Cubs SS depth: Thoughts on Javier Baez's development and the Thomas Pynchon theory of Starlin Castro's struggles

Cubs SS depth: Thoughts on Javier Baez's development and the Thomas Pynchon theory of Starlin Castro's struggles
Javier Baez

The shortstop position has a high level of attrition in the minors because it is the elite defensive position on the field.  Only those with the best combination of defensive skills, athletic ability, and instincts can remain there defensively long term.  Many, as Arismendy Alcantara just did, will move to 2B.   Some will move to 3B, as Mike Olt did very early on in his career.  Some, like Junior Lake, will wind up in the OF.  And then there are some will stick defensively but won't hit enough to make it matter.

If you have a young, true SS who can also hit, you have yourself one of the most valuable commodities in baseball, not just in terms of trade value, but because they can always switch positions, as many as the aforementioned prospects already have.

The Cubs already have a young, talented cost controlled SS in Starlin Castro but he has run into his first real struggles of his professional career while the Cubs have a seemingly near ready SS in AA in Javier Baez.   It has some speculating that the Cubs will go in a different direction at SS in 2014.  But I might as well give it to you straight right now: They won't.

It will be Baez who moves to accommodate.  The front office has already said so on multiple occasions, including as recently as this month.  They aren't so short-sighted or reactionary as to give up on a 23 year old two-time all-star SS after one bad season.  The team is in the business of collecting assets and potential impact players, Castro is both and he is one of the precious few currently at the MLB level.  There may be a time when the Cubs make a change at SS, but, barring something catastrophic, it will not be in 2014.

Starlin Castro, Cubs (MLB)

.244/.279/.347, wOBA .279, RC+ 69

Those are some painful numbers to look at.  And it's not been a lot of bad luck, the peripherals aren't great either.  He also doesn't pass the old-fashioned eye test.  He simply looks lost up there.   The Cubs have tinkered with his approach and are trying to have him be more selective at the plate.  That part has worked.  Among Cubs with 250 or more plate appearances, Castro has seen more pitches per plate appearance (3.91) than any Cub except for Luis Valbuena and Nate Schierholtz.  Yet, to be perfectly honest, he's been terrible.  The problem to me is that there's more to a good approach then simply taking pitches, it's about setting pitchers up -- or at least not allowing them to set you up.  Unfortunately, that part has only gotten worse for Castro this season.  So yeah, he's taking pitches up there, but it's uncertain if he has a consistent plan at the plate right now.  You can argue whether they should have ever tinkered with him in the first place.  As he was, Castro was a league average hitter the previous 3 years-- an asset in itself at SS where most hitters are well below that level.  Maybe it's not the Cubs new way of doing things, but it worked for him.  He has tremendous hand-eye coordination and plate coverage -- natural skills for a hitter that perhaps have been diminished by this new approach.

I am going to throw something out here that is completely out of left field.  I have nothing behind it, no science to back me up  -- but Castro's struggles have me thinking about the way I think about things -- about the way I'm naturally wired to process information.  I think in big pictures and process, some would call it global thinking.  I am more comfortable reading a work of literature or a book on theoretical physics than I am trying to figure out basic accounting (a class I nearly failed). It's weird, but sometimes the more you try to confine me with structure, the more difficult it gets for me to process information quickly.  Perhaps a better example is this:  I like to cook, but I do so creatively with my own style, my own ingredients and my own proportions.  I have an idea of what I want the entire meal to be from the beginning and I work from there -- but if you ask me to follow a step-by-step recipe with exact measurements, it slows me down, has me re-thinking every step and eventually I will botch it up somewhere along the line.

What if Castro's mind is wired the same way as mine only in terms of hitting a baseball?  What if Castro comes up to the plate needing to see the whole picture in terms of where and how he's being pitched?  Perhaps structuring him and forcing him to break it down into smaller zones and a set of rules inhibits him and slows him down.  Maybe it takes away from the natural way he sees and processes things.  Some hitters can only work through a very structured approach, others like Castro have the natural ability -- the plate coverage and the hand eye coordination -- to work more comfortably in a less confining structure.

Perhaps this is why I am quick to empathize with Starlin Castro's struggles.  They're trying to make him pass an accounting class when he'd probably much rather read Thomas Pynchon.

Javier Baez, Tennessee (AA)

.293/.355/.631, wOBA .439, RC+ 182 (Tennessee only)

.281/.344/.568, 31 HRs, 19 SBs (combined overall)

Baez is lighting up AA the way he lit up high A ball, which is the way he lit up low A.  So the question is quickly becoming focused around his MLB readiness.  My thoughts on that are that we should pump the brakes a little.  The strikeout rates are still high and he's still learning to be consistent with his approach at the plate.  His walk rate has climbed into a more than acceptable level (8.7% as of this writing) and the strikeouts are down from what they were when he first started at AA (22.5% in August).  I often look at AA as a league where players are pretty close to MLB level from a pure raw skills standpoint.  The pitchers throw just as hard and their breaking stuff can be just as crisp.  On the other hand AAA pitchers tend to be much more experienced, with many having MLB experience, so they can be a bit more savvy as far as how to set hitters up.  I think Baez needs some time to adjust to how pitchers will do this while he is still at the AAA level rather than doing it at the MLB level where the pitchers can do the same thing -- but with superior stuff, consistency, and command.  It's a natural step in the progression and I think Baez will need to prove he can beat pitchers with something other than his immense physical talent.  He may get that chance as early as this offseason, where I believe the Cubs will send Baez to the winter leagues to face more experienced pitchers and that will help cut down the adjustment time he'll need in AAA.   He's already shown he can adjust quickly.  At first we heard how his approach won't work at a pitcher's league like the FSL, then we heard it wouldn't work at an advanced level like the SL, but Baez just keeps adjusting and improving that approach and it stands to reason he'll be able to do it again at AAA in the PCL and/or the winter leagues.  Once he does that, he'll be in the big leagues, though it will likely be at somewhere other than SS.

Marco Hernandez, Kane County (A)

.252/.290/.338, wOBA 290, RC+ 76

Hernandez is an athletic player with the potential for solid tools across the board.  He has smooth, fluid actions with an above average arm at shortstop yet is prone to the occasional error on routine plays.  He is one of my favorite players to watch at Kane County when things are going well and one that makes me want to cover my eyes when they are not.  At the plate Hernandez has an aggressive approach, as evidenced by his consistently low walk rates (4.1% this year) but he does have a quick bat with the ability to hit most fastballs and, despite the low power numbers, occasionally surprise you with his pop.  Last year I saw Hernandez effortlessly hit a liner over the CF'ers head for a triple.  In the last game I attended, Hernandez stroked a would be HR that went foul with an easy, fluid swing.  You can see the talent at times and if you were a scout and saw him on the right day, you'd walk away with a glowing report.  I did talk to one scout who likes him a lot but also thinks he may be a little immature and perhaps that contributes to some of the inconsistencies and slower than expected  development overall.  Hernandez is a guy to watch. Either it's going to click for him and you'll have yourself a true MLB shortstop with average to above average tools across the board -- or he's going to stall at AA or so.

Carlos Penalver, Boise (short-season A)

.250/.317/.342, wOBA .321, RC+ 98

Penalver was one of two heralded signings from the Cubs 2010 international free agency class with the other being Jeimer Candelario.  Penalver is a different player than his classmate.  He's a more fluid athlete who can run and play the middle infield positions, but he doesn't possess the same level of natural hitting skills.  Not that Penalver is a slouch at the plate.  He shows a good ability to make contact combined with a solid approach at the plate (7.9% walk rate), traits that will play well if he's able to stay at SS.  Right now that doesn't look like it should be a problem as Penalver shows the range, arm, and instincts to stay at shortstop long term.

