matt garza chinIt’s going to be another two-sets-of-Bullets kind of day …

  • Baseball Prospectus offers a very interesting take on Starlin Castro’s plate discipline issues, and, among other things, notices that he’s become extremely disciplined with no strikes, a little swing happy with one strike, and extremely swing happy with two strikes. (As an anecdotal aside, it feels like you almost never see Castro strike out looking.) I don’t want to read too much into the numbers here, but that kind of approach suggests a guy who (1) knows he’s better than most at putting the bat on the ball, and (2) gets a little nervous when he’s down in the count.
  • Dale Sveum says that if and when he decides to give Castro a day off, considerations of his consecutive games played streak will have nothing to do with it. Instead, Sveum told Carrie Muskat that Castro stays in the lineup because, right now, Castro at shortstop is what gives the Cubs the best chance to win. That’s fine. And, over the course of the season, Sveum is absolutely right. But we’re talking about one game. One day of rest, to sit the bench, to watch the game, to clear his head.
  • No one expects any further incidents when Matt Garza pitches against the Reds today. You may remember there was a dust up a couple weeks ago when Reds starter Johnny Cueto threw over the head of David DeJesus, and Garza reacted very negatively in the media. Dusty Baker responded that Cueto and Garza should just fight. Baker says Cueto was fined for the incident (so Garza wasn’t completely out of line), and everyone’s ready to move on. BO-ring.
  • Bruce Miles reports that Shawn Camp (toe) will begin a rehab stint with the Kane County Cougars today. Unless Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon comes down with an “injury,” Blake Parker and Zach Putnam are going to want to be on their best pitching behavior over the next week or so, because one is likely to be displaced when Camp is ready to return.
  • That lawsuit against Carlos Marmol down in the Dominican Republic – which always sounded a little sketchy – has been dropped, according to the Cubs reliever. Although he always proclaimed his innocence and said he wasn’t worried about the outcome, I’m sure it’s nice to have it off of his mind now completely.
  • Speaking of legal stuff, Mark Grace has been released from jail after his very serious DUI incident. Call a cab. Hire a limo.
  • BN’er fromthemitten is raising funds for a non-profit and he’d appreciate a moment of your time.
  • hansman1982

    “(As an anecdotal aside, it feels like you almost never see Castro strike out looking.)”

    According to – Castro has a 1.8% K looking rate this year (4 or 5 times this year depending on what kind of rounding went into that 1.8%) and is historically a non-K looking kind of guy.

    • Brett

      So there you go.

  • justinjabs

    I read that as Matt Garza DUI for a second.

    Any bullets on Ian Stewart’s rampant troll douchebaggery last night? If anyone is a HIMYM fan, it reminds me of the episode “Canning Randy”. One of the minor characters is fired (Randy), but then unfired, and he proceeds to completely trash Marshall’s office in an attempt to get fired again. Except in the episode’s case, Randy just wanted his check to start his brewery dream, and Stewart is just a little pisspants who is still butthurt that he was traded by the Rockies years ago.

    • JulioZuleta

      I stopped following Stewart a long time ago, but had to check it out after I saw people talking about it. He was tweeting that he just rented a house in Des Moines…Let’s send him to Boise and sit his ass on the bench the rest of the season. Might as well, he’s absolute dead weight to the organization, but I don’t want to cut him and give him what he wants.

      • ssckelley

        This train wreck has been very uncomfortable to watch. The guy is single handedly ruining his baseball career via twitter. Who in there right mind will take a chance on him after this season?

    • North Side Irish

      I still follow Stewart for the sheer train-wreck aspect of it. I actually posted a bunch of his Tweets last night in the Minor League recap a little bit ago…including one to Justin Jabs. It’s amazing how much of his struggles are someone else’s fault.

    • Patrick W.

      Stewart was in great form last night. He got trolled and he just can’t let it go. He also enlisted help from Dave Sappelt, who is apparently very tired this morning. Stewart bragged about making $2mm at AAA, said quite plainly that he is in this for the money, whined that he was being left to “Rott” and that the Cubs should be cool and release him. As I mentioned on Twitter: I don’t know which is the harder thing in professional sports: hitting a round ball with a round bat or being Ian Stewart’s agent after midnight.

      • Schrodinger’s Cat

        Holy crap. That Ian Stewart twitter is quite the thing. He also said that Dale Sveum doesn’t like him and that is also a reason why he will not be called up.

