News about top Cubs prospect Javier Baez:
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) July 17, 2014
Javier Baez started at 2B tonight in Round Rock as mentioned in Behind the Ivy's Minor League weekly update. The move sent twitter into an understandable tizzy. The amount of emphasis was so bad that you could even see tweets like this.
Is Javier Baez playing second base tonight? If only there were some people I follow on Twitter who could provide some sort of timely update.
— Mike Gianella (@MikeGianella) July 17, 2014
So what does this move mean.
1) Does this mean that Javier Baez is close to promotion?
The Cubs have moved prospects off of positions when they were close to promotions in the past. The Cubs moved Junior Lake to the outfield for about a week before calling him up last year. Alcantara had a few weeks of playing occasionally in the outfield before his call up. However, in each of those cases the players were already on the 40 man roster. I am not certain the Cubs will make that move when they don't have to at this point. There are some important adds needed for the 40 man roster as is, and as John Arguello has been pointing out very well even if Baez is the best player it costs talent to make that move. My money is on late April, early May for debut of 2B Javier Baez.
2) What does this mean for Arismendy Alcantara?
I have to be honest: my first thoughts when I heard the news is that Arismendy is not going back to Iowa. Now many might disagree with me on this, but this seems like tipping the front office's hand at this point. If Alcantara was going to be back in a few days when roster shuffling is required, then it makes no sense to start the Javy Baez second base experiment. Now of course the Cubs could bring Alcantara down to play CF full time, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards. Again, if the plan was to bring Alcantara down, then it would make sense to hold off on the move for a couple of weeks. Alcantara's stay in AAA would be short (probably the minimum 10 days), and Baez would have a full month of 2B reps in AAA heading into the offseason. Also Baez could go to the Arizona Fall League to get more reps.
3) Does this clear a spot for Addison Russell?
I wrote about an Addison Russell and Javier Baez double play combination the day after the trade was made, and this move certainly clears the way for that. This front office is very conservative when it comes to player promotions compared to the previous front office and the way Oakland has handled Addison Russell. Russell has 25 games above A ball counting tonight, which he homered in. The move is not coming soon for Russell, but again it would seem like the purpose of moving Baez is to accommodate another move in the relative near future. Otherwise, there is no reason to move Baez off of shortstop. If Baez coming up in September is an unlikely option (which I think is the case), that means that Russell has a good shot at making it to AAA this year. Also means:
Of course Baez playing 2B breaks while fringe parenting. More thoughts later but Bryant-Russell-Baez infield makes me pic.twitter.com/ppl64KK0Gb
— dabynsky (@dabynsky) July 17, 2014
4) Are we making too big of a deal out of one game?
No. Maybe. No. This is a big deal. The front office has been extremely deliberate when it comes to position changes for players. Alcantara's position shifts have come around promotions (Baez's promotion to AA last year and his promotion to the majors this year). Junior Lake and Josh Vitters were given plenty of time to prove they couldn't handle their infield positions before being shifted permanently to the outfield. This is not something that the front office does on a lark. There is serious thought behind moves like this, and it certainly means something.
5) Is second base where Javier Baez makes his major league debut at?
My guess is yes. Baez admitted a strong preference for 2B in spring training. He handled the position fine in spring training and today in Iowa. I will also admit I have a strong preference for this outcome. Baez at 2B would make his bat very special if he can deliver on his potential at the plate, and I have been dreaming about a future softball lineup with mashers up and down the order. I also have hope that perhaps a certain draft pick this year might have more of a shot at sticking at his position than given credit for based on this:
Working on a Schwarber piece for next week. Unsurprisingly, I got some great reports on the bat, but one report could change everything...
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) July 17, 2014
I'm reaching here, but tonight is a night for dreaming with countless prospect home runs and position changes dancing in my head.