 

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  • Just leave Castro alone & let him hit. When you "over" analyze players, they regress. Any great coach knows that, thus Lou Henson's success at Illinois. Great coach, recruited good talent, but had some great players like Mark Smith, Eddie Johnson, Kendall Gill, Nick Anderson...and many others, but not the talent Knight had. His coaching brought his team to another level.

  • In reply to Roe Skidmore:

    I wonder that about myself with Castro. I understand why the Cubs tried it, but I'm not sure it's not a mistake. Sometimes I think they should let Castro be Castro. Not everyone does things the same way.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If hitting a "league average," I'll gladly take the 200 hits. They should let Castro be himself at the plate, I just hope that it's not FUBAR at this point.

  • In reply to giamby:

    I don't believe he has 200 hits this year, quit living in the past. His batting average is under .250, loss of power. His fielding is, well, not great. I see an upside still, but Baez will most likely become the Cubs next SS. Kris Bryant will move fast up the ladder, be ready. I see so many good things in the future coming for the Cubs, but Sveum confuses me daily, guess that's why Brewers dumped him. DeJesus batting lead off, around .250 ba??? A new batting order regularly? Rizzo, Castro, Valbuena, DeJesus, and Soriano were all around .250 ba or below most of season, many games under .500...and we cheer for Soriano??? Glad Soriano was finally traded, his streaky hitting, lack of willingness to go to a lighter bat, pitiful fielding in left??? We won't win a pennant or World Series again with that backward thinking...move forward to guys that WIN!!!

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    Great stuff as usual John,

    I'm just wondering if folks would be so determined to trade Castro if both He and Baez we both at AA right now and we never had a chance to see Castro's difficulties right now.

    What if the position change already took place and currently Tenn had 3 top prospects in their infield consisting of Baez @ 3B, Castro @ SS and Alcantara @ 2B? I'm sure Cub fans could find another reason to argue..... lol

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Thanks Bobby. That would be quite a scenario!!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I am a fan of Castro's & still see him blossoming...but he's got to step it up.

  • I stopped reading Gravity's Rainbow after the scene between Brigadier General Pudding and his dominatrix... But I probably wouldn't have finished it anyway.

    Here's what I want to see: Baez's numbers with the first months' worth of stats in each league removed. I don't see inconsistency so much as I see slow starts from jitters/pressing in each new league.

    I bet you'll come up with some ridiculous numbers now.

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Haha! Understood but it's a great book.

    Hmm. That sounds like an interesting Baez project.

  • His hitting slump has little to do with his approach and seeing more pitches. It is mechanics. He simply is not getting his hands in a good slot position. His bat speed is way down, can't catch up with a good fastball. Which was his strength the last 2 seasons.
    Look at some video of him from two years ago, you can really see the difference. I would have him try any get his hands inside of every pitch and hit up the middle.

  • It's quite possible. I'll have to take a closer look. I know I disagree with those who said he has too much movement or a slight hitch. He pretty much always had those things, except nobody cared when he was hitting. And people just start looking for concrete answers when a guy struggles.

    It may well be a number of factors but I'm not convinced that this approach isn't uncomfortable for him right now.

  • hitting coach, where are you?

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    "I like to cook, but I do so creatively with my own style, my own ingredients and my own proportions."

    Everyone to John's place for the ketchup and tunafish sundae! ;-)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    LOL!

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    If Olt continues to struggle at the plate, I believe Baez will get a shot to play third before he is moved to the outfield.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Olt is overcoming an eye problem. I don't believe Theo would want Olt if he didn't see him prospering. Give him some time, he'll be back. With Olt, Soler, Bryant, Big V, Baez, we have some power (and speed) on the way. Bryant runs like the wind, love him!!!

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    I do think there's a lot to what John is saying about Castro's approach being retarded. Before Theo and Jed took over, he wasn't thinking of "strike" vs "ball," he was thinking "pitch I can hit" vs. "pitch I can't hit." The former was much greater than the latter. Early in an AB, the pitcher is going to throw balls closer to the plate because he needs strikes. With new, passive Starlin, those are going for strikes, and he finds himself in pitcher's counts and forced to swing at bat pitches because he doesn't want to strike out. When he goes up there hacking at everything he can hit, he sprays line drives all over the field early in the AB and doesn't have to worry about the 2-strike count as much.

    Theo and Jed have a system. It's a system that they really like, and it makes sense. If everyone up there works counts and takes pitches, you force the pitcher to throw a lot of pitches, and can abuse the middle relievers. This is going far into the future, but especially in a seven game series that could be devastating. (I'm piecing together lots of things they've said to get this.) As they've proven many times, the system is more important than any one player. Nomar can tell you that.

    That was my issue with what they did with Castro from the beginning. They tried to turn him into "their" player, and misread his strengths in doing so. Two years ago, they could have gotten an enormous return for him and built up around guys who naturally do what Theo and Jed appreciate. Now they're stuck with a guy who will never fit into their system and who it's entirely possible they've broken.

    I absolutely love a lot of what they've done, but I think their approach with Castro reeks of hubris, and they're getting a cosmic return for that hubris. I just hate that a kid who should be the toast of the town like Castro is suffering, too.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    "Retarded" here means regressing or getting worse. Just realized that could have been misread.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No problem. I could see you were using the word in it's original, intended form.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good way of putting it. Nice post.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They traded nomar because they wanted better defense at the shortstop position. I think you need hitters like castro in a playoff series, because the last two years we were in the playoffs we had to many sluggers and not enough hitters. When castro is castro he is more up the middle and to right field.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good observation. Every player is different. A good hitting coach knows this & works with each hitter as an individual, not a system.

  • I think they tried to change Castro because he was the only good hitter they had (except maybe Soriano). So they tried to make him into a more slugging shortstop which would be awesome, but in the next couple of years they really won't need that out of him with Baez and others coming up. I think it was worth the shot since they weren't going to be very good anyway, hopefully it didn't wreck him though to the point he can't be a decent hitter anymore.

  • In reply to brunsmk:

    Agreed. I hope so too.

  • In reply to brunsmk:

    Soriano is a streak hitter, batting under .250, under .300 obp. If he would use a lighter bat, that would help significantly. What bat is he using with Yankees? Anyone know? Girardi doesn't mess around.

  • Good interesting piece. My prediction for Stalin Castro has always been he is Garry Templeton at worst and Nomar Garciaparra (if he develops power without sacraficing average) at best. These aren't slights, as both made multiple All Star squads, but their below average defense significantly lessened the benefits of their tremendous bats. History shows that Silver Slugging-only shortstops do not make for World Series championship material. Only one of 14 shortstops to win only a Silver Slugger award has ever started at SS for a WS team... oddly it was Garry Templeton in 1984 with the Padres. Whitey Herzog smartly traded Templeton for Ozzie Smith as part of his turning the Cardinals into a near-dynasty in the 1980s. Theo with the Red Sox moved Garciaparra for one-time Gold Glover Orlando Cabrera in order to break Boston's WS curse. By comparison, 7 of 8 shortstops won only the Gold Glove started at the position in a World Series. (All 12 Shortstops to win both the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove have appeared in at least one World Series.)

