Bruce Chen Finds Out Javier Baez Can Do Whatever He Wants

Bruce Chen was torched for five home runs (two by Javier Baez and one each by David DeJesus, Alfonso Soriano, and Alberto Gonzalez) over five innings, as the Cubs cruised to an 8-3 vistory over the Kansas City Royals in Cactus League action this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.

Baez took Chen deep with a solo HR onto the berm beyond the LF fence with two outs in the 1st, and then again with another solo HR (this one a Monster Jam) over the scoreboard and into the parking lot with two outs in the 5th, and has now hit four home runs in his last five plate appearances (he hit home runs in his final two PA versus Team Japan yesterday, including a walk-off two-run HR in the 9th).

box score

LHP Hisanori Takahashi got the start for the Cubs and worked four solid innings (53 pitches - 15 strikes), allowing one run (a Mike Moustakas solo HR over the bullpens in RF) on five hits (three singles, a double, and the HR) and one walk, with one strikeout and a 7/3 GO/FO. He also picked a runner off 1st base.  

The Cubs have stretched-out Takahashi as a starter over his past three appearances, and while he seems to be suited for that role, there does not appear to be a spot for Takahashi in the Cubs starting rotation at this time, even if Matt Garza (strained lat) and Scott Baker (TJS rehab) are not ready to start the season. The Cubs might have a "piggy-back" role in mind for Takahashi, where he would follow Scott Baker to the mound if Baker does not have his pitch count up to necessary levels by the end of Spring Training. (Baker would start the game and go as far as he can, and then Takahashi would follow and pitch multiple innings if necessary).

RHRP Michael Bowden took the mound in the 5th and pitched two shutout innings (26 pitches - 18 strikes), allowing two hits (a triple and a single) and no walks. He struck out two (the last two hitters he faced), and got the other four outs on pop ups or fly balls.

Bowden has pitched OK (not great but not bad) so far in Cactus League games, but he has an advantage over most of the other contenders for middle relief jobs in the Cubs bullpen because he is out of minor league options and thus cannot be sent to the minor without being exposed to Outright Assignment Waivers (which are irrevovable), but even if waivers were to be  secured, Bowden can refuse an Outright Assignment and elect free-agency because he has been outrighted previously in his career. So the Cubs have to make sure to get a good read on what Bowden has to offer now and in the near future.

Shawn Camp followed Bowden and labored through a 27-pitch (only 12 strikes) 7th. Camp surrendered a single and a walk to start the inning, and eventually allowed a run on a two-out infield single, but at least he was able to get out of the inning without further damage. 

Kyuji Fujikawa pitched the 8th inning and allowed a run on two hits (a lead-off double by Brandon Wood, a single, and an 8-6 RBI FC where CF Dave Sappelt just missed making a spectacular diving catch, but still was able to get to his feet in time to make an accurate throw to 2nd base that forced the runner who was on 1st). 

Carlos Marmol worked a fast 1-2-3 9th (two deep fly ball outs and an infield pop up).

Six of their eight Cub runs resulted from the five home runs (Soriano hit a two-run dinger, and the other four were solo shots).

The Cubs scored another run in the 3rd, as Alfonso Soriano walked and later scored on a throwing error by the KC second-baseman, and collected their final tally of the day in the 6th on a two-out Justin Bour RBI ground single through the box that followed hits by Rafael Lopez and Christian Villanueva.   

The Cubs made several roster moves yesterday, optioning IF-OF Junior Lake to Iowa, 3B Christian Villanueva to Tennessee, and OF Jorge Soler to Daytona, although they can continue to play in MLB Cactus League games (Villanueva and Soler played in the game at HoHoKam Park today, but Lake will be out 4-6 weeks with a rib injury). 

The reason those moves had to be made yesterday is that normally an injured player cannot be optioned to the minors, but the one exception is a player who did not accrue any MLB Service Time the previous season, as long as the player is optioned to the minors no later than the 16th day prior to MLB Opening Day (which was yesterday).

