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Northside Archives: The Lie Perpetuating The Myth

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You can hardly watch a national broadcast of a Cubs game without the incessant droning on about how Starlin Castro needs to tighten up his defense. For the Saturday Fox broadcast (Buck & McCarver) I think that’s the entirety of their scouting report on him. The ESPN Sunday Night team isn’t quite as bad, especially since after their montage of Castro’s most recent errors they then admit that he’s likely to become a better defender as he matures. Oh yeah, he’s 21 years old.

The Record
The Cubs are 16-24 when Castro registers an error. If Castro commits an error (even if it leads to a run) and the Cubs win, who cares? No harm, no foul.

The Losses
Of those 24 losses, 6 times we’ve been shutout. You can’t win if you don’t score, so what difference does it make if while being shutout Castro commits an error – or if his error leads to a run – we were going to lose anyway.

In 9 other losses the final score was a blowout (the Cubs lost by at least 5 runs). Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS notwithstanding, it’s basically impossible to have an error be the lone reason for such a blowout.

There are nine remaining losses of the original 24. Let’s deal with the easy ones first:

On May 11, 2010; May 26, 2010; June 26, 2010; and June 22, 2011 – in all four games Castro’s error did NOT lead to a run.

On May 10, 2010 he made three errors that led directly to one total run; the final score was 4-2. On April 24, 2011 he made one error that led directly to one run; the final score was 7-3. On June 15, 2011 he made one error that led directly to one run; the final score was 9-5. Maybe the first game ends differently, but the other two probably don’t.

That leaves only two games. The first was on June 10, 2010 – the Cubs had taken a 4-3 lead in Milwaukee, Castro’s sixth inning error tied the game at 4 and the Brewers went on to win in the 11th. The second was on April 25, 2011 – Castro made three errors in the same inning and the Cubs went from up 3-0 at Wrigley to a tie with the Rockies at 3-3; all the runs resulting directly from Castro’s errors. The Cubs lost that game 5-3.

The Damage
After nearly 250 games played, only 3 losses could be traced back to a Castro error. I’ll take that. He’s sometimes spectacular, other times he struggles with the routine plays – and no, you don’t want your defense costing you ANY games. But when you consider that he’s 21 years old and at worst his defense has cost us three games, I fail to see what all the griping is about.

Pena To The Rescue?
It’s been suggested (most recently by VFTB poster Randy) that Castro is benefitting greatly from a quality first baseman. Of course, this is essentially impossible to prove. There is no stat to track errant throws that a first baseman has corralled and in doing so prevented an error. Castro has committed 23 fielding errors, and 22 throwing errors.

His throwing errors breakdown as follows: four to Derrek Lee at 1B, three to Xavier Nady at 1B, two to Blake DeWitt at 2B, two to Jeff Baker at 1B, and seven to Carlos Pena at 1B. He also had one each to Micah Hoffpauir (1B), Mike Fontenot (2B), Darwin Barney (2B), and DJ LeMahieu (1B). What does that tell us? Not much – Castro is an equal opportunity offender. Half the time he’s fielding the ball poorly, half the time he’s throwing it away.

Of course it’s easy to watch the game and say that Pena saves the entire Cubs infield from errors that they probably deserve, and Castro is likely at the top of that list. But it’s impossible to quantify – at least until there’s a stat for “wins above replacement player as a fielder based on errant throws.” Pena’s a great first baseman, but so was Derrek Lee – and it’s not terribly fair to compare them to Baker, Nady, Hoffpauir, or LeMahieu since no one would argue that any of those guys is even an “average” MLB first baseman, especially defensively. The whole infield is better with Lee or Pena at first; to single out Castro as the primary beneficiary is to ignore that those other guys aren’t even adequate as first basemen.

But it’s certainly not as if Castro’s errors peak when the better defenders are on the bench (and even if you COULD prove that, you’d also have to allow for the possibility that Castro could be more relaxed throwing to a competent first baseman than he is throwing to some minor league backup or fill-in utility player – another valid argument which could apply to the entire infield).

Also missing in the Castro revile is any accounting whatsoever for the hits he’s saving for our pitchers. Even if one first baseman is routinely making Castro look good (which is actually part of the first baseman’s job!), Castro routinely makes our pitchers look good by stealing balls ticketed for the outfield.

