No Defense For Castro's Defense

No Defense For Castro's Defense

In the picture Cubs fans dream about—you know, that one where the rebuilding effort has flourished and Wrigley Field is rocking with excitement on a nightly basis as Chicago prepares for a pennant chase—Starlin Castro is the short stop.  But that image becomes blurred, and seems further and further from reality, when he continues to play a predominant role in disastrous innings like this.

The score was tied at one between the Cubs and Brewers, who were playing the middle match of their three game series at Miller Park in Milwaukee Saturday night.

Logan Schafer lofted a shallow fly ball to left field to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning.  Alfonso Soriano took a step backward, then raced forward and lunged to catch the sinking baseball. It skipped off his glove and bounced passed him, sending Schafer to second base.  The play was ruled an error.

Following a walk to Martin Maldonado and a Yuniesky Betancourt ground ball to the right side, the Brewers had runners at second and third with one out.

Pinch hitter Blake Lalli then sent a routine ground ball to Anthony Rizzo at first base.  It banged off his glove and rolled to the foul side of the bag.  Rizzo recovered to retire Lalli, but Schafer scored to give the Brewers the lead.

Four pitches later, Norichika Aoki hit another routine groundball to two-time all-star short stop Starlin Castro.  He fielded the grounder, but couldn’t transfer the ball to his throwing hand and dropped it.  Maldonado scored, and the Brewers had a 3-1 lead.  They would go on to win 5-1.

The Cubs made two of their six errors in the series in that fifth inning Saturday, and had Rizzo not retired Lalli, it would have been three of their seven in the series.

It goes without saying that this rebuilding Cubs team is not good enough to recover from bad defense and fundamental breakdowns.  Clearly, it has been a team wide epidemic since the 2013 season began.

With 17 errors in 17 games, the Cubs have committed the second most defensive miscues in major league baseball.  Only the Washington Nationals have made more.  Fourteen of the 74 runs allowed by Cubs pitchers this season have been unearned.  And that doesn’t include the mental mistakes that don’t show up in box scores that are just as costly as physical errors.

Soriano, despite a much improved 2012 season in left field, has never been confused with a high quality left fielder.  While his miscue is costly, everyone knows why Soriano is in left field.  He’s not part of the core this team is building.  I can live with his mistakes.

Rizzo, firmly entrenched in the core, has been shaky at first base in 2013.  But based on his performance in 2012, his reputation, and his lack of experience, [153 career major league games], credit his recent defensive misfortunes to the pains of rebuilding.

But Castro, despite two appearances in the mid-summer classic and more than 500 hits to his name at just 23 years of age, has already played in 462 major league games following Sunday’s contest in Milwaukee.  While errors are part of the game, it shouldn’t be the case that the team’s young star is still failing to make routine plays on a semi-regular basis in the 461st game of his career.

Of those aforementioned 17 errors the Cubs have committed this season, Castro—the shortstop from whom we’re all still waiting to see marked defensive improvement—has made four of them.

At what point is Castro no longer young enough to be excused for the physical and mental errors he too often commits?

“He’s got a lot more baseball age than Anthony [Rizzo] does,” said Comcast SportsNet Cubs analyst Todd Hollandsworth this week on “Cubs Weekly” on WGN Radio.  “He’s got a lot more experience.  He’s near 500 ball games.  That’s a pretty substantial number.  These mistakes have got to stop.”

In his first three major league seasons, Castro has committed more than 27 errors per season on average.  I know, some defensive metrics suggest his range provides him more fielding opportunities, and as a result he’ll commit more errors.  But anyone that has watched him play since his promotion from Double-A in May of 2010 knows that mental and physical mistakes in the field have plagued him throughout his career.

Since Castro’s arrival three years ago, the prevailing theory was that as the short stop continued to gain experience on the major league level, his defensive prowess might eventually reach, or come close to his offensive ability.  Judging by the early returns of 2013 and the past three full seasons, that hasn’t been the case.

I asked a national league scout earlier this week how many major league games it generally takes for a player to realize his defensive potential.

“A good fielder? Zero,” he said.  “Hitting takes some time.  Pitching takes some time.  Defense should be learned and earned before you get to the big leagues.”

But what about a guy like Castro, who was obviously promoted, and remains a prominent major league player, because of his offensive talent?

“If he’s bad, he’s bad.  With defense, there is no rookie threshold, especially at the shortstop position.  Not everyone is a great defender.”

