Tagged: Starlin Castro

RELATIONSHIPS AT WORK

All kinds of rumors involving the Cubs manager search as of late.  I’m pretty confident that Rick Renteria has the best chance at getting the job.  I’m also still hoping that Mike Maddux would be put on the short list, but that is not looking very promising.

Regardless of who becomes our new manager, there are a lot of issues that he will have to address next year.  It seems to me that our chemistry as a team and the relationship between Theo & Co. and several players need to improve.  We don’t have that veteran presence and leadership in the clubhouse and that does hurt.  We have traded away most of our leaders or allowed them to leave via free agency under Theo & Co..

In addition to that, Dale Sveum didn’t have the best relationship with several players including Starlin Castro, who put up the worst numbers of his short career in 2013.  I know what it is like to go to work everyday and have conflict.  I’m sure that’s what was happening for several of the younger players in the Cubs clubhouse.

Where I work, I have a co-worker that is constantly making things difficult for everyone else.  I will call him, BIG JOE.  You never know what kind of mood Big Joe will be in when you go to work each day.  He constantly causes divisiveness between other staff members as well.  I think that may have been one of many problems last year with the Cubs.

Now I know my work is nothing like a big league clubhouse.  But personal relationships and being able to get along with co-workers(teammates) is important.  It makes for a better working environment.  Whoever the Cubs hire for their new manager, I hope he is able to address this issue.

We have several young players that are talented.  Hopefully, our new manager can unite these players into something more than a team.  My hopes would be a family like atmosphere in the clubhouse in 2014.  Something similar to the 1979 Pirates would be great, but we don’t have a 39 year old Willie Stargell to lead the team.

Just my thoughts for today.

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2013-2014 TO DO LIST

I do this every year.  I come up with a “TO DO LIST” for the Cubs.  Each year, I am a little ambitious in my list.  This year, will be somewhat similar.  So, let’s do this!

1.  The Cubs need to hire a new manager.  Some of the names that have been floated around are Dave Martinez, Rick Renteria, A.J. Hinch, Mike Maddux and Manny Acta.  I would prefer Mike Maddux, but I have a feeling the Cubs will go with Rick Renteria.  Just think, we could have had Ryne Sandberg a couple of years ago, but Theo & Jed went with Dale Sveum.  We see how that worked out!

2.  The Cubs have a lot of holes on their roster.  Free agency cannot fill all of them realistically.  Yet, there are some potential moves that could happen.
Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-soo Choo are both viable options to sign and become our new leadoff hitter.

3.  As much as I like Welington Castillo the idea of signing Brian McCann is enticing.  His bat in the lineup as a catcher would be an upgrade.  Yet, no matter if the Cubs make a big splash in free agency, we do not have the depth at pitching needed to compete with the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds in the NL Central at this point and time.

4.  Trade options.  Trading for David Price would cost the farm…..literally!  But it is an option.  Heck, trade Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler in a deal for him.  I know it would take more than just those two, but it is a start.  Don’t trade Javier Baez or Albert Almora though.  Those two have too much talent to lose.

5.  Stay patient and wait til our younger players arrive.  Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant all have high ceilings and are not that far off from playing in the big leagues.

Basically, the Cubs have a lot of money available to spend.  It’s hard to believe that the Cubs were 3rd in payroll in 2010 at just under $150 million.  Since then the Cubs no longer have to pay the huge contracts for Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Silva, Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee.  The farm system has been restocked with hitters at every level.  Pitching is still a little bit thin, but it is improving.  I truly believe the Cubs are not that far off from competing.  But it’s going to take some work.  The Cubs have too many holes to fill in free agency this off-season.  I say let the young players earn their way to the big league roster and get their feet wet.  Our infield could have Javier Baez at SS or 3B, Rizzo at 1B, Barney at 2B and Castro at SS or OF.  The outfield could consist of Almora CF, Bryant LF or 3B and Soler in RF.

Whatever decisions are made I’m still a Cubs fan.  First things first though.  Let’s hire a manager.  I want Maddux but am predicting Renteria.

MORE JUNIOR LAKE & MORE

I am feeling ecstatic over the arrival of this young man!  He is a breath of fresh air.  He’s making it hard for management to consider sending him back to Iowa when David DeJesus returns.  I’m betting he stays!

As I was watching last night’s game against the D’Backs, I saw something encouraging to me with Starlin Castro.  He struck out and hit his bat on the ground breaking it.  I normally don’t like players showing their frustrations on the field, but this was a little bit different for me.  Too many times this year I have felt that Castro was too indifferent or didn’t seem to care.  So, when he broke his bat last night I was happy.  It made me believe that he still cares and that competitive fire is still there.

Who’s next to get traded?  Soriano, Gregg, Schierholtz???  We will just have to wait and see.  I’m looking forward to it though.  The minor league system is getting rebuilt in a hurry under Theo & Co. which is a good thing.  We still don’t have an ace in the making in our system yet, but that could change soon.

