This battle could be easily won – but that all depends on Javier Baez. If Baez can come into spring training with a better approach at the plate and cut down on his strike outs, the job will be his. But after what we saw and read about Baez in winter ball, it doesn’t seem like that is in the cards quite yet. More than likely, Arismendy Alcantara or Tommy La Stella will be keeping second base warm until Baez proves he’s ready. But that doesn’t mean that Alcantara or La Stella can’t make it difficult for Baez to earn that spot.
Alcantara will be involved in a few battles with the Cubs. That’s a great thing for Joe Maddon and the Cubs. Having a player that plays all over the field is something all teams need. Alcantara coming up to the big leagues last year as a second baseman originally showed his versatility with moving all over the diamond. While starting off hot, he cooled down considerably as the season wore down. Alcantara like Baez, needs to cut down on his strike outs and show a lot more patients at the plate.
Alcantara needs to get his bat on the ball and try to leg out grounders or draw more walks. He has good speed and has shown the Cubs in the minors he can steal his fair share of bases. His glove isn’t an issue, so he has that in his favor. He’s going to be on the Cubs in one form or another, but will it be a utility off the bench or an everyday starter, those we can’t predict just yet.
Tony La Stella was brought in to battle for a couple of positions as well. While he will be in competition for third base with Mike Olt and Kris Bryant – his best chance might be second base. While he may not be as defensively sound as Alcantara and maybe even Baez, he does have something on his side – a consistent contact hitter. La Stella can put the ball in play, showing good bat control with putting the ball in play into the outfield gaps. That is huge – and could find himself as a real option for batting second in the line up to move along Dexter Folwer.
This battle, while should be Baez’s to win, I don’t think will be. I predict this job will go to La Stella. While the Cubs may lose a little with the defense, he will provide a more consistent bat in the line up. He will be a solid fill in for now until Baez learns his plate discipline.
Next: If not Bryant, than who?