The Pattern
If there is a pattern, at least a loose pattern, it’s that Castro’s errors come in bunches. He’s had 5 errors in four days, 3 errors in five days, 5 errors in six days, and 4 errors in three days all at different points. That’s 17 of his 47 errors coming closely bunched together (thanks in part to two horrendous 3-error games).

This is probably the reason that baseball announcers at large (Len Kasper and Bob Brenly are not exempt) have an ongoing narrative that Castro’s fielding is mostly poor on the routine plays. That is a narrative that caught on early when Castro had 5 errors by the end of his 5th major league game (including a 3 error debut at Wrigley). Unfortunately for Starlin, he’s had enough similar stretches to guarantee that the myth will continue.

Since June 23rd he’s had exactly 4 errors in four different games. That’s almost two months of baseball and the Cubs won three of those four games!

The Historical Comparison
Castro wouldn’t be the only young SS to start his career with a bunch of errors and eventually figure it out as he matured (I’ve specifically picked players who started young and managed to play full seasons early in their career). Castro had 27 errors last year, he’s got 20 so far this year:

  • Cal Ripken Jr. – as a 22-24 year old he registered 25, 26, and 26 errors. He was a rookie at 21.
  • Ernie Banks – as a 23-27 year old he registered 34, 22, 25, 14, and 32 errors. He was a rookie at 23.
  • Hanley Ramirez – as a 22-24 year old he registered 26, 24, and 22 errors. He was a rookie at 22.
  • Robin Yount – as a 19-24 year old he registered 44, 31, 26, 30, 25 and 28 errors. He was a rookie at 18.

There are others to whom Castro would not compare nearly as favorably, Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra both started their careers as very good defenders. And there are others to whom the comparison would be unfair, such as Derek Jeter whose range is generously described as mediocre (which in part explains his low error totals).

Why Does It Even Matter?
Maybe I should’ve started with this – even if Castro’s defense was as hideous as some have suggested, it’s not as if there’s a direct impact on the standings. This team is terrible; it’s going to be terrible whether Castro makes 3 errors or 33 errors. I’d much rather let Castro learn on the job with a crappy team, than suffer in the minors because there is some belief that his defense is inadequate. We’ve all too often left guys in the minors because of perceived shortcomings – or even sent them back down to let them learn another position. Now is the perfect time for the Cubs to have a young, supremely talented shortstop who possesses a correctable “deficiency.”

The organization is partly to blame – when your manager complains about a first inning pop-up that was bungled by your shortstop instead of focusing on the fact that the pitching was deplorable in a 9-1 loss, it kind of sets the tone for writers and analysts. If the manager is ripping him, there must be something to it, right? Uh, no…there’s not. Castro didn’t cost us that game, and his errors have largely been irrelevant to the final score.

Another Option
One final point – the Cubs have a TON of problems on the field and in the front office at this point. There’s no need to create another one, especially when there is no viable solution. Hak-Ju Lee’s departure in the Matt Garza trade left the minor league system void of anyone who MIGHT be a better defender at SS than Castro already has proven himself to be. Until Castro hits for more power, he seems ill-suited for a corner infield position. And I really hope that signing a free agent SS isn’t part of the plan for the off-season; but obviously with Hendry all things are possible, however improbable or ill-advised it might seem.

Lacking any other option, it seems foolish to suggest that the Cubs should do anything with Castro except run him out there every day to the same position and keep a watchful eye. If the defense doesn’t improve or gets worse, there might be reason for concern – in another 18 months. But the sample size is far too small, the player is far too young, and the Cubs are flush with too many other issues to worry about the one great thing they have going now.

  • Seymour Butts

    Nice!
    Hopefully in the future when we see or hear Gregg about Castro’s defence in the future we can all just give a nice Animal House Bullshit cough.

  • Aaron Yavelberg

    Really nice piece. Well-written, evidence to back up the arguments, not abrasive… just all-around nice work. Not that I’m a professional writer (or evaluator of writing), just saying how I feel.

  • chet

    Shortstop is definitely a key position on the diamond where defense is concerned. That being said, you are correct in asking the question “why does it even matter?”

    I ask myself this question during and after almost every post I write. The “real” problems are much larger and regard organizational philosophy like “why don’t we have any selective hitters?” etc, etc….

