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dale sveum starlin castroBack at it …

  • Sahadev Sharma writes at length about Starlin Castro’s struggles this year, and, more broadly, his adjustments since mid-season in 2012. Dale Sveum points to some extra movement in Castro’s swing and other possible mechanical (read: correctable) issues. Give it a read.
  • Speaking of which, Sveum said he’s finally considering giving Castro a day off. “It’s getting closer,” Sveum said, per ESPN. “I am thinking about it more, I should say. When we gave people days off because of struggles, it isn’t physical. It is just usually a mental day off to sit back, watch and get a breather.” Castro has one of the longest active consecutive games played streaks in baseball (longest in the NL), having played in every game in 2012 and every game so far this year. But, I mean, who cares? If you’re not Cal Ripken or Lou Gehrig, that streak just doesn’t matter. Take a day off, relax, watch the game, get better.
  • Sahadev also spoke with Cubs VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod about the Draft, another piece worth checking out. In addition to noting that third round pick Jacob Hannemann, the 22-year-old BYU freshman center fielder, was a guy the Cubs decided they “just had to have,” McLeod was complimentary of second round pick Rob Zastryzny, whom some have criticized as a reach. Zastryzny is strong and athletic, and when he’s right, he can miss a lot of bats in the strike zone, according to McLeod. (For my part, those second and third round picks should be judge in relation to (1) what they cost to sign, and (2) what they allow the Cubs to do in the rest of the Draft. To my mind, the Cubs took quite a few over slot players throughout the later rounds, and if getting Zastryzny and Hannemann slightly under slot – guys they wanted anyway – allows the Cubs to sign a big chunk of those over slot types, then the picks were great.)
  • Kyuji Fujikawa’s Tommy John surgery is finally scheduled after the swelling subsided in his elbow. He’s got a date with Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday. Don’t look for him to pitch for the Cubs again until the second half of 2014.
  • Ian Stewart hit three homers in a game for Iowa yesterday, and, despite then playing a second game in which he went 0-4, his OPS still climbed more than 100 points on the day. It’s still at just .613, though.
  • The Cubs’ short season rosters (Boise and Arizona) should be announced very soon, but it looks like Jesse Hodges, at least, will be at Boise. The Canadian third baseman was signed as an undrafted free agent last year, and he was always regarded as better than your typical undrafted free agent.
  • Jp3

    Oh Ian you tease… Back to the bench with you…

  • Chad

    I think the key to the 2nd and 3rd pick is just what you said. They already are reportedly giving the 12th round pick 3rd round money. They also took some really interesting guys in the late rounds, even into the mid 30’s that I would love to see them sign. I’m interested in seeing how this plays out.

    • Chad

      As of this point the draft was good for the cubs, but if they can sign some of those high ceiling late rounders, this could be a great draft.

  • Jp3

    Me too, especially some of the catchers. They def drafted some high upside young guide with some team USA experiences. That’s awesome to infuse some young high upside kids that if one of them pans out it would be awesome.

  • Abe Froman

    There seems to be a fair bit of debate about what Rob Zastryzny will sign for. When he was drafted the analysts were not going gaga about him being a top of the second round talent. However, I’ve seen/heard several sources since mention that he was a guy that was a recent high riser and the Cubs were genuinely pleased to have him fall past the first round. I’m sure the Cubs will point to the BA rankings and others to try and get him to sign for under slot and use savings for later over slot signings, such as Trevor Clifton (12th round), who is reported to have a deal with the Cubs. Also lots of conflicting opinions on what Bryant will sign for, and everyone else for that matter. Hopefully we act like the Dodgers with our draft picks and SIGN ALL THE PLAYERS!

    • MichiganGoat

      I’m guessing a deal is already reached with Bryant that is basically 2.5 slot (a bit more than if he was drafted 3rd) plus whatever slot money is left over. He won’t sign until the Cubs know how much extra they have but I would panic about him not signing. It just doesn’t benefit him until everyone else is signed and he knows how much more he can negotiate for. I expect this is the same for most 1st rounders.

      • wvcubsfan

        Only exception to that would be if Appel and Gray sign early. If that happens there is a pretty clear number that could be used.