Over the past couple seasons, baseball sources I’ve spoken to suggest that Castro still has the physical tools to become the defensive shortstop he himself, the organization, and Cubs fans, hope he can become.  No matter the source, there has been one common attribute in which all agreed Castro must improve.

“The simple answer for me is focus,” Hollandsworth said.  These are plays that should really be made.”

“The physical errors I understand,” he added.  “But you watch how some of it breaks down.  Too quick, too fast, not taking one’s time, accelerating the game.  When things start to go south on you, what you want to do is slow things down.”

Castro admitted following the Cubs April 11th loss to San Francisco—one in which he made a costly error that lead to a four-run fourth inning for the Giants—that he must be more relaxed, and he must resist the urge to be too quick with the baseball to avoid mistakes.

But as he approaches 500 games in the major leagues, if he hasn’t figured out how to properly focus and relax while in the field, will he ever, no matter how hard he works at it?

Maybe the bigger question is this: as the Cubs continue to put pieces together for their eventual turnaround, the team that competes for the division title if not the World Series on an annual basis, can it win if Castro is a “bad” defender?

They had better figure that out, and soon.  Or perhaps it’s time for a position change, or a trade.

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    It's beginning to look more and more like Castro will be the guy to change positions. You just gotta have a guy that can play defense up the middle. I doubt they would even consider trading him right now considering they just signed him to a long term extension.

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    I said in next post, moving positions won't solve a problem with focus; it just moves it to another position. Castro has the physical tools; usually players get moved because they don't have the tools (ex: Ryan Theriot; he just didn't have the range for SS).

    Plus, where do you move him? To an OF corner? His bat goes from plus to a negative with that move

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    As you say, it is a focus problem. I think as Castro matures he can address that and cut the problem down, and he has an excellent example on his own team: Darwin Barney. I don't know him personally, but reports are that Darwin Barney is mentally about the sharpest defender in baseball....you can't go a whole year without errors without amazing focus and concentration.

    Moving Castro to another position won't solve that problem, so he's our shortstop, good and bad.

    I think he'll improve; he has all the physical gifts, and seems to recognize the problem

  • In reply to Zonk:

    If Barney can help Castro become a superior defender, I say that would make him a core piece on this team right there in itself.

  • In reply to mosconml:

    Castro will never become a superior defender! Best case is you hope he drives in more runs than he lets in with his defense. I must admit that I have never been a big Castro fan, but hoped he would change my mind. So for NOT!

  • If the team could hit (and score) better, most of these errors would not be so magnified right now.

    They literally do have a very small margin for error.

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    In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Exactly. Castro is still a kid, and everyone seems to forget he plays SS, the most demanding position in the game where the best players still make over 10 errors per year and 20 errors isn't uncommon from guys considered "good" fielders at SS. Castro's defense so far this year isn't the reason we're not undefeated and setting records. The offense stinks, as we expected. When you get virtually no offense there is no margin for error on defense or running the bases. But this is a young team and despite everyone foaming at the mouth that they should be better, the job of the coaches is to make these guys better and stop making ridiculous threats to ship star players to the minors. I don't see anyone threatening to send Soriano to the minors, nobody threatened to send ARam to the minors for not running out hits his entire Cubs career, etc.

    Castro from some reason seems to be the scapegoat everytime someone wants to criticize the team.

    Yes, he needs to improve and become more consistent. The entire team does. He's also 23. I recommend everyone go look at Edgar Renteria's career fielding stats. He's the guy most people compared Castro to, both offensively and defensively the first couple of years Castro was in the majors.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/renteed01.shtml#standard_fielding::none

    Renteria had 20+ errors in each of his age 21-24 seasons, with a fielding percentage similar to Castro's in his first 3 years. Then in Renteria's age 25 season, 2002, he cut his errors down a small amount to 19 and suddenly won the Gold Glove. The same thing happened the next year, a small improvement, errors down to 16, and another Gold Glove. Just 2 years later Renteria would have 30 errors in one season. I wouldn't expect Castro is going to become a far better player than Renteria on defense, but he could be even better on offense as he matures and adds muscle. He could fill out enough to move to 3B eventually. But this is a team going nowhere, not just this year but in 2014 as well. Castro might as well continue to play SS everyday until it becomes a true problem. 4 errors in the first 3 weeks of a season isn't enough to suddenly want to run a guy out of town.

  • If Stanton and or Price become available should the Cubs go
    all out for either one. At what price. Such talents my never
    hit the market for many years to come.

