— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) August 4, 2014
The Cubs have called up the unicorn.
— Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) June 13, 2014
Javier Baez's call up was a surprised to me, and the reaction was visceral. I found myself thinking about Blade Runner of all things. The dream sequence about the unicorn seemed so relevant. Baez is not going to play SS in the big leagues, but most likely will be a 2B. A 30 HR potential bat at 2B is a unicorn. Forgive my indulgence for dreaming a little bit on the unicorn, and how that caliber of major league player completely changes a lineup.
Now the practical concerns of where people are going to play. Javier Baez is, of course, going to play everyday, and second base would be the logical choice. It is the position that he was moved to, and something that I said before has been closely linked to promotions in the past. The conundrum is that Alcantara has been playing excellent at second base. The debut at Coors Field posses yet another interesting wrinkle. Alcantara would be playing center in one of the biggest center fields in baseball. The other possible move would be moving Baez or Castro to 3B, but given that neither has any games at the position that would seem unlikely.
The other practical concern is that the Cubs need a 25 man roster spot for Baez. Chris Valaika would be the first choice in the last man in, first man out logic. The problem with that move is that the Cubs would have no back up infielders on the bench. The Cubs would be starting their five infielders on a daily basis with Alcantara in CF. The other move would be to move on from Nate Schierholtz. There is no way that he is coming back to the organization next year, and a DFA might help facilitate a trade. Even if a trade does not happen, it would get the roster properly balanced with Valaika as the utility player.
Now the debut tomorrow is perfect for a display of the Javier Baez's amazing bat speed. Baez gets to face left hander Brett Anderson in Coors Field. Anderson has been having a good year when he has pitched, but the situation could not be more promising to see the plus power that Baez offers. That said Baez has a low floor in terms of prospects. His approach is something that can be taken advantage of, and Baez's early season struggles with promotions to High A and AAA should temper enthusiasm a bit.
But just a bit. Javier Baez getting called up is a big deal. Baez is not just another prospect. The only prospects that the Cubs have had in the category of Baez were Corey Patterson, Mark Prior, Juan Cruz, and Kerry Wood. The Cubs have never had a position player in the era of Baseball America rankings as Javier Baez except for Corey Patterson. Add on top of that the Cubs added a top 50 prospect already in Arismendy Alcantara and another top 100 prospect in Jorge Soler is likely to be promoted in a month as well. Then add Kris Bryant who is rated higher than Baez right now poised to be added early next season. This is not something the Cubs have experienced since perhaps the Dallas Green era. This is a little hard to compare because third party rankings did not exist back then.
One thing that this move should end is talk that the Cubs only consideration is money. The Cubs could have left Javier Baez down for the remainder of the year and then start the next year in Iowa. That would have bought the Cubs an extra year of Baez, but instead the front office made the decision to prioritize development of Baez over those financial concerns. The front office I believe has earned the benefit of the doubt given their track record with Anthony Rizzo and earlier in Boston. There are plenty of things that the front office can be questioned on including big free agent contracts they've handed out, but I trust them when they say they believe Javier Baez is ready now.
So the unicorn is invading my daydreams waiting for tomorrow night. The dream is likely to die soon though because a Gregory Polanco start to Javier Baez's career is a very likely outcome. It also wouldn't tell us much about Javier Baez's future one way or the other. That said I am hoping that the dream lives a little bit longer.
Because it is finally happening...
— Stan Croussett (@Crewsett) August 3, 2014