Why Baez’s 4 HR Is The Worst Thing Ever
I’m sure it was a sight to see. If you were in Daytona (and why would you be this time of year unless you had to?), you’ll probably remember Baez’s historic night for a long time. On the plus side, it’s good to see Baez rebound, because what will get washed away by the news of his explosion is that he was hitting in the low .200’s for the first month and striking out nearly half the time. But good luck finding that out now.
But the end results of the four homers is not something Cubs fans need right now.
I get it. Though this Cubs team isn’t quite as bad as the record will indicate, it’s still another rebuilding year. You could argue it’s the first rebuilding year, as last year was more of a tear-down. As I’ve said many times, the tunnel seems awfully dark and long now. And it will only get so in a month when whatever isn’t nailed down is traded for whatever the Cubs can get and the Brooks Raley experience makes a second appearance at Wrigley. August could get very sticky and long.
But a night like Baez’s gets everyone excited that there is a future. But excitement can lead to impatience. Baez isn’t going to be up next week or next month. In fact, it’s unlikely he’ll even be up next year. There’s a good chance he may never be up at all (get to that in a second).
But now, from everywhere within and without we’ll hear, “Why isn’t that kid who hit the four homers a Cub yet?” It made news everywhere. It focuses the spotlight. It brightens it. Curiosity will heighten.
And that’s not what Baez or the Cubs need. Because Baez has warts. Big ones. He can’t play short, or at least it certainly doesn’t look like it. While his bat-speed draws comparisons to Gary Sheffield, Sheff knew when to deploy it. After being traded to San Diego, Sheffield never had an OBP lower than .344 and almost always was quite higher than that. That was after four years of bouncing up and down in Milwaukee’s system, which got him traded. Baez doesn’t have anywhere near that discipline, and would get eaten by Major League pitching right now. There’s so much work to be done.
And what’s the outcry going to be if and when he could possibly be traded for pitching? Look, not all of Bryant, Baez, and Castro can play 3rd base, and all have been hinted at either staying or moving there from shortstop. It’s a nice vision to see all of the Cubs position prospects coming up as an angry flotilla but that’s not usually how it works. I love the idea of Baez, Almora, Soler, Bryant and one or two others joining Rizzo and hopefully a revitalized Castro on Addison. But that’s not how it’s going to go down. The Reds gave up two prime prospects for Mat Latos once upon a time. I’d like a Mat Latos. Wouldn’t you?
“HOW CAN YOU TRADE BAEZ?! HE HIT 4 HR ONCE!”
You’ll hear it, if it happens. It’s great to see progress. But fireworks from so far away make you think there’s more going on than there is. Hey, the 4th of July fireworks over the lake look awesome from miles away. Ever go down to see them? It’s crowded, hot, sticky, and impossible to get home from.
It could be the same with Baez, in a very mangled metaphor.