Puerto Rico just got a taste of the Baez wrath. You get so excited about the kids natural talent, his lightning fast swing, and his athleticism in the field that is unparalleled that you forget he strikes out a lot. As a Cubs fan, I really want him to play every day, but will he earn his spot. Let’s go through his story as a major league Cub and the challenge Joe Maddon will face finding his spot.
It was early August 2014 in year 3 of Theo’s Plan and I tweeted this photo:
In Javy Baez’s first Major League game he gave the Cubs a 6-5 lead in the Twelfth inning with a solo shot to right. He went 1-6 in that game but the homer gave us something. He was a holdover from the Jim Hendry Era but a stud prospect we were all excited about. 2 games later he hit two more home runs. The next day, I went to his home opener and tweeted this, I hope you enjoy my Cubs Optimism:
It is crazy to think that the Castro-Barney middle of the field would change to Russell-Zobrist/Baez only a few years later. Thank you, Theo.
After a bleak first month in the majors, August 2014, batting .169 with 9 home runs in 213 games and having 95 strikeouts, Javy got injured.
He was then optioned to Triple-A the following spring and eventually came around and batted .324 in Iowa to be called up for the playoffs. He hit a crucial home run in the Cards series to help us advance to the NLCS. Strikeouts were still a problem in 2015 as he struck out 24 times in his 80 major league at-bats.
In 2016 Javy was our utility man. He played third, short, couple games in the outfield, and second. During the season he batted .273 but still had his strikeout problem. He struck out 108 times in 421 at bats. In the postseason, Javy shined. He batted .375 and .318, in the NLDS and NLCS respectively. Also what was better was that he only struck out 8 times in 41 plate appearances. Still sort of a problem, but an improvement. After taking home MVP honors in the NLCS with Jon Lester, he slumped a little bit in the World Series. He struck out 13 times in 30 at bats, but Javy delivered a crucial home run in game 7 and we will all forget about the shitshow the series was for him.
What also shined for him during the regular season and especially the postseason was his fielding. He did have a few errors that were costly, but his diving catches, incredible backhand plays, and ridiculous tags that he put down on players showed off his raw skill.
Javy Baez is Electric.. Fans going to the ballpark will be in for a treat as he will do something that will amaze them day in and day out. But where will he be playing this year?
The Cubs have a gooooooood problem. They have so much talent. Javy can play any infield position, but the problem is they are loaded in the infield. Rizzo and Bryant are gonna lock down the corners and Russell will be at short. Contreras and Montero will be rotating catchers with rumors that Schwarber might come in on occasion. Then the combination of Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Jay, Jason Heyward, and of course Javy will be vying for the other four positional spots.
Zobrist is a guaranteed starter every day. His position though will change often. Javy will see time when Zobrist is in the outfield which means one of Jay/Heyward/Schwarber will have to sit. Javy will get it based on matchups for the most part. Unless you see Heyward slump like he did last year, Jay being eh like he has been his whole career, or Schwarber not being able to field, you will not see an everyday position out of Javy that is consistent.
Also, Almora makes this outfield interesting. Almora is my favorite Cub just for the fact his baserunning is a major part of the Cubs winning the W.S. and people also don’t like to bring that up! I give you my life Almora, can’t wait to see you thrive as designated pinch runner for when Schwarber gets on late in games!
Also, what sucks, but is awesome for Joe is that he has had two stud prospects in spring ball. Ian Happ and Eloy Jimenez provide trade bait as well as short leashes to many of the players listed above. Javy can’t strikeout like he has been in his career without consequences.
We’re at 8 days until Opening Day. Spend time with family, friends, and get your work done as we are in for another long, fun ride.