Before we descend into the interminable spring schedule on Thursday, I feel it’s important to warn the smart Cubs fan about things that will happen during spring training, and more importantly (and worse) the reactions these things will cause. You know they’re coming but it’s good to have a refresher anyway.
Javier Baez Will Hit A Lot Of Homers, And They’ll Go A Very Long Way
We know this is going to happen, because it did last spring. You’ll see that swing, you’ll see that bat-speed, and everyone will see the balls traveling through the Arizona sky. And the unwashed and illiterate (most of whom write for the Sun-Times) will scream, “Why won’t Baez start with the team on Opening Day?!”
We know better than this. Baez only has a little over 200 ABs above High-A. He tore apart AA in those ABs of course, and will start at Iowa. The leap from A to AA is considered tougher than the one from AA to AAA, but it’s one he needs to make. He needs to make it because we still don’t know where he plays. Even if it’s only a month or two of him shuffling between second and third, that’s fine. Or maybe he can prove that he’s a better shortstop than Castro, though I tend to doubt it.
Look, we all want Baez to come up. Even when the Cubs suck this year, Baez in Wrigley will give us something to watch and to really get excited about, not the curiosity that was Junior Lake. This is A THING and we all want it in front of our eyes. But that time isn’t now, nor April, nor even May likely.
Arodys Vizcaino Is Going To Throw Smoke
Which will mean everyone will want to make him the closer for Opening Day. But he hasn’t pitched in a game in two years or so, and the Cubs still don’t know if he’s a starter or reliever. Personally, I think he should be starting in the minors all year because a starter is simply more valuable than a reliever, even a closer which you can always kind of find when you need one. You can’t always find a starter with two plus-pitches and a third not far behind, which is what Vizcaino has. It’s going to take forever to build his arm-strength back to that of a starter, which is why you’ll hear calls for him to partially do that in the Cubs’ pen. While the Cardinals are able to go against the tide because of the bull-semen or whatever they inject into their players, generally when you shift a young pitcher to the pen it’s probably where he should stay. They have a hard time going back to starting, of course there are always exceptions. Joe Sheehan wrote about this last summer. Quite frankly, Vizcaino should be a starter until he proves he shouldn’t be, no matter how long that takes.
Anthony Rizzo’s and Starlin Castro’s Springs Will Be Way Too Scrutinized
You know how this goes. Every Arizona homer means that Rizzo is back on track and every strikeout means the Cubs erred in totally turning over their franchise to him by firing Sveum and all that. Castro will be in the same boat though with less homers. Remember, Rizzo homered on the first pitch he saw last season in Pittsburgh. How’d it go from there? Just avoid the noise.