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Wednesday

14

August 2013

68

COMMENTS

Chet Chat, Vol. 2 – Let's Discuss…..

Written by , Posted in General

I have three topics of discussion for this fine hump day.   I am sure there are varying degrees of opinion on each one and I am hoping we get to hear them all.  The first two are baseball related and the last one is not.  Here we go…..

Topic #1

I think we should trade Starlin Castro.  Now before you fry me for even mentioning this, take a few things into consideration.  First and foremost, I want to see Starlin do well.  The Cub fan in me wants Castro to beat all this negativity surrounding this season and come out a hall of fame player.   I am hoping he is just young….still, which in theory he is, but he is in his fourth season.  We are bordering on what might be called crafty veteran stage soon.

The realist side of me wants to break down Starlin as a player.  Lets start with defense, shall we?  The only two categories that have Starlin sitting atop the league are games played and errors.  His zone ratings are all in the negative.  His dWAR is negative, I know I am reaching here, but I wanted to try to find something positive about our supposed shortstop of the future.  It is almost impossible.  Some say he has improved….he has not.  Throw out all the wonderful stats and just watch the games.  The errors are still there.  The ball gets past him and sometimes he takes a rather pedestrian play and makes it, well, challenging.  It also seems to happen at all the wrong times.

Then he gets a bat in his hands.  This was a strength for Starlin but the strikeout totals and the walk totals are just two far apart.  Not too mention he swings at a lot of bad pitches.  Basically he is a free swinger who does not hit for power.

Yes, there is talent there but something is blocking it from shining through.  Is it his mental game? Is he not mature enough yet?  I don’t know.  Sometimes Starlin’s overall demeanor just strikes me as that of a student trying to get through a boring class.

I look at young shortstops like Jose Iglesias or Elvis Andrus and see an elite fielder with a decent bat.  Their fielding brings confidence and their bats are at the very least good enough.

The cupboard is not bare at Shortstop either.  The Cubs of yesterday did not have the depth that the Cubs of today have.  Sure this year is still a bit thin on Big league ready options but going into next year things could get interesting.  Theo and Jed have been stockpiling and Starlin may not be the only option in the next year or so.  If you need an example of trading depth look no further than Theo’s old team.  The Red Sox dealt the previously mentioned Iglesias to the Tigers for pitching.  Why would they deal such a bright young star?  Well, they have the number one prospect in baseball in Xander Bogaerts waiting in the wings!  This is what depth can do and the Cubs are going to start reaping the rewards.

The trick is, the Cubs must deal Starlin while he still has top value.  If he starts the season off hot next year…lets just say, if we are in the same position we are in now, then they should get what they can for him.  Don’t wait to sell at the bottom!!!  We have depth now!

Discuss…..

Topic #2

I found this while surfing the web today. Basically, it is a homegrown player roster for each team in the majors.  You probably guessed that the Cubs roster is pretty lean, thanks Jim Hendry/Tribune and crew.  It takes the best of every current player and puts him back with his original team.

Back to this depth concept, I kind of wonder what it will be like to be a Cubs fan and see more then one good option creeping up the minors at a given position, other then pitcher of course.  Will I be able to detach myself from ever seeing that player realize his potential in a Cubs uniform?  I mean, I really want to see Dan Vogelbach make the bigs and crush balls in a Cubs uniform, but I love Rizzo!  What will give in the end?  As I said above, Castro, for reasons of insanity apparently, had me at hello as our shortstop of the future.  Yet, what happens with Baez? How can you not want to see what Javier Baez can do?  Maybe Baez will be a third basemen but I have longed to see Mike Olt in a Cub uniform.  Also, don’t forget, Kris Bryant is looking like he is on the fast track to the bigs too?  There is only so much room in the boat. Some of these talents that we have been reading about and waiting on may never see Wrigley.  They may turn into a new starting pitcher or reliever.

It is better to have depth but it will take some getting used too.  Long gone are the days of sitting on Corey Patterson and waiting for him to blossom as our only outfield prospect.

Discuss….