 

WHAT’S HAPPENING

What in the world is going on this season with Starlin Castro?  I have watched the Cubs enough this year and I believe our star short-stop looks lost at the plate and lackadaisical in the field.  I don’t know if Theo & Co. have tried to change his hitting approach in order to draw more walks or if he’s trying to hit homeruns everytime up or if pitchers have finally figured him out and he hasn’t adjusted.  Whatever the case is, I am very concerned with his performance this season at the plate.  His defense has always bothered me.  I believe he is capable of much better play in the field.  His errors occur on simple plays way too often.  Whatever his problems are I want him to correct them soon.

The Cubs minor league system has me excited.  It’s mainly Daytona and Kane County that have the most talent, but Tennessee has a couple of players as well.  The number of players I have bookmarked on http://www.milb.com  continues to grow.  Two of those players have been chosen for the Futures game.  Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler are the two guys.  There is also a fan vote that could put Javier Baez on the roster for the Futures game as well.  

Maybe the upcoming All-Star break will help Castro.  I think he could use some rest.  I imagine the next month Theo & Co. will be active.  Kevin Gregg, Scott Feldman, David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz, Matt Garza and several others could be traded.  It will be interesting to see who gets traded and who the Cubs call up.  I’m betting Josh Vitters will if he can stay healthy and so will Junior Lake.  

Well, we finish our series with the Brewers today and then travel to Seattle for some West Coast baseball.  I’ll be up late tomorrow night watching the game against the Mariners.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

I was surprised last week with the Cubs first round pick of Kris Bryant.  After the initial shock of not drafting a Jonathan Gray I was able to look at Bryant objectively.  I really like what I see.  I believe he is a perfect #4 hitter in any lineup.  He has tremendous power and his strikeout to walk rate this year impressed me.  I truly believe he will end up as a corner outfielder for the Cubs.

Here’s a sneak peek of what the Cubs lineup could look like in 2015.

Leading off in CF-Albert Almora

Batting second at SS-Starlin Castro

Hitting third at 1B-Anthony Rizzo

Batting cleanup in LF-Kris Bryant

Batting fifth in RF-Jorge Soler

Batting sixth at 3B-Javier Baez

Batting seventh at C-Welington Castillo

Batting eighth at 2B-Darwin Barney

That could be our lineup in the near future.  There are other players that did not make this list such as Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur, Dustin Geiger, Arismendy Alcantara and Daniel Vogelbach.  I think some of these names will be on the Cubs roster and could even be starters.  I also believe that some of these names will be used in future trades.

Any way I look at the Cubs future I get excited.  I think our lineup will be in place soon.  We still don’t have the pitching I think we need to order to win a World Series, but we are on our way.

WHAT A MESS

What a mess that the Cubs have right now.  We aren’t going anywhere this year and probably not next year either.  We had the chance to deal Carlos Pena to the Yankees, but decided to keep the great fielding, power bat and .225 average.  Starlin Castro was railed on by Bobby Valentine on ESPN recently during a game where the young shortstop was lackadaisical on the field.   Veterans Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez have options for 2012 for $14 million and $16 million respectively.  That’s a lot of money for a couple of guys in their mid 30s.  Quade keeps getting ejected from games…6 for season now and it’s obvious that he is frustrated with this team’s performance.  The bottom line is that this team is a mess and it’s going to take a while to clean it up.

Now for the good news!  Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney seem to be a potentially really good double play combo for the next few years.  Andrew Cashner may be be joining the Cubs in September after suffering a rotator cuff injury in April.  Brett Jackson, Cashner, Chris Carpenter and Trey McNutt are some of our younger players scheduled to play in the Arizona Fall League this year.  Tony Campana has had a positive impact on the Cubs this summer and has a strong chance of making the team in 2012.  Tyler Colvin has been getting regular playing time and has hit the ball hard despite having a terrible average.  Matt Garza is pitching much better than his record would indicate too.

Even with all our troubles we have a lot to look forward to.  It’s just going to take a little time.  I hope the Cubs are patient and make the right moves with our players and future General Manager.

ANOTHER ONE SLIPS AWAY

Well, after taking a 4-3 lead in last night’s game against the Pirates, I really thought we were going to get a win.  Our bullpen has been one of our strengths this year in my opinion.  Some could blame the bullpen for being overworked, but closer Carlos Marmol didn’t make any excuses for last night’s performance.  I like that!

Still the Cubs cannot seem to put it all together.  Carlos Pena has been hitting homers left and right since the start of May.  Aramis Ramirez has been on a tear for about a month now.  Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro have been solid all season.  Our outfield has been plagued by inconsistency and injuries unfortunately and the same thing can be said for our starting rotation as well.  However, like I said earlier, our bullpen has been one of our strengths this year.  Unfortunately, they let one slip away last night.

Going into the All Star break the Cubs will be baseballs only team without a 3 game win streak this season.  That’s pretty sad.  It shows how inconsistent we have been.  Some of that inconsistency can be blamed on the large number of injuries we’ve sustained, but good teams have deep benches that pick up the slack.  However, even our bench players have seen time on the DL this year.  Both Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker have spent time on the DL this summer already and they are 2 of our better bench players when healthy.

When it’s all said and done, we just aren’t winning baseball games.  Our starting pitching is weak mainly due to injuries.  Our defense has also been a weakness, but I feel like it has improved some and we need that to continue.  Our bullpen is usually very good, but even they have bad games.  It’s everything combined together that is causing the Cubs to lose games.  Hopefully, we can turn that around after the All Star break.