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Would the Cubs be better off with Baez at SS and Castro at 2B?

Would the Cubs be better off with Baez at SS and Castro at 2B?

I'm a huge Starlin Castro fan.  Not in a Jessica Walters "Play Misty for Me" kind of way, but simply because I think he's a good player who, at age 23, hasn't yet scratched the surface of the kind of player he can be.  I think trading him at this stage would be a mistake.

That said, I'm also a huge Javier Baez fan.  The problem is they both play shortstop.  One of them has to either change positions or (gasp) get moved in a deal.  The Cubs haven't had a player with the combination of Baez's talent and productivity tear through to the upper levels since...well, Starlin Castro.  They are different kinds of players to be sure, but they are both potential impact players at premium positions.  The Cubs could use as many of those as they can get.

But that is still dancing around the question, which is this:  Who should play shortstop long term?

My answer may surprise you.

I have said at various points that I believe that while Castro continues to improve,  Baez may be the slightly better SS from a defensive standpoint.  I'll get into that in a bit.   The bigger picture question is whether it's better to move Baez to SS and Castro to another position.  Will the Cubs be better off overall?  Would Baez make a much better 2B or 3B than Castro would?  If so, considering the difference either way at SS isn't that large, is the overall net change a negative?

According to Ken Rosenthal, one rival executive believes Castro would be very good -- even Gold Glove quality -- at 2B.  He compared him to Brandon Phillips.

One rival executive suggests a move of Castro to second, where he could be a Brandon Phillips type, offering both plus defense and offense. Javier Baez, after all, is the Cubs’ shortstop of the future.

I don't necessarily disagree and here's why...

On Javier Baez at SS

I think SS is the position that requires the highest possible blend of athleticism and instincts.  Neither Baez or Castro are elite athletes, but they are both good athletes and both have good instincts -- but I think Baez's instincts could rate as an 80 if such things were measurable.   Jason McLeod spoke of his internal clock and how he instinctually seems to know how much time he has to throw (and how hard he needs to throw) to first.  He's a high energy player who is very aware of the game around him.  Teammates look up to Baez and he has tremendous leadership potential at a position where that is a desired quality.  Physically his range is probably around average and perhaps a bit less than Castro's, but I think the overall package is better with Baez.

On Starlin Castro at 2B

Castro has the physical tools to play SS and he plays the game with fluid athleticism.  He has that quality you like to see in a SS in that he flows through the ball and has the good hands and arm to play the position well, though he has been inconsistent in his career.  The larger criticism with Castro has been his so-called focus and awareness.  He's made his share of mental mistakes, though he has really cut those down in the 2nd half this season.  Another concern I have is that there are a lot of close plays with Castro and though he has improved as far as understanding how aggressively he needs to play the ball, it doesn't come as natural to him as it does to Baez.  A move to 2B would all but eliminate that issue as Castro would have more time to make the play with the shorter throw to first.  I think he can relax and let his physical skills take over at 2B.

On making the switch

I'd make the switch based on the reasons stated above but we're not dealing with strat-o-matic cards here.  We're dealing with living, breathing people and you never know what kind of impact a position switch will have on individuals and by extension, the team as a whole.  I think the Cubs need to be mindful to maintain a good atmosphere where veterans are respected and not easily cast aside while also balancing that with a move that could improve the team -- even if it's incrementally.  Before you think, "Well tough, Castro has to move for the good of the team" think about this: 1) We don't know if it will be best for the team and 2) We should expect Castro to feel exactly how we would feel if we've worked hard for 4 years and did well enough to twice be considered among the best at our position -- and then get unceremoniously "demoted" for the young, unproven upstart who may -- or may not -- be better.  Yes, it's business, but it doesn't mean any of us have to like it -- and that includes Castro.   Right now the Cubs are approaching this the right way.  Castro has put in a lot of work at SS.  He worked hard on it in the offseason and he's improved. It will be Baez who will move and I'm hoping that the move is to 2B, where his instincts and feel for the game can be better utilized.  Until he's ready, Baez will continue to play SS at Iowa and if there does come a time when a move makes sense, it shouldn't be difficult for him to re-orient himself to the SS position.

 

Comments

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  • It makes sense most experts thought Hak Ju Lee would push Castro to 2B. So why wouldn't Baez?

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Because Lee was a much better defender than Baez -- and Castro had not yet established himself as the Cubs MLB shortstop when that was bandied about.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He is not established at the position. He had established himself as a hitter but not as a SS. They two very different things.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Not true at all. Castro has led the league in assists and put outs in both 2011 and 2012. I'd say that's established.

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    That's a little deceptive though since those numbers are very much based on chances. Since the Cubs have tended to use ground ball pitchers who aren't necessarily high-strikeout guys, it makes sense that his numbers would be fairly high.

    But, the advanced stats aren't quite as kind to his fielding. Baseball Info Solutions, for example, provides a stat that is the number of runs above or below average a fielder saves over 1200 innings of play. Andrus is at 10 for this year. In his youth, Rollins was consistently in double digits. (Topped out at 18.) Castro is currently at -6 for the year. His high was 3 last year, also the only year he's been positive.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I believe the Cub pitchers were actually in the bottom third of ground ball outs in 2012.

