to hear from you, so fill up those comment boxes.


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  • fb_avatar

    I have to admit I'm torn on this, my main reason for keeping him in iowa is more about when we start his major league status. If he becomes what we all think he will be, Chicago will have him under contract 4 an extra year or 2 which could mean saving the ball club 20 million plus per year by puting off free agency an extra year or two. all this is based on him becoming a perenial all star of course.

  • In reply to Ryan Reahard:

    That could be addressed by the whole making him agree to a long-term deal before getting called up and staying up a la the Astros.

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    In reply to Ryan Reahard:

    Yeah, it's an odd spot. The club control is more important with a Boras client like Bryant, who is less likely to sign a club-friendly deal. But if these kids perform, you can be sure that the Cubs will want to lock them up to something beyond their current deals (except for Soler). So while I get the idea of wanting to maintain control and not start the arb clock, I really think it's a moot point. If they perform, they'll get bigger deals; if they suck, control doesn't matter.

  • You almost had me talked into it until your main argument talked me out of it:

    "what if he's called up in September and slumps, but doesn't find his way back out by season's end. Does those struggles stick with him and affect him psychologically? By all accounts, Baez's prodigious confidence rivals his prolific skill, but the human psyche is a fragile thing."

    Ok, so what if he is brought up now and slumps through September and then has all off season to have it negatively affect him psychologically? We better just wait until next year.

    But seriously, whenever it happens it happens. I'm personally hoping that it coincides with me having the ability to pay for an mlb tv subscription, but I admit that is just as selfish.

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    In reply to cubbie steve:

    First, thanks for reading. Your comment exposes a pretty awful typo on my part, which I was able to fix. Baez has the makeup and ability to get out of slumps and it's likely that the late-season competition will not be quite what he might face early in the year either. Plus, the difference in pitching style of pitching from AA to AAA might require a bigger adjustment than AAA to MLB.

  • So by my count, starting Aug 8th the cubs have 13 home games in 16 days. I feel like an Aug. 8th call up may just be a good time to sell some tickets.

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    In reply to Swmrdak79:

    I don't think they'll let business reasons dictate the move, but I can see having a nice grouping of home games as a way to allow Javy to get his feet under him upon a promotion. Good call.

  • As Ryan indicates, the real issue is all the Penn and Teller stuff about if you bring him up in Sept. it starts some clock but not some other clock if you bring him up next year on June 28 instead of May 31 but some clock starts if he is on the 40 man, etc. Plus the factor in the article today about Soler (who, having a contract is not subject to the above) that if Iowa makes the playoffs, nobody may be available.

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    In reply to jack:

    They won't put Iowa's playoff run ahead of development. Season ends October 1st; as much as it's nice to win, minor league records have zero bearing on the plans at the MLB level. In fact, there are times when performance in minors is suppressed simply to have a player work on a particular skill or pitch. Iowa could be undefeated for the season, and the Cubs would still cull all the stars from the roster if it was better for the players and the MLB club.

  • fb_avatar

    I'll defer to the Cubs brainiac FO in Javy's call up. Unless Theo & Jed ask for my opinion. I'll wait by the phone just in case,yeah riggggghtttt.

  • I completely agree with you on this. This FO is very careful with their choice of words.The first thing I thought when I read Hoyer's comments was that he didn't say that they wouldn't call him up. They said that the moves weren't made in order to call him up. He will come up when they feel he's ready. And I think that it will be soon. Also gotta mention the title of your article. Gooood one.

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    Just my opinion, I think Front Office wants Baez, Bryant, Soler, Suezer, Watkins, and Olt participating in the playoffs, be in that "playoff/world series" atmosphere. I see Olt, Watkins, Suezer, and Baez coming up when Iowa's season is done.

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    In reply to Cubsforlife:

    Only problem with that is that the AAA playoffs stretch into mid-Sept, meaning that any call-ups would get maybe 2 weeks in Chicago, which really isn't valuable to them or the team. And just a point of correction: it's Szczur.

  • There are many additional elements to consider in calling Baez up, and based on these, I'm pretty fine with the Cubs approach (even if it is somewhat based on managing service time).

    1.) Based on his stats for the whole year, I'm not big on rewarding Baez with a call up -- both for him and as an organizational approach. I know he got off to an awful start this year, and since then, his numbers have been very good. But there is something to be said about developing and rewarding consistency. His .257 average & .317 OOBP this year should not be trumped by reputation and a more recent (even if prolonged) surge.

    2.) His K rate. It's only going to go up at the major league level, and he'll have even less chance to develop and experiment with a more disciplined approach. A 30% K rate is just way too high. Look at Olt. Will it do a service to Baez to come up and then hit less than .250 against ML pitching and strikeout 40-50% of the time? It's possible that happens, and then that hurts both his development and his trade value.

    3.) If the goal is to send him to winter ball, then giving him a break to recharge, see his family, and clear the mind could be helpful. A September break could be a great reward/rest before starting one of the winter leagues in the second week of October.

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    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Agree on Baez getting a break when Iowa season ends before starting off in a winter league.Wouldn't be surprised in the least if Theo sees it that way also.

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