Could Javier Baez have a new role that may suit him and the Cubs better?
Chicago Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon loves players with great attitudes and versatility. In his days with Tampa Bay, a favorite player of Maddon’s was Ben Zobrist, because of how much he could do on the field for the team. He played the outfield and all the infield positions – probably would have played catcher and pitched too if asked. So with the Cubs, a player that matched that type of mold like Zobrist was Arismendy Alcantara.
Alcantara plays all over the field, just like Maddon wants. The difference between Zobrist and Alcantara was the hitting part. In the minor leagues Alcantara was a good hitter, a career .283 batting average with 44 homers, and 264 runs batted in, but with the Cubs this year he struggled horribly to get going with his bat.
In 32 plate appearances, he hit .077 with a RBI, five walks, and 11 K’s. That kind of production landed him back into the minors where he’s still struggling with a .233 batting average, four home runs, 10 batted in, and 18 strikeouts.
All the attention was on Alcantara to be the super utility man, but the Chicago Cubs had another option that many may not have thought of who Maddon is very fond of as well – that is Javier Baez.
It was in a piece that I wrote about Javier Baez that a reader made a comment about Javier Baez could take the role of the super utility player for the Cubs. It was something that hit me as such a great idea that how come it never was brought up before – if it was, I had never seen it.
Baez has played second, shortstop, and third base with the Chicago Cubs and could surely pick up center field easily enough with his athleticism. His bat is something that the Cubs could use in the lineup and it is one that when he is finally comfortable and relaxed he will start tearing the cover off the ball.
I see him as a much more valuable piece for the Cubs than Alcantara, especially if you look at their talents. Baez has a lot more positives on his side – his bat is far more valuable and I’d even go out on the limb and say that his glove is as good as Alcantara’s. So if I’m right, why not give Baez the shot once he gets himself back in baseball shape and a baseball mindset?
"“You put your present and future hat on. In the present there has to be some adjustments made at the plate; otherwise I love his game a lot. Future tense, I can see all those things coming together.” Joe Maddon – via ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers"
Baez should be a part of this team before the end of the season I think, and if that happens I can see him accepting the role of a utility player under Maddon and thriving as that better than Alcantara did.
Giving Baez another shot and this time with Maddon already on his side, may be exactly what he needs to turn his young career back into the hot prospect that was the talk of the Cubs minor league system last year.