Tag Archives: javier baez

OK Cubs Got Swept; I Was Getting Nuts

I’m fine with the Cubs getting swept by the Pirates. Really.

I’ve been getting way ahead of myself, treating this September like I would when the Cubs might actually have something to play for in the final month of the season. Baez-mania gave way to an epidemic of Soler-ia. I even drew a little cartoon with a bear eating a Cardinal.

Now, I can go back to my mental vacation from stressing about Cubs wins and losses, feel good about the long-term building project and use my sports angst to wonder how the hell the Bears can lose to the Bills … AT HOME.

For the past few years, I have been on a vacation of sorts when it comes to the Cubs. After Theo Epstein was hired and said that this was going to be a multi-year rebuilding process, that they were tearing down before building back up, that the draft and international signings would restock talent, but that we wouldn’t actually see this talent in Wrigley for years, well, I bought it. I lowered expectations accordingly, and it felt great.

Like most of us Cubs fans, I lived and died with each pitch. I yelled at the TV. I saw doom around every corner and booked my tickets to the World Series after a two-game win streak … in April. Basically, I was nuts — when it came to the Cubs (I swear, that’s it). I sounded like I knew what I was talking about because I know a little about the game and I’ve been around long enough to know a thing or two, but I was a transparent homer.

And then it was gone. Theo said that we know we’re going to suck for a while and all the pressure was off. I still celebrated victories but in a subdued “hey, look what I found” kind of way. I got excited about individual achievements from young players like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, but I didn’t really expect them to win a division by themselves. I felt like help was on the way, but the cavalry was coming from the moon, so they’d have to take their lumps for a while.

But then Javier Baez was called up and he hit balls harder than I’d seen in a while. Kyle Hendricks kept fooling batters. Jake Arrieta was looking like an ace. Jorge Soler arrived and launched bombs and hit for average. Kris Bryant wrapped up an minor league MVP season. Rizzo had 30 homers. Castro’s average was back up. And, and, and … it all coalesced into an excitement I hadn’t felt in a long time. The Cubs could be good, like, soon. The switch was turned back on.

Even when Rizzo and Castro went down with likely season-ending injuries, the switch remained on. See, that’s what I mean about being a little nuts when it comes to the Cubs. I still expected them to own September, to show the rest of the Central what was coming. And in my defense they were playing damn good. They swept the Brewers after all.

Then the Pirates came to town and gave me a nice slap in the face. “Snap out of it, fool,” they said. “You can’t lose guys like Rizzo and Castro and win every game. Settle down.”

“But what about Soler?” I implored.

But they slapped me again. “Wow, you got it bad,” they said. “I hate to admit it, but you’re time will come. It just ain’t now.”

I took a deep breath for the first time in a month.

“OK, OK,” I said, settling down. “When is the draft?”

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Poll: Who Will Be Cubs’ Best Player?

Who is going to be the Cubs’ best player in two years? Hmmm … The fact that it’s a tough question is simply AWESOME.

If you asked a few years ago, the answer might have been Starlin Castro. Maybe Anthony Rizzo. And then both struggled mightily last season.

The answer last year might have been “Who the hell knows?” Then the kids started making some noise. It soon became a racket, loud enough to reach the ears of depressed Cubs fans in Chicago.

Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and now Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber. They’ve become household names in most Cubs households. At the same time, Castro and Rizzo bounced back with All-Star seasons this year.

Baez came up and homered in his first MLB game. He followed with six more homers, though he has also struck out more than a high school nerd repeatedly asking out the prom queen.

Bryant has absolutely destroyed the minors — posting perhaps the best line in all of baseball. How about .325/.438/.661 with 43 homers, 110 RBIs and 86 walks against 162 strikeouts? I’ll take it.

And then there’s Soler. Ah Soler. The big issue with him was injuries. He broke his leg last year, battled hamstring injuries the past few years. He looked like he could be something special. He put up great numbers when he played, but he just didn’t play that much. He only had 200 at-bats in the minors this season but definitely made the most of them (.340/.432/.700). Was it enough to judge?

Well, if his debut in the big leagues is any indication, he looks like he could be something really, really, really special. He’s got three homers in five MLB games. C’mon. He had two doubles in his Wrigley debut Monday, the ball hopping off his bat even when he didn’t hit the sweet spot. It’s like he’s playing in a video game while everyone else is mired in reality.

So the question of the Cubs’ best player in two years now becomes a little more interesting. Rizzo or Castro, who have already proven themselves in the big leagues? Baez, whose swing resembles a young Gary Sheffield’s? Bryant, who owned the minors? Soler, who is demanding that he be included in the conversation? Or somebody else, like Schwarber or Albert Almora, or a player that comes over in some crazy trade?

You decide:

Who will be the best Cubs player in two years?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Poll: Who Will Be Best Cub In Two Years?

There are a number of possible scenarios for the Cubs in the next few years.

