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Cubs weigh position changes for Javier Baez and Kris Bryant

Jul 23, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT

With a straight face, Jed Hoyer said it’s important to focus on what’s up here at Wrigley Field right now — a last-place team flirting with a 100-loss pace. But the Cubs general manager did make a larger point about the obsession with Triple-A/Double-A kids.

“It’s fun to look at the box scores in Iowa and Tennessee,” Hoyer said before Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the San Diego Padres. “(But) every time you switch a guy’s position, or a guy has a big night, people shouldn’t be looking or clamoring for a promotion.”

Amen. So when are Javier Baez and Kris Bryant getting here?

Expect Bryant sometime after Opening Day 2015. Baez looks like a potential September call-up.

But on a day where the Cubs designated for assignment a Gold Glove second baseman (Darwin Barney) and confirmed Arismendy Alcantara needs to play every day in the big leagues, Hoyer downplayed the significance of Baez recently moving off shortstop.

“The Baez second-base thing is really more big-picture than anything else,” Hoyer said. “We want to increase his versatility. We thought it was the right thing to do to start putting him there. … These moves are not connected.”

[MORE CUBS: It’s Arismendy Alcantara’s time after Cubs DFA Darwin Barney]

After a slow start that created a panic on Twitter, the 21-year-old Baez has started to find his rhythm in the Pacific Coast League, putting up 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 89 games.

“We went into the year thinking we would move him around a bit earlier, and he struggled offensively,” Hoyer said. “We thought it was going to be the wrong time to have this guy worry about a defensive change. (So) we held off on it, and really waited until he got going offensively. We’re pretty proud of what he’s done this year. In some ways, it’s been ideal for him.

“He really built on every single month, until the last three or four weeks, when he’s been outstanding. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see that trajectory.

“In the minor leagues, you want to see guys finishing strong. You want to see them conquer that level, and his ability to fight through what was a difficult start has been really impressive.”

[MORE CUBS: Cubs promoting Jorge Soler and Albert Almora]

Bryant hasn’t really faced that adversity yet, hitting .345 and putting up 33 homers and 84 RBIs in 97 games split between Tennessee and Iowa.

The Cubs have had internal discussions about shifting Bryant from third base to right field, but they aren’t prepared to make that move yet with last year’s No. 2 overall pick out of the University of San Diego.

“He can do it,” Hoyer said. “He played center in college, and he’s played right. He feels good out there. The biggest focus for him right now is he’s working on his defense. He is almost 6-6, and with that the fundamentals of playing third base are more challenging.

“In the future, I would never say never that we wouldn’t put him out there. But right now, our focus is third.”

  1. bigmeechy74 - Jul 23, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    I hope the NL finally just breaks down and goes with a DH just so the cubs will have more spots for these guys. Schwarber seems like a perfect DH if he keeps hitting

  2. nsstlfan - Jul 23, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    So it should be a major rule change for one club?

    • bigmeechy74 - Jul 23, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      yeah. that’s what i meant

  3. rosloe62 - Jul 23, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ….woulda…coulda…shoulda. I’m so tired of hearing how great the Cubs minor league system is. Let’s start playing these kids and see if we can win with them. Right now it’s like watching Pros vs. College. I’d rather watch soccer.

    • thebadguyswon - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      LOL…that’s how I am with the Mets. Glad they have a good farm, but their major league club has been a bag of smashed ass for 7 years now. I’m kinda cynical at this point.

  4. riverace19 - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    The Cubs are seeking maturity, and fans have to be patient. They could call up all these guys and they could hack away, maybe with some initial success. These guys need to learn the MLB strike zone, how to work counts, how to wear out a pitcher. They brought Castro up for an initial pop then saw a huge regression… He wasn’t mentally ready. The Cubs don’t want to make that mistake again with their stable of prospects.

    • thebadguyswon - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:19 PM

      Yeah, OR it’s really all about the money.

    • rosloe62 - Jul 23, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      I’ve been patient for 53 years!

    • kappy32 - Jul 24, 2014 at 3:34 AM

      Would you mind telling me what team you are an assistant GM for? You seem to think you know a lot & seem to be buying the Epstein/Beane/Alderson Kool Aid. Holding young players back is nothing more than cost-cutting measures for these teams. They don’t want to bring a kid up – or in the case of the Cubs, kids – so they struggle while developing at the ML level for a year to a year & a half when they could have them down in the minors, developing against inferior opponents, while still keeping them under team control for that much longer. Teams only have players at a reasonable cost for a few years until they hit arbitration. Teams would much rather have a player stay in the minors, have a slower development, and play reasonably well in their pre-arbitration years than they would have them come up, develop faster at a ML pace, against ML talent, but struggle during their pre-arbitration years. It’s all about getting the most bang for their buck & they get that by having a player develop in the minors, even if it takes a little longer. If these kids are the real deal, they’re going to develop & become star players regardless of whether their development ABs come in the minors or in the majors. It’s the same reason why teams very rarely break Spring Training with a stud, rookie prospect; they keep them in the minors until mid-June so they can keep them under control for one more full year, avoiding the Super-Two status. This is especially true for teams who aren’t going to be contenders in the near future, teams like your Cubs & my Mets. They want these kids playing on the big team when they think they’re going to contend, with as much team-control they have over these kids, than they would want them playing on a team that is just trying to avoid losing 95 games. While it would be more exciting for the fans to see these kids play, and while it may help speed up their development a little bit to have them learn against major leaguers, it isn’t financially feasible for these teams to have these kids playing on 75-79 win teams. No matter how good they will be when they hit their stride, they’ll be learning & they will not turn a 75 win team into a 92 win team while they’re still learning. I don’t know how I feel about it. The fan in me wants to see these kids now, see what they have. However, the baseball mind in me knows that these teams would be better off if the ML service time clock starts ticking when the team is contending, instead of winding down when they start contending. It’s all about the economics of baseball& if you think it’s any different then you really need to wake up. If it was all about developing these kids as fast as possible, money aside, then these teams would have their stud prospects playing everyday at the ML level as early as possible.

