dale sveum starlin castroWell that Javier Baez news was nice to wake up to this morning. I wonder if his promotion won’t be the only one this weekend. It could be that, because of his high profile – and because the Daytona Cubs Twitter account wanted to offer the congrats – his was the only one we heard about late last night/this morning. I do know that 2013 18th round pick Giuseppe Papaccio looks to be this year’s mid-round college senior who flies up the promotion chain until his bat is challenged (a la Tim Saunders last year, for example). He’s already been promoted to Kane County, and that might not be his last stop this year.

  • When a Cubs pitcher has a bad outing, as Jeff Samardzija did yesterday, you can pretty much bank on Dale Sveum saying the same thing (per Cubs.com): “There was no fastball command at all. There were a lot of fastballs, and he couldn’t get ahead, couldn’t put anybody away, kept missing by a ball on the plate. He was up all day long. He didn’t throw a whole lot of quality fastballs down in the strike zone.” No fastball command, and not working down in the zone. Although Sveum says it every time, he’s probably right every time. That’s how important those two things are.
  • Dale Sveum points out that the coaches (and he’s not necessarily patting himself on the back so much as passing on some credit to, for example, pitching coach Chris Bosio) probably deserve some of the credit for Travis Wood’s blossoming as a starter with the Cubs. “The coaches have a lot to do with it,” Sveum said, per ESPN. “For what Wood has gone through from spring training last year and getting him to understand about his arm side command. For him being able to consistently do that and what [he has done with special coaching assistant] Mike Borzello with the game reports, never varying from it. [The coaching staff] all have a lot to do with it but the biggest thing is about the adjustments [Wood] has made.” The respective All-Star teams are to be announced later today, and I’d expect Wood to be on the NL squad.
  • Sveum on Starlin Castro’s baserunning gaffe in the 8th yesterday, on which he was picked off of second base by the catcher. “He has to be more aware of the situation,” Sveum said, per CSN. “You’re down by four, you have nowhere to go. Those kinds of plays stand out. That’s one thing about baseball. It’s not like basketball where you turn balls over and nobody really knows who did it. In baseball, every mistake stands out.” They especially stand out for Castro right now.
  • For his part, at least Castro knows his mistake and faced the media about it after the game. “That’s not a smart play,” he said. “I feel really, really bad. That can’t happen. Down by four, eighth inning, that run is not important. I was trying to be aggressive, but that can’t happen.” Yes, Castro made a mistake.
  • The only part of the discussion of that play that bothers me is the fact that folks act like you shouldn’t be aggressive on the basepaths when you’re down big in the 8th. Yes, you should not take HUGE risks, but it was the 8th inning, not the 9th. You always stay aggressive in that situation because even just one run gets you that much closer in the 9th inning. If you sit back and play it safe in the 8th, maybe you don’t score on a single or on a subsequent wild pitch. Then maybe your team ends up scoring three in the 9th, but you’re a run short because you didn’t get that one run in the 8th. Of course that run is important. I don’t want to dwell on this specific incident too much, because I’m not defending Castro’s mistake. I’m really just talking about the broader point: if it isn’t the 9th inning, passivity is the wrong approach, and I don’t much care for narratives that suggest that you should be more passive. You don’t know how important that singular run in the, say, 5th inning when you’re down by six, is going to be.
  • The Stanley Cup will be at Wrigley Field today.
  • Cubs outfielders are turning the tables on the fans. Per the Onion. So, yes, it’s a joke. I especially like the subtle photoshop.

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