They could continue to stink like a hockey locker room (Have you smelled a hockey locker room? Imagine a hot, super humid day and you’re breathing through a used jock strap. Yeah, it’s bad). Anyway, the Cubs always find some way to mess things up, right? Prospects shmospects. They’ll all make Corey Patterson look like Lou Gehrig. The grand rebuilding won’t result in a dynasty but in a cautionary tale of putting too many eggs in unproven baskets.

cubsqmark

That’s some good Cubs pessimism, and I’ve expressed my share of bitter frustration over the years. Watching the Milton Bradley era will make you yell “Cubs suck” at the TV on occasion — or every two innings.

But I don’t agree with that scenario. I have fully supported Theo Epstein’s total rebuild. I had seen the Cubs spend good money after bad on retread free agents too many times. I looked at teams like the Yankees and realized that they had a homegrown core that fueled success. So I’m bought in on the Cubs developing those stars.

Theo is not just banking on a few guys either. The sheer volume of high-quality position prospects in the system right now ensures that at least a few turn out to be good or even very good. Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber and call-ups Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara are just the big names.

The team has also shown a talent for using secondary pitching metrics to find diamonds in the rough. Jake Arrieta is the poster boy for this approach. Could Jacob Turner be the same?

Then there’s the fact that Epstein has said that the Cubs will pony up some dough for missing pieces when there are only a few holes to fill. Jon Lester anyone?

It all leads me to truly believe — said like Frank Caliendo doing Ron Jaworski — that the stench around Wrigley is going to fade. The most plausible scenario I see in the next few years is that the Cubs climb to respectability next season. That means a .500 record or better and chasing a wild-card spot. In 2016, I believe the Cubs will compete for the pennant. There I said it.

Of course, that scenario means that some of these young players — and that includes All-Stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro — are legit. I think many of them will be.

Let the dream take hold. It’s July 2016, the Cubs have won eight of 10 games to open a big lead in the NL Central over the Cardinals. The Cubs are starting to flex their muscles, beginning to show the rest of the league that they are a team to be reckoned with. In the dream, who is the Cubs star? Vote and leave a Comment below explaining why:

Who will be the best Cubs player in two years?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Cubs Strikeout Disease Curable Or Deadly?

The future looks bright for the Cubs, but everything is not A-O-K. In fact, we could do without the K all together.

After striking out 16 times in a loss to the Brewers on Thursday, the Cubs have now whiffed 77 times and walked only 7 times in their last seven games. That’s an astounding average of 11 Ks and one walk per game. Not a good ratio. It’s like blood pressure of 400 over 50. Cholesterol of 350 with most of it the donut derived variety. Basically, your dead.

And if the Cubs don’t figure out how to fix their ratio, the high hopes could be in trouble as well. Am I worried? A little, but the situation is not dire.

First, the bad news. The Cubs are third in all of baseball in strikeouts with 1,049. The Royals have struck out the fewest times in the league with 705. The Cubs strike out 3.2 times for every time they walk. The A’s, who are known as a team that preaches plate discipline, strike out 1.8 times for every walk.

The Cubs have struck out 10 or more times in a game a whopping 40 times. The Royals have done it 12 times. The Cubs have struck out 14 or more times on 11 occasions. The Royals have never done that this season. These are not good numbers.

Javier Baez’s day on Thursday was the prime example of what can happen without plate discipline. The pitcher doesn’t have to throw you a strike. Baez whiffed four times, getting himself out repeatedly. Why should the pitcher give you a ball you can drive if you’ll chase stuff in Lake County?

Now the good news. Anthony Rizzo could play for the A’s, striking out only 1.6 times per walk. Kris Bryant has 73 walks in the minors this year and a 1.8 ratio. Jorge Soler’s sample size is very small, but he has struck out 37 times and walked 28 times this season.

So the Cubs will have some guys in the lineup who strike out. Starlin Castro may be an All-Star but he has struck out almost three times for every walk this season. Baez will hit bombs but will also accumulate as many strikeouts as groupies.

But …

They will be mixed in with hitters who do demonstrate plate discipline. And how knows, maybe some of it will rub off.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

No. 2 — How Baez Ranks With Cubs Hall Of Famers

Yawn. Another big game by Javier Baez. Ho hum.

The Cubs’ rookie second baseman went 2-for-4 with his fourth home run in nine games and teamed with Anthony Rizzo to form a potent 1-2 punch in a 4-2 win over the Brewers on Wednesday.

Check out Baez’s swing below. The guy is not cheated, and the result looks so damn awesome.

Baez is still tracking with the beginning of the careers of Cubs Hall of Famers. I put together the slash line for the first nine games of HOF players since Hack Wilson. Baez ranks fourth in OPS and third in slugging among the elite group.

9gameOPS

9gameSLG

Rizzo hit his 27th homer on Wednesday, maintaining his steady ascension to stardom. Kris Bryant is tearing up the minors this season to the tune of .341/.448/.689/1.137 between Double A and Triple A. Jorge Soler has posted ridiculous .367/.464/.753/1.217 numbers between three levels this season and may be looking at his fourth, the big leagues, in September.

With Rizzo and Starlin Castro putting up All-Star numbers, Baez debuting with a bang and more slugging on the way, it begs the following question:

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.