By optioning Lake, Villanueva, and Soler to the minors yesterday (and Matt Szczur, Trey McNutt, Logan Watkins, and Rob Whitenack earlier this week), the Cubs covered themselves in case any of the seven (none of whom accrued MLB Service Time last season) are injured prior to being optioned (as happened with Lake) or in an MLB Cactus League Spring Training game.

If the Cubs did not option the seven to the minors by yesterday's deadline, they would be taking a risk that the player could be injured prior to MLB Opening Day. And if that happened, the Cubs would have to place the player on their MLB 15-day or 60-day Disabled List and pay the player at the MLB salary rate (about $2,650 per day), rather than the lesser minor league "split salary" rate (about $430 per day for Lake and Szczur, and about $215 per day for the others), with the player also accruing MLB Service Time for days spent on an MLB DL during the MLB regular season (which could eventually affect when the player would be eligible for salary arbitration and/or free-agency).  

But because they were optioned to the minors by yesterday's deadline, any of the seven can be placed on the Disabled List of the minor league club to which the player was optioned. And this is exactly what will happen with Junior Lake. He will be placed on the AAA Iowa DL at the start of the season (and be paid at the minor league "split salary" rate), will probably spend about a month at Extended Spring Training at Fitch Park while getting back into playing shape, and then will be reactivated when he is ready to play. 



I know they're projecting Baez and Soler to join the Cubs in 2025 or something, but I get a strong feeling Baez is going to get up to the big leagues more quickly than a lot of people are saying. That said, Theo was on WGN today during the game saying he likes to see minor leaguers get a bazillion ABs, so who knows. Still, I saw that home run today and the dude really smacked it.

On another note, during the WBC the MLB network did an at bat comparison of Rizzo and Josh Hamilton, and they looked like twins at the plate with their swings. Kinda fun.

Theo should just respond "service time service time service time." I don't think there's any chance of seeing Baez up before June 2014 on a non-September roster.

A period after the 2014 would have sufficed. No need to rush things.

BB America seems bullish about Baez showing up early in his career...these projections generally include "first cup o coffee" stints, not simply "you made the team out of ST and it's your job"

16 Javier Baez ss, Cubs
Age: 20. ETA: 2014.

34 Jorge Soler of, Cubs
Age: 21. ETA: 2015.

Just saw the game on dvr, Javy is awesome.

I have the feeling Javy agrees.

dude has the mlb logo tattoo'd on the back of his neck...he's obviously ready now.

Some teammates razzed him by adding a "Rookie of the Year" decal on the back of his car.

In all seriousness, if Valbuena goes down, he's the best healthy 3B option in the system at this point. I suspect he'd do better against MLB pitching than Villanueva in 2013.

If Valbuena goes down down the season is lost.

/st patricks day
//drinkign early

Az article on Starlin Peralta and his stay with the Dbacks

AZ. Phil,
Has Paniagua, Rohan, and the other missing links showed up yet? Thanks.

HAGSAG: Roni Torreyes arrived yesterday and is with the Tennessee squad.

No sign of the others.

Hey AZ Phil (or anyone really)-
Just saw on BA's weekly transactions ( that both five guys were recently released. Two of them surprised me- RHP Arturo Maltos-Garcia and RHP Austin Urban. You mentioned Urban recently as having finally pitched and looking good. Plus Maltos-Garcia was a TJ rehab guy who had put up really nice numbers prior to the injury and I believe was given a higher than normal bonus. Any word on if the report is true and why they would have been cut.

CA CUB FAN: I don't know why they were released. They both threw "live" BP the same day (AMG versus Iowa and Urban against Daytona), and AMG and Urban (especially Urban) got several swings & misses in their respective outings. It's possible both turned up injured the next day, and the Cubs just didn't want to waste anymore time with them. (Injured players signed to minor league contracts who are released anytime up until the 14th day of the MLB regular season only have to be paid two weeks salary as termination pay).  

