You have to be paying only modest attention to know that the Cubs’ offense has been brutally bad of late. Anthony Rizzo acknowledges that the Cubs’ recent woes are on the offensive side, and he’s not hitting either. Dale Sveum is all over the offense’s problems, too. That’s all fine, but no one is acknowledging a core issue: even if everyone in the lineup is performing at their career averages, the offense is probably a below average crew overall. It’s not just that these guys are struggling right now – don’t get me wrong, they are – but this was never going to be a lineup that scored six runs a game. Since that five game winning streak, which feels like it was weeks ago, the Cubs have scored just 30 runs in their last 10 games … and eight of those runs came in one extra-inning win. That means they’re scoring LESS than 2.5 runs per game in those other nine games.
One of Sveum’s suggestions for getting the offense back on track, per Carrie Muskat: “Maybe just close the cages up and the video room and strap it on.” Eh hem. Am I really required to be so mature as to not make a comment here?
Carrie Muskat notes Jed Hoyer’s TV quotes yesterday, half of which focus on Starlin Castro’s deep slump. His thoughts on whether you just let Castro be a guy who hits everything and gets 200 hits but with no power, or you try to make him work deeper into counts (because the 2-0, 3-1 counts are when you see a guy really able to turn on the power) are particularly fascinating. There’s no obvious answer with a guy like Castro, and I think that’s what we’re seeing this year.
Dale Sveum didn’t think too much of Matt Garza’s comments that he wasn’t on the same page yet with Welington Castillo, who has caught all of his starts this year. (To be abundantly clear: Garza wasn’t throwing Castillo under the bus, or saying Castillo was the problem in Garza’s awful start against the Reds this week. He was just saying they had to develop more comfort.) Sveum told Cubs.com: “If you get the ball up, it doesn’t matter who’s catching.”
Cubs infield prospect Arismendy Alcantara has been breaking out this year, and FanGraphs is taking note, including him in their Fringe Five (i.e., the top prospects who weren’t on top 100 lists coming into the season).
Jim Callis was on ESPN’s Fantasy Focus podcast discussing, among other things, Javier Baez (thanks to Danny for passing this on). Callis says Baez has actually exceeded expectations defensively at shortstop, and could stick there, even though he’ll probably move eventually when he fills out. Callis expects Baez in the bigs by 2015, but mid-2014 is a possibility. The issue, as we know, is going to be the plate approach. He’s striking out a ton, walking very little, and as he moves up, that’s going to become an even more pronounced problem (because the pitchers will be better, make fewer mistakes for him to destroy, etc.). He’ll have to adjust, and we’ll see what happens.
Speaking of Callis, he dug the Cubs’ drafting strategy this year, getting nice value in rounds four through six (with college pitchers Tyler Skulina, Trey Masek, and Scott Frazier) in part because they took slight reaches in rounds two and three. Though Callis says he isn’t sure Rob Zastryzny would have been there for the Cubs in the third round, so, if they liked him, they were wise to grab him when they did.
You are reminded that the Hot Stove Cool Music festival/concert is coming up June 21 at the Metro (across from Wrigley on Clark), and tickets are still available here. It benefits Theo Epstein’s Foundation to Be Named Later charity, and features cool music (hence the name). If you’re going to be around, it’s worth checking out.
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