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Okay, remove that entire paragraph and the argument about advanced stats still holds.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    That only means opportunity Nothing else. He has a -2.8 UZR that is not good.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I may just be too old school. The rookie is the one to take the secondary status and position. If Castro continues to sleep walk and its May, Then an adjustment would make sense to me.

  • fb_avatar

    I take a little nap and wake up to this...

    I'm dreaming. I KNOW I'm dreaming.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It's my honest analysis, but the conclusion remains the same that it's a difficult move to make, and maybe not worth it overall.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    welcome to the dark side John....lol I've been saying this for a while. MY reasoning was Castro's mental errors and throwing errors. A move to 2B would help reduce those. IDK about GG quality though... Then there's the increase injury risk. Baez is a potential 30/30 guy, probably going to hit 2-4 in the line-up. Would you rather lose him on a DP or Castro?..... just sayin'

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    Wow... Play Misty for me. Trying to authenticate the ages of your reading body John? Love the pop culture reference.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    LOL ;) Thanks.

  • I think Castro should stay at shortstop, but wouldn't be opposed to the switch either. I also agree that I rather see Baez play 2nd base over 3rd base. That middle infield would be one of the best hitting middle infields in the league (obviously assuming Castro gets back to his normal self).

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    I have nothing to base this on, but for some reason, I think Castro, who appears to be a little smaller and quicker than Baez, might have an easier time as a second baseman turning the DP than would Baez.
    I am also hesitant to move Castro from SS because I am very aware that he led the league in assists, put outs and total chances in both 2011 and 2012. In fact, he accounted for well over 100 more defensive outs than did 2012 GG winner Jimmy Rollins.
    I think the best thing to do is to have Baez play second unless he shows that he absolutely can't.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Agreed.

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    So if I'm reading the end of the article correctly, are you suggesting that Castro stay at short and Baez start at second. Then, if Castro doesn't develop the way you'd like to see, the two can swap places when Baez isn't an untested commodity at the big league level?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm only saying it's difficult to make the change as of 2014. Perhaps things change and other options open up later, but I think right now you have to ask Baez to move. But if Castro continues to improve and plays at least an average SS, you don't make the change. That's generally how it works in the bigs. We never saw Jeter moved off of SS and he was a lesser defensive player than Castro is now.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Jeter is a comparison that cuts both ways, though. The guy that legitimately could have pushed him off shortstop was ARod, who was probably better when he came over. But, Jeter was the unquestioned team leader. At the time, I read that as being as much about the psychological -- this is still Jeter's team and ARod gets to play on it -- as about the physical. But what happens if, as you say, Baez becomes the clubhouse leader. That seems much more his personality than Castro's.

  • Will you please drop the Baez crap. He has not even played at AAA . I hope he turns out to be Derek Jeter, but to date he is a prospect and nothing more. .

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    In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    By the prospect and nothing more logic, is there no difference between Byron Buxton and Eloy Jimenez? After all, they're both young outfielders who have never played above high A ball.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Seriously - go read another blog. If you don't want to read about prospects or anything other than immediate success/failure of the Cubs there are about 100 other sources you could read.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I do read fellz always. I simply have been doing this Cub thing since 1945, and I know that for every Ryne Sandberg there are a thousand can't miss prospects who never got more than 50 PAs in the bigs.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Sorry, I shouldn't let it get to me. I just thought your reply was pretty disrespectful to the work John does. Most of the content on the site is dedicated to prospects/organization as a whole/direction/not just the product on the field at Wrigley. Its one of the few that take it seriously and for those of us that enjoy the process as much as the result, it is one of our few outlets where we can discuss.

    I certainly shouldn't have been disrespectful in return. My bad.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Well - to be fair - I suspect that while the content of this blog (and for the record I hope it does stay this way) is geared toward analyzing what is being done in part out of the limelight to improve this team for the future - that as the team moves closer to being a real competitor on the ML level some of the focus will shift more to analyses of what's going on with the guys currently on the 25-man roster AND contributing.

    So the current focus on what is going on in the minors and with the prospects is where the action is,..... especially during Spring Training when the competiton for roster spots picks up (like it is now).

    A lot of the information that is gathered here in one relatively easy to access package on the prospects, drafts (I especially admit to cluelessness RE prospects and scouting), and potential trades is information I would likely never find without you all.

    Thanks btw for that all of you-all - and for the generally fun and non-snarky conversation.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Disagree, he's not a finished product, but could and would ccontribute at the major league level soon.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Bloomie being Bloomie, that old curmudgeon! Never gonna change. I understand where he's coming from, but I don't necessarily agree with it. He should be free to express his opinions without being jumped on.

  • In reply to giamby:

    Agreed. He doesn't need to agree with everyone. We all have our opinions and as long as people are respectful, I have no issues with it. I have no issues with Bloomie.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree! Cubstalk, er um, I mean BLOOMIE doesn't seem like a bad guy and I really haven't seen him attack anyone likes he;s been accused. I think we all need to remember this a blog on the internet... very easy to misinterpret ones tonality or intentions.

  • On a side note Sporting News gets it wrong and names Santo as most beloved Cub,

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Who is?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hobie Landrith?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Rob Sperring

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Emil Verban! What with his society and all.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    tsk, tsk.

  • I watched PMFM several months ago. One thing that stood out for me was that a small time jazz disk jockey (Clint Eastwood) could afford an awesome vintage car and a sweet California bachelor pad. Those were the days.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Haha...never thought about it that way.