    So I don't think Theo-Jed will be gun-shy about moving Castro if his defensive problems remain. But the one glimmer of hope in a very down season for Castro has been his improvement in the field in the second half of the season. Up until that point, he led the majors (again) with 14 errors, but in his last 44 games, he's committed just 1 error. He still plays back too often on grounders, and there have been many plays that have been scored as hits that other shortstops would have thrown out by charging and releasing the ball quicker, but the reduction in physical errors is worth noting... and this from someone who hasn't been a Castro fanatic. Let's see if he can maintain his concentration through the end of the year (always a big if with him). But more importantly, is this defensive improvement enough to believe Castro can be a WS caliber shortstop? If I had to bet, I'd say no and that Theo-Jed will look for Castro to recoup his trade value next year and then move him and that attractive contract.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Thanks. Castro's defense has been better to me each season. They're certainly not going to move him anytime in the near future. That may change down the road, but there are no plans to do that now.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Another good point, finally some honest coversation. Don't think we have anyone we wouldn't trade.

  • The hitting will come back whether it's next year or in a few years when we start putting talent around him in the batting order, but that doesn't change the fact his defense profiles at 2nd base. Plain and simple. He just doesnt have the range to stay at SS and i have no idea why anyone thinks he should stay there

  • John ... I paid considerable attention to Castro's ABs yesterday. He looks lost and extremely disheartened. He's still a very young man, and as others have said, the fielding has improved - though there's plenty of room for growth.
    I hope the smartest guys in the room haven't bought a whole lotta cosmic hell - as Mike said!! And maybe they'll learn a lesson from all of this.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    I was thinking about that. And I'm okay with the tinkering in the minors. It has worked with Alcantara, Baez, Szczur, etc. Maybe not such a good idea to tinker with a guy who's already had productive seasons.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Bingo. Starlin is over thinking his ABs. He seems to be guessing much more this year and taking pitches he used to attack. Mostly his ability to do damage on fastballs has dramatically dropped off. In 2013 his WFA had dropped to --10.9 from +1.7. His 1st pitch BA has dropped from .294 to .233.
    It appears he's much tighter at the plate with all the instructions he has received this year. Personally I feel the hitting coaches are doing a terrible job this year. With the exception of Castillo's OBP, our 5 core hitters have all dropped in OBP and OPS. I hope we make start next year with a different crew instructing in that area next year.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    I think the off season will be good for both Castro and Rizzo. Both are trying to integrate new information.Both are pressing now, perhaps some fatigue, emotionally for sure and possibly some physical. Add Samardzja to that list. Painful learning experience, as a boss once said.

  • Two things...

    -I hope they learned their lessons with Castro, and are extremely careful before they change Baez too much.
    -I hope Castro comes back next year, with a vengence.
    Okay, three things
    -Dale Sweum needs to stop being critical of his players in the press.

  • In reply to djriz:

    DJ-- Regarding Sweum... I've noticed that too. Although it's not just that he's critical at times. Other times, he's randomly over-positive too. There seems no rhyme or reason (aside from perhaps a reminder from his bosses). This is one of those "intangibles" that new managers have to learn: how to master the different switches he has to prod the best performance from players. But to become a master at it -- and there's no way to know whether Sweum will become a master at it -- just takes time.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    The thing I notice about Sveum is he doesn't take any of the resposibility on himself. Good mangers will take blame whether its their fault or not to protect their player. I would like to hear Sveum take some of the blame for Castros and Rizzo struggles.

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    Baez stood and admired his walk-off home run yesterday. Did you notice that, John, and what do you think about that? Hasn't it been previously reported that he has a little too much swag?

  • In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    Jim--read the thread about Baez that was posted earlier.

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    In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    Personally, I think he was watching to be sure it was fair. He started running the moment Gillespie noted it was a fair ball.

  • In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    It actually doesn't bother me. I don't think he was going out of his way to show anyone up, First, he lost his balance and fell to one knee and secondly, it was either gone or foul, so he partly watched to see if it went fair. Not nearly as much swag as the Carlton Fisk almost foul HR :)

  • Gordon Wittenmyer said that castro's agent called the front office to let them know they did not like the way dale talks about castro to the media. I wonder what kind of relationship does dale and castro have.

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    In reply to seankl:

    Dale does seem to overdue it with his Castro criticisms compared to other players.

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    I searched keywords "stood" and "watched" so I wouldn't bring up a dead topic, but I guess I did anyway - oops.
    Sorry.

  • Castro has progressively getting worse each of the last 3 seasons, the league figured him out. What is unfortunate is that he is still sub par in the field and despite plus speed, isn't a great base runner. Not even a replacement level player this year. That's brutal.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Actually, he hasn't gotten worse. Until this year his defense and ISO (measurement of power) had gotten better each season and his overall value as measured by WAR went up his second year by 1.2 wins and stayed even the next season. This year doesn't fit the pattern, so it's either a collapse, which is extremely unlikely at his age, or it's an outlier. The Cubs will certainly bet with the latter.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed. If you look at track records for young players who reached the majors under age 21 and have success you usually see a "sophomore slump" type year somewhere in that player's first 3-5 years followed by a bounce back year. Way too soon to be worried about him, or Rizzo for that matter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No, the outlier was his good defense last year that kept his WAR flat. Now he's gone back to be bad and his WAR has plummeted.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Interesting since the offensive metrics were the same as they were two years ago so dont' see how that proves he's getting worse -- but keep reading stats in such a way that they're convenient for you.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Gee, going errorless over two months is "still sub par in the field" these days.
    Some people just set impossible standards as if they want Castro to fail in as many ways possible.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Fangraphs has him having his second worst defensive season of his career and its really bad

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    In reply to Ike03:

    By everyone's admission, the defensive metrics are a work in progress. Relying on them and ignoring the eyeball test can sometimes be deceptive.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    And on queue Castro does something idiotic in the field. Way to let a guy tag on you on a ball that could have been an infield fly rule

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Well, if you say "its really bad" [sic] then there's no way around it. It's hopeless to expect anything good from this guy, ever.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    By fangraphs metrics, he's the 3rd worst fielding shortstop

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Wow....you really misinterpret stats, causation, trends and anything to make your point.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Also, he doesn't have plus speed. It's not really even above average. It's average at best per his times to first (though he's faster underway) and he actually does run the bases okay. He's graded out as an average runner overall.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Not according to fangraphs, by their metrics he's a net negative on the bases.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Yes, a total of -0.8 for his career! And that is an exact measurement with no margin for error. C'mon now. Do you not see how biased you are and how you look for things to try and confirm your existing beliefs -- pretty much to the point of absurdity. For all intents and purposes, he's an average runner and even those who made that metric would say the same thing.

  • I've said it before, the Cubs should have worked with Castro to improve and refine his defense, but they should have left his hitting prowess alone. Things obviously worked for him as an aggressive hitter. It wasn't just his rookie year that he hit .300, he did better still his second year and also improved his OPS. How many shortstops post a .773 OPS, much less as a 21 year old?

    I will agree with the FO philosophy of a patient approach at the plate to make the opposing pitchers work and get into their middle relievers, but that doesn't mean that every single one of their position players needs to have that same approach. It's like filling a lineup with power hitters with high SO rates and expecting to win consistently, or having eight Mark Grace's in the lineup, contact high BA guys who have pretty much zero power. Neither approach would be very effective IMO. And we learned first hand from the Dodgers how even the best offense (Cubs) in baseball can be very susceptible if they are too right handed and the opposition throws a tough RHP at them. A lineup needs balance, not to be put together with a cookie cutter approach. What would have happened to Vlad if the coaching staff forced him to be more selective?

    I just hope that they haven't totally destroyed Castro's confidence and he will be allowed and able to once again put together some more campaigns like the 2011 version.

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    In reply to WSorBust:

    That really isn't a very fair comparison. You can have both power hitters and OBP guys who are patient at the plate. Bryant is going to strike out and, obviously, has prodigious power, but is quite patient and makes pitchers throw him a good pitch. Beyond all expectation, Javy is also showing signs of being patient and forcing guys to throw pitches until (a) he gets one to crush or (b) he walks. DeJesus has much less power, but always makes a pitcher work and, more often than Baez/Bryant/Rizzo/etc., gets on base.