Also, the AZL Cubs and Boise reserve lists were full going into Minor League Camp, and there are four players (Hodges, Buckner, Rodriguez, and Hill) who were "Signed for Future Service" (signed first contract after July 1st of last season and were not placed on a 2012 minor league active list) who will need to be added to the AZL Cubs or Boise reserve lists by Opening Day. By releasing AMG, Urban, Shepard, and York, the Cubs opened up slots on the AZL Cubs and Boise reserve lists for the four players who were Signed for Future Service. 

It's not just a a "numbers game" at the MLB 40-man roster level. It's like that throughout the system.   

just watched a recent Simpsons episode: Black Eyed, Please.

Cub moment when Lisa goes to detention (because she complained that her substitute teacher was bullying her) and asks the detention regulars: Why does someone become a bully? They answer...Jimbo says: "Neglect.". Dolf says: "Abuse." Kerny says: "I'm a Cubs fan."

also some funny Vin Scully rain delay parody about ducks swimming on the tarp

I thought Nelson said it, either way it was funny'

Stewart going for another MRI on quad injury...keep hitting those HR's Baez.

nice to see s.baker on the mound...WGN game, btw.

bottom 1st...0 out...OAK up 0-3.

not so nice to see s.baker on the mound anymore.

and Texas puts up a 3 spot against CVillaneuva (and still batting) in Vegas

s.baker done...1 out, 2 on, bottom 1st. he was on a mega-low pitch count anyway, and probably wasn't going to go more than 2ip (3ip if lucky/efficient).

0.1ip 3h 2bb 0k...3er

trainer out...r.dollis seems to have a blister/finger issue and he's out.

via b.miles

"Rafael Dolis was removed from Sunday's game with a blister issue."

I clicked on the link before I saw who posted it. I would have known, had I looked.

Is anyone else bugged by the numerous media stories that report that Almora's hamate bone was being removed? As I understand Dr. Hecht's description, only the fractured hook fragment was being taken out -- not the entire hamate. The removal of the entire hamate would be another thing entirely. Sloppy reporting. OK -- end of pet peeve rant.


Sorry to go all medical lingo on everyone but (I don't have time to soften this post up)...

Excision of the hamate bone in it's entirety is not done because it would destabilize both the 4th and 5th metacarpal connection to the wrist. If you watch the last link from my Hamate article one more time (the video slideshow), the presenter discusses fractures of the body of the hamate (which would be what you are referring to as 'entire' hamate) and shows techniques to fix that fracture with temporary wire fixation. The hamate body is never excised and if it were that comminuted (shattered) they would let it heal with some distortion (or with supplemental bone graft) but would still put pins in to keep the alignment of the 4-5th metacarpals to nearby wrist bones intact. The key is to keep the stability to the adjacent metacarpals as they are important in power grip (as opposed to fine detail grip coming from the 2-3rd metacarpals).

The hook of the hamate IS excised because when fractured. It typically does not heal as the area of fracture impairs the local blood supply to the hook portion of the bone and the healing of bone to bone just won't occur (called a nonunion or malunion). Thus leaving residual tenderness in the palm and making it painful when gripping a bat. The anatomic functions lost when it is excised are small.

The hook of the hamate is an attachment site for a portion of the transverse carpal ligament (TCL) which is a support for the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is seen on the cross sectional CT imaging (also a previous link in the article) and all the flexor tendons and the median nerve pass underneath the ligament. The TCL is divided longitudinally when carpal tunnel syndrome surgery is performed to relieve pressure on the entire carpal tunnel contents and specifically the median nerve. On the little finger side of the hook of the hamate are the ulnar artery and nerve. Removing the hook does not affect them unless the surgeon isn't careful about those structures. Local ulnar nerve damage is one of the complications of this surgery and fortunately it is a rare event.

