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.”
Charles Gasparino reports that billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has submitted an offer to buy the Mets for $2 billion as well as an additional $2 billion for SportsNet New York (SNY). The Mets own a 65% controlling interest in SNY. (Full disclosure: Comcast, through NBC Sports Group, owns an 8% share of SNY.)
As Jon Heyman reported yesterday, the Mets were expected to accept the first round of bids by Thursday. Cohen was one of a handful of bidders that also included Josh Harris and David Blitzer, Álex Rodríguez and Jennifer Lopez, and the Reuben brothers.
Cohen and the Wilpons were believed to be in agreement on a deal back in December that would have increased Cohen’s ownership share from 8% to 80% in exchange for $2.6 billion. However, the deal fell through as Cohen grew upset the Wilpons attempted to change the terms of the agreement at the last minute. The two sides have, obviously, patched up their differences.
As Sportico’s Scott Soshnick notes, the offers in the first round of bidding are non-binding. At any rate, given Cohen’s preliminary offer, the Wilpons are likely to collect quite the windfall. Fred Wilpon bought a 50% stake in the Mets for $81 million in 1980 and bought the other half in 2002 for $391 million.
Perhaps with different owners, the Mets could get back to being consistently competitive. Since 2012, the club has sat in the middle-third of the league (rank 11-20) or lower in terms of total payroll.