  • Look where his eyes are at! He knows where 1st base is; he is moving directly at it. What he doesn't know is where the ball is in his glove. Fielding with your eyes on the throwing target is like swinging at a ball while looking at the center-field scoreboard. It isn't ability, it is technique. I should say though that Castro started out the same way last year. Overall the Cubs defense is as you said, incapable of not impacting the game outcome of a less than stellar team.

  • Let's not forget, Castro is still the best player on this team despite the defensive issues. A good team with good teammates would pick him up when he made mistakes. Right now I believe he been looked at by fans and the media as the leader by default because he's the best player. When he makes mistakes, everyone blows it out of proportion. I wish we had 8 Starlin Castros out there on the field right now. He is our best player. He is not a perfect player and he may not be our future leader, but I still wish we had more players like him... I also want to point out that I believe Chase Utley forgot how many outs there were last night. I guess it can happen to the best of them.

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    In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Noody is going to question that because they have already made up their mind on who Utley is and therefore anything he does will be given a pass. Same for Castro except the opposite. It's not fair but it's human nature.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    You wish they had 8 Starlin Castros? Really? I'm glad you're not the GM. Castro is a talented hitter but has proven over 3+ seasons now that he's not focused the way he needs to be to make plays more consistently in the field and on the bases.

    I'm not saying he doesn't deserve plenty of credit for his offensive talent, but I want players with a MUCH better mental makeup than Castro.

  • In reply to Jordan Bernfield:

    Clearly Jordan, you have missed my point which is that I would rather have 8 Starlin Castros over the 8 position players we are throwing out there night in and night out. Unless you've been living under a rock, you must admit you'd trade any starter we currently have for a player like Starlin Castro. If you disagree with that statement then I'm glad you are not the GM. This does not mean I hope to get to the point of having 8 Starlin Castros. Every player is different and will bring different things to the table. I tend to believe as we add talent to the major league club, Castro will end up taking a complementary role to other leaders on the team. This does not mean he's not already a very good shortstop. And let's not forget he's only 23. The media and articles like this give fans the wrong impression of Castro. He is a very talented young shortstop that any team would love as a piece to build around. I would take him on the Cubs over any other shortstop in the National League with probably the only exception being Ian Desmond. Last year the media blew his mistakes out of proportion and Rafael Furcal got voted by the fans as the starter for the All Star game. It took his piers (the players) to get it right by selecting him. He is one of the best shortstops in the game. He is an All Star. He is young and he makes some mistakes. The media including yourself tries to crucify the best player on the team when in reality we need more All Star caliber players. Not every player is going to be a hall of famer. This very well may be Castro's ceiling (a very good hitter with questionable defense who makes some mental mistakes) and at the end of the I'll take that over most the other shortstops in the league.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    You hit it on the head. I'm thrilled we have a SS of Castro's ability. Put him on the market and see how many calls you get. Remember cream rises.

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    No one is untouchable. I'm for trading anyone if the price is right. Castro is still young, his contract is locked in, He still has tremendous value, and if they decide to sell, they should sell while his value is still high.

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    Defensive WAR can be a suspect stat, but to the extent it matters, Starlin did contribute 1.2 WAR last year on defense alone, despite committing 27 errors. This was due to his above-average range at SS.

    He needs to improve, yes, but he's not that bad as it is. And of course he is a 3-4 WAR player on offense at the SS position

    He may be talented and flawed, but at least he's talented, more than I can say for most of our roster...

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    The talent of this team, overall pitching, hitting, and impact players doesn't afford the club the luxury of tolerating inconsistency up the middle. The action and importance of those positions can't be overstated. I would start figuring out what other position he can fit. If you are a sloppy or erratic, SS is the wrong position for a team that needs to do everything wrong to have a chance of winning.

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    In reply to John from Denmark:

    WRONG-- Freudian slip of what I think of this team.

  • I have been thinking about this for awhile and would like to here some feed back. I don't think Castro is a no. 2 hitter. I would swap him with Castillo. From what I have seen so far, Beef is a good hit and run guy who is also willing to go the opposite way. I like a lineup of
    DDJ
    Castillo
    Rizzo
    Soriano
    Nate
    Castro
    Valbueno
    Barney

  • John, my standard on how I judge a young player is "do I see improvement"? Problem is, with Castro, when you see improvement you see regression soon thereafter. And they are largely not physical errors, many of them are due to a lack of concentration. The Cubs need to stop babying Castro.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    That's the thing though. Not everyone is Darwin Barney. Brandon Phillips has balls go through his legs almost as frequently as Castro. But nobody questions his focus, when he does it the mantra "errors happen, it's a long season" comes to play and that's it. That's just one example. There are only a select few players in this league that stay locked in pitch-by-pitch. That's a rare thing. You just don't see it being made a big deal with other players like it is Castro.

