Cubs

Who’s next? Cubs think Javier Baez is in a good place at Iowa

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Who’s next? Cubs think Javier Baez is in a good place at Iowa

The Cubs think Javier Baez is in a good place right now.

Of course, Baez would rather be in The Show than Triple-A Iowa. The guy has the Major League Baseball logo tattooed onto the back of his neck.

But Baez is a very important piece of the puzzle, either as a potential trade chip, so Theo Epstein’s front office can get a frontline pitcher, or a midseason shot of adrenaline for this team.

That’s why Baez still moves the needle at Wrigley Field, even on a Tuesday night where the Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 after Addison Russell’s walk-off double.

Baez is responding to the adversity after failing to make the team out of spring training, and taking an extended leave of absence to mourn the death of his younger sister.

“He’s having a really good run right now,” said Jason McLeod, the head of scouting and player development. “The mindset is there. He had to deal with a lot in the offseason from a professional level – and certainly personally with what took place with his family.

“(Farm director) Jaron Madison’s down there with him right now. And just talking with Jaron every day, you can see that sparkle there. He’s happy with how things are going.”

[RELATED: Rookies come through in the clutch for Cubs in win over Nats]

Baez is hitting .311 with five homers, 17 RBI and a .911 OPS through 24 games at Iowa. He’s struck out 25 times and worked nine walks, trying to evolve as a hitter, make more contact and smooth out those extreme swing-and-miss issues.

Baez has also committed 11 errors. But manager Joe Maddon has repeatedly called Baez one of the finest young middle infielders he’s ever seen.

To stabilize a shaky defense, one scenario kicked around would have Kris Bryant shifting to left field and Baez taking over at third base. But McLeod said the Cubs aren’t looking to move Baez anywhere except shortstop and second base.

“No immediate plans for it right now,” McLeod said. “He does kid around sometimes and go take flyballs in the outfield. We might start having him do some of those types of things, but it wouldn’t be predicated on anything that’s happening up here, necessarily.”

The Cubs already have an All-Star shortstop (Starlin Castro) and an emerging second baseman (Russell). If Baez has such a great feel for the game, why not see what he can do in the outfield?

“Who knows?” McLeod said. “It wouldn’t be surprising if we did see him out there. No plans are in the works to do that. I want to make that clear.

“But because he does have the athleticism and the ability – like I said, he’s a baseball player – I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go out there and be pretty darn good if that’s the way we go.”

[MLB DRAFT: Will Cubs use first-round pick on a pitcher?]

Baez is also 22 years old and looked lost at times during last year’s 52-game audition (95 strikeouts). The Cubs don’t want to mess up his rhythm. He’s still only one phone call away.

“All we’re concerned about right now is him maintaining this,” McLeod said. “Certainly, he’s someone who wants to come up here and help the team win. And Joe, Theo, we’re all looking at that every single day. Those are conversations that take place internally every day.”

Cubs option David Bote to Triple-A Iowa

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USA TODAY

Cubs option David Bote to Triple-A Iowa

David Bote signed a 5-year contract with the Cubs at the beginning of the year, but he is headed to Triple-A Iowa.

Bote joins Ian Happ, Addison Russell and Albert Almora Jr. as notable Cubs position players to be sent to Iowa.

Bote's production isn't as bad as the other three. In fact, Bote has respectable numbers at the plate.

In 310 plate appearances this season the 26-year-old is hitting .257/.352/.429. His OPS+ is 100, meaning he has been exactly league average.

The corresponding roster move was not yet announced, but it is expected that reliever Steve Cishek will be activated ahead of Tuesday's game against the San Francisco Giants.

Mark Zagunis was also sent back to Iowa after serving as the 26th man for Sunday's Little League Classic.

 

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Appreciating Jose Quintana

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Appreciating Jose Quintana

Luke Stuckmeyer sits down with David Kaplan, Chris Kamka and Nate Poppen to discuss Jose Quintana's dominant stretch, the importance of this upcoming homestand, and the best moments of the LLWS Classic.

00:00:25

Examining the roller coaster week that ended with the Cubs winning their first road series since

00:02:21

Jose Quintana appreciation: Chris Kamka delivers some spectacular stats to back up Q's tremendous run since June 29th.

00:07:28

If the Cubs make the playoffs... would you pitch Quintana in Game 1?

00:08:28

The guys pick their favorite moments from the Little League World Series Classic.

00:10:03

Since we are talking about Little League... will we ever see a return to "situational hitting" and "small ball" in Major League Baseball?

00:12:53

Since the ball is "juiced" in 2019 - why are Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo not hitting more home runs? Chris Kamka thinks he has the answer to that question.

00:14:57

Chris Kamka examines the Cubs awful road record - which could have more to do with bad luck than people think.

00:18:16

Preview of this week's homestand, keeping in mind that the Brewers and Cardinals will face each other 6 times over 10 days.

00:20:53

Kap gets in his time machine and plays "what if" the Cubs didn't make a few trades/signings before and after the 2016 World Series.

00:24:45

Kap discusses the "level of expectations" that Cubs fans have now.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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