Sveum Sits Castro and Other Cubs News and Notes

Starlin Castro’s season-long struggles continued on Saturday afternoon. After another mental gaffe in the field that allowed Jon Jay to tag up from third and score on a shallow pop fly in left field, Dale Sveum pulled him from the game.

Starlin Castro took responsibility for his actions and did not make any excuses after the game. Castro reportedly apologized to his teammates and the coaching staff.

Dale Sveum said that Castro’s blunder was so egregious that he had to take him out of the game, the first time in his short managerial career that Sveum had to pull a player during a game. Sveum said that Castro has been in the big leagues long enough to not make those types of mistakes. Sveum pointed out that he’s had discussions with Castro but at some point the player has to take responsibility, cross the bridge and take his game to the next level.

Sveum would not commit one way or the other when asked if Castro would be in the starting lineup on Sunday.

Starlin Castro’s defense has been better of late but after a good stretch in July in which he hit .292/.339/.442 with six doubles, one triple and three home runs, Castro has managed only 11 hits in his last 51 at bats. In the 14 games leading up to Saturday, Castro was hitting .216/.231/.255 with two doubles.

Starlin Castro has proven he can play and perform well in the big leagues. Some feel that by the Cubs rushing him to the up to the majors in 2010, it hurt his development and Castro was not able to learn the basics of the game. The reset of the off-season is likely the best thing that could happen to Starlin Castro at this point of his career.

Javier Baez

While Starlin Castro created more negative press for himself during Saturday’s game, Javier Baez was all of the talk prior to the game after his performance on Friday night.

Baez created more buzz with his walk-off, two-run homer and Dale Sveum was asked if Baez could break camp next spring on the big league roster.

Sveum said, “You don’t count any of that out because we’ve seen it happen before, obviously. When you have that kind of numbers and power, sometimes you do force the issue. It’s not in the plans right now, but we’ve all seen it happen.

As Bruce Miles correctly pointed out, Baez will start the season in the minors next year and delay starting his clock. Miles reported that if Baez performs well, he could force the Cubs hand and they might not have a choice but to add him to the big league roster.

Javier Baez went 1-for-3 with a double, a run scored, a walk and two strikeouts in Saturday’s loss to the Lookouts.

News and Notes

Brian Bogusevic left Mesa on Saturday and is expected to report to the I-Cubs on Sunday to continue his rehab. Bogusevic should rejoin the Cubs as soon as the rosters expand on September 1. Bogusevic has been out for the last month with a left hamstring strain.

Scott Baker was expected to begin his second rehab stint with the Daytona Cubs last Wednesday but it was pushed back. Baker is scheduled to start for Daytona on Sunday. With the minor league regular season winding down, it will be interesting to see if the Cubs activate him in September just to get him back on a big league mound. The Cubs and Baker have said that both sides would like him to re-sign with the Cubs in the off-season.

In other rehab news, Arodys Vizcaino is reporting to Mesa on Wednesday to continue his rehab. The Cubs are trying to get him ready to pitch in the Arizona Fall League.

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Quote of the Day

"Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure." – W.J. Slim

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  • Theboardrider

    I wonder where Baez would be on top prospect lists as of today? I gotta think he’s nearing top 15.

    If we make an addition like a Phil Hughes in the offseason we could have a formidable starting 5 next year. Obviously depends a lot on Arrieta and Shark but both are guys that COULD be all-stars. I they pitch like they can it would be a potent 1, 2, 3. Then EJax, Wood and possibly Hendricks pushing for the other two spots. Not to mention if Vizcaino has healed and can start he could leapfrog them all and be the number one. Maybe not out of spring training but at some point. Suddenly our pitching doesn’t look as bad or bare at lower levels. Edwards, Blackburn, Hendricks, Maples, Grimm, and others look promising. I’m leaving out some of the draftees like the guy from Texas Tech.

    If we added Hughes we could be competitive. Especially if we get some young hitters forcing their way up in June. I would like to see Rizzo in a lineuo where e doesn’t have to be the guy. I believe he could quietly really put together some hood number around the 6 hole. If Baez and Bryant alone could come up, maybe Alcantra too, that would push Schierholtz down to 7 or 8 hole. We’d compete with a lineup where he bats that low.

    We could be competitive a lot soooner than projected. Not to heap too much on Arrieta but I think he is the key. I he gors out an pitches like he did Friday fairly regularly the timetable is pushed way up. Or Vizcaino could be ready and that would do it. Lots could go our way, or could go the opposite. I just like that we’ve been put in a position in two short years, thanks to all these savvy trades, that there can be a discussion.

    Also Baker could step up and be healthy and resigned. He could bump Wood and EJax or Hendricks o the bullpen. Although I believe once Hendricks comes up he will be a mainstay for a while.

