Earlier this week, Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum ripped Starlin Castro for another obvious lapse in concentration, that could have cost the Cubs a game (Castro lost track of the number of outs, and did not attempt to turn a double play as a run scored from third). Sveum called it the “last straw” before Castro might have to be benched.

One day later, Sveum’s tune had changed, almost dramatically. Suddenly, Castro’s lapses were not a reason for him to be benched. After all, veterans occasionally have the same lapses, and you don’t immediately bench them, Sveum said.

The quick change in course suggested to some that Sveum had been told from on high – that is, from the front office – to take it easy on the “bench Castro” talk, for one reason or another. A more cynical fellow might suggest that, if you’re looking to consider trading a particularly valuable player, you don’t want to speak ill of him, or tell the world that he’s doing bench-worthy things.

But Cubs GM Jed Hoyer wants to squash any of that cynicism. He says the decision on how to deal with Castro, and on what to say, was all Sveum’s doing.

“That was something we talked about in the interview process,” Hoyer said yesterday, according to Carrie Muskat. “[Castro] had already had that Bobby Valentine moment and missed that pitch. We were hoping he’d never have another incident and he did. That’s why you hire a manager — that’s the manager’s job. Dale did that on his own, and I think it was a perfect tone.

“As far as how [Castro] fits in our plans, he’s a huge part of our plans,” Hoyer continued. “He’s a shortstop who can hit, who can run and he’s getting better defensively. Those are hard to find. You look around baseball and almost every time we play another team, we have the better shortstop on the field and that’s a great feeling to have. We do have to address those [lapses] and I think Dale has struck the perfect tone with Starlin – ‘Hey, I like you, I get it, but it’s got to stop.’ That’s a big part of why we hired Dale, he can strike that balance. I don’t think Starlin resents him for it, I think Starlin understands. Maybe that was a good thing to happen in the long run. I hoping that’s the case. Maybe that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back from Dale’s perspective, maybe that ends up being a big positive.”

Of course, if you’re prone to cynism, you don’t really believe any of that anyway. But at least the Cubs are trying to control the narrative about Castro, which is the right thing to do, even if you know there’s almost no chance you’re actually going to trade him.

  • Carew

    I still believe Sveum is gonna be a good manager for the Cubbies

    • Tim

      i second that

      • Jeremy

        I third that. Sveum has managed the Cubs well with he has. Any other manager would be in the same position as he is in right now. Outside of a couple questionable moves I have been happy with him. He seems like a players manager but pushes the players at the same time.

  • Leroy K

    So just to caveat, how much of that do you think is smoke being blown and how much do you see as it being real?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Eh. 75% real, 25% smoke?

  • Leroy K

    agreed Carew.

  • Jp

    Im only copying and pasting what i immediately thought last night when you said he backed off the last straw satement. “Brett, sveum backing off his “last straw” comment I knew would be retracted IF there’s a chance they might be shopping him much to the same reason your paranoid soler thought crossed your mind. This regime doesnt trash assets when they are trying to build maximum value for them and you don’t get that by calling Castro an idiot and he’s about to get benched if he doesn’t keep his head in the game. it’s all about max value with Jestein and company.”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I didn’t see that, but I can see why you thought it.

  • Deer

    Curious how his teammates feel about the lack of discipline. Clearly, Castro gets some extra rope because he’s the future, but if Ian Stewart did the same thing, I wonder if he’s not sitting the next day. Actually, he might be sitting for other reasons. Hard to think it’s not a double standard.

    • Patrick W.

      I don’t believe in double standards. I believe in quadragintal standards. Every player on your roster is unique. You have expectations for every one of them, and you have limitations for every one of them. You have to treat everybody differently in order to get the very most out of them.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    I think Sveum is going to be a fine manager, and I like his style. But as I said the other day, he was way off base from the start on this, and I think after a day to cool off, he realized how much he had overreacted.
    You don’t bench your best position player because he forgot how many outs there are.

  • Tim

    i really dont believe there is any way starlin is going to be traded. most players are still in the minors at his age, why trade your most valuable player on your team for unproven probably approximately the same age players. and lets get real, we all know starlin is going to be a special special player, what are the chances we get someone of the same caliber

  • FromFenwayPahk

    Sveum, you’re gonna have to learn your clichés. Youre gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down: “We gotta play it one day at a time.”

  • Jeremy

    A rebuilding team shouldn’t trade a young budding superstar SS. You build around him and Theo and Jed are smart enough to know that. SHould they consider a trade with him if teams are completely overpaying for him, such as the D’backs offering Bauer/Skaggs/Bradley and more yes but the chances of that happening are probably 1%.

  • @cubsfantroy

    Funny how it turned into “they are shopping him” rumors. I highly doubt they are shopping him. Probably just figure that it is not going to do is confidence any good if he is getting or perceived to be getting attacked in public.