I’ll have more on this tomorrow and as it evolves – because it’s going to be an evolving thing – but I wanted to get this out there right now for discussion. Joe Maddon, as many suspected he would, made a considerable change today, opting for the start of some rotations in the lineup, rather than sticking with the same guys every day. With Miguel Montero back, this was going to be necessary to keep various important bats (read: Kyle Schwarber and Chris Coghlan) in the lineup.
But Maddon took it a step further with respect to shortstop Starlin Castro, who is on the bench today:
Maddon tells Castro this is not a day off. Lineups will be considered daily. Need to play Schwarber is driving this. #Cubs
— Bruce Miles (@BruceMiles2112) August 7, 2015
Maddon told Castro today is not a day off. Castro took news well. #Cubs
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) August 7, 2015
In other words, the stretch run is here, the Cubs are in a playoff race, and Joe Maddon needs the opportunity to decide the best lineups on a daily basis without worrying about keeping Starlin Castro – or anyone else for that matter – in there. Some days, that means Castro will be in there. Some days, he won’t.
Winning that day’s game, right now, has to take priority over everything else.
In some ways, then, this is not unlike a huge late July trade: there’s risk involved, and it might be a painful decision to let someone go, but you’ve got to take the chance to push for the playoffs. The Cubs didn’t make that huge late July trade, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t just make a big move.