#Cubs Baez plays 3rd game in CF

The Cubs’ Javier Baez played his third game in center field on Sunday and went 1-for-4 in Santurce’s 2-1 loss to Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican winter league. In 13 games so far with Santurce, Baez is batting .227 (10-for-44) with two doubles, one homer, six RBIs, seven walks and nine strikeouts. His home run came in his second game on Dec. 6. Baez has started at second base in seven games and at shortstop in three. The Cubs are hoping that Baez, 23, can be comfortable enough to play in the outfield when needed, giving manager Joe Maddon another versatile piece.

— Carrie Muskat

14 Comments

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This is all well and good that Baez is getting experience playing defense in center field. I stand by my prediction the Cubs will sign a `true` center fielder betwixt now and `Opening Day.` Whether that`s Inciarte or Span or that amazing young defensive talent from the Tampa Rays whose name escapes me at the moment, that`s my stance. If any of y`all feel I`m wrong, I want to hear from you. I`ll respect your point of view, but only if you bring your arguments strong.

Aloha jhosk- I am not at all in disagreement with you. Shucks, the Cubs could resign Fowler. With that said, if they do sign a “true” CF, then I am worried that the days of Soler are numbered. He is one that I would love to see get a chance to work on his game. Not sure if he could play LF or not. If Schwarber gets some time behind the plate, could Soler play another position. One thing that your Maddon loves is versatility and Soler would benefit from being able to fill in at other positions. I think with Heyward in CF if they were to begin the season that way, the defense in the outfield is already better than when Fowler was there. Soler would have to really step up his game because the FO does not want two weak corners and I read that Soler has lost weight and really working on his defense. I think if he came to ST ready to go and injury free, then you can have a Schwarber-Heyward-Soler outfield with the understanding that Heyward probably has to help out Schwarber (Like Curt Flood did for Lou Brock). Not sure if the FO wants to spend anymore on FA’s but could pull the plug for the person you mentioned, Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays, in a trade. I think the team as it stands right now is in a nice position to begin the season or at least ST and let the current folks fight it out. You never know, Heyward may surprise at CF and as I said, Soler sounds hungry to stay with this team so he has to stay motivated and work to keep a spot. I could understand Castro if he is sad not only because he came up with this organization but to go from a contending club with many years of upside to a club that needs to be rebuilt and a lot of unknowns, you can see why Heyward, Zobrist, Lackey were all ready to come on board (and for less money/less years)! I hope for Soler, that you prediction does not come to fruition; that is just my own personal bias. You take care now and Happy New Year!

As it stands right now, Heyward will be the Cubs starting CF and Baez will be a supersub, capable of playing 2b, SS, 3b, or CF. I like Soler and while his defense isn’t great, he is young enough to improve his defense as he goes. He does have a good arm already, and if he stays on the team, working alongside Heyward could only help. But for the Cubs to acquire any CF and move Heyward to RF, Soler would have to be traded first. People seem to be focused on trading Soler for pitching, and while that seems like a good fit, could the Cubs also look to trade Soler and get a legit CF in return as opposed to a starter? Inciarte and Kiermaier could be potential trade targets. A.J. Pollock’s name came up in the Shelby Miller trade talk, so could the Cubs maybe see if Soler and change would be enough to get Pollock?
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I think if the Cubs go to Mesa with their current starting 8 position players, they will be in good shape. I like Soler and would have no problem with him in RF for the 2016 Cubs. And I wouldn’t trade him for pitching unless certain pitchers were coming back in the deal (is Jose Fernandez or Sonny Gray out of the question? how about Julio Teheran or Danny Salazar or Jake Odorizzi?). And while I haven’t looked close enough at any of the CFers I mentioned above, trading Soler for a quick and defensive CF might be worth exploring as well.

Yes, k.g. I do not believe re-signing Fowler is realistic. That ship has sailed. I guess I`m not as enamored with Soler as you. He took some awfully curious routes to baseballs in 2015, and yes, it`s very concerning that we could have two weak corners bookending a center fielder who has played just 30 games at the position. However, it`s very encouraging to learn Soler has lost weight and is working diligently to enhance his defensive skills, and remaining with the club is important to him. Those factors could make all the difference. {Aside: did you see that Jason Motte signed for 2years at $10M with the Rockies a while ago? Another guy receiving an early Christmas gift, as Jason has not pitched effectively since his heyday with the Redbirds, in my view.}

Aloha jhosk- I just noticed this part of your comment in regard to Motte: I am amazed that he got two years and more money than the Cubs paid for 1 year! He showed moments of being very good. I think he relied too much on his fast ball and if that is all you throw, sooner or later the batters will figure you out. On the other hand, what made Maddux so amazing and able to win over 350 games was that he constantly made adjustments to his delivery/pitching! My father was remarking to me the other day about Warren Spahn and the adjustments he made because he knew he could not “blow” away the hitters forever, plus as he aged he wanted to have longevity. Well you and I both know what Spahn did between the ages of 35-40, 6 straight years of 20+ wins a year. He missed 8 straight years of 20+ because at age 41 he “only” won 18 games then the following year at age 42 he won 23 games with a 2.60era! Non-the-less, Spahn who missed 3yrs because of WWII went on to win the most games a lefty ever has…363. I am amazed that when you have examples like Maddux and Spahn out there, that more of these current players, younger folks would not take a page from them? As a head coach and a pitching coach my father would say, it is not the fastest or hardest thrower but the pitcher that uses his head and knows how to set his pitches up/pace himself, that does the best. I am looking forward to Maddon/Bosio/Montero working with all the pitchers to understand this as well as to stay healthy so that the rotation and bullpen can not only play a 162 game season but the post-season as well! Take care now. Mahalo!