    • Denver Mike

      I wish EJax could go to the bullpen, another team, or anywhere else for that matter but it isn’t going to happen. When we sunk that cash into him it dictated he would be in the rotation for 4 years.

      As I said earlier I think Hughes is a possibility for next year. Shark, Wood, Arrieta, Hughes, EJax will keep us in most games. I still feel we will continue to struggle to score runs until we get some RBI help, and don’t think that will happen until 2015+.

      I know we are all chomping at the bit to see some results, but I’m not sure rushing the likes of Baez, Bryant, and Alcantara to the bigs next year will do them any good either. Maybe Sept ’14 for Baez, but waiting to start the clock until May/June 2015 is the smart thing to do. We aren’t winning the WS in 2014 and financial control is infinitely more important than appeasing the fans.

      • J Daniel

        EJax has not performed constantly which has been his mo. I think he will be better next year, but how much better? Probably around his norm of .500. He would be an excellent #4 on a good team.

        Bryant is on the fast track here. If he keeps performing, possibly mid next year, IMO, but following year for sure. If Baez keeps performing as he is, he could possibly be here mid next year as well. Alcantara could force their hand as well.

        There is a fine line between when to bring them up. Yo want to make sure they are ready and will be able to handle the adversity that will come. One way to do that is to make sure they have had enough success in the minors and have dealt with a little bit of adversity already. But if they are MLB good … that is that fine line.

        • Roe Skidmore

          Bryant will move up very fast. He hits, runs, has power…good hands defensively…a real find.

      • Theboardrider

        I think that our front office is one of the few that would put a pitcher paid like EJax in te bullpen. These guys have had enough success I believe thay are always going to do what is best for the team. They have accumulated enough capital to make a decision like that.

        But yes, him in a 4 or 5 spot would be pretty dang good. On a given day he can be lights out. As a back of rotation starter he would probably win more than he loses.

        • Denver Mike

          I wish I could agree with you regarding being able to afford to have EJax in the pen, but I have to believe if they could afford to put a $14M a year guy in the bullpen we would have a guy like Choo leading off and playing center for us instead of DeJesus. I went in to more detail yesterday, but let’s just say I don’t think this team has any money to waste right now and likely won’t until more advertising money starts to come in.

          • cubtex

            Agreed. Zero chance they put EJax in the bullpen making 14 mil per year. That is why I don’t want Hughes making 10 or 11 per year to go along with him for several years. No thanks

          • Tony_Hall

            Not that it is a huge difference, but on avg it is $13M and the amount owed to him is $11M over the next 3 years. It could happen, but I don’t think it will because, it would decrease his value if they wanted to trade him.

          • Theboardrider

            I saw your breakdown of the financial situation Mike and that was really astute. I really appreciated it. I understood the overall situation but not so mih the details

            In Boston there was little support from ownership. Theo was handcuffed to make decisions that could he easily explained. He wasn’t allowed to make the tough choices that may bring critiscm. Very different situation with Ricketts, who is giving Theo the leeway he needs to run the club the way he thinks is best.

          • Dorasaga

            That was a fine essay, by the way. Perhaps the least “opinionated” I’ve read recently, makes sense for me, because you outlined all the facts that are related.

        • cubtex

          How many teams have done that Boardrider? Signed a guy for a 52 mil contract and put them in the pen on year 2 of the deal? Boston never did that with Dice K when he was struggling so bad or with John Lackey when he was starting with a 1.6 WHIP. This FO had never done it before and it won’t happen now.

      • Roe Skidmore

        Could EJax be the next Dennis Eckersley? Good point!!!

    • Tony_Hall

      Time heals all wounds….and good drafting, scouting and player development helps too.

      You are right, 2014 should be the turning point for the type of players filling up the roster. I believe it will be later in the year, but we could see a little influx of young players out of ST or as early as May/June, but the most will come in August and September. Very easy to think that Alcantara, Baez and Bryant could all be in the lineup by then, with Soler and Almora in 2015. As Sveum said though, Baez starting 2014 with the big league club is not part of the plan. The other one that I am hoping is up in 2014 is Olt. Hopefully a little break and some fall or winter ball can get him back on track. It could create quite the logjam of infielders, with them taking over OF spots.

      1. Alcantara 2B
      2. Lake CF
      3. Bryant RF
      4. Baez LF
      5. Rizzo 1B
      6. Olt 3B
      7. Castro SS
      8. Castillo

      Of course, assuming Castro stays at SS, and that if Olt comes up he is the better defensive 3B and moves Bryant to RF. Now this lineup wouldn’t be a playoff team out fo the gate, but it sure has power, but is really RH, and that is an issue. That is why I never expect to see this group of 8 on the field at the same time (not all will make it and too RH) and expect to see a trade or two.

