Seriously, What Do We Do About Javy Baez?
Spring training is rolling right along, and I have enjoyed watching the stars and the prospects intermingle and get ready for the regular season. The loss of Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler, Jason Hammell, and others this offseason stings a little bit because it’s never fun to lose championship team members; but, I think the Cubs will be just as good, if not better, this year.
Aside: the over/under in Vegas on Cubs wins this year is 95.5. I know we’re all sorta homers here, but you have to take the over on that if you’re betting, right? Barring catastrophic injury, 96 wins seems pretty inevitable.
Anyway, all of that to say, as spring training continues, I still am hung up on what the Cubs are going to do about Javy Baez.
I need to be clear up front: I am a big fan of Baez, especially after the 2016 season. I thought he really calmed down at the plate and matured as a baseball player last year.
The big issue with Baez has always been in regard to his plate discipline, or his actually lack thereof. In 2014, in 52 games with the Cubs, Baez struck out 42%(!) of the time. Last year, he struck out just 24% of the time.
I make no claims to be as smart as Joe, Theo, Jed, or any of the stat wonks the Cubs have working in the front office. But I have to write an article, and there still isn’t a whole lot to talk about yet. So, here’s the conundrum I’m working through:
The Cubs have said the following is true:
- Jason Heyward is the right fielder.
- Jon Jay and Albert Almora are going to platoon in center field.
- Ben Zobrist is the second baseman.
- Javy Baez will play a “super utility” role.
Now, save me the conversation about how, “We have so many good players, the lineup is probably going to be different every day,” discussion. I get it. It’s not like Baez isn’t going to play.
But, why would Jay or Almora be considered “starters” instead of Baez being considered a starter?
My point is this: why does it make more sense to have Baez on the bench than Heyward in center, Zobrist in right, and Baez at second?
I mean, for goodness’ sake, people:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 26, 2017
Two players on the Cubs can make that play: Addison Russell and Baez.
That, combined with Baez’s speed, power, and supreme tagging ability has to make a case for him to be something more than a “super utility” player, right?
Take a look at the list of Cubs position players below. I’ve added little stars next to the players in question:
All I am saying is that, considering Baez leads Jay and Almora in a number of categories, including the all-encompassing WAR, it would make sense for him to be considered a full-time starter instead of Jay or Almora.
“But,” you may say, “Your silly little plan requires moving Heyward from right to center, which wouldn’t be good for him.”
I’ll take my chances. He was supposed to play center field for the Cubs last season until Fowler surprised everyone and showed up at camp. So why is it all of a sudden a bad idea to move him over?
If moving Heyward from right to center is what it takes to get Baez at second base as much as humanly possible, I don’t know why the Cubs would avoid doing that.
Then, when Zobrist needs a day off, or Heyward wants to play some right, stick Almora or Jay in center or right, and as often as is humanly possible: leave Baez at second base.
I fully trust the Cubs decision-makers here, who know far better than I do about who should be playing where and how much.
I just don’t get how we sit Baez and play Almora/Jay with any regularity.
Please tell me I’m wrong, because I’m sure I am somehow.