More Baez talk as Cubs-Nats wait out the rain
When the rain clears out, we should have a pretty good pitching matchup today at Wrigley Field, the Cubs’ Travis Wood takes on the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg. Wood is 7-10 with a 3.13 ERA while Strasburg is 6-9 with a 2.93 ERA. Wood’s ERA is the second lowest among pitchers with at least 10 losses. Chris Sale of the White Sox is 9-11 with a 2.78 ERA.
Our pregame talk with Cubs manager Dale Sveum this morning again turned to shortstop prospect Javier Baez, who hit 2 home runs and went 4-for-4 for Class AA Tennessee last night in a 10-8 victory over Birmingham. In August, Baez is 33-for-81 (.407) with 11 doubles, 5 home runs and 22 RBI. Between Class A Daytona and Tennessee, Baez has 33 home runs and 100 RBI.
His hitting line at Tennessee is .307/.366/.659 for an OPS of 1.025. Between the two stops, he has 38 walks and 132 strikeouts.
No manager session is complete without someone asking if Baez is a candidate to come up in September.
“The numbers, and guys sometimes do put you in situations where you do start thinking about it,” Sveum said. “Those are obviously questions that have to be dealt with by Jed and Theo, but I don’t see that happening.”
There are several reasons the Cubs won’t bring Baez this year. First, he is not on the 40-man roster, and the Cubs are in a crunch there already. They’re at 40, and they’ll have to add Ryan Sweeney back to the 40-man when he comes off the 60-day disabled list. Second, the Cubs do not want to start Baez’s major-league service-time clock before they have to do so. He may force the issue in spring training, but the guess here is that the Cubs will wait until at least next May to bring him up for the first time to delay his free-agency clock.
Finally, Baez is still learning shortstop, and the Cubs have Starlin Castro there now. They aren’t going to make Baez change positions at the major-league level in September.
On to other things: The Cubs say rehabbing right-hander Scott Baker will start tomorrow night for the Kane County Cougars in Geneva. The weather has been so brutal with rain in Florida that the Cubs don’t want to take a chance on a start for Class A Daytona being rained out.
Third baseman Luis Valbuena will head to Mesa over the weekend and begin taking coaches batting practice as he continues his rehab from an oblique strain. Sweeney (cracked rib) will head to Arizona this weekend and begin playing games in the Rookie League as he starts his rehab.
Sveum is going with Castro batting first and Rizzo second again today. Castro is likely to stay in the leadoff spot, but I did ask Dale how long he’d keep Rizzo second.
“I’m not going to move success,” he said. “I’m not even thinking about that now. Beltran hit in the second spot in St. Louis, and then you move once in awhile. Nobody can predict when you’re going to come up with men on base. You can have your eighth hitter come up and have 10 guys on base that day. You can have your third hitter not come up with anybody on base. You can’t predict who’s going to get on base in front of you.”
From the game notes: Junior Lake looks to become the first Cub to double in five straight games since Aramis Ramirez, May 29-June 3, 2008. Lake is the first Cubs rookie to double in four straight since Castro, Aug. 22-25, 2010 … Castro enters today having gone a career-best 29 straight games without an error. The previous Cubs shortstop to do that was Ryan Theriot, with 29 errorless games at short from Aug. 7-Sept. 11, 2009. The Cubs credit STATS, Inc. for the info.
You read about Baez’s exploits for Tennessee above. In that game, Matt Loosen got no decision as he worked 5.2 innings and gave up 5 hits and 3 runs. Arismendy Alcantara reached four times, going 2-for-3 with 2 walks, a double and a steal. Christian Villanueva hit his league-leading 39th double. Local guy Tony Zych earned the win in relief despite allowing 4 runs (2 earned), in two-thirds of an inning.
Daytona (A) had the first game of its doubleheader with Dunedin suspended in the first inning because of rain.
Class AAA Iowa managed 4 hits in a 7-1 loss to Memphis. Yoanner Negrin got no decision as he worked 5 innings of 4-hit, 1-run ball. Luis Flores extended a hit streak to seven games, during which he’s 8-for-16.
The Kane County Cougars (A) lost their fourth straight, 8-5 to Beloit. James Pugliese got a no-decision as he pitched 5 innings and gave up 10 hits and 5 runs while walking none and striking out six. Giuseppe Papaccio was 2-for-5 with a triple and 3 RBI. Jeimer Candelario was 2-for-5 with a run. Marco Hernandez has a nine-game hit streak after going 2-for-5 with a double. He is 11-for-36 in the streak. Lefty Nathan Dorris struck out four in 4 scoreless innings of relief. He has not allowed an earned run in his last 11 innings.
Boise (A) snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Salem-Keizer 5-2. Jose Rosario improved to 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA as he worked 5 innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs. Yasiel Belaguert was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Lance Rymel was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI.
Mesa (Rookie) lost its third straight, falling 4-3 to the Diamondbacks. Trevor Graham got no decision as he pitched 2.1 innings and gave up 4 hits and 1 run.