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A Few Cubs Afternoon Notes: Edwin Jackson, Starlin Castro, Javier Baez

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There are a few things I wanted to look at while we wait for tonight's final 2014 home game.

Brian Kersey
Before this afternoon gets by, I wanted to examine a few Cubs notes reported by Mark Gonzales in this Tribune article:

Edwin Jackson to the bullpen

From the article:

"We spoke to him (Monday)," Renteria said after announcing that left-handers Eric Jokisch, Tsuyoshi Wada and Kyle Hendricks would start the final three games in Milwaukee. "He was open to it."

Renteria was careful not to speculate if Jackson, 31, would stay in the bullpen to open the 2015 season.

"We'll take the next few days, first and foremost, and see how it goes," Renteria said.
The article goes on to point out Jackson's 10.46 ERA and .376 opponents' batting average in the first inning. Personally, I can't imagine a scenario where Jackson would pitch at all, unless Jokisch, Wada or Hendricks is blown out in the early innings and the Cubs need a mop-up man, or in a situation where the Cubs have a huge lead in the eighth inning or later and they figure it's safe to put Jackson in a game. Telling is this quote from Wada:
"The day after my last outing, I was told if anything happened to a starter, injury or other circumstances, I was told not to shut it down and be mentally prepared if something happens," said Wada, who will throw a light bullpen session Wednesday.
Clearly, these are those "other circumstances," and I'm led to wonder whether the brass almost expected Jackson to melt down in his last start. Otherwise Jackson was probably going to take the start that's going to Wada. I'm glad to see Wada get one more chance. It doesn't yet seem clear, based on various reports, whether he'll be back in 2015, but the fact that he's being given another start when the Cubs do have other options implies that they still want to consider him.

Starlin Castro is out for the year

From the article:
"It would be very difficult for him to be back before the end of the season," Renteria said of Castro, who batted .292 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs and made his third All-Star team. "He's still wearing his (walking) boot. He's not doing any baseball activity. He has done a great job of trying to push himself with the idea he was going to participate before the season was over. It's a credit to him, but we all understand the jolt he took on that ankle was pretty good. He did everything he could to put himself on the map with us before the season is out.

"But right now, it would be very difficult for me to see him back on the field."

It's too bad that Castro was injured, ending his season (to date) when he was getting back on track to head toward the .300 mark. But he should be proud of a comeback year where he tied his career high in home runs, played better defense, and had his third year of 33 or more doubles. He should come back strong in 2015.

Javier Baez is striking out even more than seemed possible

We knew Baez would strike out a lot. Why is this happening?

"When we look at his film, there's one thing that stands out," Renteria said of Baez, who struck out in each of his first two at-bats against Shelby Miller and increased his strikeout total to 87. "If he swings at strikes, he does damage. If he swings at balls, he doesn't. It has nothing to do with mechanics. It has to do with approach."

Actually, Baez has struck out 88 times, but who's counting.

What Renteria says above seems blindingly obvious -- I mean, really, you swing at strikes and don't swing at balls? That's Baseball 101. There has to be something in his approach that he can change, and Baez is said in the article to not be much of a fan of watching video of himself, but adjusting instead on how he "feels."

Well, maybe it'll work and maybe it won't, but Baez is striking out more than just about anyone in major-league history, by ratio. Baez has 195 at-bats for his 88 strikeouts. Here are all the players in the expansion era who have had more than 50 strikeouts in 195 at-bats in a single season:

Rk Player SO AB Year Age Tm Lg G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Javier Baez 88 195 2014 21 CHC NL 48 211 23 32 6 0 9 18 15 .164 .227 .333 .561
2 Brad Hawpe 68 195 2011 32 SDP NL 62 216 19 45 10 0 4 19 19 .231 .301 .344 .645
3 Sean Rodriguez 59 195 2013 28 TBR AL 96 222 21 48 10 1 5 23 17 .246 .320 .385 .704
4 Royce Clayton 53 195 2007 37 TOT AL 77 216 24 48 14 0 1 12 14 .246 .296 .333 .629
5 Ryan Raburn 51 195 2014 33 CLE AL 74 212 18 39 7 0 4 22 13 .200 .250 .297 .547
6 Dee Brown 50 195 2004 26 KCR AL 59 209 19 49 7 0 4 24 11 .251 .293 .349 .642
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/24/2014.

As you can see, no one who has had as many AB as Baez has come anywhere close to his K total. I honestly don't think that's going to change -- he is going to be a strikeout machine in the major leagues. If he can get the BA up to around .240 and hit 30-plus home runs, I think we can live with that. But he's got work to do to even get there.