      • Jp3

        I can’t remember who said this yesterday, Luke or Brett but why in the world unless we just thought Bryant was emphatically better than Gray, why would he be able to command significantly over slot value seeing we could’ve leveraged both players against each other for a better deal? You think it’d be tough to sign all the players in the 1st 10 rounds while saving enough money for Bryant knowing their agents are all doing the same as Bryant’s agent saying “well Cubbies you have this amount to budget on your 1st 10 picks and my player is worth 2nd round money if this 12th rounder is worth 3rd round money”

        • MichiganGoat

          The issue is between being a HS or college Jr/Sr- if you can’t go to college to play and refuse to sign with the team that drafted you then your only option are independent leagues and that not the place you want to start your career. The team is in control with a college player especially one that was draft rounds ahead of his projection. So if he’s a Jr he can say pass go back to college and hope he does better and gets drafted high again next year (big risk) or take the bonus offered and start on the road to the MLB. Seniors have no other options, but HS can play the “well I’m good now but after a few years of college I’ll be awesome (hubris of youth) so you can meet my demands or try to draft me again in a couple of years.

  • Blublud

    I think the Cubs did a great job in the draft. Like I said, taking Z and Hannemann was their way of getting guys just as talented as anyone else they got, but for considerably less money. Look for the Cubs to sign all 10 of their first picks, and most, including Bryant, underslot.

  • Spoda17

    The most disappointing point is that Castro sees no accountability on his part. He feels nothing has changed, and he is just in a slump, and if he stays positive and “works” hard, he will come out of it… That’s the scary part; that sounds like something Ian Stewart would say… “I’ll be okay, just deal with it…”

  • North Side Irish

    In that article I linked to last night, Clifton said he got something close to third round money and those savings had to come from somewhere. After the Hannemann pick, a lot of people were speculating that the Cubs had to go go with underslot players to sign Bryant, but hopefully they just got guys they wanted and allowed them to spend more later.

  • arta

    if it ain’t broke, leave it alone. Castro needed improvement in the field, fine. as for his hitting and IMO Castro was doing ok. Theo and Co. wanted more and seems like they screwed Castro up. he was young with plenty of time to learn with help and on his own. why rush the kid? they wanted more walks, less strike outs, less swinging at bad pitches. now they need a SS.

  • sven-erik312

    Castro’s problem is that the league has figured out how to pitch to him and he hasn’t figured out how to counteract that yet.

    • Jp3

      That’s weird because the league JUST figured that out this year? That can’t be the case seeing he’s been in the league for 4 seasons now. I hate to say its the money but sometimes it seems to me Players play better when they’re playing for a contract. I think certain types of people get complacent when they hit the big payday, I’d definetly be one of those guys…😀

      • Jay

        Perhaps, but I think it’s more of a case of they confused the poor kid so much with this emphasis on seeing pitches and taking walks. The guy was a pure, instinctual hitter and now they’ve neutered him.

        • Jp3

          Great point, that could also be the case.

      • Pat

        I wouldn’t say it was just this year, last year was a regression as well.

        • Gabriel

          Last year was not a total regression-

          Mid-season his batting average dropped as he struggled but he got it back to .284. Given his career avg was slightly over .300 going in to 2012, that number is within the expected standard deviation. Additionally, he made significant progress with regard to defense and power (see HR totals year-to-year: 3, 10, 14). Finally, his walk rate jumped significantly after the all-star break.

          Castro’s struggles this year are pretty isolated to this year. Even through the poor hitting, his defense continues to improve (the narrative that he’ll have to move before he’s 30 is just silly at this point) & he’s seeing a career high pitches per plate appearance. He’s a hitter going through a transition phase, and yes he has probably been toyed with too much by the instructors.

          Ultimately none of us were masters in our fields by age 23 – I’m still so confident in Castro’s ability that while this slump may frustrate me, it doesn’t worry me even a little bit.

          • Die hard

            But you want to stop this before turns into Corey Patterson redux– question is how?… Moreover many of us saw this coming early … Why didn’t FO?

  • cubchymyst

    Sharma’s articles are definitely worth the time to read. I’m looking forward to hearing about all of the players signing in the next month.

  • Jp3

    Even with extended spring training split squads, where in the world are there enough spots for all these catchers they drafted to play? I guess some wont sign but there are 2 or 3 at least that I’d like to see get some starts behind the plate in at least Arizona, not to mention all the catchers drafted last year that are still being developed…

    • Kyle

      Most of them will help work out pitchers for a year in extended spring training (not game action, just on the practice fields and such) and then not be invited back next year.

