Sunday brunch blog: Castro, 'performance,' minors
MILWAUKEE – Realistically, there isn’t much Cubs manager Dale Sveum or the organization can do to make major changes on the roster at this point. Sveum talked after Saturday’s night’s defensive debacle of having “options.” There aren’t many, and in fact, the Cubs trot out their regular lineup for this afternoon’s series finale against the Brewers at Miller Park.
Shortstop Starlin Castro leads the Cubs with 4 errors, but he also has a 12-game hitting streak and a line of .304/.324/.478. (The Cubs are last in the National League in fielding percentage, and they’re tied with Washington for the most errors, at 15.) In talking about Castro’s defense, Sveum said: “It’s been very average. I’m sure he’ll tell you that. It’s been very average. There’s been some mental mistakes that you don’t get to see much, but we see them, I see them. You’ve got to overcome all that. You’ve got to start becoming that prolific defensive shortstop. It’s there, but it’s got to start happening on a consistent basis.”
Sveum also alluded to sending players to the minor leagues if they don’t perform, but it’s almost impossible to imagine either Castro or first baseman Anthony Rizzo being sent to Iowa. The Cubs simply don’t have anybody down there who’s better.
“Find options,” Sveum said. “If people keep playing like that, you have to find options. Get people playing time in Triple-A to figure this stuff out.
“That’s why I make statements like I did yesterday, about we’ve got to perform at the big-league level. There’s reasons why people play in the big leagues and have long careers, because they perform on an everyday basis. The reason why a lot of minor-league players … they can’t perform at the big-league level. They’re pretty good. They’re really good players, but you put the third deck on the stadium, something happens. We’ve got to obviously find that out and make people aware that there are things that can be done if you don’t start performing.
“You have to perform. The bottom line is you have to perform. Whether you need more development, you decide all those things.
“I don’t think anything is invincible if you’re not performing.”
In other areas, pitcher Matt Garza threw a bullpen session today that Sveum said “went really well.” He’ll go to Class AA Tennessee for a rehab start Wednesday.
From the game notes: Cubs starting pitchers have recorded an ERA of 3.19 in the first 16 games. That’s fifth lowest in the NL. The bullpen has a 5.31 ERA, second highest in the majors to Washington’s 5.33 … The Cubs are 17-for-115 (.148) with runners in scoring position … At Cincinnati this week, the Cubs will face Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and Mat Latos.
The Kane County Cougars took a doubleheader from Quad Cities, 7-3 and 4-3. Pierce Johnson was the winner in Game 1 as he worked 5 innings and gave up 3 hits and 1 unearned run. He walked one and struck out six. Rock Shoulders hit his third homer before hitting his fourth in the second game. Dan Vogelbach was 2-for-4 in the first game and 2-for-3 with a walk in the second game. Shoulders (.418) has a five-game hitting streak which he extended in the second game by going 3-for-3 with 3 RBI.
Class AAA Iowa lost 8-5 at Memphis despite getting 12 hits. Chris Rusin lasted just 4.1 innings, giving up 8 hits and 7 runs. Brian Bogusevic extended a hit streak to six games, going 2-for-4.
Ian Stewart continued his rehab stint by starting at third base. He went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. Stewart is 1-for-13 with 8 strikeouts so far at Iowa. The Cubs are in no hurry to bring him up.
Class AA Tennessee won its fifth straight, beating Montgomery 11-4 behind 13 hits. Dallas Beeler got the win, working 7 innings and giving up 4 hits and 4 runs. Arismendy Alcantara and Matt Szczur each homered. Szczur (.302) was 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, a sac fly and 3 RBI.
Class A Daytona lost 6-4 to Tampa. The Cubs have dropped three in a row. Ben Wells took the loss, working 6 innings and giving up 7 hits and 4 runs while walking one and striking out six. John Andreoli reached give times, going 4-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Jorge Soler extended a hit streak to nine games (13-for-33) going 1-for-4 with a walk, a double and 2 RBI.
Javier Baez had a sac fly, going 1-for-4. He’s batting .214.