  • My question is will Castro be a better 2Bman than Arismendy? Alcantara is settling into second already. I believe Baez will play somewhere because he generational special. Like it or not he is a SS and we have more than one major league 3Bmen. Castro needs to step up his game on both sides of the ball.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Castro would be better than Alcantara both offensively and defensively.

  • I would be for putting Baez at SS and moving Castro to 2nd. Having said that I think Castro's psyche is more fragile than Baez and Javy has shown he can handle change and adapt easier than Starlin.

  • In reply to kansascub:

    That right there is my biggest problem with Castro.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I think he has a stronger psyche than he's getting credit for. Castro has maintained a pretty even demeanor in incredibly challenging circumstances. I'm not sure he's the mentally toughest guy on the team, but I think it's significant that there has never been a bat-to-cooler session with him. Lord knows the frustration must have reached that point.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Exactamundo. Nailed it here.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I'll say again - all this talk from the FO about keeping Castro at short and moving Baez just shouts that a trade is coming (within the next 18 months). They are protecting both his psyche and his trade value by telling other teams - you think this Baez kid is good, we think the guy there now is better, and if you want him you'll have to pay up like he's better.

    If Starling Castro were on another team right now and had put up the exact same nummbers he has the last 4 years - would anyone on this board think Theo would be going out of his way to acquire him? Would anyone on this board be saying we have to get this guy Castro - he's going to be our SS for the next 10 years?

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    In reply to Charlieboy:

    Um yeah, I'd go out of my way to acquire a 23 year old SS who is already a 2 x all-star, has already had 200 hits in a season and despite a dismal year, still has a lifetime average of .282 and 687 career hits (again, by age 23)

  • In reply to Charlieboy:

    The Cubs would definitely look into bringing Starlin Castro in a buy low situation if he were on another team. And you've forgotten that they paid him a lot of money recently to stay here until he's 30

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Did they give him the deal to keep him or make him more tradeable? There's been a lot of disagreement on that point since the day the contract was signed.

    And I stepped out too far in last post insinuating there would be limited interest in Castro. I do still stick to the question would Theo be interested in him though? He just does not seem to fit the Theo vision.

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    For Baez to get the nod to play short and Castro be forced to move to 2B, Baez needs to force it "defensively." Period!

    If you take the bat out of the equation and just look at this from a defensive point of view, Castro gets the nod because he has simply been doing at the major league level and Baez is still just a prospect. A prospect needs to win the position outright and in my book both rate damn near the same defensively.

    So you just don't award the position to the prospect on "hopes" he does a better job. Castro was in the same boat at one time. But he was a tremendous upgrade over ole Ronny Cedeno when the switch was made.

    You don't want to set a new precedent that will have guys constantly wondering when their job will be taken. You reward Castro for his continued hard work and his willingness to accept coaching over this past year even though the results were not as everyone had hoped.

    Having Baez take over at 2B keeps the clubhouse chemistry on an up note. And Barney has to know that his glove alone will not keep his job. So slipping Baez into the 2B hole keeps the machine moving forward.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    You first two paragraphs made sense and I agree with them, but the Castro/Cedeno comparison actually makes more sense if you were arguing the opposite position of your stance. Castro was only an upgrade over Cedeno on offense (a significant one). His defense was no better and may actually have been worse. Cedeno had very good range.

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    In reply to mjvz:

    I think the point is actually moot because Ryan Theriot was the SS when castro was promoted. Riot moved over to 2B and Mike Fontenot rode the pines. Cedeno left the Cubs following the 2008 season, was a Mariner to begin 2009 and joined the Pirates later that year, where he stayed through the 2011 season.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Let's just slip Baez into the HOF and forget everyone else. Castro has had an off year, and may have been a flash in the pan. The same might happen to Baez. I hope not, but nobody here can say with certainty that he will wind up a star in the bigs. Castro has been our best player for this first two years in the bigs I'm not ready to dump him for an unproven kid just yet.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    I'm shocked to say it, Bloomie, but for once I agree with what you are saying (well, except for the sarcasm on Baez).
    Castro was rushed to the bigs, and thus has had to develop on the biggest stage. Yet so many are anointing Baez as the next Cal Ripken, without the kid having played a single inning in AAA ball.

  • I don't care who play's SS or 2B, as long as both are in the lineup. I always thought castro would make a good second basemen but the question is what if baez at shortstop does not work out then do you swap again ? Like I said I don't care about the combination I just want both players playing together. I just don't like the mind set that the media and fans have that its one spot on the team that available and we have to trade one of them. Has anyone seen the team lately ? There is more than enough room for both as a SS and 2B combo. I also feel you use both players range better up the middle more than putting one of them at third.

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    What about Baez at 3B, Castro at SS, and Alcantara at 2B? I know Baez is the superstar, but Alcantar's potential at 2B seems to be All-Star caliber.

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    In reply to Denvil Farley:

    Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva, and Kris Bryant are all significant competition at third base. And that's kind of a best case for the three of them because none of them have the range for second. (It's been tried with Villanueva and quickly abandoned.)

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think Olt is not going to make it. Bryant can shift to the OF. Villanueva seems to have the most work to do offensively. It's a great problem to have, but I like Alcantara over Villanueva and Olt.

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    In reply to Denvil Farley:

    The Cubs have faith in Olt -- they think his regression this year is concussion based.