      • Jp3

        That sucks then , we essentially just drafted like 8 bullpen catchers…

        • Kyle

          Well, what do you expect?

          I think people’s expectations for the draft have gotten *way* out of whack because we’re all so excited about prospects and the new front office’s developmental abilities. But the last 38 rounds out of 40 in the draft exist to help teams fill out their minor leagues so that the first and second rounders have places to play. If you’re very lucky, you *might* get one useful major leaguer after the second round every other year or so.

          The Cubs will hopefully get Bryant and one pitcher out of this draft. If we get Bryant and two pitchers then we’ll have been extremely lucky.

          • wvcubsfan

            You mean all 40 of the players we drafted aren’t going to sign and turn into All Stars in 5 years? I think you are being a little pessimistic here.

            • Kyle

              Guys! We got a 4th round talent in the 9th round! Woot!

              The 3rd through 40th round picks combined will likely have as much impact on the Cubs’ future as the next bullpen waiver pickup.

              • another JP

                Yeah, yeah- we get it already, you don’t care much for the draft. This must be post #100 that you’ve told us how stupid we all are for being excited about the possibility that our shitty baseball organization might be improving, and for not caring about it you sure have spent a lot of posts mouthing off.

                Mr. Know-It-All strikes again.

                • Kyle

                  You should be excited about the fact that it might be improving.

                  I find it odd that people focus on some very inconsequential things and give less focus to more important aspects in that improvement.

                • Kyle

                  And I *love* the draft. I just love the part where the talent is, not the roster-fill.

                  • another JP

                    Getting value for prospects isn’t inconsequential, if that’s what you’re referring to. Saving money on top ten draftees to pick up talented overslots later on could mean an extra signing or two that might pay divis down the road. In an environment where the percentages are against a prospect succeeding in any round after the first (and even against top 100 prospects), getting more signees is obviously better in the long run.

                    And people pay to see the roster fill perform in the minors too,

                • MichiganGoat

                  Kyle is correct that very few drafted player get to the show so all these future projections of a farm grown team is almost certainly impossible. Right now in our farm the Solar is the only one I’m expecting MLB quality out of (Almora is just too early) but the farm is so much more than players making the show- it’s also about trade chips. If you can get your players highly ranked and desired then when that MLB player hits the market you have the talent to win the bidding war. This draft will increase the value of our farm and Bryant has the power to be a valuable player on the Cubs or a key piece in a trade to get that final piece.

              • Saving grace

                I agree with what Kyle’s saying.
                I read a few times over the weekend:
                It’s rare to find an all star after the second round
                So i think it’s never a good idea to punt on any of the first 3 rounds.
                However,every year some tought to sign guys drop and could be draft gold.So there are exceptions

          • Bric

            I agree that people do go a little crazy when it comes to expectations but yeah, only 2 or 3 legit prospects is a little pessimistic. I’d say more like 5 or 6 legit prospects 2 or 3 years from now. But you’re right if we get 2 or 3 guys that actually play at Wrigley then it was an extremely good draft.

            • Kyle

              I mean, I guess it depends on how far you stretch the definition of “legit prospect.”

              In a year or two, there will probably be more than two guys from this draft in our top 30 list, but they’ll be clustered around the 20-30 range and most of them will be forgotten in another year or two.

              Take the 2009 Cubs’ draft, for example:

              1st rounder Brett Jackson was a legit prospect who now looks like a total bust.
              2nd rounder DJ LeMahieu *might* carve out a career as a useful backup, but it looks unlikely.
              Chris Rusin (4) and Brooks Raley (6) got sub-replacement cups of coffee. I doubt they’ll ever reach replacement level for their career.
              Austin Kirk (3), Robert Whitenack (8) were probably “legit prospects” in that they might have made our top-30 at some point, but no longer deserve such consideration.

              Obviously it’s too late to judge their later drafts, but the Red Sox under Epstein never had more than three players in a draft reach 5 WAR in the majors, and 0-2 was more frequent.

              • Bric

                Agreed, those projections are pretty accurate. But the bottom line is Epstein’s farm system, drafting and FO produced a better club and got to the WS. Hendry’s did not so expectations are going to be a little higher.