Topic #3

I am a big Bill Simmons fan. I have been since he started his page 2 stuff for ESPN.  I am also a big Rockumentary fan.  Basically any Documentary on a rock band can suck me in for hours.  Talk about a time suck, sometimes I manage to stumble on a random “VH1 – Where Are They Now?” bit and can’t let go.  The bad part is that it usually doesn’t matter who they are featuring.

Bill wrote a rather long piece about the recent Eagles Documentary on Grantland. Here is the link.  Bill is leveraging his sports writing to breach other topics and music and entertainment are his big hot spots.  I read this whole thing.  I feel like I already saw the documentary it got so in depth.

I am looking for recommendations for Rockumentary’s …does anybody have a suggestion?

  • Sean Powell

    1. No – still has more value than most shortstops; he’s still young with room to grow; value won’t rebound to “sell high” status for awhile; on a team-friendly deal.

    2. I’m not sure what the question is…but I would really like to see all these homegrown guys in a Cubs uniform – but it just isn’t going to happen.

    3. Spinal Tap

  • Sean Powell

    1. No – still has more value than most shortstops; he’s still young with room to grow; value won’t rebound to “sell high” status for awhile; on a team-friendly deal.

    2. I’m not sure what the question is…but I would really like to see all these homegrown guys in a Cubs uniform – but it just isn’t going to happen.

    3. Spinal Tap

  • Cubs Future

    I for one would be open to trading Starlin, but definitely not at the moment because of low value. I think it all depends on Baez. Alcantara is a wild card, but may be better suited for 2B. Alcantara will probably get a chance at SS again in Iowa next year with Baez likely to start off in AA, but depends on how Baez improves defensively as to where he might go. 3B all of a sudden has some depth that doesn’t necessarily guarantee Baez to 3B as many suspected before all of these trades. Many people have felt that there has been way too much tinkering with Castro’s batting and obviously being the center of attention hasn’t helped. Not making excuses of course, but his career strikeout rate is more like 15% which is decent especially considering the strong possibility of 200 hits and 15-20 homeruns. SS is very weak as is 2B, so there has to be some team overpaying on the return to justify trading. Front office has been able to feel more comfortable considering how strong the farm has gotten. I mean look at what they got out of the rentals of Feldman and Garza and even what they got for Hairston. They could have traded DeJesus, etc, but they are holding on strong to what they want back.

  • I’ve had a long night and I hate the f-ing Eagles, man.

    • Seymour Butts

      Me too… especially with that dog killer at quarterback.

  • PLCB3

    I would have no issue trading Castro. Who says he has to be the one who stays in place of Baez, Olt, and Bryant. If all 3 of them can hit like MLB 3B, you find a way to keep all 3 on the team. Trade Castro, move one of them to SS, move one of them to the OF. If you can find a way to keep all 4 if they hit, even better.

  • Jedi

    The guy made 7 of his 15 errors in the span of 10 days when the entire planet thought his manager should’ve given him a day off. His 14th error earned him a day off finally. Since then (45 games) he’s made a single error. (Also funny you see no reasonable correlation between playing the most games-at SS no less-and making the most errors).

    New stats really haven’t changed anything either – people are still just as biased. If a guy that saberdorks love had a BABIP 70 points below what he’d put for two straight seasons, all we’d hear about is how unlucky the guy is and people would instantly be throwing another 70 points on his AVG to ‘normalize’ it. Castro hits 70 points below his established BABIP, and I’ve not heard a single soul come to his defense on the matter. It’s just agreed upon that (in spite of his BABIP numbers) he’s too undisciplined at the plate.

    Starlin has had a bad season – especially from May until Dale decided to sit him down for a game in late June. Glad we didn’t have to deal with the coaches forcing him to change his approach at the plate too…

    • Dusty Baylor

      Jedi I usually argue with you like cats and dogs it seems. but wow you wrote everything I was going to say.
      Well played

      • Jedi

        Thanks Dusty.

    • Dusty Baylor

      Jedi I usually argue with you like cats and dogs it seems. but wow you wrote everything I was going to say.
      Well played

  • fade67

    They should have traded hinm last year when he still had value. Pray to God he gets better so we can get something respectable in return.
    IMO he’s disinterested, lacks the motivation/work ethic, has off the filed issues and is not nearly as talented as Cubs’ fans think he is. He will never be a HOF-caliber player.