  • In reply to Denvil Farley:

    On what basis?

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    On the Basis that he had eye issues after the concussion. Which is a pretty good argument in my eyes.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Many players that have suffered from concussion related syndromes have returned to form with time.

    There is still a very good chance that some rest and time off until ST can do him a world of good. He even finished THIS season fairly strong.

    If he can get healthy, Even Villanueva isn't close to his defensive skill.

  • In reply to Denvil Farley:

    Also very much a possibility. Good to have options!

  • I agree with everything in there, John.

    Castro would be an excellent 2B. So would Javy. Both would likely be good third basemen too. They're good raw infielders. Without a Simmons/Lindor/Profar defensive ceiling, you can't give Javy the job. You just can't slap Starlin in the face and bring in a guy that like you said perfectly, may or may not be a defensive upgrade. As far as knowing the league, proficiency with big league infield shifts, and playing with a "third deck" Javy's a definite downgrade.

    I love Starlin too, John. He's a real peach of a young player to have. Still on the inside track to flirt with 3000 hits. I don't think any of us have ever, or at least recently accused Starlin of being mentally tough or having good make-up though. We're going to need him to get tough and bounce back in 2014 regardless of where he plays and I think that a "demotion" could cause The Cubs to lose him altogether. Javy's the one who's all giddy to play anywhere and help the team. Let him experience the joy of a position change. I know both of their agents want them to play short!

    I absolutely do not think the team would be better off. Its an immediate defensive downgrade just by virtue of experience. If Javy turns out to be the better SS it wouldn't show up until well into 2014 if not way later anyway. I actually kinda (Kinda) wish they would've moved Javy behind the dish prior to 2012. He'd have been a really good one but it would've extended his timeline by a year and a half probably.

    Nice piece! Two great guys to have around. Still rooting for my boy DB to hit a little bit. Personally I think he's the one that is going to benefit most from all the competition and commotion behind and around him.

    Arrieta's looking great today, BTW. Its really ironic that we all hope Olt, Baez, Bryant, whomever will put up the kind of numbers that Donnie Murphy has put up during his time with the club. Funny game!

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    In reply to Ben20:

    Ben, I have to respectfully disagree on something here. Baez seems a bit tall to me to be a catcher. The tall, Damien Miller types are rare. Most catchers are in the 5'8" to 6' range, as it's easier to get down and block balls, especially in the five hole. It's also easier for shorter players to come out of the crouch and make that compact throw to second.
    . In addition, you typically do not want a premium bat playing a position where the starter takes 30-35 days off a year. It's why the Nationals immediately moved Harper to the OF.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    That was a big KINDA...he has the skillset to have been a really good bat-first catcher. He doesn't belong there, hence the non-move, but he would have carried a ton of value. Any ML catcher with 30 HR potential has a shot at a 100MM payday.

    As far as too tall, I'm not so sure. Mauer (6'5) Weiters (6'5) McCann (6'3) Saltalamacchia (6'4)...those are upper echelon big league guys or close to it. Yadi is 5'11 220. Posey is 6'1 220. Javy is 6'0 195. Same thing. There aren't all that many guys on any given team that are under six feet. 5'8-6'0 is the most common range but I don't think you could call it Ideal in this day and age. Tall catchers aren't as rare as you may think if over 6'0 is "tall".

    You're right about his bat not belonging behind the dish. Nice to even have a guy that you could move anywhere and the bat would over-play!

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Salvador Perez anyone? Joe Mauer? Just sayin'.

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    In reply to Ben20:

    Excellent point, BTW, about the slap in the face. My other thought on the matter is that Baez is expected to start the year in AAA, so when exactly does Castro learn to play 2B? It would really be a HUGE slap to move to 2B while Darwin barney or some other scrub played SS in anticipation of the savior.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Folks, I am going to excuse myself from this blog. I have never seen any of these prospects play and haven't a clue about their potential. I'll stick to fellzy, with whom I have a connection. From what I read here, I expect to see them all in Canton.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Bloomie, I don't know if any of these guys wind up in Cooperstown, but when we talk about the Cubs system as a whole, it's reasonable to assume a number of players who are prospects now will be with the Cubs in the next few years. There is enough depth where the Cubs can withstand a fair amount of prospect attrition.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Canton? In the NFL Hall of Fame? Maybe Szczur and Reggie Golden, but....
    I haven't SEEN all these prospects, but I can LEARN about them by reading the reports here and on myriad other sites. That way I have a more informed opinion and judgment on their progress and capabilities when I add a comment.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Bloomer, your opinions have merit and based on history are accurate, but I see a new day.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    That's rich.

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    I think there's another factor here: precisely because Baez is the more instinctual and focused of the two players, I can see him dealing with a position change with much more ease than Castro. When I think about Castro moving to 2B I keep envisioning him struggling for a least a whole season after playing shorstop his whole life. Obviously I don't know if that would be the case, but if we were to draw a parallel with both players' experiences trying to improve their approaches at the plate, I think it's fair to assume Baez handles adaptation better.

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    Strat-o-Matic. Love.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Thanks. I think I dated myself twice in this piece ;)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Hey, I still play strat on their site, great stuff. Ryno, Hawk and the Sarge are still clutch! :)

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Somewhere,.... in my parents' attic,.... there is still a 1975-ish era Strat-O-Matic game,...... beat to hell I am assuming as my brothers and I played that a lot for some time,.... but I wonder if it is missing any significant parts?

