As if the Cubs weren’t young enough already.
At the tender ages of 25 and 24, respectively, both Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro had emerged as leaders within the Cubs clubhouse, and now they are likely lost for the season.
Now the focus, possibly too much of it, will fall on even younger players like Javier Baez and Jorge Soler. How will they react? It may be worth watching over the next few weeks.
My take is it won’t phase them.
These kids already seem not to be intimidated in the least by their recent jump up to the big leagues. They may not even notice the extra spotlight. Both Baez and Soler already appear to have completed the first phase of their big league initiation.
It would’ve been nice to see what this young core group could’ve done together for the rest of September, as the Cubs are coming off a very strong showing in August.
Then again, already without Rizzo and losing Castro in the midst of the series, all these Cubs did was proceed to sweep the Brewers right out of first place last night. Soler and Baez factoring in behind another kid with precocious moxie in Kyle Hendricks.
Meanwhile, there will be some other developments to observe in the absence of the young Cubs All-Stars.
We can see if Mike Olt has made any adjustments.
We will get a a good look at Logan Watkins and see if he can add depth to the roster for 2015.
Maybe Arismendy Alcantara will relax a little more at the plate, while playing his more familiar position of second base at times.
We will also get to see Baez perform at his original position the rest of the way. Maybe he will feel more comfortable as well.
“These two injuries reinforce the value of depth,” Jed Hoyer told Mark Gonzalez.
However, Hoyer says Baez shouldn’t get too comfortable at short.
“Castro is our shortstop,” Hoyer emphasized. “There’s a reason we have Javy playing second base right now.” Pretty strong statement.
“A lot of our competitors do a good job of making sure guys are still versatile and guys can move around. Just because (Arismendy) Alcantara has been our center fielder for a while doesn’t mean he should lose the ability to play second base if we happen to have a surplus of outfielders and need a second baseman,” Hoyer says.
Cubs skipper Rick Renteria has shown a knack for letting the young players thrive, seemingly getting the most out of their abilities. Now Renteria will get a chance to evaluate even more youngsters with his leaders out. There was a time this season when losing Rizzo or Castro would’ve spelled doom for these Cubs.
“I’ll be honest,” Renteria said. “It’s probably easier thing for me now that I’ve seen Starlin and Rizz at their best. The most important thing for me now is seeing the other guys and seeing how they fall into the lineups we need (in September). That should give us enough of a glimpse of how we might want to line them up in the near future.”
It seems even without Rizzo and Castro, things are lining up pretty well.