jorge soler cubsPrimarily because of his notoriety in the Chicago Cubs’ system, because of the $30 million big league contract he signed last year, and because of the bat-wielding incident earlier in the month, Jorge Soler’s recent benching got far more attention than was probably reasonable.

For my part, I wrote about the benching from the “Cubs Way” perspective, indicating that I thought it was great to see the benching happen for a lack of hustle, and then to see word of that benching spread around a bit. To me, it was never about Jorge Soler, the individual. It was just about the concept of benching a stud prospect for a lack of hustle. It sends the right message to him, and to others in the system. I don’t think it’s fair that Soler received so much negative attention for the situation, however, and I was glad to hear Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, and Cubs manager Dale Sveum, essentially say the same thing.

“Our managers are encouraged to bench players who are giving less than 100 percent effort – whether that’s failure to hustle down the first base line or failure to properly prepare for a game,” Epstein said, per ESPNChicago. “It’s our responsibility to make sure every player in the organization demonstrates preparation, hustle and effort every day with no exceptions. Playing time is still the best way to get a player’s attention. These actions are intended to remain in-house. Many players have been benched for this reason already this year and have responded immediately with proper effort. Soler is not alone, and, in fact, he has shown a real interest in learning to play the game the right way.”

Like I said yesterday: this has probably happened all the time in the last year and a half, and we just didn’t notice or didn’t hear about it.

Sveum underscored the importance of nipping these things in the bud.

“You say something, you get a grip on it and then you don’t see it again,” Sveum said, per CSN Chicago. “You just let people know that you’re held accountable for everything and everybody’s the same – no matter how much money you make. You just don’t let it fester. You have to take care of it. Otherwise, you lose the players that are busting their butts.”

Thus, the value in benching guys for not hustling is three-fold: (1) it teaches that player a lesson that will help him be successful in the future; (2) it teaches other players a lesson that they can put into practice in their own game; and (3) it reassures players who are playing the game the right way that their efforts are not going unnoticed.

All in all, this is a very good thing organizationally. It’s unfortunate that it made Soler the target of additional unfair barbs, but hopefully he’ll be the better for it.

  • fromthemitten

    benching works but in order to get proper belly fire he needs to up his tapatio/sriracha intake

    • wax_eagle

      You can never have enough sriracha intake

  • DocShock

    I remember Bobby Cox pulling Andruw Jones from a game in 1998 for what he deemed Jones lazily going after a ball resulting in the ball falling for a single. In fact he pulled him from the middle of an inning, walked out and removed him. I think it was against the Cubs but I could be wrong. It got attention for a while but died down pretty quick. I would guess this happens more than we know at the minor league level.

  • RoughRiider

    Getting benched for a day for not hustling is a lot better than getting choked by Ron Santo.

  • jeff

    I was told from someone in the know that the cameras at Smokies Park are directly fed to Theo and that he seen a AA player goofing off during a game and contacted the manager to ensure he didn’t play the next game.

    • Brett

      I dig that.

      • MichiganGoat

        Theo is BIg Brother – next he will have a tap into BN and hunt those who doubt his power.

        • N8theGr8

          Cubs: Committed to reconditioning in Room 101 for any behaviors deemed doubleplusungood.

    • Cubbie Blues

      They have cameras at all the affiliates that feed back to Chicago now. It is good to hear about them keeping an eye or the extra-curricular though.

    • JulioZuleta

      It depends what “goofing off” means. I don’t really have a problem with messing around and keeping things light over a long season. Isn’t that one of the reasons that Garza is considered a good teammate? The not hustling however, is a huge problem and warrants a benching, no matter who you are. I remember, probably 15 years ago, the Cubs were playing the Braves in what was Andruw Jones rookie year. He could have dived for a ball and pretty easily caught it, but pulled up and played it on a hop. Bobby Cox pulled him before the next batter, DURING the inning. That sends a message. Not saying it wouldn’t have happened otherwise, but Jones became one of the best defenders ever.

      Anyways, I digress, I hope the front office lets the minor leagues mess around a little without dropping the iron fist.

      • Cubbie Blues

        I doubt it was an iron fist thing. I agree that the players need to let off steam. However, there is a time and place for that and not all the time. I just have images of what my son’s little league team’s dugout would look like without coaches in there with them and how much they would be paying attention to what is going on.

    • Andy

      Theo don’t play. Wow.

  • Jon

    Sounds like Theo is unhappy that the Daytona manager didn’t keep this in house.

    • Cubz99

      He should be. There was no reason to air this out in public.

    • hansman1982

      Where did you get that from?

      • Jon

        the quote from Theo ” These actions are intended to remain in-house”

        • hansman1982

          Ahhh, I had missed that. Thanks/

    • Andy

      Did the manager not keep it in house, or was he answering a question about why Soler wasn’t in the line up? I have no problem with him being honest about why in response to a question. And since it is Soler, I’m assuming the media covering the game wanted to know.

    • BT

      I don’t see why Theo would be upset. What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like people would hear about it and start making rash generalizations about Soler’s moral compass or anything like that, right?

  • Name?

    I really wonder why was this so publicized. Yeah, I know it is Soler, but this is something that should be expected all the time and not an issue to be overblown. Unfortunately, this can hurt Soler more than anything since some will think that’s an ongoing problem special to him.

  • MightyBear

    I remember when Billy Martin pulled Reggie Jackson for not hustling in the middle of an inning with the Yankees and they almost went at it in the dugout.

  • StillCubsFan

    Good job coaches!
    Last thing the cubs need is another Zambrano character…selfish, cocky with no regard for the team…

  • DShea

    I’m all for this. Why not bench Castro last year for failing to pay attention in the middle of a game? I think he’s being coddled too much.