The Rundown: Baez on the Bubble, Edwin Jackson Remains in 5th-Starter Race, Castro Wants to Hit 2nd
Among the uncertainties of Cubs Spring Training is whether Javier Baez will be heading to Chicago or Iowa after breaking camp.
As we creep closer to Opening Day on April 5, I feel like it’s becoming more likely that the young infielder starts the year in the minors. This is not a shock by any means — manager Joe Maddon said from Day 1 that players will need to earn their playing time and that he won’t be giving out jobs base on entitlement.
Heading into Spring Training, I felt that Javy would have a nice camp and win the second base job. But he hasn’t done so thus far, and with newly acquired infielder Tommy La Stella (someone who can work counts and not strike out) performing well in addition to the versatile Arismendy Alcantara, the Cubs won’t feel pressured to go with Baez.
As Gordon Wittenmyer wrote yesterday, Maddon reiterated that it’s not a lock for Baez to make the team out of camp. But he also had some positives to focus on that lead you to believe he sees promise in the infielder. (Or he is simply attempting to motivate Baez and get him to relax a little.)
Of course he needs to get better. Of course he needs to make some adjustments. But I don’t like to force or push things right now with a guy like that. Who knows? Maybe eventually he can figure that out and the swing that he has might become pertinent and he’s able to utilize it. I don’t know that.
“I do know I like him as a baseball player and he’s going to be a very good major-league baseball player.
“Once he figures out the command of his swing, he’ll just take off.”
My gut tells me it’s Tommy La Stella or Arismendy Alcantara suiting up at second base on Opening Night against the Cardinals. But Baez is not completely out of the picture yet.
Jackson still in the 5th starter race
Edwin Jackson was on the bump again last night, and gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits and one walk in four innings.
But he was actually better than that line would suggest. He was victim to some questionable defense once again, with Starlin Castro booting a couple of routine grounders.
This was Jackson’s second decent start in a row. Travis Wood may be the favorite to win the fifth starter job, but I feel like Jackson is still in the race.
Castro hitting second?
Starlin Castro would like to hit clean-up, he told Jesse Rogers. Or second.
With Joe Maddon, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to predict his lineups, but I’d say it’ll be more likely we see the Cubs shortstop in the 2-hole than batting fourth.
Maddon has said that who will be batting second is a “mystery.” But he admitted Castro could do it. “I think he could, not saying that he can’t,” he said.
I’m not sure I love Castro in that spot in the lineup, as he isn’t the best on-base guy. I think I’d prefer him hitting sixth or seventh.
My choice for the 2-hole is Tommy La Stella, but it’s uncertain how much playing time he’ll be getting.
* Top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa, trimming down the Spring Training roster to 52. Edwards will now start to be stretched out as a starter. He appeared in two spring games with the Cubs, performing well. The RHP gave up two hits in three scoreless innings.
* Nick Cafardo from the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox are looking to trade outfielder/1B Allen Craig, and that they have been scouting the Cubs, among other teams. It’s a small note in an article focused on the Phillies’ Cole Hamels, so it may not mean a whole lot. But it’s an interesting proposition. Craig had some really solid seasons with the Cardinals before he fell off the map last season. He slashed an awful .215/.279/.315 in 2014, while dealing with injuries. The Cubs could potentially use him in left field if they feel he could return to form in any way.
* An interesting perspective on new catcher Miguel Montero from Jesse Rogers. Talking to Montero’s former teammates with the Diamondbacks, it sounds like they respect the catcher but at the same time aren’t exactly sad he’s gone. “Maybe younger guys will take it a little more personally,” said Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed. “He’s doing it because he cares. It can be difficult for a younger guy but when you realize it’s for the better of the team its fine.” It’s certainly possible I’m misinterpreting the tone of the D-Backs’ statements, but it just sounds to me like Montero was not universally loved in Arizona.