  • I see Castro as an important part of this team. Batting fifth. Playing third base. He'll be perfect for this team when he settles into those roles.

    But there is no hurry. We need to find a shortstop. We need proper bats at the top of the order. This season is all but over, so it's okay to see guys struggle in their spots. It will make them stronger later on.

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    In reply to HackWilson09:

    Advanced statistics have Castro as above-average as SS. His bat makes him elite at the position. I still, for the life of me, don't understand why anyone would move a top 10 SS off the position unless there's a Derek Jeter in your way.

    Agree with everything else though.

  • So I guess every error he makes Jordan is going to write an article about castro needing to be traded or move to another position.Its funny that one article about castro brings out the people who want castro gone.

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    In reply to seankl:

    Hate to say it but I agree with this. It's starting to be a trend around the internet. Starlin hits .500 for a week, nobody cares. Starlin commits an error or two, "Move 'em or Trade 'em".

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Sean and Marcel,

    This isn't an overreaction to one error. This argument is based on 462 major league games. How long are we going to excuse Castro's defensive lapses due to his age? After 600 games? 800? 1,000? The point is, he's been in the big leagues long enough that these types of mistakes should happen FAR less frequently. He has shown over a large sample size now that his defense is a significant problem.

    You can excuse him for now if you'd like, but you likely won't be excusing him for making errors in big games if and when they're a team competing for a division title or a pennant.

    I appreciate you reading, though, and for your comments.

  • In reply to Jordan Bernfield:

    And, so, the drum beat begins? Lets run this kid out of town! Please.

    This type of post is antithetical to Cubs Den. Ragging. Especially ragging on a 23 year old. Patience with the rebuild should include patience with a young all-star potential superstar.

    How long are we gonna excuse it? Until we are actually competitive and the games and errors actually matter. Until then I'm prepared to give the kid more than 17 into this godforsaken season before people start suggesting he be traded.

    John, your silence is deafening.

  • In reply to Jordan Bernfield:

    Sure, the sample size of 3 seasons has some significance, but it's more likely that the significance of that sample is that it was his age 20-23 seasons. The majority of major league players were in the minors from age 20-23. The fact that he was a good enough player to be in the majors at that age puts him in elite company across the history of MLB! You realize that Starlin Castro made more put-outs from the SS position than any other player in the major leagues last year. No other player in MLB fielded as many outs as he did. The next closest was Alcides Escobar. Castro made 24 more put-outs than any other shortstop. The 2012 average # of errors for SS last year was 15. Castro made 27. So he made 12 errors above average. He also made 24 more outs than the next closest MLB SS!!! He makes up more value by getting to more balls in play than he gives away via errors. Its simple math. He more than makes up for the value he gives away. All of his defensive stats have improved over the last 3 years.

    I appreciate you discussing the topic, but simple research of basic stats- put-outs- would've shown you your narrative was a false misconception. If Castro were on the trade market, 29 GM's are interested. Every team would take this guy.

  • If the Cubs were to send everyone who's screwing up on D to the minors they'd have a team of Darwin Barney.

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    Here's my thing. I think errors have become overblown with Castro and there's no excuse for it. With such advancements we've made with sabermetrics and advanced statistics I thought we were past the point where we let error totals, win/lose record, homeruns, and gold gloves determine if a player was good offensively and defensively. And for the most part we have gotten past that point except when it comes to one guy.....Starlin Castro

    If advanced statistics say he's an above average SS despite the errors then that's who I want at SS. Ryan Theriot committed way less errors at SS but is nowhere near as good, not even close.... So are people going to tell me that they would rather have him at SS than Castro?

    Errors don't mean a player is bad defensively just like hitting 20 homeruns don't make a someone a good hitter if do everything else terribly.

    Everybody talks about focus. That's stupid to me. If the kid is above average statistically then who cares, he's getting results. Don't tell me people would replace him with someone "more focused" but gets less results and they would be happy. That's BS. There's only about 5 SS in the league that can make some of the plays Castro makes or has his skillset. I'm willing to bet he's saved more runs with his Defense than given up.