    • PLCB3

      Do you think he stopped caring after he got his contract?

      • fade67

        Not sure about that, but even when he was making the All Star team I saw signs I didnt like.
        I know it’s a bit cliche’, but like a guy that shows up early, brings his lunch pail, and turns off the lights on his way out. Castro doesn’t strike me as that guy. Frankly, his actions/sloppiness have me concerned about the effect he may have on all the younger players potentially looking to him as a role model. Again, just my opinion.

      • Dusty Baylor

        Well let’s trade every young, “not-HOF caliber” player I guess?

    • My bad guys…I prayed last year that Castro learned how to handle sunflower seeds better. I’ll redact that one to make room for any others.

    • Jedi

      So because he’s not HOF material we need to dump him? Have you looked at this roster? The Cubs have a hard time conjuring up an All-Star participant.

      And after you dump him, who are putting in there? A minor-leaguer? Gonna trade to get someone better than Castro? There are only about 5 or 6 guys who you could argue would be a definitive upgrade and I’d seriously doubt any of them are available.

      • fade67

        Honestly, I’m a big chemistry > talent guy.. I see Castro as a bad locker room guy that comes across as lazy and as if he could care less. Just my opinion.

      • Jedi

        Except there isn’t even the rumor of someone on the team and/or coaching staff who’s hinted in the slightest that it might be true.

        Aloofness (especially when you consider the cultural differences from how he grew up to how he now lives) isn’t a good reason to indict a guy.

        I love the notion that a lazy guy just happened upon an everyday spot on an MLB roster.

      • Sean Powell

        This is ridiculous. You value “chemistry” (whatever that means) over “talent” (however you’re defining it)? So, you’d rather have a bunch of guys that get along and lose than a team loaded with talent, but doesn’t get along? Plenty of WS champion teams hated each other. Besides, baseball is more about individual effort (they take turns batting, for crying out loud) than any other sport. It’s not like in football where an offensive line actually has too work together in the moment.

        Moreover, there’s absolutely no evidence that Castro is a bad locker room guy…and I think all of this talk of him being “lazy” is boderline racist. It would never be said about him if he were white.

      • Chuck

        I find it asinine that someone would drop the race card when talking about Castro considering a) is is, arguably, the Cubs best player, b) he has clearly regressed at the plate, c) he has not improved in the field, and d) at an age where he should be improving.

        Baseball is littered with players who peaked early then flamed out. It happens. Race has nothing to do with it.

      • Sean Powell

        Correct – sometimes players regress and don’t live up to their perceived potential. That’s valid. But calling someone a “bad locker room guy” or “lazy” with no evidence for either smacks of racist or ethnocentric thought, even if unintentional.

      • PLCB3

        Starlin Castro isn’t listed as black. He’s listed as Latino because he’s Dominican.

      • Sean Powell

        Your point?

      • Sean Powell

        Your point?

      • Eddie Von White

        You are being ridiculous. There are people from every race who fit that category in the locker room. You need to stop talking.

      • mrbig

        I find Major League Baseball itself completely racist, the white baseballs, white bases, and white foul lines, clear smacks of racism.

      • PLCB3

        Shut up Jesse Jackson 😛

      • AC0000000

        Shut up Jesse Jackson 😛

      • Sean Powell

        Correct – sometimes players regress and don’t live up to their perceived potential. That’s valid. But calling someone a “bad locker room guy” or “lazy” with no evidence for either smacks of racist or ethnocentric thought, even if unintentional.

      • fade67

        Thank you, Chuck, No race was intended, here. I just want to see more of an Andre Dawson type of appraoch than the sense of entitlement attitude he seems to display. Agaan, just my perception.

      • Eddie Von White

        The only racist thing I got from that is your comment. Race does not need to be injected in this discussion.

