Renteria Addresses the Lineup, Castro Being Castro and Other Cubs News

Rick Renteria discussed his lineups prior to Tuesday’s game. And while the Cubs will use the platoon advantage, several of the right handed hitters that are only facing left handed pitchers right now, will face right handed pitchers as the season progresses.

Carrie Muskat reported Renteria “at some point will likely abandon the platoon” but “it depends on the player.” Renteria’s lineups have been one of the storylines over the first seven games because many have questioned why players like Mike Olt and Junior Lake have not received more playing time.

Renteria said Tuesday, “Performance is key. You might have someone say, Well I can’t perform unless I have four, five regular at bats every single day. The reality is every time you get an opportunity to hit, that’s an opportunity. How good the at-bat is, how the approach is. You don’t have to get a hit to have a good approach. It could be a productive at-bat without getting a hit. You talk all those factors into play and hopefully make the right decision.”

For now, the Cubs will continue to mix and match at third base, in the outfield and at second base. Against lefties, look for Junior Lake, Mike Olt, Darwin Barney and Justin Ruggiano in the starting lineup. When a right hander is on the hill, Luis Valbuena, Ryan Kalish, Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz should be in the starting lineup. And it appears Emilio Bonifacio will play second and centerfield and be part of the everyday lineup along with Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Welington Castillo.

Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro had one of his best games in two-plus years on Tuesday night. Castro made plays in the field and even covered third on a broken play in the second inning. Castro notched the first multi-homer game of his career and looked extremely confident at the plate.

Jordon Bernfield caught up with Starlin Castro following Tuesday’s game. Castro told Bernfield that “above all he wants to be in a spot in the lineup where he can hit with RISP and drive in runs.” Castro said hitting sixth in the lineup was “okay with him.” Castro explained to Bernfield that the approach he took at the plate during his first at bat, which resulted in a single to right on a 3-2 pitch, is the approach he uses when he’s going good. Castro does not go to the plate looking for a walk and admitted to Bernfield he has the “ability to put the ball in play, no matter what the count is” and that is what he is looking to do.

Castro told Jesse Rogers, “I got my feeling back.”

Whatever the case, it was good to see Starlin Castro play baseball again on Tuesday night … it’s been a long time. And apparently the extra work Castro put in prior to Tuesday’s game, along with Welington Castillo and John Baker, paid off.

Christopher Kamka pointed out, Starlin Castro became the 66th player with 700-plus hits in a Cubs’ uniform on Tuesday … and he is only 24 years old.

Javier Baez

Theo Epstein addressed Javier Baez’s ejection from Saturday night’s game briefly with the beat writers prior to Tuesday’s game. Epstein and the Cubs are viewing the incidents “as learning experiences.” Epstein liked the way Javier Baez responded with a home run the following day. Baez spent extra time Saturday night, after being ejected from the game, working in the cage. Baez has not gotten off to a good start this season and he is reportedly frustrated.

After Baez was ejected from the game, his teammates told him that his behavior was unacceptable. Baez and Eli Whiteside got into an argument in the dugout. Epstein told ESPN Chicago, “It was a great development experience for him. His teammates called him out on it and he responded the right way and then took it to heart. He came back and pinch hit the next day and hit a home run.”

Duane Underwood

Duane Underwood told the CCO on Tuesday night that he is being added to the Kane County roster. Underwood is in Chicago and will soon suit up for the Cougars.

The Cougars have not announced the roster move or which player Underwood will replace on the active roster.

Jorge Soler

Theo Epstein addressed Jorge Soler’s status Tuesday. Epstein said the team needs to make sure Jorge Soler is 100 percent before he gets back on the field. Soler did not pull his hamstring again, “but it obviously has not healed the right way.” The Cubs know Soler needs at bats and he has to get back on the field but they are not going to rush him.

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Any talk that we must have a great defensive 2B can be halted right now. Bonafascio isn’t a good INF defender. Right now he’s hot and getting the playing time, and I am glad he’s playing somewhere on the diamond. But I am just pointing out that he’s a weak 2B glove.

  • Ripsnorter1

    It would not surprise me to see Veras as the closer just after last night’s game. Strop was already moved up in the game–not held back to close–and Veras was the last guy into the game. I know that management is doing this hoping to get Veras ready to trade by July, hoping to get something in return.
    Still, Strop has the better stuff and a higher ceiling.

    • J Daniel

      I believe that Strop will end up as the closer after Veras is moved. Pitching at the deadline is always sought out. No problem with them using Veras there now hoping to get something in return. Can always make a change if it does not work.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    What i don’t get is Lake was producing last year when he came up. So dont understand their reasoning why he isn’t playing everyday. Sweeney hasn’ t. Done anything so far to get playing time. Valbuena will take a walk but cant hit. Neither has Ruggiano. So bonifacio 2b Lake Lf Kalish Cf. Schierholtz/ Ruggiano Rf. Olt3B

    • WidespreadHisPanic

      Renteria makes a good point about PT…working a count, going after good pitches, moving runners etc. over mean just as much – if not more to a developing player like Lake – as getting those “Opportunities” as much as getting a hit. These young guys have to prove they can do this in order to be earn those “opportunities. ”

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        Look what happened with castro though when they starte . Messin . With him Lake iS from the a Castro, Soriano mold i read an artarticle awhile back saying Lake has the ppotential to be a soriano early in his career 40-40 guyI would be happy with that. Lake is also a better defender.

