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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.
  • Jp3

    I agree Vogs doesn’t have anything left to show. Dude has an absolute choke hold in KC. I really think he could cause a classy problem in Chicago in about 2 more years.

  • baldtaxguy

    Alcantara just produces. Can’t wait to see him in Wrigley.

  • Chad

    Was hoping Cabrera would stick in the rotation at Iowa. Is the bullpen temporary for him?

    • bbmoney

      Could just be a way to limit his innings and/or get him some time in the MLB this year out of the pen.

      • Chad

        That’s what I’m wondering, but will he make it to Chicago as a bullpen guy. I doubt they would want to stretch him out in the majors when they could have done it in Iowa. Interesting. Maybe bullpen this year and rotation next spring.

        • bbmoney

          Yeah, if he’s in the pen now, I can’t believe they’d have him start in Chicago this year. Doesn’t mean he won’t be back in the starter mix next year though.

        • Adventurecizin’ Justin

          Yeah, I think they are just limiting his workload. He was successful this year, so I can’t see him not getting a chance at the rotation .

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          He’s been stretched out in Tennessee pretty well already. I suspect the move to the Iowa bullpen is more to limit his workload increase from year to year rather than a permanent job (re-)change, but I don’t know that for certain.

          • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

            That would make sense, since this is the first year they were stretching him out. He could be approaching his innings limit.

            • Scotti

              This isn’t the first year he has been a starter. Hendry and crew had him starting full time as late as 2011 but last year Theo and crew decided he was a reliever. This year they decided he was a starter. Still makes sense to limit his innings because his didn’t throw many last year and his arm is young and valuable.

  • Dijon

    What are the chances a guy like Dalfis Ortiz (DSL) .349/.423/.518, or anyone else doing well in the DSL or VSL gets called into an American farm team, like Boise or Arizona, this year?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Very slim to none.

      We may see some of them in the Instructional League this fall, though.

  • Die hard

    Best SS is Barney …. A team can carry a good field no hit SS and move Castro to 2B

    • gocatsgo2003

      Which wouldn’t change things in the least. Likely the same performances by the same guys in the same spots in the lineup, just standing at different spots in the field.

  • Adventurecizin’ Justin

    Gravatar check…

  • Freddy t.

    The Hawks won 5 to 3. I was at the game. Rob z. Looked very good. Only threw fastballs because they couldn’t hit them. Scott Frazier threw 3 strong innings to finish the game and looked good. Bryant had two great ab’s with a single and double and had two really bad ab’s. he had trouble with the off speed stuff and k’d. In the field Bryant started a nice double play and then threw a ball in the dirt that Jacob Rogers dug out for the out. Bryant looked good in the field and has some nice pop. He won’t be in Boise much longer. Encase action made a great catch in CF and had a clutch hit to drive in two. Penalver at SS is very smooth and is a nice player. Boise is a great defensive team. Spokane was horrible on the base paths! I really wanted to see Dunston Jr. But he sat.

  • Jon

    Olt is 3-27 so far with all singles. Good lord, I could live with his K rate if he was hitting for power, but….

    • jh03

      Yeah! Because 27 AB’s symbolizes a players entire ability!

      • Jon

        Not sure of your point, but Olt’s K rate has long been a concern.

  • cerambam

    I don’t understand how Almora and Vogs haven’t been bumped to Daytona. Both are hitting well, and Almora has the defense, polish and makeup to be bumped.

    I suppose there may just be too many people at Daytona or they are waiting for some movement up the ladder to open up spots… yeah maybe its that.

    • Josh

      Because sending them to Daytona to sit around during all the rain outs does not help in their development. No reason to take ABs from them.

    • ssckelley

      This gets answered every day. This time of the year has the worst weather in Florida with all the rainouts I wager the Cubs would rather see Almora play everyday in Kane County then sitting on the bench watching the rain fall in Daytona. But I would not be surprised to see Almora get bumped up for the playoff run.

      Geiger is playing really well at Daytona to sit him or demote him in favor of Vogelbach, I think it would take a chain reaction of promotions for Vogs to be moved up this season. The Cubs have a mini log jam at first base, they still have Rohan in Arizona with no place to put him. The Cubs need to do something with Brad Nelson, he is having a pretty good year at Iowa with no place to put him. Granted none of these players should prevent Vogs from moving up through the system but as of right now there is no reason to rush him. It is better to wait until the offseason to make decisions on who the Cubs want and where.

      • Scotti

        Even with the rain outs Vogelbach would get more AB in Daytona if they made the playoffs. IMO, he should be moved in about a week.

  • Ivy Walls

    Okay back to Castro. He is much like in a long line of Cubs’ shortstops who showed great promise then over the course of 530 or so games we know what we got regardless of the age.

    Ivan DeJesus, Shawn Dunston, Ronnie Cedeno and now Starlan Castro

    Lots of tools, some flash in the field, some pop at the plate, but full of mental lapses.

    I am not saying that any in the system are ready, which is why the above never made it. Shortstop is as much a mental position as catcher without calling the game. It is the best athlete on the field and when you have a true mental leader there, someone who will make the play like last night, they are hero’s and not goats.

    As it stands now Baez is the next promise. Cubs trade for Sardinas or Hansen and they will compete with him, Alcantara and Baez for an infield spot.

    • Scotti

      No, no, no, no, no. Regardless of age? Castro is STILL about the 10th youngest player in the NL. The innings he’s played over the last few year are what most prospects play in the minors. He’s still learning the game. All young players make errors at short. Look at Ozzie Smith. He made errors when he was young and he was among the greatest in the game (and he come up at 23). Young players make errors, period.

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