    On that topic, the knock on Javier Baez is that he has a bad temperment/attitude and he is not selective with his pitches and swings at just about everything. Awesome, sounds like Zambrano, Milton Bradley, and Soriano all rolled up into one!

  • Norm

    There is no way I can agree with the “it doesn’t matter” point you’re trying to make.
    I’m not worried about him as a shortstop and I wouldn’t be planning on moving him any time soon, but every error matters, and every play that he screws up on that doesn’t get recorded as an error matters.
    Making the Cubs pitchers pitch more is a BAD thing. Especially the Cubs pitchers, because they’re not all that good to begin with.
    Giving the opposition extra outs is ALWAYS a bad thing.
    He’s 21, I think he’ll improve, I’m not worried about his defense. But it’s a fact, he hasn’t been good so far. No reason to take it as a personal insult.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Norm, what exactly would qualify as “good?” How much better than Ripken and Banks are we expecting Castro to be?

  • lizzie

    Really good stuff, Jedi. My guess is that the visiting journalists don’t understand the organizational issues and the locals (at least those who are employed by or for the team) don’t want to address them. Castro’s sadly a very easy target and occasional scapegoat. And then people wonder why our young guys fail.

  • Norm

    I should clarify “No reason to take it as a personal insult.”…that’s to anyone who gets upset about criticism of Castro’s defense. It’s simply a fact. Nothing wrong with stating facts.

  • B_Rad13

    Just because your blog post is long and has multiple seemingly coherent thoughts, doesn’t mean that it’s not the dumbest commentary I’ve ever read. Errors don’t matter? That’s like saying it doesn’t matter that some homeless man peed in my Kashi Go Lean cereal, and I should still eat it because all the good fiber and protein are still in there.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Lizzie, the real shame is that the Chicago writers don’t always have a much more well-rounded perspective. The storyline about his poor defense is lazy and tired, and as Jedi has aptly shown above, not nearly the Cubs’ biggest problem. Castro’s hitting puts him in elite company. That his glove brings him back down to earth a little doesn’t make him any different than past HOFers at his position.

    Nicely done, Jedi.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Norm, I didn’t take it personally. After all, you’re criticizing Castro, not me. My self-identification with the Cubs only goes so far.

    And don’t think I meant my comment as more than a simple question. What do you think is a reasonable expectation for Castro, defensively?

  • Norm

    “Norm, what exactly would qualify as “good?” How much better than Ripken and Banks are we expecting Castro to be?”

    Are you’re implying Ripken was good those years he quoted with 25, 26, and 26 errors?
    Why was Banks moved off SS?

  • Buddy

    Of course errors matter, but I agree with Jedi’s overall point. As I’ve said before, even if he makes 20 errors a season for his entire career, that’s only one error every eight games. Not excaclty a catastrophe. Hopefully he doesn’t lose his great range and strong arm until he’s an old man (by baseball standards). Very well done Jedi.

  • Jedi

    Thanks everyone.

    Brad, I’ll allow your next bowl of Kashi Go Lean to exact my revenge.

    So Norm every error matters, does every ball thrown matter too? Does the length of grass matter every day? Sure all of this stuff can make a difference. It’s more than a bit dogmatic to say that unquestionably every single error always makes a difference. What about an error that is followed by retiring the runner with a DP? Or an error with two outs and the next hitter is retired on the next pitch? Soon you’re going to be pimping the idea that an error permits an additional hitter to come to the plate, making it more likely that the better hitters will get another chance at the plate. Does it happen? Sure…is it the “norm” – not at all. Sometimes the little things matter; other times – they are just little things.

    By the way, Castro is No. 3 in the NL with respect to defensive range factor. He’s 8th in all of MLB. So at worst he’s an average fielder – at worst.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Norm, I think you’d have to say Ripken was good enough–certainly those 3 mentioned above and a handful of other 20+ error seasons he put up weren’t enough to keep him out of the HOF. I can’t speak with authority on the possible reasons Banks was moved. But are you implying his glove was so bad the Cubs had to hide it at 1B, but not bad enough to keep him out of the HOF? That seems like a fine line to walk.

    Based on on the benchmarks set by his predecessors, I’m not sure what more I’m supposed to demand out of Castro’s performance. I mean, yeah–it would be great if Castro could field like Ozzie Smith and hit like A-Rod. But is that what we’re supposed to expect?

