starlin castro throwingDon’t forget to check out Social Media Night on Wednesday before the Cubs/Nationals game – it’s a fun event, and I’ll be there with a handful of BN’ers. If you can’t make it on Wednesday, I’m planning to be at Thursday’s afternoon game, with a get-together thereafter. Details forthcoming.

  • Dale Sveum explained (per why Starlin Castro started yesterday after being yanked on Saturday for a significant mental error: “The way I look at it is, obviously, he had enough punishment – if that’s the right word or not – but I think to be embarrassed on national TV and what’s been written in the paper today, I think that’s plenty. I don’t think this kid can get better by not playing today and understanding the adversity we all go through in the game.” I’m pretty ambivalent on sitting Castro down that next day. Getting pulled mid-game sends a much louder message than having a game off, so, if it’s all about messaging, then things played out just as they should have. More thoughts from Sveum on Castro in that piece.
  • Jordan Bernfield had Theo Epstein on Cubs Weekly this weekend, and you can listen in here. Always a good listen. I particularly enjoyed Epstein’s reminder that, although Starlin Castro was talented enough to play in the big leagues when he was called up as a 20-year-old, his development wasn’t complete – and, for that reason, he was probably called up too soon. We might be seeing some of the effects of that now.
  • Speaking of the Castro situation, here’s another reason why David DeJesus is a valuable member of the organization. Dude understands how to lead.
  • For the same reason it pissed me off, yesterday’s check-swing-strikeout-bs that got Dale Sveum tossed was most grating to Sveum because the home plate umpire could have just appealed to first. And it wasn’t even close to a swing. CSN hooks us up with a GIF of the non-swing for those who missed it. The bat barely even leaves his shoulder.
  • Scott Baker re-started his rehab stint at Daytona  yesterday, throwing three innings, giving up a few hits, including a solo home run. That was the only run he gave up, and he didn’t walk anyone, but he also didn’t strike anyone out.
  • BP’s Monday Morning Ten Pack has a look at Javier Baez and Dillon Maples. The latter, a pitching prospect with short-season low-A Boise, is complimented on how well he’s been pitching since his demotion last month (Maples had an unsuccessful go at Kane County). At just 21, Maples isn’t *that* far behind his developmental curve, especially when you consider that he didn’t pitch professionally after being drafted in 2011, and missed most of last year with elbow issues. This is, essentially, his first professional season. For a non-college pitcher, the Northwest League is appropriate in that situation.
  • On Baez, BP – Jason Parks, specifically, since he’s doing the writing on Baez – offers high praise for the shortstop’s success since his promotion to AA. I particularly liked his closing thoughts: “Double-A is a test level, a separator level where pretenders are exposed and future major-league players are uncovered. It’s a small sample but a positive developmental step, and Baez is showing that he is not only prepared for the test but talented enough to excel against much older and wiser competition. He could be a star, a role 7 type with a middle-of-the-order bat and left-side chops in the field. Whatever his future role might be, the Cubs have an extremely valuable commodity in Baez.”
  • More love for Baez here.
  • If you’re going to games this week, BN’er John has a request for those who are able to save their ticket stubs.
  • Curt

    I totally understand that Castro is developing but do you have to develop the ability to pay attention and keep yr head in the game.

    • ColoCubFan

      It depends on the person. Some people never grow up and do stupid things their whole life. Others are “born old” and take responsibility for things at an early age that you wouldn’t expect.

  • Kevin F.

    I think Castro is going to get more motivation next season when Baez and Alcantara start pushing, position change or no. He probably hears the footsteps now, as a matter of fact. Let’s see how he handles it. I’d like to hear someone in the org address what Rizzo is going through now. Is he developing, or adjusting?

  • Diggs

    What does Parks mean when he says Baez could be a role 7 type?

  • gocatsgo2003

    Professing ignorance… what does Parks mean by “role 7?”

    • MichiganGoat

      I think it’s similar to the 20-80 rankings – I found in another chat where he said a role 5 player is not a bad player. Since a 70 ranking has been associated to Baez I’m assuming he means he’s a 70 prospect. It might just be the language he uses.

    • Chad

      On a 2/8 scale; 5 being an average major leaguer/6 being a first division type and potential all-star; 7 being a perennial all-star type; 8 being elite.

      • Chad

        Sorry this was a quote from a Park’s chat.

