Game Notes: Sveum shakes up the lineup and Castro comes out on top

Game Notes: Sveum shakes up the lineup and Castro comes out on top

It seems that Starlin Castro and Dale Sveum can't escape the spotlight.  One day after batting 8th, Sveum has put Castro in the leadoff spot.

Here are some other news and notes...

  • It's social media night and though I kind of planned on going, and was reminded several times about it, I just never got around to it.  That an error on Arguello for those of you scoring at home.
  • I enjoyed this article by Gabe Kapler becaue it's close to my own opinion on PEDs.  It's a well-balanced, thoughtful piece and if I were going to write on the subject, it would be something like this -- well, except for the part about having played major league baseball.
  • If you're still in Starlin Castro/Dale Sveum mode, Julie DiCaro has an interesting take on the subject, as well as here thoughts on what it's like to be Starlin Castro.
  • According to Fangraphs, Pedro Strop has the 4th most unhittable pitch in baseball and it's that nasty slider, which gets contact just 44.3% of the time.  Only Danny Farquhar's curveball, Jordan Walden's slider, and Aroldis Chapman's slider miss more bats.
  • A reminder that we will be meeting at Bernie's at 10:00 AM before the Baseball Factory/Under Armour All-Star Game.  We won't be there long because the HR derby is at 11:35, shortly after the gates open.  I don't want to miss that.   And...if you're thinking that you'd like to go now that the Cubs are closing in on the 4th pick and want to get a peek at players like Alex Jackson, then I will bring some extra tickets to the game to give away.  I have around 10-15 tickets left for those interested but I'm no longer mailing them out.

Today's Lineup

  1. Castro ss
  2. Rizzo !B
  3. Lake LF
  4. Schierholtz RF
  5. Murphy 3B
  6. Bogusevic LF
  7. Barney 2B
  8. Castillo C
  9. Arrieta SP

What to watch For: 

Felzz: Starlin Castro. I don't care how much water the ship is taking on, I'm STAYING!!!!! I think this is an excellent move by Sveum. Hopefully Castro and Rizzo reward Sveum with a great performance...

John: As mentioned earlier today, Jake Arrieta is one of the reasons I'm excited about Cubs baseball down the stretch.  Can he keep throwing strikes?  If he does, we should see a lot more whiffs and weakly hit baseballs tonight.   Like the lineup too and I hope the combo of good pitching and a reformulated lineup makes the difference.

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  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Right on!

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    I bet Dale is in the elite of the elite for World Championship Yahtzee. He sure rolls the dice a lot.....

  • It was a interesting point on sport talk live, one of the reporters said that the view around the league is that the cubs are failing castro and they are ruining him. I wonder what is your guys take.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I'd say the kid is being mishandled. But he has to take some of the heat himself. Sometimes he appears to be thinking Aruba.

  • I like the lineup because I'd like to see Castro and Rizzo get as many at bats as possible to work themselves out of their slumps( is it a slump if it lasts all year) but I really think they need to bat them in the lineup where they should be ideally. In my opinion bat them 3rd and 5th and leave them there.

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    Not a huge fan of the lineup of the day, but in a lost season I really like Castro-Rizzo 1-2 to get them as many ABs as possible. Now don't change this for a month and a half, Dale.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He won't be able to leave it alone for a day and a half forget about a month and a half.

  • "You FORGOT about social media night? Dammit Arguello, these mental lapses have got to stop!! Didn't they teach you how to field a simple blog op? One more time and it's the bench for you!! Hey, Phil Rogers, get this...."

    (But I'm pulling for you, you're a good kid and I'm just trying to help you succeed.)

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    good thing John is part of the core or he might get dfa'd

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    LOL! I've been Castro'd.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Hey take it easy on him! Arguello is still young and adjusting to writing for the MLB (Major Literary Blog). A couple years ago he wrote 200 quality articles in a short season and I'm confident he can get back to hitting 3 good articles per day... Well, at least 2 out of 3 anyway.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Haha Dawg! Those stats are excellent.
    But I want John's OPS (Opportunities for Posting Success) to climb.

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    Sveum changes the lineup again? I swear that somewhere I just heard Leonard Nimoy say, "Fascinating!"