    Patient hitters isn't really a type of hitter so much as it is a philosophy of how the team is going to try to beat another starting pitcher. For the philosophy to work, the more players you have taking pitches, the better. That is, if the philosophy is to extend pitchers, it's unclear to me how having a guy that swings early in the count is a benefit to that strategy.

  • So when the tried to change Castro's approach and he was hitting .225, it was bad. Then over the next month, he shot up to .253. Now he is back down to .244 and we rip on Sveum and company.

    Who knows what has been said or done. No one knows what they are trying to do with him or what specific adjustments have been made.

    We rip on the FO and Sveum for doing this to Castro but applaud Baez for making improvements. Maybe the problem is Castro and not the FO?

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I tend to agree with this.

    Who's to say he wasn't going to struggle regardless? How many people have made it through the minors and a full major league career and never struggled?

    It was bound to happen regardless, hopefully he can make the necessary adjustments to get back on track.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    There's a big difference between having a 19 year old begin adjustments against A ball pitchers than it is for a guy to do in the 4th year of his MLB career when the previous 3 years were successful. Not the same situation at all.

  • Another brainfart from Castro.

  • This just in: I heard that a guy said to someone that Castro jaywalked one day last year, maybe in Arizona, and that he once tipped a server 14 percent. And he has a scuff on his black dress shoes.

  • Good, Dale pulled him. Castro is an absolute liability this year. 4 years in you can't be making the same dumb mistakes.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Happy now?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    No, I'm not happy at all the Cubs gave $60+ mil to a guy that makes little league mistakes in the field 4 years into his career.

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    In reply to Ike03:

    Is it possible -- just possible -- that they have him thinking so much about every little thing that it's increasing mistakes and the highly instinctual Castro who dominated for two years is lost behind it?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    What he just did in the field has nothing to do with what they are telling him to do at the plate. The rationalizing for Castro is crazy.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    x2.

    The excuses for him has to stop.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Who wrote this about Castro? : "Who's to say he wasn't going to struggle regardless? How many people have made it through the minors and a full major league career and never struggled?"

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I did.

    That's not an excuse, that's telling the armchair analysts who are tryin to pick the brain of someone they don't know to tone it down.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    If anything that's an "excuse" for the hitting coaches. Not Starlin.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    "...tone it down."
    Ironic, no?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Now you're delving away from the point.

    I'm here to talk baseball, you're here to try to find a contradiction from me. Better luck next time.

    You're 0 for 2.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    "I'm here to talk baseball", you say.
    To me, you're here to prove yourself right, first and foremost.
    Adios.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Were you happy they gave significant money to draft picks out of college? These kids never did anything in the minors, much less the majors. Meanwhile, by the time Castro was Kris Bryant's age (at the time Bryant was drafted), he already had about 300 MLB hits and a .300 season.

    Yet, perhaps we should dump him at the old age of 23. Maybe we could get a 35 year old who has mastered fangraphs, but has no future. Indeed, Alcantara and Baez made lots of errors this year at AA and most likely would not have hit extremely well at the MLB level had we called them up. We should dump them as well. Candelario....gone. Bryant...can't believe we gave that much money to him. Heck, maybe we can trade Castro for Derek Jeter straight-up....Jeter will probably look good on fan graphs.

    I may disagree with people's thoughts here at times, but rarely do I think the person really is misguided. You have some personal vendetta against Castro (but not, interestingly, Rizzo or every minor leaguer who is in the minors making stupid mistakes and struggling at times at an age when Castro was hitting .300 in the majors) and misinterpret anything and everything to turn on him. If he does have a bounce-back next year, I am sure you will change your user name and never be here again.

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    Looks like Dale just benched Castro for the pop-up play.

    This is getting ugly. I think the eventual resolution of this is Starlin doesn't finish his contract with the Cubs.

  • Maybe it's blasphemy, but i do think Castro would benefit from a longer breather down in Iowa.
    It would remove all the heat and negative focus from him, allow him to reconnect with his swing, and also give fans a breather from this ongoing failure (today he made 3 outs in 2 abs, allowed a run). We are not going anywhere this year, Watkins can service the position.

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    Pulling him from the game solves absolutely nothing. It would surprise me if Dale gets a little talk from the higher ups on this one. Anybody else on the team makes that same mistake i'll bet my entire savings account they don't get pulled. Not a smart move imo.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I don't think it is ONLY because of this error. He has been awful in the past couple of weeks... Wo knows what's in the background...

    On an unrelated note, man is it annoying to listen to fox... These guys have a man-crush on Molina and the whole cards organization...

  • In reply to Csanad:

    I meant offensively awful in the past couple of weeks

  • In reply to Csanad:

    This is a team that starts Cole Gillespie in the OF for long stretches...who starts Cody Ransom at 3b for long periods....who is relying on a hot streak from journeyman Donnie Murphy...who puts Darnell Stenson in the OF.....3b and OF are much more prime offensive spots than SS, yet we keep these bums in the lineup. Castro is someone we are trying to build around, yet Sveum takes actions and makes statements to show him up with great regularity. Why doesn't Sveum state that one of the problems is Gillespie's terrible hitting? How about pulling Ransom after an error or strikeout?

    Sveum has a bit of Quade about his approach....Castro's success is valuable to the Cubs future, but Sveum is doing quite a bit to pollute Castro's relationship with the team.

  • In reply to Csanad:

    You what is truly annoying? The fact that the Cubs are a crappy team. I don't blame the broadcasters one bit for talking more about the Cardinals than the Cubs.

    What is there to talk about with this current Cubs team? Many of the players at the major league level are below average.

    Nearly all of the interesting discussion topics regarding the Cubs revolves around what is happening in their minor league system.

    A national audience doesn't give a rip about what's going on in a team's minor league system. They want to hear about the players playing IN THE GAME.

    If our rebuilding plan works, then in future nationally broadcast games you will see plenty of Cubs-related broadcaster bromancing.

    The bottom line is, we haven't earned it yet.

  • In reply to Mental Mendel:

    Well, the Kelly vs Wood talk was also skewed to Cards favor... Although wood made only 2-3 mistakes. But whatever, don't have to endure them more than a couple of times per year

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Dale does seems to have 2 sets of rules. One for Castro and one for everyone else. And the rule for Castro changes depending on how Dale feels that day....

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    No one else on the team has the track record for making brain farts so they probably wouldn't get pulled.

    I like the move. Removing him doesn't solve anything, neither does keeping him in the game. This can't be tolerated. I'd take it a step further and give him the day off tomorrow.

    I hope he handles it well to the media.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    It's ironic that Castro gets pulled for a mental error, only to be replaced by the guy who was picked off in a crucial situation last week -- with no repercussions for him.

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    First misplay by Castro in the better part of two months and we're all in panic bash mode? Even Dale is in on it now. Feel bad for Castro at this point. He literally cannot do a single thing wrong or risk being known as the worst player to ever play the game. Never seen such a sort leash on someone who has had 3 years of success in the middle of a down one. That's got to be rough.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Hear hear, Marcel. "The guy can do no right." He's a magnet for overreaction by his critics.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    He had a misplay not too long ago. When he dove for a ball against the Brewers that he didn't have to dive for and that what I'd estimate 95% of SS would have caught to end the game.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Wow, that one play is etched in your memory. You brought it up twice yesterday.
    Too bad all of the good ones slip right through.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I never brought that play up. You're terribly mistaken.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    I apologize, Go. It wasn't you. In that case it was indeed another poster for whom Castro can do no right. I get all of them confused.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    No biggie, lots of comments to shuffle through, stuff happens.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I brought it up because it was a crucial mistake and I am not a Castro hater. If someone makes a mistake it can be talked about can't it. I brought it up because someone was going on about how many errorless games Castro had. Mental mistakes are mistakes but not counted as errors. I am all for Castro putting it all together.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I really think castro needs to be traded and be with a real manager. One who could really make him relax instead of on his back all the time. You notice castro is the only one who stays down in the order when they struggle. Castro better not go 0-8 or he is going to batting seventh or eighth.

