Bye, Bye Baez. This Justin The Outfield. See What I Did?

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The scoreboard didn’t do the game justice as the Cubs took it on the chin yesterday against the Cincinnati Reds. The big news of the day is Mr. Anthony Rizzo connecting on three hits, but one of the problems that plagued Chicago last season was their inability to bring the runners home.

Guess what?

They did the same thing yesterday. I keep telling myself it’s only spring training, but leaving runners stranded is one of my pet peeves with a club trying to make it to the post season. You just can’t do it.

All right, it comes as no surprise that fan favourite, Javier Baez was cut by the club yesterday. He notched 5 home runs during his tenure with the Cubs this spring and batted .310. Not shabby at all, but the plan from the get go was to get him as many At Bats as they can during the spring. I’m disappointed with the decision to start him in AAA, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the guy and was hoping to see him come Opening Day. The kid’s exactly what the Cubs need this season but I understand their thinking and can live with that. Some insiders believe that a June call up is will be imminent.

“I think he’s made a lot of progress,” Rick Renteria said. “One of the things we talked about is to make sure he continues to work on his defense, continue to go down there and put together some good at-bats, try to get on base a little more through the process and just go out there and be a professional.”

I’d say he’s done a great job of that.

A player that I haven’t really talked about this year and could very well be “The” guy to have a breakout season with the Cubs is, Justin Ruggiano. His batting average is .324 this spring after coming over from Miami during the offseason. I think he’s finding his groove with the Cubs. He’s third on the team in hits sitting behind Rizzo, Baez and Olt. We know Baez’s fate with the club so this could be a potential pop for Ruggiano. Did that make sense?

The stat I like is his OBP. It’s a healthy .361 and will only improve throughout the season. Matching his On Base Percentage with his 9 RBI’s for second on the team, the Cubs could very well have solved their tiny problem of leaving those pesky runners stranded. I know the numbers aren’t All Star quality, but wait and see, Ruggiano’s going to provide some much needed leadership on this young club throughout the 2014 season.

“I was excited as soon as I found out I was traded to the Cubs,” Ruggiano said. “One, I love the city, and two, I love day games. I’ve got kids. We can stay on the same schedule with day games.

It’s this kind of quality that I believe that Theo Epstein wanted when he signed Justin. He’ll definitely anchor the Outfield.

Believe it!

—Mark

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