Starlin Castro’s Struggles Continue and Other Bullets

dale sveum starlin castroThe Cubs are off today for the first time in two and a half weeks, but there’s plenty to discuss – not only in these Bullets, but as the day goes on.

  • The Cubs have been working with Starlin Castro on his defense, which may not have been immediately apparent yesterday, as Castro made his league-leading 13th and 14th errors of the year. His struggles on defense (though, he still flashes ridiculous talent there from time to time) are compounded by his obvious and painful struggles at the plate. It’s just been one big struggle this year. “These are things everybody goes through and part of the adversity everybody goes through,” Sveum said, per Cubs.com. “Some guys have peaks and valleys. You’re going to go through this at some point in your career … People can go 25, 30, 35 years without any adversity in their life. You see what kind of man you are when you have to deal with adversity. Everybody has to go through it in life. Nobody said life was easy.” 2013 has definitely not been easy for Castro, who, in addition to leading baseball in errors (tied with Pedro Alvarez), is now hitting just .228/.264/.318 on the year. His wOBA of .257 is shocking, as is his -1.1 WAR. It’s all very difficult to watch, and it’s turning every discussion about Castro into a negative vomit-fest that nobody wants to read. Speaking of which, maybe we could avoid doing that in the comments to this post …
  • Ian Stewart has been activated at AAA Iowa, coming off of his suspension for inappropriate tweets. It appears that, for now, the two sides weren’t able to work out a release that gets Stewart what he wants (freedom to sign with another team) and the Cubs what they probably deserve if Stewart is going to get that (saving some money). No word on whether they’re still working at it.
  • Steve Clevenger’s rehab assignment with Iowa was up this weekend, but he apparently was feeling a little tightness in the oblique that originally sidelined him, so he’ll stay at Iowa for now. There was a chance that Clevenger was going to be the guy the Cubs called up to filled their current positional deficiency, but the Cubs will now probably go with either Dave Sappelt or Brian Bogusevic. It seems like Sappelt would have the edge as a righty who is already on the 40-man roster. Junior Lake – also on the 40-man – has an outside shot, too, I suppose. We should see a move today or tomorrow.
  • As for opening up a roster spot – i.e., which reliever is going down – Bruce Miles speculates that it could actually be Henry Rodriguez, the reliever the Cubs made a trade with the Nationals to acquire. The Cubs would have to designate Rodriguez for assignment before they could try to sneak him through waivers and outright him to Iowa. Then, even if he passed through waivers, he would have the right to refuse the assignment and become a free agent, because of his major league service time (more than three years). In other words, I’d be surprised if the Cubs took this approach, even if Rodriguez is a guy they’d probably love to be able to stash. The problem, though – and this could be why the decision is taking so long – is that the Cubs don’t have an obvious choice. It won’t be Gregg/Villanueva/Russell/Marmol, and it probably won’t be Shawn Camp. That leaves only Blake Parker (who’s been awesome) and Hector Rondon (who’s a Rule 5 pick and cannot be optioned). It would be great timing for Rondon to come down with a minor “injury,” but sometimes that’s difficult to fake. So, maybe Rodriguez wouldn’t be so shocking after all.
  • Although Dioner Navarro has caught each of Matt Garza’s last two (dominant) starts, Dale Sveum won’t say that Navarro is Garza’s personal catcher, and won’t guarantee that he always catches Garza. But he’s kind of softened his previous hard-line stance on the issue. “I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s not a thought [to pair them together], but only if it works out,” Sveum said, per Cubs.com. “I’m not going to put [Navarro] in there for that reason.” For the reasons I discussed in the previous post on this issue, I’m glad the Cubs are making sure to publicly say Garza can pitch well no matter who is behind the plate. That said, I’d be surprised if Navarro didn’t catch 75+% of Garza’s starts from here until the Trade Deadline.
  • Dale Sveum on the Cubs’ approach at the plate this year.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

146 responses to “Starlin Castro’s Struggles Continue and Other Bullets”

  1. Ivy Walls

    Castro’s fall is directly attributable to not being ready for MLB mentally, as in not being prepared. His failures are not being able to continue to develop his mental game and has fallen back on what brought him success in the past, superior physical abilities.

    He doesn’t work a pitcher, the pitcher works him.

    His defense is always not being disciplined in setting his feet, not anticipating and concentrating on making the play….and now there are few options left, can’t send him down, don’t have a platoon and he has a long contract.

    It is Zambrano without the anger issues, it is Soriano without the power, it is why Epstein and Hoyer insist on full development with a full season in AAA.

    1. Kyle

      You can have three full years of success in the majors without being ready mentally? Makes being ready mentally seem kind of meaningless.

    2. Jed Jam Band

      I feel this is a bit of an oversimplification. Castro has been in the league since he was 20 years old and found a great deal of success. If you know anything about Dominican prospects at all, you know that they have to be incredibly mature to even come over to the U.S. They are thoroughly vetted during the entire process. Castro might have a little mental immaturity, as I suspect most 23-year-olds do, but I hardly think that is why he has struggled. No, I just feel like he is in a rut that he simply cannot find a way out of right now. The best possible thing for him would likely be a few days off, but Sveum seems fairly opposed to this. I really do think he needs a few days off, not just due to physical exhaustion, but also mental. He’s 23, has never struggled like this, and is taking a real beating in the media and from fans. That can be rough on a young guy like him. I say we not give in to hyperbole and we try to ride out this storm as best we can. I, for one, remain convinced of Castro’s talent and want to see him succeed.

  2. Tim

    Brett, why wouldn’t Camp or Marmol get let go? They both are done with the Cubs after this year. Yes the Cubs would have to eat money, but if it is a choice between losing money (which I would argue they are doing this year and losing baseball games by throwing either guy out there) or losing a high upside arm (Rodriguez) why not just lose the money? Why option Parker who is pitching well? Doesn’t that send a poor message to everyone else. I would understand if Marmol or Camp were here after this year, but they aren’t. Help me understand. Thanks

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