That was pretty much my understanding after viewing the links you gave and reading your post. None of the procedures illustrated a removal of the hamate. In fact, they seemed to emphasize the lengths a surgeon would take to fix the fracture with wire fixation in the case of a fracture of the body of the hamate. As I mentioned before, sloppy medical reporting bugs me.

m.owings (WAS) .400 (10/25), 3 doubles, 2 hr, 1bb, 6k

...shame he's not pitching anymore being a 2-way player. he'll probably have to go to AAA to begin the season as a hitter-only.

$3.1m for a 1-pitch, high walk, 25 year old cuban relief pitcher...sweet.

great news...

"Scott Baker woke up with elbow soreness Monday after his Cactus League debut and will undergo an MRI."


Because the fees for MRI's are so high ($2500-$3500 for one or two views without contrast), it seems to me like some of this is just padding the radiologists pockets as well as the owners of the technology. I wonder who bears these expenses anyway? 100% on the Club? It is insane now, but I guess they just protect themselves - and to a lesser extent - "the investment".

Too bad Gayle Sayers didn't have all this technology available to him.

"Too bad Gayle Sayers didn't have all this technology available to him."

Also too bad that my dad didn't have current cancer fighting technology available to him in 1967 when he developed Hodgkin's lymphoma. I'm grateful for medical advances and it's a bittersweet feeling to think of what was lost to medical conditions that nowadays would be considered almost routine.

d.sappelt hits his 3rd homer of spring...cubs are 2nd only to the M's with ST homers...woo spring.

also, e.jackson is having a nice day

6ip 3h 1bb 3k 1er (throwing 94+mph)

cubs lead 4-1 after 6.

...also lillibridge is almost a sure thing to make the club...2/3 today, .478 ST ba...multi-position...etc.

Cant wait for the Lilibridge bobble head day.

They should have an Ian Stewart bobblehead day, too. All torso and bobble, no limbs. Maybe just frayed arm and leg areas of the uniform where they should be.

if the trend continues at least he'll only cost $1.8m to sign next year...woo.

he's made $4.5m the past 2 seasons to hit .183/.272/.289 in 338 PA...getting $2m this year.

I imagine his head will only bobble on one plane.

the best part was watching him do what others had a hard time wait, that sucked...because he got 200+ PAs to show off his crap swing before he was shut down...much like the showcase he put on with the swing the year before.

some of us weren't fooled by a good spring last year while others where celebrating impending awesomeness.

Are we still talking about bobbleheads?

technically, yes.

Luckily even though you may not have Ian Stewart to push around anymore this year, you *will* have Scott Feldman!

Single-plane back patting. Cool.

...and ryan theriot is still a singles-hitting little shit.

Casey McGehee Redux

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Monday that Blake Lalli is a candidate for the Opening Day roster.

Lalli, who is batting .387 with a home run and seven RBI this spring, would serve as the third catcher and would also be an option to see some starts at first base. "Maybe," Roenicke said of Lalli’s chances. "He’s impressing a lot of people. Not just with what he’s doing but this guy is really sharp. He’s going to call a great game if we have him behind the plate. He’s a really smart guy. And he gives you a nice at-bat."

really crap fan showing out in SF for tonight's WBC netherlands/dom.rep. game in SF...looks like a scattering of a few thousand...maybe 4-5K at best.

Too bad they can't move it based upon who is playing. In the Bronx that game draws 20-25K.

Another good site I don't know has ever been considered would be Milwaukee. Midwesterners in March are starved for legitimate competitive baseball.

Milwaukee would be great. Lots of hotel rooms, good food, good local beer,and saloons on Blue Mound Road that would love to have business at this time of year. BTW, try Burke's, new on Blue Mound; my daughter and family live around the corner and really like the food, drink, and vibe. WBC would be great for them. (Milw also has lots of Asian and Latin-American restaurants, and if Serbia ever fields a team, they'd find a place to eat.)

In mid-summer, too. I speak as a Cubs fan, of course.

Nothing some blackout rules can't fix.