  • Jedi

    Banks wasn’t moved from SS because his defense was already bad on the field; he had his three best defensive seasons at SS immediately prior to his switch to 1B. 12, 18, 19 errors and then he was moved *(he committed 14 errors one year as listed above, but for 1/3 of that year he played 3B).

    As for Ripken, he won the Rookie of the Year followed by an MVP in 2 of those 3 seasons. So yeah, I’m going to say that even with his “high” error totals as you call them, he wasn’t anything close to a liability in the field (which is exactly what the Castro haters claim).

  • Norm

    Jeremiah – we’re talking about defense. Cal Ripken getting elected to the Hall of Fame does not mean he was a good defender those three years that Jedi mentioned.

    Jedi – Range Factor is basically obsolete. Take a look at Fangraphs UZR, Baseball-Reference’s Total Zone, and Baseball Prospectus’ FRAA. Those are much more telling of a players defensive value.

  • Norm

    Jedi, you’re under the impression that MVP voters took defense into consideration.

  • Jedi

    No, I’m under the impression that a defender as horrible as Castro is purported to be could not merit a ROY and MVP award in back-to-back seasons – for someone who likes to supposedly loves advanced metrics, you sure love to look at the error stat in order to glean the entirety of a defender’s performance.

  • Norm

    Actually no, I don’t use the error stat. You did in your article and I’m just sticking to it.
    As I mentioned in my previous comment, look at UZR, Total Zone, and FRAA. They all agree, Castro is pretty terrible at shortstop.
    That doesn’t mean he’s not a good player and doesn’t mean that I don’t think he’s a superstar in the making. He just hasn’t been good on defense up to this point in his career.

  • Jedi

    “Are you’re implying Ripken was good those years he quoted with 25, 26, and 26 errors?”

    Are YOU implying that Ripken was bad in those years simply because of his errors?

    Other than referencing your advanced metrics, you fail to produce any evidence that Castro is a terrible fielder. And there are just as many people who would toss those metrics out the window as useless (SEVERAL GMs have been widely quoted as indicating that so far there is not a single advanced defensive metric that adequately reports a players ability).

    Moreover, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, you continue regurgitating the same tired garbage about how Castro is a terrible fielder. It’s 3 games Norm, 3 games…get over it.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Norm, that’s why I keep coming back to the idea of good enough, which seemed to me to be a big part of the premise of Jedi’s post. Can’t argue the number of errors, but the impact as shown above has been minimal. And as you agreed, it’s reasonable to expect Castro to get better with time.

    And since I’m content with Castro’s good enough performance, my question to you was what it would take to consider Castro a good defender, based on what you said above.

    My gripe is that the dominant national and local storylines concerning Castro’s fielding are dishonest and skewed, since very similar performances from others were at least overlookable, and sometimes even award-worthy.

  • I sure didn’t think that would bring out the vultures…I liked your argument Jedi. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t pencil in very many people ahead of Cassie. We do need to work on a nickname for the kid though.

  • Jedi

    Just for you Norm;

    19 of Castro’s errors have seen the runner left on base. Another 6 times, the runner was immediately retired via double play. That’s 25 (over half his errors!).

    A further 5 times the runner was left on base, but a run directly or partially resulted from the error.

    So 17 errors in the span of two years have really caused trouble. That’s NOT terrible – not even 7% of Castro’s games played. And remember, this is all regardless of the final tally.

    Of his 47 errors, 28 have occurred with the starting pitcher still in the game. Only SIX times was the starter unable to complete 6 innings None of them the names you would expect: Doug Davis, Tom Gorzelanny, Ramon Ortiz, Thomas Diamond, and Rodrigo Lopez (twice). Seems to me that when Castro makes an error and we have a legit starting pitcher on the mound, the pitcher puts on his big boy pants and doesn’t make any excuses.

    Watching Carlos Marmol latest ninth inning debacle, it was easy to see it coming. He was primed to blow that save – and yet your precious Fangraph would suggest that the game was in the bag. Advanced metrics aren’t gospel truth, and Castro is a great fielder.

    I think the next level of evidence would be testimonials from the Cubs’ pitching staff about how their arms are managing to survive in spite of all the extra pitching that Castro has made them suffer through over the last two years.