    Bottom line is I care about results. Starlin Castro is a top 10, maybe even top 5 SS in this league, and the stats back it up. Not to mention young and signed to a team friendly deal, end of discussion. We have one of the rarest commodities in baseball and we should appreciate that. Everything else is nitpicking. All this trade talk is nonsense.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    you are absolutely right on the money here Marcel, and also Nate in your following comment. These are well-reasoned statistically based reactions and not just gut reactions to a few sloppy plays. Granted, we would like to eliminate sloppy plays, but as everybody acknowledges, mistakes happen. Bottom line is castro was a plus defender through advanced metrics last year. Let's get some more data before we panic and trade him over a few bad plays.

  • I've been a long-time reader, but I registered for an account to comment for this article. I don't quite understand why there's all this vitriol about Castro's defense. To me it's the least of the Cubs' worries. You realize that despite committing 27 errors on defense, he contributed positive value strictly on defense last year? That doesn't even include his offensive contribution. Have any of the scouts who are critical of Castro's defense made the suggestion that he should be switched with Darwin Barney, the GG 2B? Because that would appear to be the obvious answer but you don't hear much clamoring for it. The reason is this- it's an incredibly rare set of skills to find a ML SS. Starlin Castro was the 6th most valuable shortstop in the majors last year, per fangraphs, at least for people who played there for an extended period. That;s in the top 5th of all MLB. The Cubs problem is not that Castro, who is young and still developing, has defensive struggles. The Cubs problem is that they don't have a single other position on the roster where their starter is in the top 20% of MLB at his position.

    And if the perspective that defense doesn't improve at the MLB level is true, why were there so many rampant reports that Castro did in fact improve last year? Jeter's career is the same; many more errors in his first few years. In a Pirates broadcast earlier in the year, Jay Bell said the same: that he settled in and improved his defense over the first few years of his career.

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    In reply to RecalcitrantNate:

    Exactly. And this stood out to me

    "A good fielder? Zero,” he said. “Hitting takes some time. Pitching takes some time. Defense should be learned and earned before you get to the big leagues.”

    That last line is exactly the problem that isn't Castro's fault. He was brought up way too early so he never even got the chance to do the last part. Which also means he CAN still improve. Ideally players his age are still in AA. To think that he's maxed out defensively just because he's been here so long is ridiculous.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    And media guys like todd hollandsworth should not be taken seriously because he was in the same boat as bob brently in that they would pick on castro. And one more thing some of this stuff is on the manager, he would say certain things about castro that would have me scratching my head. Ever since he came in as manager he would discredit in some ways castro.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I couldn't put it better than the both of you. Completely agree. Castro is a scapegoat and that's all there is to it. At only 23 he's the best player on this team, and I'm really glad the front office can see it despite all the noise from the media and the fans.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Spot on.

  • In reply to RecalcitrantNate:

    Glad you are part of discussion and thanks for your reading.

  • In reply to RecalcitrantNate:

    Nice piece.

  • In reply to RecalcitrantNate:

    Thank you, Nate. Well said.

  • Bad fundamentals across the whole team. Look at Feldman, beating himself by not covering first etc. and with 3 errors in 3 games! Castro's problems are real, but more emphasized because of his demonstrated star-quality.

    They don't play like a team, they just wear the same uniform.

  • In reply to Floyd Sullivan:

    Feldman should have more than 3 errors.

    On the Post Walking The Bases Loaded / Pre Gopher Ball Error did you hear Len yell "Don't throw it!!!"?

    And of course he threw it. Like halfway to first.
    Fortunately Rizz came off and saved the dope another E.

    But hey, look at the bright side. We got Even Worse Pitcher Fielding to look forward to once Garza gets back.

  • Well As far as Jordan being anti Castro I don't think that is the case. He does have a slightly different take on him than John. I feel like he could have a Jeter like career defensively and that should do if he hits the way I think he will. I'm not opposed to moving him however if Baez proves the better SS.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I agree. If Baez becomes the better SS that's one thing. But i'm starting to feel like that's not what other people are thinking about first, Tom. They just want Castro gone, the Baez argument is just a cop-out for them so they don't sound too stupid.

    At this same point in Castro's development he was already a better SS than Baez is so there's really no reason for me to believe he'll be better. Not to say he won't but people are already acting like it's a forgone conclusion, which is ridiculous and based on nothing.

  • I'm glad Jordan can bring a different perspective. It's good for discussion.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    It is and that will only expand the site and discussion. It's good to see other peoples views and perspectives on different things.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Thanks, Tom.

    And for the record, you're correct, I'm NOT anti-Castro.

    I just believe that he deserves criticism like everyone else, and some Cubs fans rush to defend him because of who he is. (Though, I do understand the perception that his mistakes are magnified, but that comes with the territory.)