                • Kyle

                  Agreed, but the difference was mostly in the fact that they hit on their first and second rounders.

                  Since 2002:

                  The Red Sox first and second rounders have produced 123.2 bWAR in the major leagues.

                  The Cubs’ first and second rounders have produced 7.5.

                  • Bric

                    Yeah, that’s true for most of the clubs that have gotten better in the last ten years for just about everybody but the Cubs. The Rays, Reds, Brewers, Giants, both Sox, Tigers have more guys on their 40 man rosters that were #1s and 2s. But keep in mind Cashner produced Rizzo so Rizzo could be considered a Cubs’ #1.

                    Beyond that, though, the list is pretty thin. Simpson, Harvey, Vitters, Pawalek, it’s a pretty long, depressing list.

              • ssckelley

                To me the definition of a “legit” prospects is someone who projects to play at the MLB level. Obviously a list of “legit” prospects does not always results in the players ending up playing at the MLB level, or some like Raley and Rusin only get a replacement/september call up.

              • cubchymyst

                You just pointed out why people are excited about a lot more then just the first couple draft picks. If the cubs are lucky they will get 2 or 3 MLB players out of this draft. Yes Bryant is the most likely one but the 2nd player could be any one of 6-8 different players.

                • Kyle

                  That’s fine, but remember this conversation started with someone expressing disappointment that the Cubs had drafted a lot of catchers who wouldn’t likely amount to anything in the later rounds.

            • wvcubsfan

              Pretty sure that’s the point he’s been trying to make. if you get a useful or better major league player every other year from rounds 3-40 them it’s a really good scouting and development program.

    • Timothy Scarbrough

      Some of them were also listed as infielders, although the Cubs asked for them to be listed as infielders.

    • ssckelley

      The catcher position is, IMO, the weakest position in the Cubs organization. The Cubs grabbed a good mix of college catchers (signable) along with taking a shot at signing a couple of HS studs. The 2 to keep an eye on are Tyler Alamo (#708) and Jeremy Martinez (#1098), both were considered top 10 talent at catcher. If the Cubs can sign either one of them it will give them a legit catching prospect.

      • Kyle

        High school catchers are notoriously the worst bet in the draft, so I’m not sure being a “top 10 HS catcher” really means anything particularly impressive.

        • ssckelley

          The rankings I was looking at was top prospects overall not just high school, US Today had Martinez ranked #6 overall and Alamo at #11. Obviously it is going to take money for the Cubs to sign either one of them.

          But I am still confused the Cubs passed on Jon Denney at #41 and then again at #75. The Red Sox ended up taking him in the 3rd round and from his reactions he does not sound like a tough sign. He was the only player at the draft who did not get picked on the first day.

          • Saving grace

            scouting reports,alot of them i read around draft by experts,said Denny has trouble catching up to pitches over 84 – 85 mph.
            So i think most teams projected him with a soft bat and shied away from him as an early round pick.His defensive skills also came into question

            • ssckelley

              That is the complete opposite on what I have read on Denney.

  • Die hard

    As long as draft choices are healthy and don’t take banned substances the draft is good. As for Sveum helping Castro its like putting an African Witch Doctor inside the hospital operating room.

    • Jp3

      The Die Hardian way… “Stay healthy And don’t take drugs”. Drugs are bad, mkay

      • Bric

        And tape a gun to your back.

  • Idaho Razorback

    I can’t wait for the podcast when you and Sahadev talk about the draft.

  • jt

    Seems that SP’ers most often need at least 2 plus pitches and at least one a bit above avg.
    I kept reading as to the college guys they drafted that they touched mid 90’s FB and changed speeds well with command. Some already had a workable change. They are college guys. Most are not going to develop a plus slider that they can command over night. Seems these guys project to the BP? That is not a bad thing. In fact, it would be a very good thing if a few of these prospects improved upon Bowden, Putnam and Parker.