Yes, k.g. Those are salient observations. Maddux`s success was due to his being a cerebral pitcher, and making intelligent adjustments in his career, and no doubt, that was true of Spahn as well. I was not aware of those Spahn stats you cited. Very impressive! I did not foresee the Yankees possibly signing Chapman. Did you or your father? They still have Miller; do they not? Both are southpaws and both have demonstrated they are successful closers. Does that mean Miller could be available? If that is the case, I think the Cubs may want to pay attention. I think you must know, I do not see Rondon as our long-time closer. His numbers are impressive, but we all know numbers can be deceiving. It took 42 pitches for him to close one particular game in 2015, if y`all recall. That spoke volumes. I`m not comfortable with Strop as a set-up man either. I recall Pedro failing several times in 2015, and other Cubs` fans must have as well. We can do better, and indeed must if we want to win a championship. I`m ecstatic about what the Cubs have done in the `hot stove` season. Lackey, Zobrist, and Heyward are superb additions. We`ve already `won the winter` in my view. `USA Today` printed a report a while ago about how the teams in the past several years which have `won the winter` have failed to succeed, and indeed regretted their moves. I am predicting the Cubs are going to `break that pattern` in 2016.

Aloha jhosk- I think my father was surprised that the Yankees did this too. He thinks they will lock him up for some time to come. I think if the Yankees are not doing well by next June, they will dangle Chapman out there and see what they can get in return because a “desperate” team in need of closer to get to the playoffs just might cough up some big prospects for a 100mph thrower! My father thinks the team could manage both a Miller/Chapman combo to give them some advantage in a division that looks strong on paper next year. Take care now! Mahalo!

Yes, k.g. I`m responding to your comments about Chapman and Miller. I just learned that Chapman could still be suspended by MLB over that domestic abuse issue which resulted in the Dodgers losing interest in Chapman. The Yankees were well aware of that when they traded for him. In fact, according to Joel Sherman on the MLB Network, the Reds were demanding high profile prospects including pitcher Severino and one other whose name escapes me, from the Yankees for Chapman prior to these character issues surfacing. But once those issues became public, all that changed. The truth is the Reds sent Chapman to the Yankees for four C+ or B- prospects at best, and were content to do so.{That fact should speak volumes.} Chapman has not been charged with a thing yet, and may very well not be suspended at all. But until all that is known for sure, I see the Yankees hanging on to Andrew Miller. Once Chapman`s status is resolved, and if it`s determined he won`t be suspended, I see Miller becoming available. Why would the Yankees want two high profile left handed closers? It`s redundant and would not work. I know Miller was once a set-up man with the Orioles, but do not see him content with assuming that role with New York. The Cubs may want to act. For anyone who doubts that the Cubs` organization is not all that confident in Rondon, think about why it tried to acquire Kimbrel over the past several months. The Cubs did not broadcast loudly that the organization was doing so, but if one reads between the lines, I suggest it was obvious.

Aaron Judge is that other elite Yankee prospect the Reds were insisting on in a trade with New York for Chapman prior to Chapman`s character issues becoming common knowledge. {For what it`s worth, I`ve observed both Severino and Judge play at the AAA level, and Severino is by far the more likely of the two to succeed at the major league level, in my humble opinion.}

Aloha jhosk & Doug- good points. Yes, jhosk, as I said I am biased towards Soler but it is only because what little experience I have with player development and seeing a possibly “5-tool” player like him, am hoping not only for the best but that he stay a Cub. Having said that, he did have some plays in the outfield that were hard to watch. I think he was “favoring” his leg as to not “re-injure” it. So, he needs to step up and as I mentioned it was very encouraging to read that he was taking his conditioning seriously (not like one former Giant…Panda!). As Doug pointed out, he has a “cannon” for an arm, so he needs to develop that more and keep his arm loose, especially due to playing in Chicago at the beginning of the season (April/May). And he showed that he can be more patient at the plate and against better pitching! What I like about Zobrist is that if the Cubs hold onto Baez, he could be his apprentice and learn what it means to be a great utility person, who basically is a starter filling in holes throughout the year. Lastly, Doug brought up pitching and one pitcher I favor heavily is Sonny Gray. I would still be sad if Soler was traded but if it were to the A’s in return for Gray, I would understand. And there are no guarantees that Gray stays on his current path either. The Cubs defense was immensely upgraded with both Heyward and Zobrist, the young guys will only get better at their respective positions and the signing of Lackey was a very good-prudent one and buys the organization some time as they address the rotation for the future. I think whatever weaknesses they have, can now be “masked” just by these moves. I cannot wait for ST! Mahalo!

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