    I believe the Cubs can win with Castro, but I don't think he'd be my shortstop on a winning team. I suggested on the air last season I'd consider him for left field. Soriano has one year left on his deal. It might make sense to have Castro succeed him there. I realize it would significantly decrease his "positional value", but left field may compliment Castro's strengths as a defender--athleticism and arm strength.

  • There is also no question Castro is a punching bag for the local media, in this case they are in town stupid.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Next thing you know they'll want the Bulls to trade Derrick Rose.
    Oh, wait....

  • Errors are not the end all be all measure of a players defensive ability. I'm not sure why so much attention is paid to that stat. Castro led the league in put outs last year. He makes some errors but he gets to balls that a lot of players can't get to and makes some throws that a lot of players can't make. He's going to make errors, but that doesn't in and of itself make him a bad defender.

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    In reply to Ike03:

    Exactly.

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    Castro does seem better when Barney is at 2b. Albeit that wasn't the case on Saturday. I think a position change needs to happen in the off season if it happens at all. Maybe dropping him in the lineup will renew his focus on defense?

    As for Rizzo, if he doesn't develop into a first class defender at first does he move to leftfield when Soriano is gone? I'm know I'm way ahead of myself but he's far more athletic than Vogelbach...

    I'm in agreement with changing the lineup. RISP stat alone says we're not taking advantage of our opportunities. I'd like to see Borbon get a start at the top tonight and Hairston a start in left before he rusts to death. For the regular lineup vs. righties, I'd like to see Valbuena replace DeJesus in the leadoff spot and Rizzo dropped to fifth, with either Castillo or Schierholtz hitting third. What I think would happen is that Valbuena will increase his OBP and some serious pressure would fall off Rizzo.

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    I don't really agree with position changes for Castro and Rizzo when both are rated above-average overall defensively.

    I do agree with a change in the lineup. Castro is not a 2-hole hitter. His skillset is more suited to the 3rd or 5th spot. Where you want your best overall hitter with the best plate coverage.

    Rizzo IMO is a 4 hole guy. Decent average, ok contact rate, high power output and OBP.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I agree, I think castro belongs in more rbi spots. And all this talk before the season started about him needing to have a break out season was stupid. The kid is 23 years old and is a 2 time allstar with having it all figured out, He is years away from his peak years. Just let the kid play and figure the game out.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I mean without having it all figured out. sorry guys

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Can't argue that.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I'd rather have Rizzo 3. I've always liked power guys with high OBP/count working skills there because (a) they have a decent chance of being on base for when the big man at 4 hits his home runs and (b) while they're taking pitches, the 4 hitter is on deck getting a good look at what the pitcher has. Moreover, RIzzo is okay 4 for now, but if either Baez or Soler makes it, their power figures to lock down the 4 slot for a decade.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Marcel,

    You really seem hell bent on defending Castro at SS. I mentioned in my post how it's beginning to look more and more like Castro may be the one that changes positions. His bat would play very well at 3B. And we all know that the Cubs are stacked with middle infielders.

    We also know that those middle infielders are not ready to play in the show just yet. But no one is really saying (especially me) that this change needs to happen immediately. This year has to be a year to really figure out what we got.

    Why keep Castro at SS if someone else can fill that space much better defensively. I, for one, would much prefer a gold glove SS with a little bat than what we currently employ. Pitching and defense win championships, not hitting.

    So we should judge Castro on being able to handle the SS position based on his offensive stats. Just make the defensive plays and he sticks. These "mental" mistakes kill us and always seem to give the other teams second and third chances to score runs.

    We have options and should remain open minded to what is best for the Cubs....... Just my 2 cents

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    So we should NOT judge Castro on being able to handle the SS position based on his offensive stats.

    Sorry, forgot to add that little word "NOT" in my sentence....

  • OK the Nationals have made more team errors than the Cubs? Jeez. I realize they're only 10-8 so it's not like they're running away with anything but I think that's kind of a key point in this whole issue with the defense. It's very frustrating to watch of course, but all you have to do is look at the Nationals line-up to see why they are able to survive all those errors. The Cubs have almost nothing they have. The Cubs pitching is just OK and the offense is pretty awful. I hate the Castro errors and I hate how they usually lead to big innings. I'm guess the Nationals errors do not lead to as many big innings, since they're 10-8 instead of 5-12

  • This thing about moving him to left field jordan has to stop!!!! The outfield is not easy, just ask soriano about moving from middle infield to the outfield. What are you going to do if he is not good there ? Then everyone is going to want to trade him again and bash him. And there's nothing wrong with criticism but there is such thing a unfair criticism. The errors are not good but if he makes one error to go along with the other three the team made people on twitter and media blame him for the team losing. Rizzo made mental mistakes all last year, but twitter and the media look the other way.

