Mar. 09, 2017
Where Does Javier Baez Fit into the Cubs Equation?
Javier Baez was a big reason why the Chicago Cubs finished where they did last season and why they eventually became World Series Champions. Not only did he bring his love & passion for the game to the field each and every day, he also displayed an unmatched level of enthusiasm.
Last season, Joe Maddon used Baez as a utility player as he saw time at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, and out in leftfield. Heading into the 2017 season, it would seem that Baez will likely be used in the same role, but is there an everyday spot for him on a team that is loaded?
First, let's take a look at the various depth options that Joe Maddon has available to him. Of course, you have both Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant locking down things on the corners at first and third base, then you have the useful, Ben Zobrist, primarily slated to be the second baseman, and young shortstop, Addison Russell. Moving to the outfield, it would appear that Kyle Schwarber will be the team's everyday leftfielder, Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay will platoon in centerfield, and Jason Heyward will be over in right.
Essentially, that leaves no position unfilled, but that certainly doesn't mean that Javier Baez will miss out on a significant amount of playing time or be sent down to the minor leagues. In reality, it means that Joe Maddon has another powerful option on his roster and someone to turn to in the event of an injury or a time when he gives someone the day off.
For instance, Maddon might decide to rest Anthony Rizzo one day, which would allow Kris Bryant to move over to first base and put Baez over at third. In addition, Maddon might decide to use, Ben Zobrist, out in leftfield, move Kyle Schwarber behind the plate, and put Baez at second. There are essentially so many different scenarios that you could create where Joe Maddon could mix-and-match with different players.
Furthermore, the Cubs also have assurance in case outfielder, Jason Heyward, starts to struggle coming out of the gate in 2017. If Heyward begins to struggle, then Joe Maddon can move Ben Zobrist to rightfield, have Javier Baez play at second base, and utilize Jason Heyward as the team's fourth outfielder.
Regardless, one of the most defining things about the Cubs is the amount of depth that they have at every position around the diamond and in the outfield. It allows holes to be filled, gives Joe Maddon the opportunity to play players who are making an impact, and gives the team the best opportunity to win everyday.
When all is said and done, it might appear as though Javier Baez will fill a bench role this season, but anything can happen over the course of the regular season meaning that we will likely see Baez quite frequently as Joe Maddon looks to repeat the success that he and the rest of the team had last year.