        @IAN_STEWART_2sc you’re worthless…you should quit baseball. How does it feel Cody ransom plays more than you?

        Lol, I like that Cody Ransom was the one that invoked Ian Stewart to rant about not being called up and Cubs management.

    • TWC

      Honestly, I’m surprised that Ace hasn’t yet addressed the last week’s worth of Ian Stewart tweet nuggets. It’s certainly Cubs-newsworthy.

      • DarthHater

        Has to seek confirmation from a couple independent sources first . . . 😛

        • TWC

          Well *I* wasn’t going to mention and reasons for his trepidation. *I* have class.

          • DarthHater

            I’ll believe that when it’s confirmed by a couple independent sources.

    • ProfessorCub

      My favorite tweet of his was” “Ibelieve it or not it’s more fun in aaa than the bigs….no stress no media….it’s Way chill” I hope he gets used to it!

      I was really annoyed to see Garza join the fray and defend him….at 2 a.m. the morning before a start, no less.

      So much talk from a guy hitting .164 in AAA

      • mudge

        Stewart’s got to have a drinking problem. Nobody’s this stupid sober.

        • ssckelley

          I almost wish it was, at least then it could be explained and be corrected.

      • justinjabs

        Yeah, the Garza thing disappointed me too.

  • bryan

    Brett lets say hypothetically Castro was still a prospect. Among the current top 4 plus him, how would you rank our op 5? Mine is

    1. Almora- I think he is gonna be an absolute stud. im pretty biased which is why I have him 1
    2. Castro- well i think he is the bees knees as well
    3. Baez- Stud, i see him as a .280 hitter with 20+ HR. Acceptable D
    4. Soler- Am i crazy for suggesting he can be a shin shoo choo type player? only not a leadoff batter and more power.
    5. Bryant- I want him to prove himself first in AA or AZL before i really consider him above the others. that 80 power tool sure makes me smile though.

    • hansman1982

      1. Soler
      2. Almora
      3. Baez
      4. Bryant
      5. Castro – He’d be a high contact, ok power, ok defense, low BB, ok K guy.

      • Brett

        I can’t tell if you’re joking.

        If we were ranking them as prospects, Castro would be miles, and miles ahead of the other four.

        • Kyle

          I don’t know about that, to be honest.

          Let’s say Castro were at AAA at 23 as a guy with the tools to play SS easily but still below-average there because of his mistakes. He had insane age 20-21 seasons, but his age 22-23 seasons combined for an MLE of 272/311/405.

          I’d think about putting the higher-ceiling guys ahead of him at that point.

          • Rich H

            IF Castro was still in the minors he would have had 5 seasons of .330 plus BA at this point(Based on the supposed variation to stats per level). Think about that for a second before you start ranking him as anything other than the number 1 prospect.

            • Kyle

              My handy-dandy MLE calculator says that Castro’s MLB performance since 2012 would have translated to 327/378/508 in AAA Iowa.

              OK, yeah, that’s still No. 1 prospect. Carry on.

              • JulioZuleta

                I want the last 11 minutes of my life back. This thread is like the Baez overreactions earlier this year…except instead of discarding the tools that made a guy a top 30 prospect in the game, we are willing to throw out 3-well above average MLB seasons, including 2 All-Star seasons from a 23 year old because of a 2 month slump.

                • DarthHater

                  Dude, you just won the argument and you’re spending more time complaining about the time you are spending rubbing it in? 😉

                  • JulioZuleta

                    Little-known fact (a well-known fact for my girlfriend and my friends), I’ve actually NEVER lost an argument yet. In my entire life. It’s been a remarkable run.

                • hansman1982

                  I was really trying to throw out the MLB stats and focus on the tools.

                  With that said, my #4 ranking isn’t, necessarily, a reflection that I think Castro OMGSUX, just that I LOVE Soler and Almora. At first thought, Baez and Castro appeared similar; however, Castro would be in AA or AAA right now so that should give him a slight edge over Baez but Baez has more now power.

        • hansman1982

          No, serious, I am trying to think of what Castro would look like as a prospect. To me he would be Javier Baez with far less power but better contact and K rates.

          • JulioZuleta

            But also a SS, not a 3B. This is absolutely a fool’s task. We are trying to rank a 23 year old two-time All Star with guys in Single A. Don’t over think this.

            • hansman1982

              True, he would be in AAA right now and still, probably, hitting over .300. I probably was over-thinking a tad.