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    In reply to seankl:

    I don't think Jordan said Castro should move to left field. He merely asks if the Cubs can win championships with Castro making sooooooo many mistakes at SS. If not, then maybe a position change might be better suited for the Cubs.

    A position change...... or a trade.....

    Other folks here have speculated various positions better suited such as left field or 3B....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    He said in his comment above and other times he would consider him for the outoutfield. The real question is can the cubs win a championship with the team they have. Why do we use sabermetrics on other players but when it comes to castro it comes down to just errors.

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    In reply to seankl:

    I guess we just read it differently. I have no problem with using sabermetrics. We all know we can't win championships with the team we have. So doesn't that mean we need to change?

    If so, why not ask the question...... Can we win championships with Castro being our SS? Or would the Cubs as a whole be better off by moving him to another position such as 3B (as I suggest) and inserting a much better defender at SS?

    Nothing wrong with asking the question, imo. I seem to remember a certain Cubs 2B that used to play 3B when he first came to the Cubs. That guy made it to the HOF.

    I just say to remain open minded to everything. We got a whole lotta issues that still remain. We need solutions in this year 2 of the rebuild......

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    The thing is castro is not a bad defender, you guys talk about him like he's Chuck Knoblauch. I respect your opinion though.

  • What cruel trick of the interwebs has redirected me to the Rosenblog???

  • I don't think position switch is the problem here. He's got a problem with focusing, out of his 4 errors this year I don't think either of them have been throwing errors. They've just been lack of focus and rushing the play.

    That said, I think if the team was doing a lot better on the whole he'd be doing a lot better defensively. Just seems like he's trying to be too perfect out there. Like he's telling himself he can't make another error or "i gotta be more like Barney." Puts too much pressure on himself. Especially when you consider that lack of offense the margin for error on defense and pitching is extremely slim.

    Ill agree that there should be some talk about his focus problems, but I also think its too early to say for sure. He's only 22 and was rushed, so I guess if the trend continues with Baez lurking then we should probably talk about what to do with him. As for now with no replacement, let him play.

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    I guess some of you boys won't be happy until you run Castro off this team all together. Perhaps force the FO into trading him, and then you can one again watch our shortstop become a star for another team. Oh my, doesn't that sound all to familiar? Castro was brought up probably 2 years early in in development, and your now expecting to play without ever making a miscue in this media environment. Only media people in Chicago or Cub fans talk about moving or trading Castro, no baseball people or scouts do. What does that tell you? Let Castro grow and please take a deep breath.

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    I guess some of you boys won't be happy until you run Castro off this team all together. Perhaps force the FO into trading him, and then you can one again watch our shortstop become a star for another team. Oh my, doesn't that sound all to familiar? Castro was brought up probably 2 years early in in development, and your now expecting to play without ever making a miscue in this media environment. Only media people in Chicago or Cub fans talk about moving or trading Castro, no baseball people or scouts do. What does that tell you? Let Castro grow and please take a deep breath.

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    In reply to Betty Amie:

    I sure hope we don't trade Castro!!!! That's the old Cubs way!

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Let me take back that statement. If we get David Price and Stanton in a 3 team deal for Castro. I might pull the trigger.....

    Might......

  • Lets talk about the whole team making errors instead of on person. He has four errors but the whole team is throwing the ball around. We are missing the cut off man is that castro 's fault. We are throwing to the wrong base on bunt plays, is that castro's fault, Why are the pitchers not getting to first base on time, is that castro's fault.Does he need to play better, Yes but as usual the focus is on castro and questioning if you could win a world series with him at SS.

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    In reply to seankl:

    But is whole team part of the "core" players going forward? Only Rizzo and Castro fit that mold for everyday players. So why not talk about it?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Because this is all getting old like dale says. Guys pick and choose when they mention castro. When he is going good media and fans are silent but let him make one error and the cubs lose. You can't say castro doesn't gets treated different than even rizzo.

  • I don't see a rush on making any of these decisions. We won't compete for 2 years and he is signed comfortably into the future on a team-friendly deal. Defensive metrics seem to like him in spite of youthful inconsistency, suggesting there's a chance he could be really good. He should play SS until the decision is brought to a critical threshold by us becoming competitive. Additionally, if he is ultimately trade bait, he will garner far more market value as a SS, even with perceived inadequacies.