  • Good read. The things I like right now about our 2B/SS/3B situation are the prospects we have coming up: Bryant, Olt, Alcantara, Baez and Villanueva. Though not all of these players will pan out as regulars in the majors (though I hope they do for us), it's a great problem to have. I continue to like the direction the Cubs have been taking the past couple years with the draft and trading for pitching, as well as a couple infielders. If we have to lose for another season or so to continue to develop how we have, so be it.

  • In reply to MikeWadle:

    Thanks and completely agree. Lots of prospects mean lots of options and a good chance of surviving some prospect attrition.

  • In all honesty I really don't care who gets moved, but I don't want the reason to be cause of an ego. If the Cubs feel like it is best for team to move Castro, then that should be the end of it. But John you say it is the best move for the cubs but since Castro's pride is hurt so we leave him at SS will overall hurt the team. If Castro feels that strongly about not moving then we find some talent in return. I don't want a selfish guy playing SS. You can never build a quality product if one has this attitude.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I think ANYONE would be upset if their job was taken by an unproven younger person. Especially if they were good at what they did and worked hard at it every year. Wouldn't you? I think this, I'll sacrifice myself for the good of the organization is all very easy when it's somebody else that has to lose their job.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I am sure people would be upset if it happened to them. Lets face it all the mlb players are good at what the do and put in a lot of time and hard work to be where they are. It is the nature of the game. I am sure Castro came up and took someones job without proving himself. As far as losing his job, that doesn't make any sense. Castro would still have a starting spot at 2nd base or 3rd base or with another team. Be careful how you use the term lose their job. I might not be happy but I wouldn't expect my employers to keep me at a spot that they thought someone else was better just to make me happy. I would do the best I could at learning a new role. I believe there have been some bigger names that had to switch positions to help the team.

  • As I wrote you, John, I take Rosenthal's opinion on the Cubs with a huge grain of salt.
    1) The Cubs FO has just stated that "We have our shortstop." To me, that means it's Starlin Castro unless/until he plays himself off SS. Not "We are looking at all options" nor "We are eveluating" nor anything similar.
    2) Baez is going to play 2b and 3b in fall ball. What does that tell us?
    3) Rosenthal needs to create buzz in his columns by posing such scenarios. As I recall, he was sure the Dodgers were firing Don Mattingly in May.
    4) His take on Sveum vs. Girardi in the same column is pure speculation painted as "informed rumor". He bases it on Theo's "We are evaluating" statement, which you convincingly argue is just what it says -- and nothing more.
    5) However, this makes for a lively discussion, and that's why we're here (most of us anyway).

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I agree Hubbs. And my conclusion here is that while we don't know what will happen down the road, Castro is the Cubs SS for the foreseeable future.

    Interesting too that the Cubs have made their decision on Sveum and will announce it Monday. Whatever happens, it pretty much means they aren't waiting for Girardi or Maddux. His future is still unknown.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's a little scary for Sveum. If he was staying, what's the urgency?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    No urgency. They just finished their evaluation and no need to make an announcement before the season ends. He could still be fired, but if he is, it seems obvious it's not because they're waiting for Girardi to quit -- unless they have inside knowledge that that's what he plans to do.

    I think they'd announce it at the end of the season no matter what their plans were.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Well said, Hubbs. Its good fodder for baseball rats like most of us!

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    I'm thinking about the 2014 draft, and what sort of chain of events the selection of Trea Turner might set into motion. Turner at shortstop might push Baez, Castro and Bryant to different positions.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That's sooo far away even if they do draft Turner. Turner, by the way is a better athlete than either of those two guys. He'd have no issues moving.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, it precisely because Turner is such a better athlete that he would be.given preference at shortstop. That combined with makeup at position you have to have it trumps all else.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Better athlete doesn't necessarily make a better SS. Nobody is a better athlete than Junior Lake, for example, and he could not stick at SS even though they let him play there up until AA.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I didn't say it did, but it's generally where you want your best athlete, all other things being equal.

  • I feel fine evaluating Sveum. If I'm Theo I go all in for Girardi.

  • After seeing Starlin misplay a grounder with one out in the ninth just now I will say this....The main thing he needs to work on in the offseason, IMO is keeping his head out of his ass! There's nothing wrong with any other aspect of his game. Keep. Your. Head. Out. Of. Your. Ass. Jesus Christopher!!!!!

  • In reply to Ben20:

    What does that mean ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    It means he needs to improve his mental approach on defense. You can't be undecided on whether not to backhand a ball with one out in the 9th of a close ballgame. That run scored. Nott ruled an error but he should have made that play on a slow runner and there have been a lot like that this year. Its similar to the principle that guys with good stuff like Arrieta shouldn't get hit as hard as they sometimes do. Starlin should make way more plays than he does given the fact that he has good feet and a strong arm. He's somewhat prone to bonehead plays for whatever reason, and that's bad.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I would not call that a bonehead play, It was a physical error. It's funny that all of castro errors are mental, if you look at the play its not mental its physical. If another player made an error its not ruled mental error its just part of the game.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Disagree. That was a ball that he had time to get around on and square his shoulders towards first. He chose to backhand it and clanked it. The physical part is the clank. The mental part is not getting around on that ball. Backhands are for when you need to hurry. He had no "20" there. They hollar out "twenty, twenty" when a guy has speed and they need to hurry.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I agree that he had time to get around, but mental errors in my opinion are things like what he got benched for,or forgetting how many outs there are. A shortstop misplaying a ground ball to me is more physical than a mental error.For example if castro charges an ground ball and bare hands it and misses the ball when he did not have to bare hand it thats not a mental error to me but thats just my opinion.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Right on. For me a poor mental approach is what causes a lot of errors at the big league level since they all have the talent to make the plays. Whiffing on a bare hand that you should have gloved for instance qualifies as a bonehead move in my book. I think Starlin, like a lot of if not most latin guys, tends to skew a little more toward flashy than "fundamentally sound" and that gets him into trouble at times. Not bashing him. When push comes to shove I'm happy with him as our guy! He just frustrates me. I'm sure Javy will too. LOL

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I agree that starlin some times is a little flashy and his flash would work at 2B. If you look most flashy and smooth infielders are second basemen, starlin always reminds me of robinson cano but just plays SS. If starlin was a second basemen he could be a gold glover,in my opinion.

  • John, Castro's psyche has been mentioned. He may see himself as only a SS. If Baez is the better SS it may not matter to Castro but it will matter to the FO. Can he demand a trade if the cubs try to move him to second? If he did, I wouldn't be surprised. He may look at it - They messed with my batting, now they're trying to mess with my position. No way will I accept that.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    No player wants to change position in favor of an unproven player. None.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Especially if its a bump down on the positional pay scale.

  • I want to comment on comparing psyche's of both players. We have yet to see the results of the tests, We have to see how castro bounces back after the year. Baez has yet to go through anything on the field on the major league level. what if he has a bad few months on the major league level,or make so called mental errors then the fans and media jump on him ? How will he handle it ?

  • In reply to seankl:

    He doesn't make 'so called' mental errors. He makes real mental errors. I'm hoping he bounces back and improves his mental approach. Great point about Baez not going through anything tough. He has yet to even dominate at AAA.

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    In reply to seankl:

    As much as it's unfair to hit Castro for mental issues, it's equally unfair to bash Javy for it. He may not have been in the majors, but he worked through two miserable starts this year (A+ and AA), a May of "Javy Baez is a bust" talk, and overwhelming expectations everywhere he went to put up an absolutely incredible season for a 20 year old.

    He's more than mentally tough enough.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agree that you can't hit Javy for mental approach. Why would you say its unfair to hit Castro for mental issues? While I certainly wouldn't call him "baseball dumb" I wouldn't rate his mental approach as "plus". Where do you have Starlin's mental approach if you had to define it on a scale of below average to plus plus? I'm at below average to average with potential to get better.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike I'm not bashing javy, I'm just saying that no one can say how he is going to handle failure or pressure from fans and media on the major league level. I hope he can handle it, a few people questioning if Javy is a bust at A+ and AA is different than the fans and media questioning at the major league level. Again I really hope that both castro and baez are double play partners for years to come.

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    In reply to seankl:

    "a few people questioning if Javy is a bust at A+ and AA"

    This is minimizing things pretty significantly.

    Let's take a look at his last two years:

    After being drafted 9th overall, a new regime takes over and they promptly keep in in Arizona for his first full season of pro ball because they don't like how he's playing. He responds by playing so well that they bump him over Boise.

    He starts off in a massive slump which has every Cubs blog on the planet deeming him the next big bust. Not to mention twitter, which we know he uses extensively. He, his family, and his friends absolutely saw some of that. The mere fact that it didn't come from the media doesn't make it any less devastating to a 20-year-old kid.

    Meanwhile, while dealing with that, he has the presence of mind to get in front of a teammate twice his size -- brandishing a bat -- to defuse a situation that could have been terrible.

    In the middle of the summer, he's promoted to AA as a 20-year-old in a promotion that is clearly meant to show him that he isn't as good as he thinks he is and that he'll need to adjust. He starts off just miserably poorly -- and then adjusts inside of a month.

    Meanwhile, WGN is doing it's weekly Javy Baez update -- which involves interviews -- and every batting practice he takes is accompanied by people bringing out lawnchairs to see how far he's going to hit it -- no pressure there.

    You say we don't know if he's going to be able to handle it, and that is where I disagree. We don't know if the physical skills will transfer, but the mental skills will. He can handle it, and then some.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think you have that last paragraph backwards, Mike. Every baseball guy out there thinks his physical skills translate into a good major leaguer. We DO know the physical tools will transfer. I like his mentality too and agree that he'll be able to "handle it" (however you want to define that). Are you experiencing some sort of doubt about his physical tools? I'll ask to not be included in the "We" that doesn't think his physical tools are there. I gathered that Sean was talking in terms of handling adversity at the big league level. He hasn't even had to handle adversity in AAA, let alone MLB. He'll be fine mentally but we've yet to see him adjust at the two highest levels.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    That's what I am trying to say, handling adversity on the major league level. Mike has to realize that he is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. If he has a bad start at the plate or field he will get some boos. He could handle it great but to sit here and say its a guarantee he can handle it is not good.