  • Norm

    “Other than referencing your advanced metrics, you fail to produce any evidence that Castro is a terrible fielder.”

    How can I debate this? What you’re saying here is “Other than producing evidence you’re not producing evidence.” I’m producing evidence that you just don’t believe in.

    Off to catch the train!

  • Jedi

    jswanson – thanks…I think you meant vulture though, singular.

  • Jedi

    “How can I debate this? What you’re saying here is “Other than producing evidence you’re not producing evidence.” I’m producing evidence that you just don’t believe in.”

    So advanced metrics are the only way to prove anything?

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    jswanson’s right–Castro badly needs a new nickname. The problem is his name doesn’t shorten to anything workable. Star is just as bad as Cassie–maybe worse. The Dictator or The Embargo seem a little obvious.

    What about The Freedom Fighter?

  • Jedi

    It’s also very convenient that your advanced metrics can’t really be applied historically. There’s no scope of comparison.

    Ozzie Smith, for all his defensive wonderment, didn’t make the majors until he was 23. He had 25, 20, and 24 errors his first three years in the league. Not until he was 26 did he log fewer than 20 errors in a season. But you can’t compare him to advanced metrics, all you can do is compare him to the stats that are available. Is Castro even close to Ozzie? Nope. Is he a noose around the pitcher’s neck? Definitely not.

    One more thing about your advanced metrics. It’s great to incorporate more things into a stat, but there will also be stuff that’s left out. Like positioning, coaching, familiarity with pitchers, hitters…it’s more than reasonable to assume that over time, all of these things will make small differences in how Castro readies himself to field a ball. But none of it will be considered in an advanced metric – who is to say that Castro isn’t out of place a handful of times every year (for whatever reason) – that’s as bad as an error, sometimes worse. Things like that will come with time and he’s shown more than enough ability at SS to have earned the time it takes to improve.

    The mere fact that he’s IN the majors right now should tell you that he’s NOT a terrible fielder…it might take him some time to adjust, gain confidence, and build a rapport with his other middle infielder (he’s had a half dozen double play partners in less than 2 years).

    If you look closely (that’s heaped with sarcasm) you’ll notice that I’m not saying Castro is some preternatural ubertalented SS – I’m merely saying that it’s not like we have Jose Offerman over there booting every other ball that’s hit to him. Castro is average at worst.

  • Buddy

    Part of the problem is that we still don’t have a great method for measuring defensive value. The tools in 2011 are much better than they used to be, but we still have a long way to go.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Or if cultural and national accuracy are a priority, we could just go with the old Kirk Gimenez classic: “Dominicano!”

  • lizzie

    I like a simple “Stro”

  • Norm

    “So advanced metrics are the only way to prove anything?”

    What else can I do? You ignore the advanced stuff, you ignore the errors….where can I go? Fielding percentage?
    ——————————
    “Ozzie Smith, for all his defensive wonderment, didn’t make the majors until he was 23. He had 25, 20, and 24 errors his first three years in the league.”

    He also had 837 chances with those 25 errors. 831 chances with those 20 errors. And 933 chances with those 24.
    Starlin had 544 last year and 573 this year.
    1668 chances – 45 errors for Oz
    1117 chances – 47 errors for Starlin
    ——————————
    “One more thing about your advanced metrics. It’s great to incorporate more things into a stat, but there will also be stuff that’s left out. Like positioning, coaching, familiarity with pitchers, hitters…it’s more than reasonable to assume that over time, all of these things will make small differences in how Castro readies himself to field a ball.”

    I’ll say this about any stat, NO stat is perfect. Never said they were. But how do errors measure familiarity with different pitchers? Range factor measure that?
    Positioning WILL show up because it will give him credit for getting to the ball because he properly positioned himself. Or he positioned himself in the wrong spot and was unable to get to a ball an average fielder would.
    Sometimes the coaches move them somewhere, like on a shift, but like I said, nothing is perfect and those occurrences are rare enough to not make a big impact.
    ——————-
    “The mere fact that he’s IN the majors right now should tell you that he’s NOT a terrible fielder…”

    Don’t understand…all major leaguers are non-terrible? I think you know there are terrible major league defensive players.
    ——————–
    @Jeremiah: “And since I’m content with Castro’s good enough performance, my question to you was what it would take to consider Castro a good defender, based on what you said above.”