      • Sean Powell

        OK. Let’s take race and background out of it. Castro, who already has two all-star appearances under his belt and is a quality starting shortstop on an MLB team (at a very young age), is struggling at the plate this year. Yet, much (not all) of the conversation around Castro on blog comments, Facebook, and Twitter doesn’t center on his mechanics, approach, adjustments, health, etc…but on the fact that he is “lazy” and “a bad locker room guy,” when there is absolutely no evidence (as Jedi pointed out) from his teammates, manages, coaches, FO, or beat reporters that he is anything of the sort. So, where is all this talk of “laziness” and being a “bad guy” coming from? I’m open to ideas.

      • PLCB3

        Lackadaisical play, stopped caring after he got his contract. Has nothing to do with him being Latino

      • I wasn’t aware of that stereotype. I, personally, would prejudge a guy as lazy if he was pulling into the Taco Bell drive-through or rocking sweats at work. Stuff like that.

      • Dusty Baylor

        The “he doesn’t care” point….how do we know he doesn’t care? I don’t see that from him.

      • AC0000000

        Lackadaisical play, stopped caring after he got his contract. Has nothing to do with him being Latino

      • I wasn’t aware of that stereotype. I, personally, would prejudge a guy as lazy if he was pulling into the Taco Bell drive-through or rocking sweats at work. Stuff like that.

      • Eddie Von White

        I wouldn’t jump to racism. If memory serves me, Chipper Jones was criticized for much the same type things. Just saying

      • Chuck

        I base my opinions on the facts that a) He has clearly regressed at the plate due to being overagressive towards pitches out of the zone, b) he has had enough time in the majors to correct some of his hitting issues and become a better hitter and he has not, and c) he has displayed zero plate discipline improvement thus far in his career. I could care less if he is a saint or a jerk. I want him to be a good player. This has nothing to do with race.

        His defense has always been an issue, but that is what it is. I can live with sub-par defense (see Jeter, Derek) if he brings a big stick. Thus far, he does not.

      • fade67

        Sean,

        Regarding the “chemistry” comment, have you ever played an organized sport at the high school or above level? If so, you’ve probably had at least one jackass on the team who made it uncomfortable/difficult for everyone. That can suck for a shortened high school season, but think abotu how that would grate on you over 162 games. It’s just my opinion that having good “chemistry” is more important than potential HOF talent at one position.
        As for the race comment, all I can say is “wow”…

      • Sean Powell

        I totally believe that bad locker room guys exist (even though there’s no evidence anywhere, except anecdotal, that chemistry outweighs or affects actual performance on the field, but I’ll let that go for now), I just haven’t seen any evidence that Castro is one – not from his teammates, coaches, etc.. The only people who seem to think he is a bad teammate or lazy are fans on comment boards. Where is that feeling coming from? His performance? What he appears to be? I haven’t heard the words “lazy” or “bad locker room guy” thrown around about other players who’ve had disappointing seasons (Rizzo) or other players who just sucked and never approached Castro’s performance (Campana was always labelled a “hustle” and “heart” guy, even though he was terrible at everything except running in a straight line). Maybe we should question why we form an opinion about someone from afar when the evidence from those around him refute that opinion. Maybe something else is at play…maybe not. But it’s worth exploring, and it shouldn’t be something that’s dismissed offhand because it makes us uncomfortable. I’m sure, fade, that you’re a good dude, I have no reason to think otherwise, I just don’t know where the evidence to support your conclusion came from.

      • Eddie Von White

        Sean, you speak out of ignorance. No one on this sight as given even a hint of racism. You have read into these comments and expressed your predetermined conclusion that it can only be racism. It has nothing to do with being uncomfortable. That’s what we do here, we point out each players weaknesses and our expectations of Castro are so high, that when he fails to perform, he gets criticized. He’s been struggling a lot lately and so he’s being criticized a lot.