  • I'd like a defense first type at short. How about Olt, Alcantara, and Barney to Arizona for Gregorius (some deal like that)? Castro to 2B and Baez to 3B. Defense would be tough.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Yikes. That's way too much.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Maybe. They gave up a lot for him and he's 23...guy you build with, low salary.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Who? Didi? Nice player but we have some of those. I like Castro, Baez, and Alcantara better. That would be a lateral move at best. Plus they have Aaron Hill so there's no immediate room for Alcantara. I think the fact that they gave up so much for him is precisely why they wouldn't move him.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I probably like all of those players too but hard to say at this point.
    Reason Arizona might move him is emergence of owings. They have Pennington still. Hill allows Alcantara to get a little better before he comes up.
    Regardlesss of whether this deal is possible or not, my point was that I'd like the cubs to get a defensive asset at SS. Ive always liked Crawford from the giants. I just think Gregorius would be more attainable. Have to think Castro and Baez would be elite defenders at second and third.

  • Well, the afternoon results tightened up "baseball's closest race*" even more.
    Therefore, tonight I root hard for a Twins win.

    (*The race for the #4 pick in June, that is)

  • http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/writer/jon-heyman/23839623/sveum-game-could-cubs-manager-take-fall-after-only-two-years

    This is a good read from Heyman. The availability/interest of other guys is going to play a big role in Dale's future. Nothing new there.

    If Gardenhire, Maddux, Scioscia, & Girardi were all legitimate candidates for the job this off-season, how many of us would choose Sveum over any of those guys? If none of them want the job then its academic. What if they all want the job?? Unlikely but you never know. I'd love to have Gardy!

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I don't believe any of them are considered sabermetrics type guys so I don't think the Cubs consider any of them other than Girardi and Maddux. I think it was John who said he thought they would keep Sveum and fire the hitting coaches which is what I'm thinking.

  • In reply to kansascub:

    I'm all for the approach of making some staff changes. I think if those other two guys reached out there would at least be some level of consideration. I was asking who YOU'D pick if all of them were available, just as a fun hypothetical...Dale, Scioscia, Gardenhire, Girardi, Maddux.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    It would be between Girardi(proven track record) or Maddux(love the potential).

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Having lived in the Twin Cities during the best and worst of recent Twins teams, I really do NOT want Ron Gardenhire leading the Cubs.
    Nor Mike Scioscia. Gardy makes crazy decisions and doesn't use his roster well; Scioscia is way overrated and plays favorites.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Right on.

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    John, maybe I am just sniffing too much glue so I could be completely incorrect here, but didn't the Hendry regime envision Starlin Castro eventually moving to CF? It seems so long ago that JH was calling the shots. That's what losing does to you I guess.

    By the way I think that would be completely asinine, but then again, stranger moves have been suggested by better people.

  • If you look at this argument from the standpoint of trade value, Baez is arguably the Cubs most valuable asset, while Castro is hoping for a bounce-back year in 2014. So, regardless of potential v. proven ability, IMO Baez stays at short. The Cubs lose far more player asset value moving Baez, despite what the FO says to the media. In fact, the FO really has to hope that Castro bounces back next year while Baez tears up AAA. That way, when the trade deadline rolls around, they have the option of trading one or the other for maximum return, or moving one of the other to another position to strengthen the team.

  • One of them will be moved, but it will be to a new team, not position. Most likely starlin.

  • I can't forget that play Castro made to get the last one of a win in late June or early July when team was playing .500 ball: A charging backhanded, short hop scoop and a throw on the run. It was one of the best plays I've ever seen a SS make. And I recall it got raves in Felzz's write up.

    I'm a huge fan of Castro and I definitely expect him to bounce back offensively next year. And I think he'll get better and better at SS. Baez has made a ton of errors at SS hasn't he?

    I definitely keep Castro at SS. And put Baez anywhere else, based on need, which for now appears to be 2B.

    All of this, of course, is a good problem to have.

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    IMO, there is absolutely zero evidence that Baez is a better defensive option at short.

    If anything, he may be even more wild than Castro.

    And the Brandon Phillips comparison is particularly bizarre to me because one of the reasons I like the idea of Baez so much at 2B is because HE seems comparable to Phillips (or even Cano).
    Phillips and Baez are nearly identical in size. Phillips has developed pretty ok strength too.

    Whereas Phillips is much larger than Castro, even just eyeballing, and Castro has little strength.

    If we can miraculously get Trea Turner in the next draft, and he plays well through the end of 14, That's another thing. A year from basically NOW, if Turner is a Cub and killing it like Bryant, THEN I think discussing who moved off SS or who gets traded is a perfectly valid argument. Until then, Baez has shown nothing to me to suggest he's a [more] valid option.

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    Prorated for a full MLB season, Baez would've committed 55 errors.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Neither Baez or Castro are a finished project defensively. Baez has all of the skills necessary to be better at the position. But I don't think he will be significantly better when all is said and done. While I think the team would be slightly better off with Baez at SS and Castro at 2B, I don't think it would make enough of a difference to potentially throw Castro out of whack again. We already did that at the plate.

    Once Baez gets here and proves he is a MLB player and that he can play under control on defense, maybe Castro and the clubhouse in general will be more willing to accept what is best for the team.

  • Does Castro or Baez have a higher TWTW?

  • In reply to SouthBender:

    Lol!