  • jj

    Trib notes Castro is hitting around .260 since Jaramillo was fired – which is when Cubs decided to change Castro as a hitter. Reading above link, doesn’t sound like staff feels its them, which does note bode well for the old Castro returning

    • Die hard

      Time to approach Phillies for permission to talk to Sandberg and either eat Sveums contract or move him to FO as special asst to Theo

    • JOE

      Castro, in my eyes at least, has too much natural talent to struggle to this extent for an entire season. He seems to be the kind of player who matures and adjusts more slowly than many, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t ever happen. The guy is still a “kid” and still developing, and bumps along the road are to be expected. I know that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when we see him swinging at every pitch within reaching distance and rolling over weak grounders to the left side, but I still have faith that he’ll become a superior shortstop in the long-run. I would rather see these struggles occur now, in a season that seems to be lost anyway, than next year or the year after when the organization is likely to be more competitive. That being said, adjustments obviously must be made soon, and if he and the current staff are not able to figure things out, then they may need to start thinking outside the box to find personnel who can help turn things around.

      • JOE

        ^ Just to clarify, by “thinking outside the box to find personnel…” I am not insinuating that Sveum should be replaced… Just that the organization has hitting specialists at every level, not just in the dugout at Wrigley, who may be able to offer some insight that the ML staff hasn’t offered yet.

  • http://vdcinc.biz 70’scub

    Castro’s approach needed to change period! He was rushed up to the MLB level and at this level it is hard to make changes. Considering all the changes and fielding improvements already in place, I think his game will be at a competitive championship level when the time comes for the Cubs. I might add it is time to get used to this process this is the messy side of going with young prospects vs. the free agent route. Back to Castro, management already knows he can do it over time, he is a natural 300 plus hitter with a plus arm, range and speed. They are simply looking for his top end power and to do that they want him to be more selective in pitch count situations.

  • cubmig

    Draft is over. Now to wait, wait and wait to see if the cream rises to the top. …..and I’m talking Bryant.

    As for Castro……I’ve been as confused as he seems to be at the plate. When he came on-board, Castro was a premier free-swinger with instincts that matched his success as a hitter. Somewhere along the way, he stalled and slumped and “lost” the thing (whatever it was) that fed his confidence in his approach. I posted that someone needed to work with him…but …when Jay posted: “The guy was a pure, instinctual hitter and now they’ve neutered him.” I couldn’t help but think that getting into an “instinctual” hitter’s head could be the reason for Castro’s indecisive appearance at the plate. It reminds me how shuttling Juan Cruz back and forth between the minors and the big club to “right” him. Or…how everyone clamored over Z’s emotional outbreaks. Players are who they are and they succeed because of being who they are—-warts and all. Granted in-house feedback that may help a player is necessary, but gauging how much is not too much must be tricky.

    Castro is looking “lost”. I don’t see him comfortable when at bat. He’s applying the lessons of being “patient”, but at what cost? He’s young, but getting “old” fast by whatever is going on with / him—–or by the reinventing of him. Does he have the mind-body resiliency to find HIS way of exploiting instinct and patience—or–is teaching him to change like putting a square peg in a round hole?

    I wish I knew. He’s still a raw talent from what I see…..and with a functually-fixed mind it seems.

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  • nkniacc13

    the cubs took a bunch of players in the top 10 rds that could be considered reach picks in the sense that they were ranked a bit lower or had injury issues that could make them bullpen guys. If you can save 10-25k on some of these and your 3rd rd pick takes a 100-200k under slot and if Bryant agrees to something around 6- 6.5 they have a bit of savings not to mention their 5% over slot no penalty if needed to sign a couple of tough signs

    • ssckelley

      There were a lot of teams reaching for players in the top 10 rounds. I think in future years the 11th round will be more important than the 4th round because that is the first round you can pick a player without fear of losing draft pool money. College players or HS players you know have no intentions of going to college will dominate rounds 4-10.

  • nkniacc13

    Id like to see baseball if they keep the slots go 11-15 rds at 125k and 16-40 at 100k

  • terry

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought someone here said the coaching staff had changed Castro approach or something to with his batting. As the old saying goes don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. Castro if I’m not mistaken had batted .300 plus every year until dale and his coaches changed something about him. So as a result he batted under 300 this year so far and last. In my opinion what ever they did was obvious wrong.

  • Justin

    Castro looks like complete garbage these days. Whatever they are telling him is clearly screwing him up. If someone were to tell me before the season that Starlin would be batting below .250 and hitting 7th I think I would tell them to F off. This is about worst case scenario for the 2013 Cubs.

  • Die hard

    If the Mets can send Davis to minors why can’t Cubs send Castro?

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