              I’d still be scared about that low BB-rate, though.

        • T C

          I don’t even think you could argue about the upsides of the players at this point either. Castro has had very real success in the bigs since the age of 20. He has the bat and frame where you could reasonably think he could hit 20-25 home runs in the future. He also has all the tools to be a very good defensive shortstop, and his just-below-average defensive metric numbers the last few seasons would probably be more favorably viewed in the minors.

          So, no, he wouldn’t be a ” He’d be a high contact, ok power, ok defense, low BB, ok K guy”

          He’d be a “GREAT contact, ok power with very good and realistic power projection, average defense with the tools to grade higher down the line, low BB, well-better-than-league-average K guy playing a premium position” guy. He’d be a monster of a prospect.

          ^That is upside that is rarely matched in the minor leagues right now. I’d have him light years ahead of everyone in the system until one of the hitters prove they can hit AA pitching.

      • JulioZuleta

        I don’t understand how you’re rating them. Like, if he put up the numbers he’s putting up now in the minor leagues? The way I’m looking at it is that I wouldn’t trade Castro for any one of those guys. To me he’d be #1, and it wouldn’t be close. That said, this is a really weird thing to try to do and 100% depends on what people are considering in the ranks.

        • hansman1982

          For me it’s all about the tools. Castro has a plus hit tool but minus batting eye, the minus batting eye KILLS him in a prospect ranking for me.

          While he has a good MLB track record, if we convert the stats over to age-appropriate minor league levels, it looks far less impressive.

          That and he would be on his 2nd or 3rd trip through AA or AAA right now.

      • Kyle

        The icky thing is that 20-year-old Castro would have been a no-doubt No. 1 on that list. Sometimes guys just don’t get better in their early 20s.

  • Jay

    Here’s hoping Camp sprains another toe before he gets back. If I never see that guy hang another 79 mph meatball, it’ll be too soon.

  • JulioZuleta

    One thing that I haven’t heard mentioned in regards to Castro’s slump is the fact that he’s a 23 year old that just had his first child. Obviously players wives/girlfriends/mistresses have babies all the time, but you never can predict how it will effect a guy immediately after.

  • Tim

    Lets dream for a moment..

    Everyone pans out, and the FO signs Ellsbury this off season like a lot of people speculate. Oh and DH comes to the NL. 2015 roster
    1. Ellsbury 1.
    2. Almora 2. Samardzija
    3. Bryant 3. Pierce Johnson- late call up
    4. Vogelbach. 4. Travis Wood
    5. Soler 5. Edwin Jackson
    6. Rizzo
    7. Baez
    8. Starting catcher
    9. Starlin Castro

    I like to get excited- this is what I do during summer school

    • JulioZuleta

      Quite a dream. Vogelbach won’t be in the bigs by 2015. That would mean that in the next season and a half he jumps 4 levels. Almora, maybe in the second half but still unlikely.

  • MikeCubs23

    Um Castro has led the NL in hits already and was a All-Star, I am not sure how he isn’t the #1 here.

    • hansman1982

      But if he were still a prospect, we wouldn’t know that he had done that in the alternate universe and there would be questions about his ability to stick at short and his batting eye.

      Then there is the wild-card that, at 19 years old, he was in AA. If he were still in the minors, he would be on a super-slow path through the upper minors which would scare the snot out of me.

  • FastBall

    Maybe someone at Kane County can cleat him in the foot about 100 times. Hold him down and bash his foot with a bat then run over his feet with their beat up Chevy Impala 3 or 4 times. And if that doesn’t work I have other ways in mind.

    • Jp3

      Why?? Wait 5 minutes and he’ll get injured again😝

  • Cheryl

    Castro’s age keeps being mentioned in regard to an explanation of why he’s not doing well by some. Isn’t it time we acknowledge that he’s an adult and that his age is not the reason he’s in a slump. He probably did need another year in the minors but that’s in the past. Basically he needs some work to regain his confidence and maybe a trip back to the minors for a short time will allow him to work that out.

  • FastBall

    I hate Sean Camp. I never use that word but he sucks so bad I would rather go to an all night dentist for a root canal than watch his sorry ass pitch to anybody in a Cubs uniform.

    • Cyranojoe

      Considering some of the pitchers we had last year, I’ll take Sean over them any day.