  • I enjoyed the Gabe Kapler piece as well. Thanks for the link, but what part of Kapler's story do you believe is "close to my own opinion on PEDs"? Is it the part where he says he feels everyone should be presumed innocent of PED use or the part where he said "we shouldn't put our heads in the sand and ignore the possibility of guilt." I liked the piece, but Kapler is sort of staking out a non-opinion, while faithfully upholding the baseball Code of Silence of the previous generation: See no evil, speak no evil. This fortunately is running counter to the current MLB climate in which more and more current players are taking a stand, calling out cheaters and even throwing at them.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I liked them both. To me, it's not a non-opinion at all. They shouldn't presume guilt, but the stance that "there's no proof that steroids work" so therefore we shouldn't do anything about it is ridiculous.

    When we have certain symptoms of an illness, it isn't proof, but we can be reasonably sure it's a possibility, so we get a blood test, MRI, or whatever it takes to find out for certain.

    If I'm hopping an airplane, there's certain behaviors that will trigger suspicion (i.e. buying a ticket in cash, changing flights at the last second), so there's a chance I might get stopped. This exact scenario happened to me once, actually, and while I found it terribly inconvenient to get my bags checked, I understood the rules in place and that it was for the safety of everyone involved. Needless to say, I have never made a last minute flight change using cash again.

    Likewise if there are symptoms/trends, etc. that indicate steroid use is a possibility (i.e. rapid weight change, numbers that are contrary to normal age trend), then that should trigger a test.

    At the same time, those very suspicions/indications shouldn't be used as proof that steroids/PEDs have been used. You can't assume that guilt even if it seems completely obvious -- but there needs to be more and better testing when those flags are raised.

    And to me it doesn't matter if some don't think PEDs work (every study I've seen trying to prove that has been terribly flawed, by the way, because they don't address the way PEDs work). There are rules against it and if there is any reason to believe that you violated that rule (based on pre-determined criteria as suggested above), then you should get tested and if proven, then appropriate punishment needs to be doled out.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    When you say "you can't assume guilt," I'm with you if you mean a governing authority, but neutral observers like fans can assume anything they want. Heck, even scouting reports on players at trade time speculate on the players' "medicals." Likewise, what's wrong if a fan assumes a pitcher is throwing illegal spitballs? Having fans who think poorly of players or believe that some are dirty is par for the course, whether it involves PEDs or something else. And if former major leaguers have said that 80% of the players they played against used some form of PEDs, then if a player doesn't like the perception about their sport, then they should spend more time with Union working to improve the perception than telling fans not to believe their own eyes. Of course, I have more than my own eyes, as I played on a Big Ten baseball team, was drug tested myself, and played with and against juiced players at the college level. We all knew who was juicing to get that extra edge. I even knew athletes who boasted of beating the tests. All that said I enjoyed the article. Thanks for posting the link.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    P.S. -- Your points about the proven benefits of PEDs are all valid. I've never heard an athlete say they weren't beneficial except those lying about using them. So that part of Kapler's article didn't strike me as novel, but I found notable that he feels most outside observers underestimate, not overestimate the benefits... which is completely true for the mental/confidence reasons he noted.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Meant governing authority. Fans can assume anything they want, I was referring to the ability of baseball to take action based on assumptions. As a fan, you don't need any proof to speculate on who is using.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Not to quibble, but isn't this a moot point because no governing sports authority presumes guilt. Right? Is anyone arguing that players should be suspended without proof or an appeals process? In fact, the PED testing levels are designed to be so high in order to give that benefit of the doubt to the athletes. Heck, Andre Agassi has even admitted in his autobiography to testing positive for banned stimulants and that the USTA let him off simply because Andre wrote a letter that Andre admits falsely said he accidentally drank the spiked soda of someone in his entourage. Also consider that an Olympic athlete must have more than three times the normal ratios of testosterone in their system to test positive. I’m not saying the testing levels are set rightly or wrongly. It’s just a fact that they are high enough to allow pretty much all athletes to take some PEDs and not test positive. This was a big part of BALCO's business – figuring out what combinations of drugs on what cycles would avoid a positive drug test result (with the Cream and the Clear being the unidentifiable designer-drug icing on top). So when most athletes say they don't cheat or have never "failed" a drug test, that's just a sports agent-approved way of saying they don't exceed the allowed testing levels.