      • MichiganGoat

        So he’s basically just taking the 0 out of the 20-80 scale.

    • MichiganGoat

      Here he mentions role 7 as “future all star”

    • EatMasCatuli

      “Jason Parks: On a 2/8 scale; 5 being an average major leaguer/6 being a first division type and potential all-star; 7 being a perennial all-star type; 8 being elite.”

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    LeadOff has 1 job “Get on Base” walk – bunt – hit by pitch anyway possible

  • Chad

    Castro’s call up seemed great at the time, but I think some knew he would get figured out eventually, even if we didn’t want to admit it. The problem is that Castro is never going to be a middle of the order kind of guy. I don’t think his approach is that good. If he can get more talent around him where Castro can be Castro, then I think we will see the offense rebound, and as goes his offense I think goes his defense.

    Think of his first year and the hitters around him. Much more talent (underachieving as it was) but more talent which made Castro better.

  • BABIP (MichCubFan)

    A funny thing that I keep hearing is that Castro and Rizzo would be doing better if they had protection in the lineup. Gotta love old school baseball reasoning.

    Both of them are getting plenty of good pitches to hit. The problem is that they are not making good contact even on those hitters pitches.

    Rizzo’s problems are obviously mechanical. Castro’s timing has been off and that is probably mechanical, too.

    They should have been straightened out long ago. If there negative to say about our coaching staff, it is that they have not been able to get Rizzo and Castro out of long slumps this year.

    • Chad

      It may be old school, but it is partly true. I’m not trying to say this solves all the problems, because I believe you are correct. Now the coaches have completely redone Rizzo’s swing and it worked last year. Not sure what is going on this year. I still believe they would be doing better on a better team. Great? Probably not, but better yes. Hopefully they can figure things out this winter.

      • Norm

        The best ‘protection’ they can get is to have guys get on base in front of them.

    • ssckelley

      So exactly what will “protection” do for Castro and Rizzo? Is there someone the Cubs could get to hit behind Rizzo that would help him hit left handed pitchers better?

      • Hookers or Cake

        I think protection means, Rizzo sees fewer lefties. I’ve noticed teams haven’t been to afraid of our RH hitters as opposed to Rizzo and Schierholtz. Say, you sandwich Rizzo with a Baez and Bryant (if they progress) I doubt Rizzo would see as many lefties as he does with Castro and Castillo and their 10 HRs combined “protecting” him.

        • ssckelley

          But he has had Soriano hitting behind him most of the season and Soriano kills left handed pitching.

          I don’t buy this protection thing as an excuse for either Rizzo or Castro. Good hitters find a way to hit and get on base. Castro did not seem to hit any better when he was hitting in front of Rizzo.

      • brunsmk

        I am not sure of a protection thing but definitely a pressure thing. Think about the lineup as constructed and everyone’s comments on the team. All they really have is Castro and Rizzo. The pressure for those two to be middle of the order bats and be the heart of the team can’t be all that easy. As Sveum has said Castro is probably a 7 hitter on a good team. They tried to change him into a 3 hole hitter with power, didn’t work, yet. If and when some of the bigger bats come up they will slot into their correct spots and lessen the pressure put on them to be the stars of the team, might help a lot.

      • CubsFaninMS

        I agree that the “protection” logic is somewhat flawed. If Rizzo or Castro were putting up much better offensive numbers, they would be pitched around more and would be taking more walks with a good plate approach. As of now, they’ve not proven that as much this year so pitchers have no need to pitch around them. They just pitch to weakness and normally win. Rizzo has shown a tendency to be a SLIGHT threat in RISP situations (although his RISP is not good), I’d prefer facing someone else in the lineup than him. But he has not shown he is an offensive threat enough to be pitched around.

  • JM

    Upset like the majority of the Nation, I watched with interest as Castro apologized. I came away believing he was sorry, but also amazed at how young and immature he seemed. I for one will be cutting him a little more slack. Can’t say how much though as I would love to see the most egregious mental mistakes disappear.

  • hansman1982

    I wouldn’t quite say “barely left the shoulder” but it clearly was not a swing.

    Did Molina tag Murphy on the play?

    • Nate

      The thing that got me was that he wasn’t the only one to make the mistake. The whole infield relax as soon as the ump called the infield fly rule. Castro was the worst offender but every guy out there took their head out of the game.

      • Nate

        whoops this is supposed to be down one

      • hansman1982

        Even Castillo did a piss poor job of blocking the plate.

