Javier Baez has been penciled in as the Cubs’ starting second baseman, but manager Joe Maddon made it pretty clear that the job is hardly being handed to him.
Maddon told Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
Of course, there’s a chance he doesn’t make the team. There’s no lock in regard to that. I talked about the entitlement program. It doesn’t exist. Everything has to be earned.
Baez has lots of long-term potential as a middle infielder with 30-homer power, but he struck out a ton in the minors and then hit .169 with 95 strikeouts in his 52-game debut for the Cubs. Those struggles have continued this spring, which is why it might be Tommy La Stella or Arismendy Alcantara playing second base on Opening Day while the 22-year-old Baez tries to get on track back at Triple-A.
At the same time, Maddon also made it clear that he realizes the strikeouts and out-of-control swings are part of the overall package that contains Baez’s big-time power potential, saying: “I think it bothers the fans more than it bothers me.”
Watch as new Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson cranks a three-run shot off Cubs starter Jake Arrieta in the second inning of a Cactus League game Wednesday afternoon in Arizona …
That was Pederson’s second home run of the spring and it was part of a 3-for-3 day. The 22-year-old is batting .429 with a 1.217 OPS through 30 plate appearances this spring and oozing in rookie-breakout potential.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Good morning all. Today is my last day touring around the Cactus League. I’ve been to seven games in seven days and today comes number eight. I’ll be way the heck over in Surprise to visit the Kansas City Royals camp and to catch their game against the Indians. Joe Posanski wrote about the Royals and their uneventful camp last week. Here’s hoping it’s more eventful on this Monday morning.
All the people around here complain about going to Surprise because it’s so far, but it’s about the same drive as it is from Tigers camp to Yankees camp in Florida. There are way worse drives in the Grapefruit League. And no one is gonna listen to you moan about driving far to go see baseball.
I didn’t post about it yesterday, but on Sunday I took in the Cubs-Reds at Sloan Park. Nothing terribly notable about that game or day in camp apart from the fact that it was a two-hour, fourteen minute game. Travis Wood and Johnny Cueto weren’t messing around. And nothin’ but a crushed ball by Chris Denorfia really happened. Everyone else presumably had 4pm tee times.
On the personal tourist side I did do two cool things this weekend. On Saturday I went to Taliesin West, which is Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and remains an architecture school. I took a bunch of pictures of that. It was cool.
On Sunday before the Cubs game I climbed Camelback Mountain, mostly because I am a crazy person. It was fun too. And again, something you can’t really do in Florida. You can have your beaches. I’d prefer some topography.
Oh well, that’s that. I’ll be posting from Royals camp later today.
Cubs third base prospect Kris Bryant was scratched from Saturday’s Cactus League exhibition against the Athletics due to right shoulder fatigue. He pinch-hit for Anthony Rizzo in the DH spot in the third inning and took Jesse Hahn deep for a two-run home run. In his next at-bat, Bryant went yard against Evan Scribner for a solo home run. The Cubs went on to win 3-1, with Bryant accounting for all three runs.
Bryant, 23, leads the majors in spring home runs with six. Randal Grichuk and Alex Rios entered the afternoon tied in second place with three dingers. Bryant is currently 9-for-20 (.450) with nine RBI along with the six long balls.
The Cubs plan to have Bryant start the season in the minor leagues. Mike Olt will be the club’s regular third baseman, but Bryant should earn a promotion in late April or early May. In 594 plate appearances between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa last season, Bryant hit a robust .325/.438/.661 with 43 home runs and 110 RBI.
Pretty interesting stuff here from the New York Daily News, who have an excerpt from Steve Kettmann’s new book on Mets general manager Sandy Alderson entitled, “Sandy Alderson: Baseball Maverick, How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets.”
This book will go into Alderson’s time with the A’s and you can certainly argue that the Mets haven’t been “revived” quite yet, but this particular excerpt focused on a game from June 14 last season. While Alderson is measured in most of his public appearances and even jokes about his team’s shortcomings at times, he has some strong reactions to his team’s performance. He’s particularly critical of Chris Young (now with the Yankees) and Gonzalez Germen (now with the Cubs). Here’s part of the tidbit on Germen:
“Why does he think it’s called a changeup?” Alderson groused, getting up to go walk around in the rear portion of the suite and watch on TV.
Warthen came out for a mound conference. Alderson was sure he was out there to remind Germen to establish a fastball. Warthen headed back to the dugout, and Germen peered in for the sign and made his first pitch to Alexi Amarista. It was a changeup.
“Throw a goddamned fastball!” came ringing out from the deep recesses of the suite.
It hardly mattered that Amarista flied out to left or that Germen got out of the inning without further damage. Alderson steamed through the remainder of the game. It was agony, one of the worst days of the year for him. I asked him once what the hardest part of being general manager was, and he did not have to search his thoughts to offer an answer: “The hardest part is living with losses,” he told me. “You live with them on a day-to-day basis during the season and you have to live with them in the offseason. Nobody in baseball goes home happy at the end of the season except if you won the World Series. I know that from personal experience.”
Given the public perception of Alderson, especially among certain disenfranchised Mets fans, it’s almost refreshing to see him from this perspective. Be sure to read the entire excerpt. Really interesting stuff. The book is already available online in various places, if you’re so inclined.