      • Dorasaga

        By the way, here’s a video of Alcantara. Compact swing, good follow of breaking balls:

    • Tony_Hall

      Another infielder that is quietly putting together a nice season, known for his glove at 3B is Christian Villanueva (22 years old) @ AA

      37 Doubles leads Southern League by 8

      16 Home Runs (5th)

      • Theboardrider

        Very true! I said before we have three big league 3rd baseman jn our system now. A trade probably will occur.

    • GaryLeeT

      Did Garza sign an extension with the Rangers? Why isn’t he ever mentioned in any F.A. conversation? Is there a year of control left?

      • Whatupbr

        This front office can’t stand Garza. They couldn’t wait to get rid of him. They think he’s a giant pain in the butt.

    • Roe Skidmore

      Our pitching with Baker coming next year and other additions will be solid again. relief pitching has been our downfall, but that has improved somewhat.

      • Tony_Hall

        Baker is a FA.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Blake DeWitt cut by the Braves. He went 1 for 4 with them (a double), and
    was administered the shaft in favor of Tyler Greene.

  • cubtex

    Watching and listening to Castro talk to reporters after the game, you can hear and see that he was very embarrassed by the play and with his play this entire year. His words were sincere. He has never failed before. I believe he will get better from this incident and see a more focused player. He is from a different country, he is still a kid, and he has a ton of ability. I think this was a blessing that this happened now and Sveum yanked him in front of 40,000 fans in your home park. If that doesn’t wake you up…..nothing will.

    • Tony_Hall

      Something we actually agree on. I was thinking the same thing that this could be the wake up call for this still very young man.

      My son was asking me about where he went to college and I told him he never went to college and never went to high school. That he grew up in a baseball academy that was his high school and his education level is below that of a high school diploma. Made me think how much has been thrown at him and some of these other young guys, and how teams need to keep doing more to help them adapt to not only living in another country, but dealing with having money and fame and the pressure that comes with it.

      • cubtex

        I felt sorry for him watching that interview. His English is still poor and he was searching for the proper words but there was no mistaking the sincerity in his voice. Hopefully this turns into a positive and he starts to play like the player he is capable of being.

    • Roe Skidmore

      Should have yanked him a long time ago. Sveum has been a bad mentor.

    • Brp921

      I didn’t see the interview but as I said yesterday, I hoped this embarrassed him badly enough that he would strive to focus more.

  • cubtex

    Since Ronald Torreyes was traded for international pool money….he is hitting .204 for the Corpus Christi Hooks with slightly over 100 AB’s. Alcantara moved way ahead of Torreyes anyway and they have to decide what to do with Baez.

    • Tony_Hall

      20 year old in AA…..

      • cubtex

        He actually turns 21 on 9/2. I understand his youth but he only hit .264 in High A ball. He is struggling in AA and he doesn’t steal bases. He didn’t have a future with this team. It was good to have traded him when they did.

        • Tony_Hall

          So that makes this his 20 year old season. I agree that it was time to move on from him….

          • Dorasaga

            Some here wouldn’t move away from Ryno Was The Chosen One, while I’m not moving away from all the failed high draft picks. Stubbornness is one hell of a Cubs Fanclub.

    • Roe Skidmore

      Baez next SS! Power and average…

  • cubtex

    Castro is in the lineup today.

  • cubtex

    Phil Hughes? Why all the love? He is coming off a 7.5 mil season. High 4 ERA and he will probably be seeking a 4 or 5 year deal at roughly $ ???? What are peoples guesses? 11 mil per? Do you really want to have 4 years of Hughes with EJax in a rotation moving forward? My answer is no thanks. Let someone else have him.

    • cubtex

      One other note on Hughes….
      He gave up 35 Bombs last year.

      2013 he has already given up 23.

      Most people are saying he will end of in the NL West. SD would be a good fit due to the high HR rate and being a fly ball pitcher. He is not a good fit for Wrigley.

      • John_CC

        I’m not super high on Hughes, for the record. But he has had success in the AL East. He has a big arm, and Yankee stadium is a wind tunnel out to a short porch in LF.

        I guess if the crappy year he’s had reduces his price and or years, it would be worth it. At 27 years old maybe he would take a 2 year deal which could set him up for a big FA contract at 29-30?

        • Dorasaga

          I would have concured, but Phil is injury-prone. He hasn’t had a full season without sidelines and DL stints. It was hamstring, and back, then boy, the more I google, the less I want to read abou him… My New Year’s Wish: Sustainable Pitching for the Cubs. No more “stuffs,” just log 200 IPs for the team.

        • cubtex

          Crappy is the right word. He is killing the Yankees who are trying to get back in the WC hunt.

          0-3 in August in his last 3 starts with a 8.31 ERA.

    • Tony_Hall

      Another thing we agree on….