  • So, on the Fox broadcast, they're talking about Castro handles this after the game. Fine. I'm wondering how Sveum is going to handle it. Is he going to continue bashing Castro or is he going to say something along the lines of "we've talked, and I'll leave it that"? It's time for Dale to man up, also.

    BTW, shouldn't Theo pull Dale from the game for bunting with DeJesus? Just saying.

  • Not happy with that Castro play. Totally his fault, but let's not pretend it's vindication of all the anti-Castro vitriol and that he makes that type of mistake all the time.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, please stop being reasonable.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I was just thinking about the game yesterday. There was a pop up that made Castro go back a few steps onto the outfield grass. He was furiously waving off Junior Lake in LF yet Junior wasn't even close to the play.

    Then after the play was way over, the cameras caught Castro looking at Lake, taking off his glove and then pointing to shortstop as if to say to Lake, you wanna play SS and LF at the same time?

    There has got to be something going on in the clubhouse that we might not know about.....

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree. However I have no issue with Castro getting pulled either. It's really not that big of a deal. It's all on Castro for how he responds. He knows it was an awful mistake, he needs to show up and be a professional tomorrow...keep working. I'm not all that worried about him. I like that he's trying a new approach, the results aren't there just yet, but at least he's trying.

  • In reply to dgedz27:

    I don't blame Sveum on that either. He's made his stance on mental mistakes clear. As for how he responds, I like that he didn't go back to the clubhouse. He not only stayed in the game but he's right up at the edge of the dugout watching the game Nice immediate response and I hope the positive reaction takes over the next time he takes the field.

  • Borboun made a mental mistake and got DFA'ed. So please stop playing the Castro is getting picked on card.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Borbon didn't have the track record and was himself picked up on waivers. He also wasn't DFA'd for that play. He was DFA'd because the Cubs needed a roster space and he was just a bad fit. They picked him up with the hope he could play well and give them some value, but he didn't, so they moved on.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I understand why he got dumped, but lets not pretend that poor Castro is the only one who gets picked on for mistakes

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Let's not pretend it's not disproportionate. Why don't you count the number of times it happens on each player on the Cubs for each mistake and get back to me and tell me everyone gets the same treatment. People get so tunnel visioned that they probably don't even realize they're doing it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It should be disproportionate, he just signed a big deal and figured to be a building block. Aramis took crap, Sosa took crap, Soriano took crap....and they should! You get paid like the star you get scrutinized like a star

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Castro is paid like an average MLB shortstop, not a star.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Most MLB SS do not make that error. Even if they are average.

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    In reply to Chad Yoder:

    I've seen Omar Vizquel make errors most SS shouldn't make, that doesn't mean he's not one of,if not the best of all time. Errors are a part of the game and they are going to happen to the best of them.

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    In reply to Chad Yoder:

    Have you seen Omar Vizquel make a catch in EXTREMELY short left field and let a runner score? Oh, and not because his throw was off track, and not because the catcher lost track of the throw ... but just because Omar wasn't paying attention?

    Errors are a part of the game, I agree with that. Sometimes the ball doesn't go where you want it to go, sometimes you can't make a catch, and sometimes there's a shorthop that you can't field. Sometimes, even, players make the wrong decision, and throw to the wrong base! However, most of those errors are borne out of action.

    If you tell me that you've seen a lot of errors like the one you saw tonight, and I'll say that you're full of it.

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    In reply to Chad Yoder:

    Ok, I didn't mean for my last comment to be so angry and confrontational. It's just hard. You're a Cubs fan, so you know that.

    What I'm trying to get across is that that wasn't "just an error." Sveum was completely right to bench him after that. And that Starlin has a history of making these types of errors. Do I want him to work this out, YES, GOD PLEASE I want him to be better. It's just that I'm getting more a more doubtful.

  • In reply to Chad Yoder:

    I have seen Garry Templeton make that mistake. Nomar twice in a three game series against the Yanks made silly mental mistakes that cost them. These are just off top of my head.

    My question always is....what is your better option? We probably could get a 36 year old journeyman for all kids 25 and younger who make dumb mistakes. Personally, I am willing to accept kids at 23 who are still developing, especially when they already have had major league success; rebuilding with kids brings problematic errors and decisions, but I will live with that to have the chance for an upside in the future.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He should be held to a higher standard. He shouldn't get the same treatment.

    Like Greg Oden joked about..."The cool thing about playing for the Heat is when you’re LeBron’s teammate and you screw up, nobody gets mad at you for missing a shot or turning the ball over – they get mad at LeBron for passing to you in the first place.” That's it with the Lebron references.

    But you see the point, it comes with the territory of being a star. The Manny being Manny kind of hiccups are acceptable if he's hitting like Manny.

    He had lots of expectations going into this season, this was supposed to be a breakout season, it's disappointing for us all to see. But that's not to say he can't/won't bounce back. You don't league the lead in hits and become a multiple all-star this young based on luck. Lots of fans frustrations stem from we expect more from him. He spoiled us his first couple seasons in the league.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    That's all well and good, but he's not a star, nor is he paid like one. He's been an above average player the previous three years, but a star? No. He's a young, above average player (prior to this season), who is still developing as a ballplayer. It's the fans who put star expectations on him -- they set that standard for him and then expect him to live up to something he is not.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's where we differ then. Going into this season I would have said the 2x all-star on the team is the star. Who is the Cubs star then? Every team has a star. He is the face of the franchise. That's slowly fading away though.

    Being paid had nothing to do with what I said.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    He's an all-star because the SS position has been weak the past few years in the NL. He was one of the best of weak group. He's the star of the Cubs because nobody else is good. Being the best player in a weak group doesn't make you a star player. Castro should be judged by his performance on it's own merits and in that sense, he's just an above average player (having a well-below average year). You can't hold him up to star standards because there is no one else to pin your hopes to on the MLB level.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Weak or not, he's still an all-star. He put up all-star caliber numbers. He wasn't some throw-in.

    Point being, he's the star,...but since he's the star of a bad team he gets a pass I guess. I think we found our definition for "The Cubs Way".

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    I'm the best baseball player in my family. I'm a star too.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Congrats? I guess.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    No, no, no. You sell yourself and everyone else on the planet short. Congrats to everyone. Everyone can be a star by your definition

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    A star of a major league ball club, no.
    Of a family, sure.

    (I do have to point out that's a huge difference. Might have to start doing my disclaimers again)

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    There's no difference. You're just drawing an arbitrary line at MLB teams as the place where, once you become the best in your particular group, you are a "star". Is Jose Altuve a star? Was Steve Swisher a star? It's nonsense. You're a star-level player or you aren't, but you use objective, standard definitions, not ones that are environment dependent. I can't even believe this is a debate.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    There's no difference between Starlin Castro being the face of the Cubs and you being the best player in your family.

    Oh ok. Just making sure.

    (Steve Swisher made one all-star team, he was never the best player on the team, you're trying to tie in making the all-star as meaning being the face of a franchise, it's borderline ridiculous)

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    I love when people change the rules/definition when their arguments start to break down. You did use all-star as one of your criteria earlier, but never mind.

