Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

javier baez aflEvery time the internet blows up in outrage over something Starlin Castro did or did not do (something that happens much too often – why is he under such a microscope?) the question appears; why don’t the Cubs just get rid of him and call up _________. The player filling in the blank changes frequently; it used to be Junior Lake, and in the early part of the season the critics wanted Arismendy Alcantara. Now Javier Baez is the most frequently mentioned.

But in all cases the answer is simple. The Cubs are keeping Castro at short because he is a better shortstop than any of those guys right now and none of those three are ready for the majors. Including Lake, who has been playing in Chicago for some time.

Long term I think Baez has the best chance to be about as good as Castro defensively, but I doubt he surpasses the incumbent. Baez will likely make fewer mistakes (eventually), but Castro is likely to make more plays. Alcantara is much too inconsistent, and fans who think Castro commits mental lapses in the field really want no part of Lake’s potential for a Jekyll and Hyde act. For now anyway, Castro is the best option the Cubs have. There are no credible alternatives on the immediate horizon.

And that is far, far from being a bad thing. By age Castro would fit in at Double A, but he already has a major league career fWAR of 8.0. That’s good for 80th on the Cubs all time list. And he doesn’t even hit his prime for another few years.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa came up just short in this 5-4 loss.
Tennessee – In the thirteenth inning the bullpen ran out of gas. The Smokies lost 9-6.
Daytona – Daytona’s pitching struggled early in this 5-2 loss.
Kane County – The Cougars pulled away late for a 4-2 win.
Boise – Thanks to a huge sixth inning, the Hawks game away the 5-1 winners.
Arizona – The AZL Cubs were beaten 8-0.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Jae-Hoon Ha homered and finished with two hits to lead Iowa. It was Ha’s third long ball with Iowa.
  • [Iowa] Alberto Cabrera, Chang-Yong Lim, and Brian Schlitter all pitched well in relief for Iowa.
  • [Tennessee] Justin Bour and Rafael Lopez both had 3 hits for the Smokies.
  • [Tennessee] Thanks to a pair of walks and a 2 for 5 game, Arismendy Alcantara was on base four times in this one.
  • [Tennessee] Javier Baez walked once and did not strike out in seven trips to the plate. We might be seeing him turn the corner at Double A.

  • [Tennessee] Zach Rosscup struck out 3 of the 5 batters he sat down.
  • [Daytona] Zach Cates walked 3 in 2 innings, and Kyler Burke gave up 4 hits over a similar span (although he did strike out 4). Between the two of them they accounted for all runs scored against Daytona.
  • [Daytona] Dayan Diaz then came in and struck out 7 in just 3 innings. That is fairly impressive.
  • [Daytona] Anthony Giansanti homered (his first for Daytona) and finished 2 for 4 with a walk. He played first base in this game.
  • [Kane County] Catcher Carlos Escobar finished this game 2 for 3 with a walk. He remains one of the more intriguing young backstops in the system.
  • [Kane County] Give Dan Vogelbach two more walks in this one. That’s 11 in his last 10 games and 16 against just 12 strikeouts for July. I really don’t need to see anything else at the plate from Vogelbach. My vote would be to ship him to Florida for the playoff push.

  • [Kane County] Reggie Golden picked up his 6th homer of the year in this one.
  • [Boise] Kris Bryant finished 2 for 4 with another double. Jacob Rogers and Cael Brockmeyer also had two hits.
  • [Boise] In his limited appearance (just 2 innings) Rob Zastryzny was again very effective. He gave up a lone hit while striking out a pair.
  • [Arizona] Trevor Clifton struck out 2 in his single inning of work. Orbandy Rodriguez followed that up with 4 strikeouts over 2 frames.

Other News

  • I am hoping that Brett Jackson stays in Tennessee for a few weeks. I will be visiting the Smokies on August 12 and 13th and I would really like the opportunity to see what the changes to Jackson’s swing look like first hand. He now joins a very long list of Cub prospects that I am looking forward to watching: Baez (of course), Alcantara (last saw him in person in Peoria), Andreoli (how good is his ability to make contact?), Hendricks (if I get lucky), Rosscup (been intrigued since the Garza deal), and more. It should be a a very interesting trip.

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