      Top FA’s from MLB trade rumors earlier this month.
      Position players
      1. Cano
      2. Ellsburgy
      3. McCann
      4. Choo
      5. Beltran
      Pence, Napoli, Cruz

      1. Garza
      2. Kuroda
      3. Santana
      4. Burnett
      J Johnson, Lincecum

      Not sure any of these will be pursued by this FO this year as they will all want longer term deals then fit this team.

      • cubtex

        The only pitcher on that list who intrigues me and might be a fit on a one year deal to re-establish himself is Josh Johnson. He is making 13 mil this year. Do you think anyone would be willing to give him a multi year with his health history? I doubt it. A one year deal with incentives and if you get a good first half out of him… have a major trade chip at the deadline. He is a top of rotation starter if healthy and could command a very good return.

        • Tony_Hall

          Possible, and his agent isn’t Boras. I still think a team will get creative and find a way to give him at least 3 years.

          • cubtex

            This is your language. All I know is that it is a gamble and I wouldn’t go anymore than I year on Josh Johnson.

            On the bright side, Johnson’s 9.2 K/9 is the best of his career, and
            the 3.3 BB/9 he has surrendered is not out of line with his recent track
            record. Johnson’s FIP is 4.62 and his xFIP is a much more promising
            3.60. A brief glance at two other key metrics — BABIP against (.356)
            and HR/FB% (18.5%) — show that Johnson has probably been a bit unlucky
            this year.

            The big righty is owed about $4MM more for the remaining of this
            season, and thereafter will enter free agency. With the Jays still
            weighing whether to extend Johnson a qualifying offer, and no team
            apparently willing to take on his full salary for the rest of the year,
            there does not seem to be much likelihood of a deal. Of course,
            Johnson’s last start (5 innings, no earned) was an improvement, and a
            string of solid outings could restore some of his luster. Either way,
            Johnson promises to be one of the most interesting players to watch on
            the free agent market for 2014.

          • Tony_Hall

            xFIP at 3.60 think ERA
            Expected Fielding Independant Pitching

            18.5% HR/FB rate – pct of flyballs that were HR’s, seems high that is why they are saying he has probably been unlucky.

            BABIP 356 is also high

            Individually they could be explained, but all of them point that he has been unlucky which is why his ERA is so high.

            All of this points to a team taking a chance with an arm that is really good, if he can stay healthy. Seems somewhat similar to AJ Burnett and the Pirates have been very happy with him.

            For a minute I was impressed, then realized you cut and copied. But at least you read it.

    • Roe Skidmore

      Not a fit for us…

  • Tom U

    For those who may be thinking of a position change for Starlin Castro, be careful what you wish for.

    In considering a move to the outfield, Castro probably doesn’t have the speed for center nor the arm for right. If he gets his offense back on track, he could be an asset in left, but how will moving him further away from the action improve his concentration?

    As far as the infield goes, Castro may benefit from moving away from the demanding shortstop position, and probably should be tried at both second and third before the season is over. For those who worry about moving a young player around, Castro had experience in the OF, 3B, 2B and even 1B in the DSL. And gold glove second baseman Darwin Barney practically played his entire minor league career at SS before learning 2B at the major league level.

    And before slobbering over Javier Baez, consider this. He committed his 41st error on Friday two more than Castro has ever had in a single season in his entire career, with more than two weeks left to play in the season. The 39 errors Castro had in 2009 were a statistical blip, as he had only 16 other errors in his minor league career (55 in 187 games). on the other hand, Baez already has 64 errors in 194 games.

    • Tony_Hall

      I don’t believe they moved Alcantara off of SS with the thought that he would replace Castro if Barney and Castro flip/flopped positions but that he would replace Barney at 2B.

      They have said as players get closer to the majors they will look more at what position they will play, as the move to 2B for Alcantara shows. They have also said that this winter, they will discuss where Baez will play next year.

      From all reports and direct quotes, Castro is their SS for the foreseeable future.

      • Roe Skidmore

        Baez is next SS, you will find this out. Castro is Dave Cash, Baez is Wille Randolph..just SS’s rather than 2B.

        • Tony_Hall

          I will find this out….does that mean you have inside information….

        • cubtex

          wow! pulling out a Dave Cash comparison? never would have believed that :)

    • Neil

      Tom, thanks for posting. Before everyone jumps on the 41 errors, 24 of those were committed prior to June 1.

      • Tom U

        Neil, even using Baez’s .947 fielding percentage with Tennessee, he would project to at least 39 errors over a big league schedule. His overall percentage of .930 projects to 52 errors while his .922 Daytona average projects to 58 errors.

        • Neil

          Tom, again thank you for posting.

      • Roe Skidmore

        Some errors happen because you get to balls others don’t???

  • Roe Skidmore

    A good manager would have sat him and several others a long time ago…