    Last time because this may be one of the most absurd arguments I've ever been a part of and I have better things to do. It's not complicated. I was using an analogy to bluntly point out that being the best in your particular group doesn't make you a star-level player. You cannot define something that's environment dependent, thereby creating one particular standard and then treat them as equal across the board when comparing to the same criteria with other, vastly different environments. There's no logic in it.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Yes, ONE of my criteria, you're slowly getting it. You'd have a point if I said that's the only reason, but I didn't.

    I just want to hear you say it one more time, Starlin Castro being the face of the Chicago Cubs is the same thing as you being the best player (we don't even know if that's true but I'll play along) in your family in regards to how expectations should be valued?

    A simple yes or no should suffice. No explanation needed. Yes or no?

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Haha! This changes all the time. It's apparent to me that it's important for you to believe you are right about everything you say, to feel like you've won an argument rather than admit that your stuff carried no logic, so you try to change words and shift the debate to something different (not that it makes any more sense than the original stuff). I prefer discussions/debates that are enlightening -- where I can actually learn something, not one where one guy has to feel like a "winner". I used to do that when I was younger but it's a waste of my time now. This has not been an enlightening debate, I usually learn something new from the readers here. Not this time. I feel foolish for have wasted so much time with it. The end of this will be predictable -- you'll want a last word, so go ahead, respond with a comment that will make you feel better. I'm going to enjoy a bourbon instead. Life's too short to waste with people who feel they need to be right all the time.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    You say my stuff carried no logic but you couldn't answer a simple yes or no question.

    You were handcuffed. You say Yes, then you realize how absurd that statement was. You say No, then you contradict everything you just said.

    Being right about what? The face of a franchise, there's no right or wrong answer to that question.

    The question is still on the table, feel free to answer it or ignore it again.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    If you were going to be the bigger man you wouldn't have brought attention to doing so. That's childish in itself.

    Enjoy.

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    In reply to GoCubsGo:

    You say my stuff carried no logic but you couldn't answer a simple.............. yes...................... or no.................. question.................

    You were handcuffed.......................... You say Yes, then you realize how absurd that statement was.......................... You say No, then you contradict everything you just said..........................

    Being right about what? The face of a franchise.................... there's no right or wrong answer to that question.............................

    The question is still on the table.................... feel free to answer it or ignore it again.....................

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    If we traded Rizzo, Castillo and Castro and the face of the organization (as a hitter) became Cole Gillespie or Cody Ransom, does this make them a star? No, they are still what they are. Being the "face of an organization" (which, somehow you exclude Rizzo and Castillo from) somehow means something more to you than it should.

    Of course, anyone who is an all-star also is exceptional....Bryan LaHair, for example, is a star.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Who was the star of 62 Mets? Not sure I agree "Every team has a star." Was Soriano our star? Garza? Smarz? Wood (he was an All-Star, seems to fit your criteria)? Rizzo? Castillo? Somehow Castro gets more requirements than all of them?

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Do you single out other players when they fail in your eyes? I haven't seen your posts that much.

  • Remember when Castro dove for a soft liner he didn't have to and dropped it and the Cubs lost the game? No, he never does dumb crap in the field. Or maybe a month ago when he was dogging it around third on a single and got thrown out at home?

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Exactly, sometimes you have to call a spade a spade and hold a grown man accountable.

    A building block should be held to a higher standard. I've never seen a sac fly from that short a distance.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    guys if you don't like him then just say it instead of tip toe around it. Because you have all his so called mistakes memorized but every person on the team makes a lot of mistakes. But you never comment on them.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Castro is my favorite player on the Cubs.

    I'm not going to make excuses for poor decisions though. It has nothing to do about liking him or not. I've never criticized Castro on this site until about an hour ago.

    Lebron James is my favorite basketball player, he didn't play so well the first couple games on the finals. I didn't make excuses for him either.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    That was an awful play by Castro. It deserved criticism. No excuses on that.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Tell me, what do you think of Rizzo's clutch hitting this year?

  • In reply to djriz:

    Didn't ask me, but i for one don't like it.
    Don't care about wins and losses, and don't give a rats a$$ about Navarro, shierholtz or another no-future piece hitting HRs, RISP, winning us games. I dont care about that.
    I wanna see Shark, Castro, Rizzo perform and grow. They don't.

  • In reply to djriz:

    Rizzo has had a down year but overall his numbers are good. I agree he could shorten up a bit in certain situations

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Overall his .233 average is good for a 1B? How about .180/.284/.311 with RISP? His .204/.317/.381 post All-Star break performance? His OPS post-All Star break is 30th among MLB 1B.

    But his overall numbers are good and Castro is terrible? I am willing to suffer through kids growth, but Castro has had significantly better performance in his MLB career than Rizzo; if anyone could be expected to bounce back of the two, it certainly is Castro.

    Your vendetta is senseless -- either you dislike young kids and the struggles they have or you are willing to let rebuilding to occur. But to single out Castro and say that "overall [Rizzo]'s numbers are good" really diminishes any limited point you may have.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Do you praise him when he does make a good play? I suspect not. Otherwise it's a matter of confirmation bias -- a choice to believe something and then to look specifically for things that confirm that belief. To you, it probably looks like it happens all the time, to someone looking at it from an unbiased view, they don't happen quite as often and they are looked at more objectively.

    There's no two ways about this particular play. It was a bad play from Castro, no excuses. But when people use it to say, "See, it happens all the time" --that's just confirmation bias at work and not something I give much credence.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's my point, Its no excuse for the play. But I don't like when people say it happens all the time.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Agreed.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No, and I don't criticize him when he can't make a tough play. But I do criticize him when he does something completely stupid. I don't think I've ever seen a player with worst baseball instincts/awareness. At least he's facing the right direction when the ball is pitched now. That's an upgrade over 2 years ago.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    And with that last line, you prove my point with your tendency toward confirmation bias over rational, balanced analysis.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Touche', John.

  • If I just heard correctly the fox announcers just said that dale told them that not having barney caused them to lose early in the season. If he said that then he needs to be benched.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I personally bench them by turning the sound off.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's been a tough year for castro, he needs this year to pass and start next year fresh.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Yes. I'm looking forward to a fresh start for him next season.

  • In reply to seankl:

    As I recall while Barney was on the DL, the infield defense had a rough time at the start of the year. And it improved when Barney returned - so Sveum is correct in saying that.

    Our defense was rough. It affected Castro as he was playing with a different guy alongside him most days - as with all sports it helps to know the mind of the guy alongside you... Double-plays were down while Barney was out - we need to remember that Castro/Barney are a top 5 ranked middle infield duo.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    Exactly...Castro vastly improved last season defensively with Barney at second base. They were a great tandem.

  • Castro has played outstanding shortstop for two months, a whole lot better than dale ever did. The two key plays in the game were Dejesus failing to get a bunt down(why bunting is another story) and Rizzo striking out on a fastball two feet outside. He is hitting .185 with runners in scoring position. But Castro is always the whipping boy.

  • Now that's a balanced analysis. Though I'd say Castro did screw up and that was a key play too. It cost them a run.

  • This is just as bad as the people who say he always makes mistakes, this is just from the opposite side of the spectrum.

    There's been lots of whipping boys. Shark (lately) Jackson, the entire bullpen, the entire coaching staff, it's not only poor little Starlin that gets picked on.

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    In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Being criticized for bad performances and being the whipping boy are two different things. Shark, the BP, Jackson, Rizzo etc get high praise when they do well and get criticized when they don't. How it should be.