AZ Phil,
Have Paniagua, Rohan, Torreyes, and the other MIA's showed up yet?

nice the Cubs are crushing even the slightest bit of hope right at the start of the season...

Stewart to DL with fluid in quad, Baker's throwing program shutdown

so they should start the season with this rotation that goes 2 deep (maybe 3 if you really like Feldman): Samardzija, Jackson, Feldman, Wood, Villanueva

and then a lineup that will try to score runs wth Valbuena, Barney, Castillo and a pitcher taking up 45% of the Ab's...

I give myself until May 1st to still be interested in the daily outcome of games.

This is the risk with signing "rehabbing" players. In most cases the player gets paid anyway. The Club gets nothing. What a great country!

The team has the makings of 90+ losses again.

certainly wouldn't surprise me, stupid Astros and possibly Marlins will cost the Cubs a chance at the #1 pick though.

and despite my disappointment on wasting yet another season, I do think they're well on their way to building that perenial winner that we all wish for...

nice story on Soriano mentoring the kids...wish he worked as hard at getting a lighter bat a few years back.

"The first attempt to do so (eliminate pensions of non-uniform wearing personnel), initiated last year by a small-market owner, never came to a vote after Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf chastised his brethren for being petty with the lives of ordinary people given the riches produced by the sport."

I had a friend who worked for both the White Sox and the Bulls -- he said that Reinsdorf was a generous and fair guy to work for and treated his employees well.

have heard he's good to his employees, except those that put on a uniform :)

He seems to detest the player union...but glad he has some ounce of morality in those rich, old bones of his.

I always thought he should have given Jordan a chunk of the Bulls, but to a guy like Reinsdorf that's probably communist. But overall he seems to pay pretty good at the professional sports level, and he's got quite a few championships under his belt. As Chicago owners go, as much as I'm not crazy about the white sox (I don't hate them, either - my family had too many sox fans as I grew up on the south side - I was the lone rebel in fact), he's been pretty good.

"but to a guy like Reinsdorf that's probably communist"

Except when Comrade Jerry is having state build his park and restaurants within there.

Ha! Good point!

good look at minor league park factors...

FSL hardest league to score runs in over the last 5 years...good luck Baez and Soler.

PCL is very hitting friendly, although Principal Park is near the bottom as a run scoring environment

Southern League is about the middle to slightly conservative, although the Smokies park is the friendliest hitting environment in that league (or least friendly pitching environment depending on your point of view)

FSL very unfriedly as mentioned, although Jackie Robinson skews slightly hitter friendly for the league

Midwest League around the same as Southern League, Chiefs park is near the bottom and Kane County isn't much better

Northwest League is quite hitter friendly, no ballpark factors were listed though.

"Cubs acquired OF Jose Dore from the Padres for a player to be named later or cash considerations."


Cubs traded for 1B/OF Jose Dore from the Padres for a PTBNL or cash

Dore will play his age 21 season this year...8th round pick in 2010 draft.

"hey, ronny just hit .290 with a .371 ob% with a double and a homer for STL this spring...what are you going to do now?"

"get released!"

Can he play 3b? Sigh.

Levine says don't expect Marmol or Soriano traded before the start of the season, particularly because of all the injuries. Cubs looking for utility player that can play both infield and outfield.

better showing for tonight's WBC final in SF...could be better, though.

looks like they have's a bit hard to tell, though the park is filled out a lot more tonight (especially in the bleachers and lower levels).

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  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 17 min ago view
  • ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels. 

    M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores)  the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating. 

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 19 min ago view
  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 2 hours 29 min ago view
  • PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.

    The E-Man 3 hours 12 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 7 hours 57 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 7 hours 58 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 17 hours 39 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 20 hours 37 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 20 hours 49 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 20 hours 58 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 21 hours 4 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 21 hours 22 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 21 hours 58 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 22 hours 16 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 22 hours 18 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 22 hours 36 min ago view