  • I understand the concern about errors but, lets get real here!

    Right now this team stinks! They can't hit or field! Pitching has also been erratic! I don't understand why Sveum would call out his two young players in the media?

    Yes, Castro is making some errors, fine, yet he is hitting 300! Not many other players on the squad are even close. Rizzo, has been a solid defender so far and we are gonna send him down when he boots a ball or two?

    Hey, how about sending Dale down to AAA when he makes a couple of bone head moves? Marmol blows save after save - no mention of demotion from Sveum.

    Nobody is seeing the big picture. This team is built to lose. We lost 100 last season and guess what, we will probably lose 100 again! What we should be focusing on is the players in the minors developing as well as our core players.

    Castro is 23? How many mistakes did we all make at 23? Now he gets paid a hell of a lot of money not to make so many mistakes but, come on people, give him a break. Who else are we going to put in there? Ian Stewart? Look at this roster twice and I'd take Castro & Rizzo over the majority of the rest any day.

  • Jordan,

    As a fellow Cubs Den blogger, let me pass you some free advice- Don't F with Marcel Jenkins. Yeah, he looks all smooth in his picture with his girl, and his nice comments. But the man is RUTHLESS. He told Phil Rodgers never to write on the Cubs again, and HE HASN'T!!!!!!! Guy's in a vacant for all we know. Just tell Macel he's right and move on....

    Frankly, I think you're hiding behind the games played number. I would argue that Castro should have never been up his first year. To me he's played 179 games under this Cubs regime. And I saw improvement last year. Lots of improvement. Has he started out slow this year? Yes, But I'm not ready to throw out the words "Digression" yet. What? Because he signed the big contract that means he's no longer 23? He's 23. He's had maybe 2 plays I've had a problem with. But everyone treats each error with concussion like repercussions. Each one becomes bigger and bigger in everyone's eyes.

    Gary Templeton's first 4 years...24 errors, errors, 40 errors, and 32 errors. He wound up playing 15 years at Short....

    Can Castro play better? Yes. Are people overreacting? Good God yes.

  • In reply to felzz:

    Too funny and some good points.

  • Bonehead plays are frustrating. That's why my hair is a little thinner than the average 30 year old. When guys like Starlin and Rizzo wet the bed, I take a deep breath and shake my head. When clowns like Feldman piss down their legs, I start screaming at the TV. Point is that your producers deserve a little more slack than the other guys. That's just the way it is and goes down through every level of baseball. I don't really have an issue with the miscues by those two in the grand scheme of things. They're studs. They're young. I'm over that. What's REALLY frustrating is seeing out after out get made when we have runners in scoring position. It magnifies the bad play and brings a lot of "blog heat" on guys. Castro's error in the 4th in the Giant game was a killer. Wouldn't have been if someone had stepped up and hit a three run jack sometime in our next SIX turns at bat! Or, God forbid, a 6 spot or something! As Jordan said, we're not the kind of team to overcome that. Yet. Most of the teams that are good enough to overcome such miscues don't have SS's as good as ours though. (and by 'good' I mean inside track to 3,000 hits.)
    Would we be a better defensive team with Barney at short? I'm pretty confident Barney would grade out better at shortstop. So, I guess we would. What about Baez? I think we'd be better off with Starlin at short and David Price on the hill. Sit on Alcantara for two more years and then make a decision on Castro.

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    There are 12 MLB SS who have 3 errors or more, 25 who have 2 or more. Castro has 4. This is not a big deal.

  • In reply to Denvil Farley:

    Thanks for the much-needed perspective.

  • Love Jordan but if Castro ever changed positions it would be to 2b or 3b. He would lose so much value in LF.

  • Templeton was a good example and Jeter always comes to mind when it comes to Castro. Just want him to have his head in the game, if the errors continue then so be it.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Again, though, the errors are a byproduct of his lack of focus. That's why I'm not sure it'll ever be fixed.

  • I am a first time poster at Cubs Den, a long time cder. I would bet I have read every post and comment in at least 6 months. And I must say I love this blog.

    The thing that got me addicted this blog is the authors and community are so knowledgable. I feel like I learn with every new article and their comments.

    That said, people here are really over reacting to a small sample size in a young players career. So, to me the question is why? And I think the answer is body language. Castro seems too casual about his defense and that influences opinion when his age, the sample size and last years saber metrics say to give him a break.

  • I don't understand how this sort of article contributes to this blog.

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