    But for the record, I'm not a puritan on this subject. I care almost as little about millionaire athletes with access to the best medical advisers doing PEDs as I care about millionaire rockstars leading Dioneysian lifestyles. While I would prefer my sports to be clean so I could appreciate the human achievement even more, my biggest concern is how PEDs have seeped into the college and high school levels. Nowadays it is pretty much the price of admission for advancing. It is increasingly hard to get a scholarship to a top college football program without enhancing. Same with getting drafted out of prep and college baseball programs.

    But what can you do. PEDs have been around at the world class sports levels for more than 50 years. The first PED-related death in the Olympics occurred in 1964 (perhaps not surprising, in cycling). So the genie has long been out of the bottle. The best that can be done is try to reason with the Genie by getting him to grant only one wish and not three.

  • As a Cub fan I'd love to see Castro succeed but I can't possibly agree with the notion that the Cubs are failing Castro. If that were the case then how can he be seeing .5 more pitches per AB and have a declining BB rate? Starlin's entire talent level has suffered this season, which points to other factors IMO- fielding numbers are down, base-running peripherals down, ISO down, K's up, OPS totally in the toilet. There isn't a single aspect of his game that hasn't declined since last season. And last year wasn't that hot until after he signed the extension and had a good September in meaningless games for a 101 loss team. His camp expressed concerns over his contract for justifying declining numbers last year, so now he's making 10x more salary than 2012 and it's the Cubs fault? B.S. But he has his way now and is leading off... let's see how long this good vibe lasts.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    I was just asking the question because a reporter who covers the team has talked to other teams and the teams are questioning what is going on. And he was saying that castro doesn't feel that he is part of the organization. I have to disagree that his talent level has suffered, his numbers are down but he has not lost any of his ability

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    The broadcast last night also focused on Strop's fastball, and the contrast to what his fastball is like high in the zone (hittable), and around the knees (nasty, with a sinking action).

    Strop has pretty filthy stuff. It's all about the command....

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    NEWS FLASH: Daytona rained out again. DH tomorrow.

    I think the FSL should have a quintuple header to finish the season and make up for all the it "24 hours of Baseball".

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    In reply to Zonk:

    That was actually a doubleheader that was rained out (from a rainout yesterday), so a game is lost.

  • Whya is it that it seems like Sveum takes all the blame and we don't here about Rowson and Deer? I have never understood why Deer was selected as a hitting instructor when the guy struck out close to 200 times per year. Those who can't, teach, I guess?

  • I don't feel that the club has done Castro any favors other than an extension. He was an all-star twice on a team that has to have one , not because of his play. This has been a terrible year for the kid. We'll see if Baez can get him juiced up to play as if he cared. Sveum certainly can't.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    And what makes you think Castro doesn't care?

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    I would suggest that Castro's reaction to batting at No.8 shows that he cares... he was distraught and said enough is enough.

    If people stop trying to change the instinctive player that got 200 hits per year, we will see the real Castro.

  • Baez doing work again so far tonight. 2 singles and a 3 run bomb that the radio announcer said would've left the park if there wasn't a retaining wall in the back of the park. All in all, 3/3, 1 run, 3 RBIs... and he is now hitting .303 in AA. I didn't think he'd catch on so quickly at this level after his promotion to Daytona last season. You really can't say enough about him.

    Alcantara also 1/1 w 2 more walks. Gotta love the 2 and 3 spot in that lineup.

  • This Arietta is some find. Six earned on 5 hits in 3 innings. What did we give for this guy?

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Evidently Arrieta just doesn't care, just like all other players who struggle.
    And per usual we gave up a future Hall of Famer a la Campana. Some Front Office we have.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Scott Feldman.

  • 3 months of Feldman, who wasn't going to resign with us anyways. I guess you missed his first two starts w the Cubs when he was shoving. We also got Pedro Strop, who's been dominant since joining the Cubs' BP.

  • In reply to Jamato:

    Don't confuse with facts !