        • No Baseball In Indiana

          Whoa let’s pump the brakes on the 40-40 talk. Lake is a 4th outfielder.

          • Theboardrider

            I couldn’t really make out what post said Patrick :). I think I got the gist but it was hard to read. Although I probably don’t have much room to talk as all of my phone replies and posts typically end up with issues.

        • John_CC

          Lake is not close to the contact hitting talent of Castro. Not close. This comp is way off.

    • John_CC

      I just want to mention again that the season is two weeks young, and that a week ago many folks were clamoring about how bad Castro was and Rizzo. Point being to make judgments about Ruggiano based on a handful of games in April isn’t fair. Patience grasshopper, there is a loooong way to go. Do you really think that Sweeney and Ruggiano should just not play anymore because they’ve had a slow start?

      • Denver Mike

        I admit that last week I was already souring a bit because things looked so similar to what we saw last year. I qualified most of my criticism with “I know it’s early”, but nonetheless it was hard not to think so.

        After watching the game last night it is pretty clear that Castro is getting some swagger back, and feeling more like himself. I was really impressed with Rizzo’s AB in the 7th when we were down 1. Down 2 strikes against a LHP, runner in scoring position, and he didn’t try to do too much. Just poked it up the middle where nobody was, and just like that the game was tied. I can’t recall him (or ANY Cubs hitter) doing that at all last year. So you are definitely right regarding patience.

        Sweeney on the other hand, smeh, I hope he proves me wrong but I see nothing there.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Castro and Rizzo are both starting to heat up. Very exciting

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Castro and Rizzo are both starting to heat up. Very exciting

    • Theboardrider

      Absolutely. Love the work Rizzo has put in to improve his game.

      • cubtex

        much easier to succeed when you use the entire field instead of 1/3 of it. I wonder how much Sveum had to blame for that? It is like a light bulb went off this year that all he needs to do with a RISP is put the ball in play and go with the pitch instead of swinging from his a##. He might not hit as many HR’s that way but who cares? He will be a better hitter and drive in more runs.

        • Theboardrider

          I think Sveum may be some of it but I really credit more of it to Rizzo. He’s got a year of experience, he’s a year older/wiser, and apparently he spent an entire offseason completely focused on improving his game.

          IMO we put way too much emphasis on the effect of coaches on players at this level. I do think they can help and hurt, especially with pitchers. But in general these are adult, professional ballplayers. Their success, adjustments, regressions and improvements I think have to fall largely on their shoulders.

          Coaches help and make suggestions but really I think the onus is on the player.

          • cubtex

            disagree 100%. Frey changed Sandberg from a singles hitter to a Hall of Famer. Coaches can a have a huge effect. If the person who determines your playing time and ultimately your career tells you to hit a certain way….you listen.

          • Theboardrider

            I think they can have an effect some of the time. But I think more often than not a player is either his own best friend or worst enemy. When guys do poorly we always want to blame coaches and likewise when they do well. I just think generally more of the credit should go directly to the player themselves.

            Even in the Frey/Sandberg situation it was simply a suggestion on how to change his approach when being ahead in the count. Yes, it’s coaching but it was more of a cerebral thing. I guess I’m talking more about the practice and work that it takes to make changes work. A coach may make a suggestion but then it’s up to the player to make it happen. Rarely do you hear that a player and coach spent 2 months in the offseason together, 10 hour days doing drills and working on a technique. Coaching absolutely can help but it’s on the player to either improve, regress or stay the same.

          • cc002600

            disagree 1000%.
            Players mature and figure it out. How many times do you see a manager or hitting coach fired midseason, and absolutely nothing changes ? Happens about 99% of the time. I’m not defending Sveum, because he’s gone, and I could care less, but I’m not sure why you think he was all their problems over the last 2 years. They had zero talent.

            Look at guys like Goldschmidt Yadier Molina, McCutcheon, Votto, etc I could name a million of them. First couple of years nothing real special but then they break out. I’ll give you another name – Brandon Belt, he looks like the guy that will breakout this year. His numbers last few years were nothing special. VERY few guys come up and hit the ground running, it takes time. Which is why I kept telling you all winter to chill out on your criticism of Rizzo. The guy is 24 with about 1 1/2 years of experience. That is NOTHING. He will improve, there’s no doubt in my mind.

          • cubtex

            saw Belt here at Texas and he could always rake. You don’t get it. Rizzo has gone from an exclusive pull hitter to (so far) actually trying to go the other way. This is the 1st time he has noticeably tried to change. He has only 1 extra base hit this year. Look at his April last year. Different approach= Different result. We still have a long long way to go in the year but last year in March/April Rizzo hit .224 with 6 2B’s 8 HR’s and 20 RBI. To repeat in 2014 so far he has 0 2B 1 HR 4 RBI and is hitting .296. He is not swinging out of his A## so far this year.