  • Jon

    I finally caught the Castro play Sunday morning, and I’m trying to not sound like a Castro apologist, but it seems like a general overreaction. Not that I don’t disagree with Svuems decision to bench him…that said…

    The play started out with him “hustling”, (but probably should have let Lake and his momentum, and his cannon arm make the play) and for a split second just lost concentration. I didn’t say any “lolly gagging’ or ‘lack of hustle”, just a quick blip in concentration, and unfortunately that’s all it takes at the highest level for something like a baseruner to notice, tag and score.

    This is dead serious, but I’m wondering if Castro might have ADHD? If it’s legit he can get a script for it and not be penalized under the rules by MLB. Just a thought.

    • Norm

      He may already be using that PED…er, prescription…but he should definitely look into if if he isn’t.

      • Ben

        The Cubs have an on staff psychologist who came on board the first season the Ricketts purchased. He spends one week with each team on a revolving basis unless needs to travel to handle an acute situation. He is young and seems to have good rapport with guys–plays catch on the field etc. He can prescribe meds. in the domain that might be useful for Starlin. I have been around Starlin since he came to Rookie camp and he about as laid back a kid as you can imagine. Wonderfully polite and practices hard but honestly his shortstop play is very similar to when he was 18.

        • Scotti

          Castro’s play at SS has improved tremendously since he signed (as one would expect for a dedicated professional who is getting numerous reps). That said, I agree that Castro has a very calm demeanor and is not a very strong candidate for an Internet ADHD intervention.

          Young players at the MLB level (and Castro is still young) go through their development AT the MLB level (publicly) AND each misstep is cataloged. Meaning, had Castro been brought up THIS year, no one would have a public record of his past mental lapses (that the vast majority of young players make)–we all would just have this year to go on. And we would say, Oh, he’s still young.

          This is doubly true with the SS and C positions where things are always happening. Less true with 1B and LF where there is little mental challenge.

          However, to say that you shouldn’t bring a guy up when he’s 20 (as Theo alluded to) is NOT the answer. The benefits of Castro having been up (including developmental benefits) have far outweighed the occasional mental lapse that you go through with young players/SS. It’s more a matter of being educated on the fact THAT it happens (and then educating your fan base) than it is trying to make sure those lapses occur in Tennessee or Iowa.

          Kind of interesting that it’s Theo saying all of this because Theo himself went through developmental issues at the MLB level (closers, gorillas, etc.) and yet he was still beneficial to Boston on the whole. Having him be an assistant to the GM for 5-10 years wouldn’t have helped Boston.

    • Chad

      I don’t think Castro has been dinged very often for his hustle, but usually his concentration that derails him.

    • Pat

      The question is, what would that do to his hitting? (not that its great this year)

  • jt

    Sveum stated yesterday that Castro’s hitting mechanics don’t allow him to often “square-up” on the pitch. At first glance the phrase could be line-up. The difference is that a line is one dimensional and a square is a set of lines constructed in 3D that intersect in a set pattern of right angles.
    The power comes from the transfer of momentum through the bat to the ball. A key component of momentum is mass. The mass that is associated with the swing is the batters body weight. The body weight is transferred efficiently when it is in balance. The body is in balance when it is somewhat perpendicular to the ground. There is a lot more to squaring-up a ball but it is obvious that the Castro lunge does not allow it. Again, if he doesn’t get his leg down in time his weight is not being shifted efficiently and his body doesn’t turn into the pitch in a “squared” manner.
    Pitchers pitch to this and defenses position themselves accordingly. Yeah, baseball is a game of adjustments. The ball is in Starlin’s court. He either leaves it on autopilot or focuses on the needed adjustments.

    • JM

      The matter of balance being quite obvious when he swings, misses, and his helmet flies off.

  • 1060Ivy

    John, I’m not on Facebook – my marriage safer without Facebook – but let me know which day you would like a couple of unused ticket stubs and I can send them to you to celebrate the birth of your daughter.

  • SenorGato

    I’ve actually heard Cubs fans say that with Baez rising it is about time to trade Castro to make room. Yep.

    • ssckelley

      I keep wondering the same thing.

    • Mr. B. Patient

      How about this. Move Castro to 2nd when Baez is ready,and keep Baez at short. Play out the year, and reassess positions before 2015. I have a sneaking suspicion Castro will be the better defensive SS. But, if Baez CAN handle SS, then you can trade Castro without as much risk.