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Nothing like a 1 game sample size to justify criticism!

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    Get this Rizzo kid an extension!

  • An exciting inning to watch.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Yes ! It's fun when everything clicks, isn't it?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:


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    Wow!!! Baez goes deep again.. Solo shot

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    Looks like I picked the wrong night to miss the Tenn game on MiLB TV. Good thing they archive the games.

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    He looks like he's trying to win the Southern League MVP.

  • This game sums up being a Cubs fan. Now wait for the 9 inning for when Castro grounds into a DP to end the game.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    If he does, at least we'll have our Required Scapegoat.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Lmao, well I was close.

  • Wow, bad decision to leave Russel in vs Hariston. And it's not just hindsight, it' Dales beloved statistics.

  • In reply to Csanad:

    Agree! WTF was he thinking?!

  • In reply to Csanad:

    We are now paying the price for Sveum's riding Russell's arm into oblivion...

    He was lights out until he became Sveum's favourite un-necessary go to guy... just as Sveum road Camp into oblivion last year and Quade/Piniella destroyed Marmol with overuse.

  • perhaps if everyone would lose the negativity and surround Castro with some positive vibes He would start to be himself again, crips he has a down year and everyone forgets this kid has more baseball talent than every member of Cubs Den who ever put on a glove combined. If He is gonna struggle do it now when we suck. He will be ok if the azz monkeys dont drive him out of town .

  • Seriously. I'd like to see Baez get called up whenever Tenn finishes play. Just give him a taste. Play him every game. See how he does. If we does great send him to winter ball. And give him a real shot at coming north during spring training.

    He's not Patterson. He's not Pie. He's more Trout and Harper.

    He's a stud. He's elite. He's ready!

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    After Birmingham ties it up in the 8th, Baez with a Sac Fly to put the Smokies back up 7-6 in the top of the 9th. 5 RBIs this game... WOW!

    I don't want Baez to get called up. In no way do I want to mess with his head or his progression. I'd rather him end his season on a high note, and then send him out to the AFL or winter ball or wherever they feel is best for his continued development. Not to mention, he hasn't really tried out any other position yet besides 3B, and that was in the AFL last year where he was totally uncomfortable.

  • In reply to Jamato:

    Bench Castro for him!!!

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    In reply to Jamato:

    He'll start 2014 in AAA and they'll get serious about a new position there if there's going to be one.

  • In reply to Jamato:

    I think he'll go to winter ball. I think he can be great at 3B or 2B (he'd be fine at SS too). 2B might work better for him because he can utilize those instincts better in the middle of the field.

    he did struggle in the AFL but he struggled at SS there too. Just didn't play well overall. I'm willing to give him a mulligan on a position change. He's too talented, instinctual, athletic not to learn another position quickly.

  • In reply to Jamato:

    Why assume that he wouldn't end on a high note if he came up? Why assume he wouldn't do well? And I suspect he'd do just fine at 2B. There's no way this kid's psyche would be crushed if he struggled for 20 games in the bigs. I think it would actually help his development even if he struggles -- he'd see what he needs to work on to succeed at the highest level. But I really think he won't struggle. Because . . .

    He's a stud. He's elite. He's ready! :-)

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    The 40 man slot and the arb clock are pretty valuable. No reason to use those this season.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I'm not saying that it'd mess with his psyche, and destroy him by any means at all. I completely agree that he's a stud, and he's most certainly elite, but I don't think he's ready. Let him keep refining his approach in the minors. I think you wait til next year to give him his look at the bigs, and then hopefully by 2015 he's ready to take over a starting spot somewhere on the field for the big league club. Just my two cents of course!

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I felt the same way about Bryant going to AA.

    Apparently people think our players have really weak psyches, because if they came to a higher league and didn't have success in a really small sample size irreversible damage would be done.

    And I agree, why is it automatically assumed they would struggle? And it's not like they can't be sent down again. I'm talking mostly about Bryant though because I tend to agree about the 40 man roster point of view, but for Bryant that ship has sailed, he's staying at Daytona, I was talking about this when he was in Boise.

  • Just saw that Ichiro got his 4000th professional baseball hit. Even if he's a Yankee its worth noting!

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