          • cc002600

            Yes, I do get it.

            That’s why you don’t bury a guy after 1 year, like I told you all winter.

            And you say Belt could always rake ? Really ? Look at his numbers the first 3 years and tell me what part “rake” am I missing ? LOL

          • cubtex

            Maturation to go from a low average slugger who is strictly a pull hitter to one that starts to use the entire field? Really? Happens to everyone as they mature? I don’t want to list all the players to discredit that but to go back to Belt. 2012 was the 1st year he started. 2013 2nd half he hit .326 with a .390 OBP. He raked. He didn’t go from a .220 hitter to a .300 hitter. He hit .289 for the year last year overall! What is Castro doing this year? MATURING??? PROGRESSION??? LEARNING??? Hardly! Going back to what made him successful when he came up as a young and dumb 21 year old.

          • cc002600

            in 2012, Belt had whopping 7 HR, 56 RBI in over 400 AB’s. In 2013, he had whopping 17 HR, 67 RBI. if that’s “raking”, I’m missing something.

            Rizzo had 23 / 80 last year and all you did was tell us how much he sucked. Did he only hit 233 ? yes, but he will improve on that.

            And I wasn’t aware that only the 2nd half of the season counts, and the first half doesn’t. I love how you cherrypick.

          • cubtex

            This is the last I will say. I am just paying Rizzo a compliment that he seems to be FInally figuring out to use the entire field. Rizzo had 23 HR’s last year with 80 RBI while hitting under .200 with RISP. How many RBI did he leave on the table last year? A ton! He has a long way to go still. I would still take Cashner 7 days a week over Rizzo and twice on Sunday but I was trying to say it is nice to see a little different approach!

          • John_CC

            Nice compliment! lol :)

          • John_CC

            I certainly hope that Castro matures, i.e. focus on every play; progresses – continues to improve defensive fundamentals; and continues to learn.

            Because if he doesn’t then at best we have a SS that can hit .310 with little power, 100 strikeouts and fields his position at a .960% with 30 errors. Not the guy any of us hope he becomes. (But his stats from when he was 21).

          • Ripsnorter1

            You are not saying that you prefer a .296 hitting singles hitter who cannot drive in runs (4 RBI) over one who hits 6 HRs, drives in 20 runs though he hits .224, are you?

            We need a run producer from 1B.

      • cubtex

        It is an extremely small sample size but this is what Rizzo is doing with RISP.

        9 PA 7 AB 3 hits 3 RBI and is hitting .429

        He has only 1 extra base hit all year so far but I would rather see him understand what his role is at a middle of the order bat and drive in runs.

        • Theboardrider

          I was curious on that stat. Thanks for sharing Ray.

          Man we’ve been all over the same page lately! Kinda nice, eh? 😉

          • cubtex

            Starlin Castro RISP

            12PA 12AB 4 hits 1 2B 1 HR and 5 RBI hitting .333

        • No Baseball In Indiana

          This is almost a compliment to Rizzo. I’m screen capturing this Tex.

          • cubtex

            he is changing his approach. Got to call it as I see it.

          • No Baseball In Indiana

            Yeah. So far he looks like he’s taking what he’s getting and not trying to pull everything to the right side.

    • John_CC

      It is very nice to see indeed. And just think that only 7 days ago there people on here ready to cut them both lose… :)

      • Theboardrider

        So many definitive opinions came out after 2-3 games of the season. It was bonkers some of the stuff we were reading.

        Even last night, the offense wasn’t the problem. If that output happened for Shark or Wood we’d have probably had a win on our hands. Hopefully they’ve rounded a corner.

        • DWalker

          Still early, they have plenty of oppertunity to backslide. But yeah, last night is all on Jackson, and the worst part is, most of us expect it from him. Feel kind of bad for the guys who finally got their act together and jackson blew it for them.

  • John_CC

    There is a really good article at SB Nation, Beyond the Box Score from yesterday on the money aspects of the Cubs. I’m not sure if Neil approves of linking to that site or not so I won’t but it is a very non biased look at the financials of the Cubs, both income streams and debt problems.

    It is pertinent to the conversation we had last week about Ricketts announcing the minority share possibility. I recommend anyone interested to check it out.

    From the article:
    The MBA in me sees the Cubs poised to become the cash flow generator Tom Ricketts thought he was purchasing in 2009, but several things must occur–the Wrigley renovations need to begin sooner rather than later, the work of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer needs to translate into a winning team and the future revenue stream projections need to be essentially correct. Every item is achievable–the last remaining obstacle to beginning Wrigley renovations are the rooftop owners, most baseball experts agree the Cubs young prospects are prepared to be major contributors as soon as next year, and the revenue streams will follow Wrigley Field renovations.

    The wild card will be the debt load, since every penny of debt service is money that could be allocated to team operations. Tom Ricketts’ public acknowledgment of seeking minority shareholders suggests the financial strain on the team may be real and why the drop in attendance could be placing constraints on the Cubs’ ability to spend. If everything goes right, this strain could be short-lived–a successful team in a newly-renovated and beloved park could generate cash flow that would make Midas blush, but it’s not guaranteed.