      • Sean Powell

        Criticizing Castro (or any player) for his play is obviously valid, as I mentioned before. I have no beef with criticisms of his approach, the way the coaches are changing things, etc., I just have a problem with unfounded attacks on character and work ethic. The minute Sveum or his teammates report that Starlin isn’t putting the work in, I’ll join the chorus. Here’s a great objective, facts-based analysis of Starlin’s struggles at the plate, and nowhere in the piece are the words “lazy” or “bad guy” used:

        http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20899

        I really wish it was possible that I conversation about how we perceive different players through differing lenses (including race, ethnicity, or country or origin) could be had without everyone defensively screaming “Hey, I’m not a racist!” Maybe we should all have a beer sometime and discuss it in person (we could have our own Beer Summit!). Actually, that’s not a bad idea – we should have a VFTB hang at Wrigley sometime….see, something positive could come from all this strife after all!

        BTW, I really appreciate everyone’s comments, and I think it’s stimulating when we can have differing opinions – it makes life much less boring. I think I stepped out-of-bounds and made a comment that was a little too personal, and for that I apologize. If I’m demanding that we limit criticisms of Castro to those that we can back up with evidence, I should have the same standard for my own comments.

      • Eddie Von White

        Sean,

        Since we’re not in Wrigleyville enjoying a cold one together, here’s my two cents worth. When you wrongly accuse people of being racist, you should expect them to scream “Hey, I’m not a racist!” I refuse to accept the premise that we are racists. When I go to watch a MLB game it will cost me anywhere from 600 – 1000 dollars for tickets, travel, etc. It’s usually about a 12 hour turnaround from the time I leave home until I return. We go to Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis when the Cubs are playing in those cities. I do not go so I can find fault with certain players. I do however, expect every player to run out ground balls, hustle, and have their heads in the game. When that doesn’t happen, criticism will follow. It was not too long ago, here on VFTB that Anthony Rizzo was the target of our disdain because of his bone-headed plays on the field. No one dropped the race card then. It seems obvious to me that in this day and age, race is not an issue with sports fans in the baseball world.

      • Joe Aiello

        To be fair, ML players play 6 and sometimes 7 days a week, travel at odd hours and stay in hotels the majority of the summer. They work long days. It doesn’t bother me if someone doesn’t run out every ground ball. Don’t you ever mentally check out at work when you’re mind and/or heart just isn’t into it that day? I know I do.

      • I think for that kind of money I could force myself to he “on” for the three hours per day that the actual game is taking place. I know they put in tons more hours than that what with pre-game stuff and travel and very few days off and blah blah blah and I don’t expect them to be my best friends in the airport or in a restaurant or even in the player parking lot. But they are being paid (VERY well) to play a game, the least they could do is play it with enthusiasm. (Not meant to reflect on Castro or anyone in particular just a general comment.)

      • Eddie Von White

        I’m gonna have to side with Lizzie on this one, Joe. Plus, they only work six months out of the year. If I am going to drop 1k to watch a game, I expect each player to put out at least 100%. Maybe my expectations are too high, but they are what they are.

      • Joe Aiello

        Where are you getting six months? February – October is 9 months. I just hate when people complain that professional sports players have it so easy. They work hard for the money they earn and they earn it because we’re dumb enough to pay it.

        I covered minor league baseball doing some freelance work. Even that is a long day. You get there 2-3 hours before the game to be able to get any interviews you need to get, stay for a game that could be 3+ hours and then have to go get more interviews after the game. Right there you’re at 8 hours and you still haven’t even written anything yet.

        What happened yesterday by Castro was a mental error and should not be excused, but to treat players like they are super-human and don’t have other things on their mind at times is absurd. Sometimes your head is not in it. Unfortunately for Castro, that seems to be the case way too often.

      • Can’t speak for other teams but the Cubs certainly never play in October, and pitchers and catchers report around Valentines Day. So I’ll give you a solid seven and a half. ❤

      • Eddie Von White

        I don’t consider pre-season, pre-game and post game time as work time, just like I don’t consider travel time to and from work as work time. Work time is when you are on the job. I consider the work year for baseball players April through September. If they go into the post -season, they are paid handsomely on top of their regular salary, so that would have to count as overtime.
        Compared to the average worker in the world, professional sports players have it easy. It would take me several life times to make what a star athlete makes in one contract period. No sympathy, empathy, or any pathy from me for their poor sorry souls. Play like your life depends on it!