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    I've always felt that Castro will keep getting better at SS. He has always been able to make the spectacular plays. It's the routine that have always given him issues. I think he has made significant steps forward on routine plays this season. He looks a lot more solid now. His bat got him through the minors before his glove could catch up. Most SS are slow developing glove wise. Jeter made numerous errors on routine plays. I also read Cal Ripken made tons of errors early in his career. But they all had the range and talent as with Starlin. I think next year Castro's defense will improve more. I also think Baez doesn't need the extra stress of playing the most important position on the field. Baltimore was very smart putting Machado at 3rd. I hope the Cubs do the same and put Javy at 2nd.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    I think it is safe to say - when looking at his play defensively in April/May and comparing it to the rest of the season (the last couple weeks have been a bit sloppy though) - Castro's defense has already begun a fairly steep ascent into being consistent. He does generally make the routine plays now, and rarely needs to have an errant throw chased down by the 1B (given - part of that is Rizzo is a good glove man himself).

    Talking about switching positions for (or trading for that matter) Castro with an handful of games left this season is stirring a pot we don't need to stir until at least the first couple weeks of Spring Training. It'll get sorted out when it needs to get sorted out.

    And personally - I would like to see Sevum come back for next year,... although the hitting coaches really need to be cut loose.

  • Whatever happens happens. My question is if the FO decided Baez was staying at SS and Castro was going to move to 2B, would Castro's value at 2B for the Cubs be greater than the value they'd get trading him as a SS? Curious of what you think the answer is to that one.

  • Unless Baez or Castro show that they are a serious defensive liability at whatever position they play I really think it all comes down to who can put up the best offensive numbers to help the team. If Castro persists in being a negative WAR performer he shouldn't even have a position and Baez/Alcantara should play SS/2B. Assuming Starlin becomes the offensive player he was the first three years then whichever defensive combination works best is good enough and unless a player has scissor-hands the best offensive team should be on the field.

  • The answer really depends on who fills out the other positions on the diamond, and what we can expect in the batting order.

    It appears that we currently have, as core pieces, Rizzo (1b), Castro (ss), and Castillo (c). If the big 4 make it, and Alcantara, then you potentially have: Bryant (3b), Almora (cf), Soler (rf), Baez (ss/2b), and Alcantara (2b).

    As far as I can see, if all these prospects make it, it seems as though Almora is a lock in cf, then you have Rizzo at 1b, Castillo at c. From everything I read about Almora, it sounds like he would bat 2nd. Would Castro be better at leading off, or would Alcantara be better? It certainly seems that Baez is going to be a run producer, as well as Bryant, and Soler. And it sounds like Bryant can play the OF, and obviously Soler can in RF.

    So you potentially have:

    1. Castro/Alcantara
    2. Almora
    3. Rizzo/Bryant/Soler/Baez
    4. Bryant/Baez/Soler/Rizzo
    5. Baez/Bryant/Soler
    6. Soler/Baez/Bryant
    7. Castillo
    8. Alcantara/Castro

    I guess what I am saying is, it depends on how you see the batting potential of the players, but it certainly seems that Baez is going to be a run producer, and if he is, then would Castro be a better fit on the team with his hitting approach, or would Alcantara?

    With all this said, if Baez produces like he has in the minors, then I'd rather have him at ss, with Castro at 2b, or Alcantara at 2b.

    It seems, although Castro is signed for a long time, that Sveum had mentioned that Castro would be better suited in the bottom half of the order (if we had better players) -- and with the organization trying to change Castro's batting approach (with utter disastrous results), I don't know, it just seems that Castro is a better trade bait, given his cost controlled contract.

    All I can definitely say is, this is a nice problem to have...

  • Check out Wittenmyer's latest work (if you can call it that)
    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/22768653-573/cubs-rebuilding-project-has-taken-on-as-much-fiction-as-fact.html
    This guy obviously has a stiffy for Theo. Given some of his articles in the past Gordon doesn't seem to be bright enough to be taking shots at Epstein

  • Arizona Phil over at the Cub Reporter said that 2B was Castro's best position when he was playing at Instructs in Mesa several years ago -- I think this was both his observation and the opinion of some of the baseball people he talked to back then. He has always been an advocate of an eventual switch to 2B for Starlin for that reason. I have a lot of respect for AZ Phil's opinions, as he spends a lot of time doing his own watching as well as talking to knowledgeable people.

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    Another pitcher is on the market:

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/international/top-cuban-pitcher-raicel-iglesias-defects/

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    "...the Cubs need to be mindful to maintain a good atmosphere where veterans are respected and not easily cast aside..."

    So is Castro a veteran now or is he still a 23 year old that we have to be patient with?

  • Irrespective of where Baez ends up playing, a platoon of Murphy/Valbuena would be far better than Barney. I just can't see another year of Barney under any circumstance. Color him gone.

  • I think Baez would be better off at 2B the majority of his errors have been throwing errors. Castro has cut down a little on his errors this year and could prove to be a very good defensive shortstop. Would not mind having a second baseman hit 40 to 50 homers a year and drive in over a 100 and hit .300 :-)

  • This is a very interesting question and the writer makes a good argument. If I were running things, I think I'd take a wait and see attitude and see if Baez continues to improve at Iowa like he did in Tennessee. He makes his share of errors (that decreased from his Daytona rate) but he makes some spectacular plays, too.

    Who knows, by the All Star break or late next season, Castro and Baez may answer the question for us, through their play.

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