    Not leading the league in throwing errors would be nice. Making the play is great, but just make a good throw. Stop double pumping.
    When he does stop this, he’ll probably be a pretty good shortstop. But because he’s done it, he’s been bad defensively, compared to the average shortstop.

  • Jedi

    I never ignored the errors – I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time dissecting his errors. It’s called refuting, not ignoring.

    It’s telling that you think if I can’t live by the advanced metrics, I can never understand the value of players. That’s Billy Beane on steroids.

  • Jedi

    A familiarity with the way that a certain pitcher approaches a certain hitter won’t help the fielders? Come on, Norm, your argument isn’t even credible anymore.

    And you’re right, no stat IS perfect. Which is why I took the time to break down all 47 errors and their impact on the game. The EVIDENCE – not a stat – indicates that Starlin’s errors have cost the Cubs a grand total of three times (you could make a case that it’s really only cost them two games). That’s NOT terrible; it’s barely worth talking about…yet every time he makes an error we hear the same tired old story about the SS who can’t field.

  • Randy

    Whee more Castro apologisism. His range is decent and he has a good arm, I’ve heard those things before. So have a bunch of other bad defensive SS, can we please stop kidding ourselves? Castro is not in the majors due to his glove or arm, they are a liability at this point. No one here can argue differently at this point due to Jedi’s fact finding crusade. Can’t we just agree that he
    has great athleticism and the potential is there even if he hasn’t shown it yet.

  • Norm

    You’re dismissing (ignoring) them because they happened to get shutout, blown out, didn’t cost a run, or they won the game.
    That’s like giving Aram a pass for not hustling because he would’ve been out anyway, so who cares? No harm, no foul.

    “A familiarity with the way that a certain pitcher approaches a certain hitter won’t help the fielders? Come on, Norm, your argument isn’t even credible anymore.”

    I didn’t say it wouldn’t help the fielders. I’m sure it very well could.

  • Jedi

    Randy – I’m not sure I understand, do you not like the facts? Or do you have another interpretation? Because the narrative is that Castro’s defense is so bad that it’s costing us games…it’s simply not true.

    Norm – you again pretend as if Ramirez is the only guy in the league who dogs it on occasion, just like you pretend that Castro is the only extremely young talent to throw the ball away more than his team might prefer.

    Yes, I’m going to give Ramirez a pass since he’s the only professional power hitter on our team, since he’s had leg muscle ailments in multiple seasons – I don’t care if he dogs it to first base. Can you remember a time where Ramirez dogging it really cost the Cubs? I can’t…I can remember SEVERAL times where Soriano dogged it and turned a sure double into an out at second base…he doesn’t get a pass.

    Same thing with Castro…he’s an incredible talent, and if his average defense has cost us a few games, so be it. I’m not going to find the one thing wrong with our best players and gripe about it endlessly.

  • Norm

    “you again pretend as if Ramirez is the only guy in the league who dogs it on occasion, just like you pretend that Castro is the only extremely young talent to throw the ball away more than his team might prefer”

    What are you talking about? Where do you get this stuff from? I’ve never said or implied anything of the sort. and you say I’m doing it “again”???
    Where did I say Castro was the only young player to throw the ball away? Where did I imply Ramirez was the only one that dogs it?!?
    It frustrates me to debate wit you because you say I do things that I don’t, like this, and your previous post where you said: “A familiarity with the way that a certain pitcher approaches a certain hitter won’t help the fielders? Come on, Norm, your argument isn’t even credible anymore.”
    NEVER said these things.
    ———————–
    “I can remember SEVERAL times where Soriano dogged it and turned a sure double into an out at second base…he doesn’t get a pass.”

    But the Cubs won, got blown out, or got shut out, so it doesn’t count! FREE PASS!

  • Norm

    Good night! Argue with ya on something else tomorrow!

  • Eddie Von White

    It’s hard to come with a nickname for a guy who shows so little personality. He is emotionless. Any name ending in “ie” does not fit. I think Lizzie has the best idea – a simple “Stro” will do.

  • Jedi

    Every error matters, that’s where you started. You ignored the situations where Castro’s error was immediately followed by a double play, does that error matter? How? If it’s a reliever in the ballgame, how does it matter if he has to throw three more pitches and no runs score? There are a BUNCH of situations where errors, in fact, do NOT matter. Care to finally address that? To say you’re quibbling over the minutest of points is putting it mildly.