  • David

    Too bad we didn’t draft Jonathan Gray… He could have shared his ADHD drugs with Castro.

    • ssckelley

      But if this is what Castro needs then you would think the team doctor would prescribe Adderall. The drug is not illegal with a prescription.

      • Ben

        SS–Maybe . It is a salt amphetamine and thus a slippery slope. In my experience I have never known a person to use it and then give it up after a few years. Start on it at 23 and then at 60 people are still on the shit. It may assist you in your profession but sure as hell can be a relationship buster–people tire of your synthetic personality sometimes.

        • ssckelley

          So you think maybe Castro is refusing treatment? My point was to the comment of Gray sharing his ADHD drugs with Castro, it is not necessary for someone to do that for a drug that is legal to take with a prescription. I am no doctor but if Castro truly does have ADHD one would think the team doctor would be all over it.

      • CM

        Great call. I said the exact same thing to someone yesterday.

  • kluv

    When are we going to fire the hitting coach? He hasn’t done anything to improve the offense this year. The fact that Rizzo and Castro have regressed so much should show some red flags in the ability of the hitting coach to coach.

    • hansman1982

      Yup, let’s just ignore career years by a number of other hitters and Rizzo’s greatly depressed singles rate and Soriano’s resurgence last year.

      • Jon

        Who’s really had a “career year” outside of Schierholtz?

        • ssckelley

          Both Navarro and Castillo have done well at the plate.

        • Hookers or Cake

          Wood has been HUGE! And who’s really been terrible? Barney & Castro.

          Rizzo’s had some slumps but he’s still got ok numbers.

          The problem might be the Cubs have 3 hitting coaches. And for young guys there might be too many voices.

      • Clark Addison

        I’m guessing Rowson is dumped at the end of the season.

        • Jon

          He’s Theo and Jeds “guy” though. He parrots the pillars of what they believe in terms of plate approach. They would have alot of “egg” on their face if they canned him, imo.

  • Adarecub

    Did anyone see the guy with the green BN tshirt on the condensed game going mad at the Murphy checked swing call. Identify yourself!

  • LER

    Hanley Ramirez made two ninth-inning errors yesterday that cost the Dodgers a lot more important game than the Cubs have played (other than beating the Cardinals) for a long time. Don’t you think we’d sign him if we could get him? Castro’s continuing development works from a better physical skill base than most players bring to the game young, but his instructional development is going to come from someone a lot more like Sandberg than Sveum.

    • Jon

      He’s not a FA until after the 2014 season.

  • Michael

    Guys anyone that was watching Castro yesterday saw him lean over the plate and hit a slider down and away up the middle for a hit. That is Castro at his finest he is a great bad ball hitter. And the coaching staff has takin that away from him, and you are seeing the results.

    • jpeck

      I don’t think the problem is the coaching staff won’t let Castro swing at more ” bad ” pitches.

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    There are two things going on with Castro. First, his BABIP has plummeted. It started with the new regime and took a bigger dive this year. Second, his strikeout rate has skyrocketed. What’s causing it? I think 2 things seem to stand out. 1) Part of that BABIP has to be fluky, random chance. He’s got some speed and hits lots of grounders and liners. 2) They have been doing a lot of work on his approach at the plate, and perhaps he just isn’t growing comfortable with it. Hopefully it works itself out. If it does, we got a guy who can drive the ball more and bring home more runs. I imagine the front office made the call that if they were going to rework this kid, they had 2-3 years to do it. Like losing 100 games, it’s painful, but you hope it reaps benefits in a couple years when you’re ready to compete. I also imagine the front office is pretty confident it’s going to succeed at this, or they wouldn’t have given Castro the long-term deal just yet.

    As for Rizzo, he has a DEFINITELY fluky .254 BABIP. The dude is swinging far less outside the zone, making similar contact in the zone, and is walking a ton more. Part of it may be that his FB% is up. I wonder if some of his problems are–like Castro–adjustments the Cubs want him to make. But his LD/FB ratio cannot possible account for a 60 point drop in BABIP especially when other things (like not swinging outside the zone) should probably tick it up a slight notch, if anything. I think there’s a lot to like when you dig more into Rizzo’s stats that bodes well for future years.

  • themusicbox

    Hooray Dempster!!!! I mean Beer!!!!