Yet another productive Cub has been added to the disabled list; this time it's Jeff Baker, he of the .512 batting average and .659 slugging percentage against left-handed pitching. Furthermore, the Cubs have already announced Baker's replacement -- and it's not who you'd expect the team to call up.
Is DJ LeMahieu's call up trade-related?
Convention would say Bobby Scales is the obvious pick to replace Baker. Right-hander, plays all over the infield -- and perhaps most importantly, is probably done developing his game. Basically he's your definition "replacement player" that hits right-handed and plays the infield.
Instead, the Cubs have elected to call up DJ LeMahieu -- the not-yet-23-year-old having quite a season at Class AA Tennessee, hitting .358/.386/.492 with 19 extra-base hits in 202 plate appearances.
As a developing prospect, you'd think the Cubs would want DJ to get continuous work at the plate and in the field. But Mike Quade already told Paul Sullivan today that he would not be starting LeMahieu in place of any healthy productive established starter. Maybe there's room for him in the outfield, but with 105 games at 2B, 50 at short, and 69 at third, that'd certainly be unconventional.
Call me crazy but the move seems more than a little funny. Which leads me to this thought: maybe the Cubs are preparing to make a trade?
There's three players that I think are worth talking about because LeMahieu is up instead of a Class AAA vet -- they are DJ himself, the man on the DL, Baker, and the Cubs' current second baseman, Darwin Barney.
"But no!" you cry. "Barney is one of the few Cubs that can actually hit, and play defense, and do all the stuff you're supposed to do to be a major league player!" Indeed, Barney is hitting well this season, with a .314 average fueled by a .331 BABIP. But he's not walking -- just seven bases on balls in 202 plate appearances -- and he isn't hitting for power, as his isolated slugging is 2nd lowest on the team (ahead of the Fuk, interestingly enough).
To be perfectly honest, it's more than likely that the DJ call up is *not* a precursor to a trade; the Cubs might just wanna see what the young kid can do in a few major league at-bats before sending him back down to the minors. But whereas LeMahieu might be a part of the Cubs' long-term plans in the infield, Jeff Baker most likely is not, and due to his lack of power, it's likely that Barney isn't either.
I guess we'll see. But if a deal is made, I will definitely say "Told ya so!" to maybe a friend of mine or something. Wahoo!