  • FastBall

    Castro probably needs a new girl friend and a couple days on the bench to chill out. Whenever I got in a slump the first thing to go was the girl friend. Any by golly it worked damned near every time. So Starlin even if you love her kick her to the curb. Your not hitting the baseball like you should. Something shiny and new will take your mind off your troubles. Next thing you know your hitting the crap out of the ball and that new girl friend is making you a happy boy. That is until your next slump comes around. :)

    • TWC

      My, how wonderfully sexist of you. Glad you’re so proud of yourself.

    • DarthHater

      Hey, Brett:

      Looks like is redirecting here again…

  • FastBall

    Well if Starlin is married and has a new baby that explains it all. He’s rich, he is 23 and he shouldn’t be in either one of these situations at his age. Too young. And now he probably can’t get any sleep at night. I thought Soriano was schooling him off the field.

    • JulioZuleta

      Not married. LeBron James had (at least) 3 kids by the time he was 23…he kept up with it just fine.

    • Whiteflag

      Yep, because no other athlete has children and still performed at a high level. The sleepless nights might be having a small impact, but come on. It’s much more likely its a slump, caused by a change in approach. As Brett, explained “Starlin has become extremely disciplined with no strikes, a little swing happy with one strike, and extremely swing happy with two strikes.” I doubt a child makes you patient with no strikes and aggressive with two.

    • hansman1982

      “He’s rich, he is 23 and he shouldn’t be in either one of these situations at his age.”

      This is, perhaps, my favorite line ever. Hey kids, don’t ever be 23 when you are 23.

      Excellent troll job.

      • Whiteflag

        :) He is pretty good at it.

  • kenster

    Ya I think you ruined my day when you mentioned Shawn Camp will be back soon. I almost forgot about him… And it was a good feeling

  • Jacob

    Is Starlin’s kid a boy or a girl? If it’s a boy… can the Cubs sign him right now?

    • ssckelley

      Same, I cringe at the thought of Camp taking the mound in a Cubs uniform again.

  • Cubfanbob

    Dont look now but the Royals have won six in a row and are three games under with 5.5 games back of the Tigers which they open a series with tonight. Let’s hope the Royals sweep the Tigers gather momentum towards the trade dead line.

    It’s in the Cub’s best interest that there are as many teams as possible over .500 challenging for Divisional or Wild Card berths heading near the end of the trade deadline in July. Especially with stacked teams like the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Phillies, and White Sox with questionable trade pieces but unwilling to sell due to contracts, player injuries, or not wanting to break up their core team. We as fans need the Cubs to be in the driver seat of best team selling come the end of July.

  • jt

    Maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see, but…
    The past few games Castro looks more balanced as he strides into the pitch?
    Also, he appears TO ME to be putting more body into many of his swings?
    Also, he has had solid contact a bit more often but has hit into the defense. Hey, they wouldn’t be using the computer alignments is it was not working sometimes. Maybe he can learn to hit a few more to where they ain’t. Maybe he is on the cusp of hitting a few far over their heads?
    But again, maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see?

  • bryan

    Id rather have starlin struggle and learn this season while we suck, rather than in 3 years when we are winning the world series. Personally I don’t think his struggles are a bad thing at all, he is just going through a slump as every player does. he will learn with experience and that is something that doesn’t magically in an instant. Its funny because everyone seems to forget Rizzo is struggling as well.

    • JulioZuleta

      I don’t really care what individuals are struggling if we’re winning the World Series.

      • bryan

        Merr .. that’s a valid point julio. Touchee.

        • JulioZuleta

          Hah I know what you meant to say and obviously, I agree.

    • Cyranojoe

      It’s funny, I was thinking similarly about all our players this season. Struggle all you want, guys, just learn from it. And don’t get injured. :)

  • Mr. Gonzo

    I’m more worried that I’m not worried about Castro’s struggles this year than I am actually worried about it. If he is still struggling like this in the 7-hole next June, then it’s time to up the fiber in the diet.

  • ProfessorCub

    FWIW, my Twitter convo with Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus yesterday:

    @powell_sean: @ProfessorParks on latest FA ep. you mentioned not applying blanket philosophy to all hitters. How do you think that applies to Castro/Cubs?

    @ProfessorParks: @powell_sean I think its very applicable to Castro; he’s an aggressive hitter that makes a lot of contact and doesn’t walk. That’s who he is

  • Tyron

    I hope garza thros at Brandon Philips today!!

    • dying cubs fan’s last request

      Me too.