    With Castro it's more like when he does well it's so silent you can hear crickets in the background but when he doesn't "Trade 'em! His heads not on straight! Replace him with Baez! Trade 'em, he's awful"

  • His mistakes have always been magnified. I dislike how dale handled it. It is overreaction. His hitting has been poor, but he has hustled and had his head in the game all season. I actually think he got confused by the ump calling infield fly at the last second and he thought the ball was dead. No excuse, but sveum showed him up. If it was a consistent problem I could see it, players make errors and have brain cramps.

  • Didn't think about the infield fly rule aspect.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Don't tell that to the Castro haters. They'll find a way to discredit it somehow.

  • Starlin definitely seems to fall into the "don't think, you'll only hurt the ball club" category. All things considered this is one of the worst years I can remember a Cub having. Odds are he bounces back next year but another year like this one and there is a major issue. I'm really hoping Baez gets the shot at third and Olt can stick as a nice Mark DeRosa type utility guy. I'm sure Javy would play a really nice third base as a full grown man. All in all Javy has definitely replaced the hope for a genuine superstar that I used to have for Starlin. I still like Castro a lot and I'm gonna steal him in the 14th round of my fantasy draft next year! Certainly wet the bed this afternoon though. Does anyone else throw things around their living room?

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Haha! Great post. I am no longer a thrower since I threw a shoe at the television when they announced Ed Lynch traded Jon Garland for Matt karchner.

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    In reply to Ben20:

    "All things considered this is one of the worst years I can remember a Cub having"

    Ummm. I'm not sure how accurate this statement is. We have certainly done worse. Do the names Neifi Perez or Kyle Farnsworth ring any bells? How about Latroy Hawkins? Or maybe Jacque Jones? Milton Bradley even???

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think he might have meant in relations to expectations.
    That's only something he can answer, but that's how I took it.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    In terms of expectations, I think its one of the worst. Coming off of two nice seasons and a big pay day?? I was expecting/hoping for a .315 average, .800 OPS, 15-20 bombs, 20 steals, and another flirtation with 200 hits with improved D and mental approach. But now here we are. If you ever expected that from Neifi Perez then you and I aren't on the same page. I never expected any of those guys you named to be one of our 2 best players. All those guys were complimentary pieces. Not supposed cornerstones. But yes, those names do ring a bell, Marcel.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    What are you 10 years old??

  • "Blame is a futile exercise," a wise man says.
    What matters is what one does next.

  • In reply to Cubfucius:

    Wise words Cubfucius!

  • In reply to Cubfucius:

    Hmmm...I'm wondering who else might that be wisdom for.

  • As difficult as this may be for some, Mr. Castro needs to be replaced. He doesn't have his head on straight,and he never will.
    Dale is simply an awful manager; very unprofessional. This should
    be his last season.

  • In reply to ELAN:

    Neither are going to happen, not soon anyway.

  • In reply to ELAN:

    I agree - a manager who has to manage via the media is not a manager of people. You lead by example and trust not by underlying message.

    I have followed Manchester United FC for many years and the great Sir Alex Ferguson never berated his players in public or through the media.

    I know the camera was in Dale's face, but all he had to say was, "we will deal with it".

    Castro is 22 years old. The last 12 months he has had Sveum/Rowson messing with what has got him to this level and it clearly isn't working. So of course he is conflicted, distracted and lacking in confidence. Don't blame him for not fulfilling his talent and his contract. It is Cubs management who decided to reward his prodigious talent and numbers and then try to change who he was.

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    Jesse Rogers has this, Sveum on Castro: “There is only so much, only so many meetings and so many things you can say.”

    I'm getting tired of this. If Sveum is as exasperated as this statement makes it seem, then Baez should be groomed to be the shortstop and Castro moved to second (where the bat plays better) or third. If this was a message to Castro and the team, then it might have more weight if he said something along the lines of this to the media: "That's between Starlin and myself and it's handled now."

    There's far too much double speak by everyone involved with Castro. Either let him play his game, or trade him to a team that wants him. But don't call him core and then cut his knees out every chance you get.

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    Odd line for another amazingly talented young shortstop tonight: 1-for-3 with a double, 2 strikeouts, and a walk.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He also blew a double play, so he sucks.

  • I still think we need to look at the manager. He gets credit for this team playing hard and not quiting shouldn't he also get the blame for this team making dumb mistakes and bad plate disipline. I'm all for ditching Sveum and keeping Castro.

  • In reply to kansascub:

    I'm really getting sick of him!!!! Its not just with castro its with all the players. I know he doesn't have the most talent but I wish he would stop trying to manage through the media. First you say we need to get draw more walks then he says we need to be like the cardinals. Then he goes and gets his buddy rob deer to teach the kids how to swing for the fences and strikeout. I wish he would stop with the double talking.

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    In reply to seankl:

    Not fair: Rob Deer had a career 12.7% walk rate.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good maybe he can walk out the door.

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    Gone for a couple of hours , and I knew the anti-Castro would be hot and heavy!!! Please , lets not quote the amateur Jesse Rogers!! Why do I get the impression that the majority of true Cub fans would love to run him out of town? As good as the FO has been dealing with this team , I just looks like they have damaged him beyond repair.

  • I'm a little frustrated with the lack of results so far. Guys are seeing more pitches but their quality of at bats seem to be getting worse they're making less errors but seem to be making more boneheaded plays.

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    Cubs problem today was getting a hit with a man in scoring position. Cubs lost 4-0, when they had men in scoring position on multiple occasions. We can't blame Castro for everything. I don't want that to get lost.

    But you know what? That play is emblematic. That wasn't an "easy" catch for Castro to make. He waived off another player to make that catch. Here's the thing: It was a good catch!

    What bothers me is that instead of making a good catch and being present, like you would be if there were less than 2 outs and a man on third. Instead Castro made a good catch and then decided to showboat a bit. He did. He DID. I SAW IT, IN PERSON.

    Did Castro forget how many outs there were? Did he not think that a runner would ever go in that situation? What was he thinking? Doesn't matter.

    That's as bad of a play as I've seen from any infielder in the majors this year. And it is not because of talent, or ability, but because he was not present. Those are the kind of mistakes that I'm willing to forgive a rookie, but not a player that's been here for 3+ years.

    What it comes down to, for me, is that Baez is moving forward in the system. What do we do with Castro? We signed him to a big contract, but he's not hitting. The mistakes he does make in the field, are not physical most of the time but MENTAL. How do you deal with a player that makes these kinds of mental mistakes?

  • In reply to Chad Yoder:

    I watched the game via MLB.com, and they of course showed the play over and over.

    I failed to see any showboating. I totally agree with CubbieRon above, that the last second infield fly call made him think the play was dead. I firmly believe that without that call, Castro doesn't stop the play, and none of this ever happens.

    I am not trying to absolve him of this - it was indeed a terrible mistake. But I also believe the circumstances were highly unusual. If I remember correctly, the Fox guys mentioned that it was eerily similar to the infield fly call in last year's Cards-Braves wild card game.

    I also hope Castro will be here when the Cubs win and that he will be a big part of that, but it is really frustrating to see how lost he is at the plate.

    John, how preciscent of you to post the SS depth chart prior to today's game.

  • I know we can't use the excuse that he is young anymore.
    Why he makes mental mistakes nobody know. We is only
    22 and is here to stay. I don't like people questioning his
    mental makeup.

  • Um, anyone have any thoughts about Castro?

  • Just a young man who still has to get his act together

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    Really good article.

    Especially the Baez analysis. agree 110%

    I would not gave thought this a month ago, but he has a legitimate shot at starting next year in AAA.
    That said, I think he spends the while year there, aside from maybe a September call-up. The progress is great but I think that he needs the 500 ABs in Iowa.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Thanks Giffmo.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I agree John. I know a lot of work and analysis was put into this, and it's content is great. I just had to close the page when it became a Castro Bashing debate.