  • Wow, its hard for me to declare a winner. Jedi has a cool name and I am a huge Star Wars fan, but Norm was my fave character in Cheers…hmmm, close one.

  • Randy

    Jedi – I’m sorry, what? Your argument that Castro has only cost us three games is BS. You do not have the data to back that up at all. Errors extend innings, pitcher throws more pitches, other team sees more pitches, wind changes, etc, etc, etc. Anytime an error occurs it alters the course of the game in thousands of tiny minute ways, the facts you went and gathered are cherry picked to try and win an argument that never was an argument. You cannot argue you belief and in this case I think that is what we have here. Look, I get it, you love the kid, good for you. Let him defend himself with solid play, you don’t have to be a Castro apologist.

  • Jedi

    Randy, I hardly think calling him an average defender makes me an apologist. Please show me another game where Castro’s error made us lose a game we otherwise could reasonably have won. Just one.

  • Randy

    Jedi, I think you’re missing the point. In a vacuum Castro’s errors may or may not have had an obvious effect upon the outcome of a game. However you cannot make the statement that his errors did nothing at all, even if the error is erased on the next pitch leading to a double play. The path of the game has been changed by the error. Let me try to make an example for you, I’m on a trip, and I miss a turn. I quickly round the block and take the correct path. No harm, no foul right? But I have now used more gas, and the trip is taking longer. No matter how much I may try to justify it as a harmless mistake, whatever else happens on my trip is effected by that wrong turn. It works the same in a baseball game, an error always changes something about the outcome, and can even have ripple effects into other games. Because I do not have all the data, and neither do you, it is pointless to speculate or cherry pick data to try to prove the point one way or another. Even in games where it looks like a Castro error directly led to a Cub’s loss, it’s almost impossible to prove that the Cub’s wouldn’t have lost otherwise. This entire thing is silly, Castro is a talented, young hitter, who has the tools to be a serviceable SS. Unfortunately he hasn’t earned those defensive accolades yet. Oh and by definition you are a Castro apologist, this entire article, thread, and subsequent pesudo-argument demonstrate that. Let the kid defend himself with his play, you don’t need to defend him, we’re all excited to watch him play.

  • Jedi

    So we’re still at three games.

  • Randy

    I’m going to say we are at zero games, because it cannot be proven one way or another. Perhaps you just are not understanding what kind of actual impact errors have on a game. Castro launches a chilipepper over to first base and Pena has to leave the bag to get it. If there were two outs the inning was extended and even if the next pitch generates an out everything that happens afterwards in the game has been impacted. With less than two outs even if the next pitch generates a double play, it is still one more pitch thrown from the streach, a fast ball that would have been a slider, a sign stolen, we could go on and on. Heck even of it’s already a blowout it means more time on the field, greater fatigue, worse sunburn, etc. You cannot downplay something like an error by parsing a
    few stats then justifying it as youthful inexperience, he doesn’t get a free pass.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Randy, I think what you’re describing is called the Butterfly Effect theory. I never saw the Ashton Kutcher movie–was it good?

  • Jedi

    I thought it was a “choose your own adventure novel” he was describing.

  • Well, I still like Castro. Sure, he commits too many errors, but when was the last time the Cubs had a shortstop this good? I’m sure there have been better fielding shortstops, but hitting does count for something, does it not?

    At least he is not throwing the ball into the stands on a regular basis, THAT drove me nuts!

    I still think of him as Superman (even Superman has his kryptonite…routine ground balls, batting third).

  • Eddie Von White

    Randy’s right.

  • Norm

    “Randy’s right.”

  • Doc Raker

    Nice work. For all the upside Castro brings I always thought his errors were not a big deal, thanks for confirming.

  • Jedi

    Hey Doc, when does your LL team play again? You had me interested with your summary the other day.

  • BLPCB

    Not going to read through 50+ comments, but did it ever occur to anyone that making an error requires that the fielder got to the baseball, unlike a certain player in the Bronx who everyone hails as this generations fielding wizard because he makes the highlight reel on SportsCenter? Maybe Castro makes a lot of errors because he gets to a lot of balls?

    Also, I think we should get a piece from Doc about his team, if it hasn’t been done already