Starlin Castro Could Bat Third and Other Bullets – April 19, 2011

With the win last night, paired with the Reds’ loss, the Cubs pulled to within one game of first place in the Central. But, it’s April, and the Cubs are 8-8. It’s silly to think about first place. Right?

  • Jim Hendry says that Starlin Castro could hit anywhere in the lineup, though all the questions he gets focus on batting Castro third. Sure, folks try not to be reactionary, but when your “number three” hitter has just four RBI through 16 games, people will wonder why others aren’t being considered for the spot. Some would say it’s the definition of insanity.
  • Speaking of the three-hole and Marlon Byrd’s spectacular non-production, his numbers are all the more shocking when you consider that, from the leadoff spot, the Cubs have the best OBP in baseball: .549. That suggests that, about half of the time, Byrd is batting with men on base. And in 69 at bats, he has four RBI. I love Marlon Byrd, but this point cannot be stressed enough. Mike Quade: listen.
  • Hendry is sipping on the hopium about tonight’s sure-to-be bullpen fiasco, the second in as many weeks. He even tries to tell us that Russell, who didn’t last two innings against the worst lineup in baseball last time, pitched just fine. “[Russell] did OK,” Hendry said. “He’s a guy who’s got a lot of big league time, and we’ll just keep him working and see how it goes. We’re not disappointed in the guys here. Russell was certainly a victim of a lot of bad luck in the first inning (against Houston), and then it got away from us a little bit. He’s thrown great for us the last couple times out of the pen. (Jeff) Samardzija has thrown terrific the last two times out, which is good to see. We just need our better guys to throw a little better.”
  • Brian Schlitter is back in the Cubs organization, after being claimed on waivers by the Yankees and then Phillies. Schlitter was deemed to have a pre-existing elbow condition when the Yankees first claimed him, which voided their claim. Schlitter was waived to open up a 40-man roster spot for Kerry Wood, who was signed this Winter. Schlitter, 25, has had a cup here and there with the Cubs, but is not likely to be a guy you’ll see soon.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

13 responses to “Starlin Castro Could Bat Third and Other Bullets – April 19, 2011”

  1. Ian James

    The most exciting thing so far this season so far has been Castro’s impressive and consistent growth.
    When he was put in lead off spot I was a bit worried because I wasn’t sure he was ready for the pressure and didn’t want lineup tinkering to mess up an immensely talented yet very young kid.
    Now it’s been what, 2 weeks at most, that he’s been there and with his success he’s already being talked about in the third slot.
    He seems to have that intangible that D Rose and MJ have, namely the iron will to succeed and win so I wouldn’t count out his success no matter where he hits but the idea (of his hitting third soon) still worries me.
    I haven’t given up on the season but it hardly compromises the team to have him leading off at this point in his career. His batting third isn’t going to put this team over the top.

    1. pfk

      I agree. Leave him alone where he is. Plus, he doesn’t have enough power to hit third and I’d hate to see them try to get him to hit for power and mess him up. He’s great as a leadoff hitter. He sets the table, gets everyone jazzed up, rattles the pitcher. Teams would kill to have a leadoff hitter like him. Third place hitters are much easier to find than a good leadoff hitter.

  2. Hogie

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having a good leadoff hitter is overrated. The best teams in baseball are led by good pitching and clutch hitting.

  3. Caleb

    I hear ya on Marlon Byrd. I do. But what options are we looking at besides moving Castro around? He’s rocking the leadoff, kicking ass, and historically it never seems like a good idea to shuffle around your “hot man” (yeah I said it) to a better lineup spot. He’s working where he’s at- leave it alone. We know Byrd *can* hit. Would Pena fit there? Maybe, though his average is not super and he’s currently hitting not super. Soto? Maybe, but he’s slow (last night notwithstanding) and can be inconsistent. Soriano? There’s an idea, and one I like more than the first two. How about Fukudome? He’s not a power guy, but if we can get him playing more, getting on base (which he does), and maybe grabbing a few RBIs with some katana-like doubles and singles, the could be great. Plus, we’d have a whole lot of speed in our top 3- a unique position for the Cubs.

    I don’t know. Coaches seem reluctant to make temporary lineup changes, but sometimes you need to shake some stuff up. Ultimately, I just want to see Byrd start hitting like we all know he can. And he will- he’s too good and too experienced not to.

    Patience, padawan.

    PS Z looked awesome. And his bat is rockin’, too. I think he’ll win 20 games this year.

  4. Raymond Robert Koenig

    Yes, it’s silly to think about 1st place. With the Cubs’ resources and annual payroll, they should win their division every season. The other teams should always be looking up at them. Hendry sure doesn’t know how to manage what he has at his disposal.

  5. Willis

    Ideally:

    Castro
    Barney/Baker
    Rami
    Soto
    Soriano
    Pena/Colvin
    Fuk/Colvin
    Byrd

    1. jstraw

      Castro
      Barney/Baker
      Soriano
      Ramirez
      Pena/Colvin
      Byrd
      Fukudome/Colvin
      Soto

  6. Bric

    I’m glad to see that others are finally starting to turn on Jim Jones (I mean Hendry) like I did three years ago. Enough of the bullshit already. I can understand a guy wanting to protect his job by defending his decisions. But when he continues to talk to us like we don’t know how to read a box score or understand statistics he shows what he really is- an arrogant, pompous A-hole who should’ve been fired after the Bradley debacle. And yet he still keeps talking.

  7. Jeff
    1. Raymond Robert Koenig

      Good call! I say bring up Jackson and have him lead off. Move Byrd to one of the corners as part of a platoon or trade him. Castro’s hot so you want him hitting as high in the lineup as possible. 2nd or 3rd would be great.

    2. pfk

      Great post on Jackson. This kind of story gets me really fired up about the future. Maybe he’ll get a call up in June, like Castro did. I’d love to see the kids take over – with a blend of seasoned vets. Castro, Colvin, Cashner, Barney, Jackson…with a good move here and there 2012 could be really exciting.