      • heychicagowhaddyasay - Jul 25, 2014 at 12:06 AM

        Watch the Iowa team and quit your complaining. Bryant is ready for the majors, yes, and we should be glad the Cubs are leaving him in the minors to keep him from being a free agent for an extra year. Baez and the others are clearly not ready for that level yet. Give me a break with this big diatribe. The management knows a little more about developing young players than you do. And obviously, the Cubs have proven they can find quality veteran pitchers. And the Cubs will have opportunities to spend free agent $ on pitching, perhaps as soon as this off-season.

  5. thebadguyswon - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    So if the Astros have already won the 2017 World Series, does that mean the Cubs will win it all in 2018?

  6. longhornpride05 - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Rosloe you’re an idiot. Pulling kids from the minors too early severely hampers their abilities. Look at Rizzo, SD got antsy and pulled him way too soon and he suffered greatly because of it… Now he’s fine about 5 years later after we got him at a discount because of how soon SD pulled him and everyone got scared. So no, let’s not potentially ruin prospects.

    • rosloe62 - Jul 23, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      I think your the idiot for drinking the Cubs Kool Aid. All you hear is how great their minors are. Where’s the Paterson’s, Pie’s, and Jackson’s. All were projected as top minor leaguers, can’t wait to see them prospects. So far nada! Stick to your Long Horns, another loser.

      • 84cubs - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:29 PM

        What does Pie and Patterson have to do with the 2014 Cubs system?? New owner , new front office, almost all new scouting dept! I’m a Cub fan for all of my 51 years and the only other regime that resembles this one was Dallas Greens.
        Explain your reasoning, without using “because they’re the Cubs”. Unless of course you believe in curses and witchcraft.

    • okobojicat - Jul 23, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      Rizzo struggled in SD in 2011. Cubs got him next year. And he was terrible in 2013. And they traded a former #1 pick as a pitcher for him. A lot of people thought the Padres won that trade when it was made.

      Rosloe is 100% right about the Cubs prospect failures. The important thing to remember about the Cubs prospects is 50% of them will be absolute duds. That’s just how prospects works. They fail, they get hurt, they can’t figure out the strike zone; for whatever reason, 50% of the top 10 never make it.

      That said, as a Cubs fan, I’m damn excited about Baez and Bryant hitting alongside Rizzo and Castro and AA.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:02 PM

        Aren’t you reaffirming his point? Rizzo’s stock was lower possibly because the Padres promoted him too soon? Also at this point it’s pretty clear the winner of that trade was the Cubs. Granted anything can happen, but they traded Cashner because of injury concerns and he’s been on the DL 3 times in 3 years.

        Not that WAR is the be all end all of stats, but currently since the trade:

        Cashner: 3.7 rWAR
        Rizzo: 8.2 rWAR

  7. disgracedfury - Jul 23, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Until they get some pitching prospects they aren’t going anywhere.Just trade Baez already for a pitcher they desperately need.They already got a SS and a better SS prospect and a second basemen.You cant have em all.Don’t end up like the Orioles.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:06 PM

      Don’t end up like a first place team?

      For whatever it’s worth the Orioles actually have a slightly above league average staff in terms of ERA.

  8. kappy32 - Jul 24, 2014 at 3:14 AM

    How about a team change for Javier Baez? How about they trade him to the NY Mets for either Noah Syndergaard straight up (3rd best pitching prospect in all baseball) or for Jacob deGrom & Rafael Montero? The Mets have the young pitching that the Cubs need & the Cubs have the elite-level, middle IF prospects the Mets need. Both team are a couple years from seriously contending (I see the Mets making noise in 2015, but making a serious push in 2016; the Cubbies making noise in 2016), so they have a year for each player have their bumps & bruises. Although I am a Mets fan, I’m not delusional like many of my compatriots. I don’t think that we will get a Baez type player for players we are willing to trade (Dillon Gee, Jon Niese); I know to land a player like him the Mets need to trade a player, or players, they don’t want to move & Noah Syndergaard is that player. As a matter of fact, deGrom & Montero are those players, too. On most MLB teams, teams that don’t have the depth & elite level pitching prospects that the Mets do, those two guys are the top 2 pitching prospects on those teams. If they went to the Cubs, they would automatically become their two best pitching prospects & could be solid #2/#3 pitchers on a winning team for many years to come. However, Syndergaard is on a completely different level than those 2. Syndergaard has the real potential to be a lights out, dominant #1 starter for many years to come. While potentially having 3 dominant aces – Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard – in the Mets’ rotation for the next 6-7 years is very enticing, I feel that the Mets would be better suited moving Syndergaard to get a power hitting SS. I just feel the two team match up perfectly together & I definitely could see a deal getting done this offseason. If it doesn’t, I think both teams are missing out.

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