      • PLCB3

        Even as fans attending the game, it can be a very long affair. You have to leave 3 hours before the first pitch, drive 45 minutes to the train station, wait 15 minutes for a train, take a 30 minute train ride, and then walk to the park. Coming home from last night’s game took me about 2 hours. It ended around 1215, got to the train station at 12:30, didn’t get a train until 1, got to the train station at 1:30, and then I had to drive 45 minutes to get home.

      • mrbig

        Losing games makes me uncomfortable.

      • PLCB3

        As Dennis Rodman, who should be appointed the Secretary of Keeping it Real, once said: “Chemistry is a class you take in high school or college, where you figure out two plus two is 10, or something.”

  • Doug S.

    If Castro had robot extendible arms, he just might contact some of those pitches he swings at. Drives me crazy, but I’m thinking No on trading him right now.

  • Eddie Von White

    I feel about Castro the same way I did about Shawon Dunston – high high hopes but I fear his career totals will be similar .My Starlin patience reached it’s peak last night after the other Starlin gave the Cardinals a win. Ugh!

    • That One Guy

      Dunston was better.

      • Dusty Baylor

        Dunston.269/.296/.416 OPS+89
        Castro: .286/.324/.409, OPS+ 98

      • That One Guy

        In an 18 year career, yes those are Dunston’s numbers. Bet your kid’s inheritance that Castro will not play 18 years. Castro has regressed to .246/.281/.341, so he is not exactly getting better. After 4 years, Dunston had 20 fewer errors that Castro and we’ve got 1/4 season to go.

      • Dusty Baylor

        18? Maybe not..but Dunston never drove in 83 runs…scored 91 runs, or had a 200 hit season.
        Castro is having…1 down season after 3 good seasons.
        Let’s not throw him away at age 23. If he struggles next year at the plate, I’ll start to worry.

      • That One Guy

        Has Castro gotten on base since we had this conversation?

  • SBardo

    1. Don’t sell him yet, he’s still very young in baseball terms. Defensive lapses wouldn’t be as much of a factor if he would hit like he did the last 3 years. He’s regressed a lot, but at his age he can still turn it back around.

    2. That roster is even more depressing than the current one.

    3. You should do your rockumentary on the latter days of the Rolling Stones. A chilling expose of the dangers of touring amidst rampant Botox use and incidents of random napping. Just imagining the sheer amount of Viagra that is consumed should horrify even the most jaded soul.

  • That One Guy

    1. I believe they should at least consider trading Castro. I remember a rumor that the Cubs could have gotten Justin Upton for him this past offseason? Surely there was more to that that a straight up but I am too lazy to look it up. There is a lot of infield depth developing int he system. Hard to believe that Casto was signed to a long term deal (Rizzo too)
    2. Not all of our prospects will work out and we have some positions that are paper-thin for prospects, but it is cool to think of all of the roster decisions that need to be made in the next 3 – 5 years. I wonder who will be the brightest star? I vote for Soler.
    3. I’m so confused.

    • Dusty Baylor

      Why is it hard to believe he was signed long term coming off of a season where he was 22, put up career highs in HRs, triples, steals, and an OPS+ of 103?

      • That One Guy

        Because they didn’t need to and there were warning signs (contact rate, attitude/hustle, fielding) that he may not be very good.

      • That One Guy

        Apparently, Dusty really likes Starlin Castor based on his comment history. Hopefully his faith is rewarded, but Castro’s season has been a disaster.

      • Dusty Baylor

        I like Castro just fine. I’m more against tossing aside 23 year old players like you’re suggesting. Castro had a horrific month of June. He’s had an overall down season. He does have a track record however, and he’s still got a 2-3 years until he hits his prime.

    • Dusty Baylor

      Why is it hard to believe he was signed long term coming off of a season where he was 22, put up career highs in HRs, triples, steals, and an OPS+ of 103?

  • fade67

    Another Castro snafu tonight. My beer league softball team has guys that want it more. I wasn’t a fan before (obviously), but what do you do with him? It’s almost becoming Marmol-ike, where you’re hoping he can turn it around only so you can get something decent in return for him.