Castillo to get knee scoped; Theo talks 'evaluation'
It’s always an eventful day on the Cubs beat, and today is no exception. We had both Theo Esptein and minor-league chief Jason McLeod talk to us on the field today. We’ll get to a few things here on the blog and flesh more out for the paper tomorrow (online tonight).
The one major news item is that catcher Welington Castillo had an MRI on his right knee this morning and that it revealed a partial tear in the meniscus and that he’ll have arthroscopic surgery. Theo said that, conservatively, the rehab is a 4-6-week process, so Castillo should easily be good to go by spring training barring any setbacks.
As far as the managerial tempest goes, Theo didn’t want to discuss it much more than he did with us in Milwaukee earlier this week. But he did say speculation arises because “we answer questions honestly.” As you recall, Theo did not give manager Dale Sveum a vote of confidence earlier this week, saying only the Cubs would evaluate everything and everybody after the season.
“Unless you have one of those years where almost everything goes right and your players develop the way you want, then you have to go through an evaluation process,” Theo said. “We wouldn’t be doing our job if there wasn’t an evaluation process. Unfortunately, and I totally understand it on your end (the media’s), it became a story because we answer questions or we try to.”
For whatever it’s worth, Theo and Dale had a long and amicable-looking chat behind the batting cage during batting practice today.
When Theo was asked about the possibility of the Cubs hiring Yankees manager and former Cubs catcher Joe Girardi, he replied: “He’s with another team. We would never comment on something like this. That question’s borderline disrespectful.”
I believe that Sveum deserves a chance to manage the team next year, given the job he’s done with two of the worst rosters in team history.
Jason McLeod said shortstop Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks were on their way to Chicago and will be on hand at Wrigley tomorrow to be honored as the organization’s minor-league player and pitcher of the year, respectively. McLeod reiterated that Baez would open next season at Class AAA Iowa and would play shortstop. He said the third-base, shortstop, second-base trio at Iowa would be Christian Villanueva, Baez and Arismendy Alcantara. Baez is not going to play in the Arizona Fall League, as GM Jed Hoyer revealed yesterday.
On Villanueva, McLeod said: “He quietly had a hell of a year.”
As far as third baseman Kris Bryant goes, McLeod said it’s to be determined whether Bryant opens next season as the third baseman at Class A Daytona or at Class AA Tennessee.
On disappointing former No. 1s Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson, Jason said each will “take a step back” this winter and will have a lot to prove next year. Vitters will move to left field, as Theo Epstein said earlier this week.
“Obviously it’s been a disappointing year for them,” Jason said. “They’d be the first ones to tell you that. For us, organizationally, it hurt us not having those guys ready to help us this year.”
As far as today’s game goes, Scott Baker pitches for the Cubs against Paul Maholm and the Braves, who have a magic number of 2 to clinch the NL East. If the Braves win today, they will have to wait to see what Washington does in its night game at home against Miami. If the Braves win and the Nats lose, it’s all over.
This will be Baker’s third start for the Cubs since his long rehab from Tommy John surgery. He is 0-0 with an 0.82 ERA. IN 11 innings, he’s given up 5 hits and 1 run.
“He’s done well,” Sveum said. “He pitching obviously with not quite with the velocity he did prior to the surgery, but he’s still pitching the way he pitched. He can get popups. He pitches north and south. He’s still got that last little life on his fastball when it’s getting to the plate.”