    So far as Baez, you know I've been the biggest fan and supporter of his as there is on this board. While I'm ecstatic with his progress, it is critical that we caution people not to rush him. We could have another situation where there's a group bashing him if he has a prolonged slump or defensive miscues, etc. Not to mention, we want him learning a new position at the minors not MLB level. IDK that he'll need the requisite 500 AB's at AAA. Especially since the PCL is known as a hitters league. I'd expect monster numbers from him there. I'm hoping he gets some meaningful time at 2B/3B in winter ball and then they can decide where to give him looks in ST.

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    Quite a session of remarks on Castro. I'm going to comment on the play, what I saw, and give you my opinion. Castro runs out and makes a hard play easily. He made a fundamental error by not pulling up on the ball and letting Lake take it, since Lake was face up on the runner. The rule is the infielder defaults to the outfielder because it is and easier play for Lake. Lake obviously is learning the position but as an infielder, the way I was taught, you read the situation and pull off it if the outfielder can catch it. That wasn't done. That is it in a nutshell. The fact he took charge and made the catch and then fell asleep is inexcusable.

    My problem with Castro in the field is he doesn't have an aggressive mentality. The opposite was truth for the Card that stole home on Castro. I applaud Jay. In this game, imo, the spoils go to the player(team) who wants it most. Its called desire. I think Castro lacks the fundamental mental makeup to go to the next level. Its like he hasn't played enough baseball. At this point in his career, I know he's young, I wonder if he can get it. I think that what Svuem was saying, you can talk to him, have meeting, practice certain things, but in the end its up to Castro. Castro has all the tools physically but I don't see him as a smart, aggressive player. Its not too late, you just don't want him having a season like this when he should be improving not regressing. Maybe the FO should trade him. They have to look at the SS position now after this season and make some in or out decisions. We're all Cub fans, we all care, its just been tough to watch...reminds me of the civil wars the way this boards has been. Grrrr

  • In reply to John from Denmark:

    Interesting comment on the play. It made me think of the play on Friday, which was commented on earlier in this thread, where Castro frantically waved off Lake on a pop that was not nearly as deep as this one. I thought that was odd at the time.

  • In reply to John from Denmark:

    Technically, it's the outfielders responsibility to call him off. Since Lake is new & learning, he'll get a pass by me. But you can't expect an infielder going back on the ball with his head turned and looking up to know where the OF'er is. It's a much easier read for the OF'r and it's taught that way from Little League on.

    The problem is neither of them have played OF in Little League and Lake didn't start getting looks there until winter ball last year.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Actually they both should know the way it should be played, as you described. If you look at the replay Castro appears to be calling Lake off early. Castro took control and he should have handed it to the OF. We're saying the same thing, it was wrong from the start. This stuff has to be taught .

  • I don't see the young hitters making progress with Dale. Castro, Rizzo ... results are not encouraging to this point. It's great they are stockpiling young prospects, because while we believe Castro and Rizzo are "core" players (and they contracts that say they are) the results don't support it to this point.

  • John, I don't recall you ever being this active or passionate. And I couldn't agree with you more.

    Anyone who believes Castro sucks or should be traded or Cubs should give up on him is, quite frankly, a fool. Fools are not worthy of debate.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Ha! I feel silly I got sucked into a ridiculous debate that made no sense to begin with and then kept changing as it went along. Few things more useless and a waste of one's time than debating someone with a pathological need to be right.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Don't feel silly, John. Sometimes you have to argue your point even when others are doing their best to get you off it. It's called deflection and it happens when someone can't debate the original.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Thanks cubs1969. Appreciate that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John - since you have not given up on Castro clearly, I am curious what you would need to see out of him to change your opinion? And by that I mean - put yourself in the position of Sveum or the FO. How much longer do you give him before you replace him in the lineup, seriously look to trade, or even send him down to minors for a short period (if that's even an option)?

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    I certainly wouldn't give up on a 23 year old who had put up 3 good seasons at a premium position because he's had a bad year -- especially in one where the team asked him to make a lot of changes. The tendency is to look at the last year and throw everything else out the window. That's a mistake this front office isn't going to make. If anything, they try to profit from those kind of situations when other teams give up on players after a bad season, as they have with the acquisitions of Travis Wood, Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and even Anthony Rizzo in a way. As I said in the piece, I always look at the big picture because you can make big mistakes reacting to variance in the short term.

    One of the worst bosses (many years ago) I've ever known operated that way, firing good employees if their last project/assignment wasn't up to par. The turnover in that place was unbelievable and it quickly became a place nobody wanted to work -- and the talented people just started quitting and finding new jobs on their own. The company is still around, but it's mired in mediocrity.

    Trading makes little sense because you're trading him while his value is at an all-time low and that's bad business in any arena. The minors aren't really an option because of his time in the big leagues and the league restricts the team from doing so in that situation.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John - I don't disagree with anything you wrote and I'm not advocating for any action on Castro right now either (though I did agree with Sveum benching him and would sit today as well if I were the manager).

    But you did not answer my specific question which was - what would John Arguello need to see out of Castro before you might change your view on his long-term future with the Cubs? Would a 2014 season with sub .300 OBP and sub .700 OPS do the trick? Just want to know what your bar is - when criticizing Castro would no longer warrant branding as alarmist or Castro-hating?

  • This team is missing Sori a lot more than I thought they would.

  • In reply to kansascub:

    Sure. You're going to miss the homerun power when you have so little otherwise. Not to fret, though. We're going to see plenty of slugging average in the not-so-distant future.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Actually, the team might be missing the clubhouse leader aspect that Soriano brought, more than the bat.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    I was thinking the same thing yesterday, Eldrad. With Sori gone, a lot of young guys lost their mentor and friend. Who will step up?

  • You're right its just so hard to stay patient.

  • Even with his struggles in the middle of last season he managed to pull himself out of a pretty bad funk and still hit close to .300. He also saw an increase in his RBI and HRs. 14 HRs and 78 RBI last year. If he can do that during a season where he struggled a little but still pulled out of it, then he can easily hit 20 HRs and get close to 90 RBI. If he can hit around .300 with around 200 hits then leave him be.

    I realize those are very basic offensive numbers especially for a team that is focused on advanced stats, which I am certainly in favor of 100%. I also realize they want players who take pitches and are patient, which I also agree with. Castro is not that kind of player though. He should hit lower in the line-up where he has more RBI chances.

  • Also, everyone should take a look at the comments after Phil Rogers' article about Castro on the Tribune. A real load of morons over there who have no clue what is the cause of Castro's struggles and who also seem to have forgotten how much he improved defensively last season.

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    To be constructive, Dale needs to tell Castro to stop calling off the OF( Lake) on a play like that. Its a simple rule that obviously Castro hasn't learned. Teach him what you want. And if has to play thru a play like that you have to be attentive because your momentum is taking you away from the throw. Break-it-down for him. Dale is an IF I'm surprised he didn't mention in his presser that Castro erred when he didn't let Lake catch the ball. This isn't about ego's its about fundamentals.

  • Hmm, thought this was about SS depth. I guess I'm not surprised though. Castro made a big mental mistake. Got benched for it. That's baseball the way it should work. The responses both immediate and going forward are what is important here. So far so good. The kid is not happy with himself and also not full of himself and reacting in anger. He just needs to keep his mind focused on the game.

    Back to the topic at hand. From what I've seen of Baez he seems to be a pretty defensive player from what I've read. The play he made saving the no-hitter last week showed real good instincts. How does everyone rate Castro's defensive instincts? Relative to what we have in the system of course.

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