— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 20, 2015
I’m sure there will be some blistering hot takes coming out of Chicago during that game. I won’t be around for most of it since ZOMFG I’M BUYING A HOUSE but I’m sure the world will continue to spin. What I did want to talk about before I go, and while munching down some Sun Chips, are a couple of Chicago Cubs who may not be receiving the most favorable of opinions right now. Let’s put things in context:
A is Anthony Rizzo, who, as many of us may have forgotten given his transformation into a badass, struggled in his call-up in San Diego before he was traded to the Cubs.
The other is the struggling Javier Baez, who is in a hell of a funk in spring training, seemingly striking out every other at-bat and just looking totally lost at the plate, even though he’s put together decent at-bats (does that make sense? It does to me) and continued to play good defense. I think he knows what he is supposed to do at the plate, but the body hasn’t caught up to the brain yet, or else the brain is sending too many conflicting signals and the body is confused. Baez is still a gifted athlete and he’s also very young, so there’s time for him to figure things out, but as John at Cubs Den (plus a host of others) surmised, he is more likely to get extra seasoning in Iowa than continue trying to adjust at MLB. I’m okay with either, but it does make sense from a roster perspective (h/t Brett at Bleacher Nation) to just give Baez extra time to work stuff out while not in the limelight, not to mention the opportunity to work with Manny Ramirez whenever he roams that-a-way.
Baez is currently receiving some pointers from a three-time Cubs All-Star, and you can actually read about that via Jesse Rogers and Cubs Den. And in case you were confused who I was talking about, it’s Starlin Castro:
Across the locker room, Starlin Castro, a man who knows something about trying to make adjustments, discussed Baez’ woes.
“I tell him to try and get his confidence,” Castro said. “Look for your confidence. No matter if you strike out everyday. If you find your confidence something good is going to happen because you trust yourself. I think he’s a little lost at the plate right now. I tell him to get his confidence back, and he’ll be alright. And don’t think too much.”
Baez is in the middle of a well-documented swing-and-approach change at the plate after striking out 225 times between Triple-A and the majors last season. He’s attempting some mechanical adjustments while simply hoping to swing at more pitches in the strike zone. The progress has been slow. Teammates like Castro have tried to give advice.
“You’re really late” Castro has told him. “You’re not going to hit a ball like that. Start early. We’ll keep talking, keep working.”
That’s the relevant part of an informative blog post over on ESPN Chicago, and as we said over on Facebook, it is reflective of good leadership by Castro to identify a struggling young player and offer his advice and support. “We’ll keep talking”…that’s huge, and I’m sure Javy appreciates it, as does the manager and the front office.
Then again, given certain comments in said Facebook thread, some fans might not believe that shows leadership. Others took it a bit further:
@ESPNChiCubs Starlin should focus on his own issues.
— Iowa Girl (@girl_iowagirl20) March 20, 2015
To that I say…ok, fine, maybe he’s not the greatest defensive shortstop in the world. Maybe he can’t hit homers like Alex Rodriguez did back in the day, or even the late Ernie Banks. But I don’t get the deal with crapping all over Starlin Castro like that. It seems unwarranted, and in between random hot takes from the late night loss against Arizona (where Castro made a couple hiccups behind Edwin Jackson‘s otherwise solid start), Castro has been fine at shortstop, and has been valuable to the franchise both in terms of the team-friendly contract extension and in his overall production.
For whatever reason, Starlin Castro continues to be a lightning rod for hot takes, and we can see this from his incidents in the Dominican Republic that eventually forced him to consider moving permanently out of his homeland. I don’t know what it is about him, but considering that he’s been a bright spot during a pretty bad stretch of Cubs baseball prior to now (we hope), similar to another former superstar, it just doesn’t seem fair, does it?