Mike Quade calls out Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney after blowout loss

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Ryan Dempster lasted just three innings and allowed six runs in yesterday’s 9-1 loss to the Phillies, but afterward manager Mike Quade chose to call out the young middle infield duo of 21-year-old Starlin Castro and 25-year-old rookie Darwin Barney.

Castro lost a pop up in the sun during the first inning and even though Dempster allowed just two of his six runs in the opening frame Quade used that play as a launching point for what are clearly numerous complaints about the Cubs’ only All-Star and his double-play partner.

Here’s what the manager told Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago:

I needed to talk to kids in the middle of the diamond about that. We set a bad tone. [They] are communicating all the way. But I look back at this whole game and look at that play. The sun’s been in the same spot for however long Wrigley Field’s been here. Those are the kind of mistakes … there are some you accept. Others have to be taken care of.

Those are two talented kids in the middle of the diamond. We make enough mistakes. But it’s so important for those guys to play well in the middle. Everything goes through them, so if we’re going to be better at pitching, we have to be better in the middle.

After the game Barney took the criticisms in stride, saying: “I agree with him 100 percent.”

Still, with the Cubs leading the majors in errors and veteran first baseman Carlos Pena also committing an error in the same game it seems odd for Quade to repeatedly hammer on his 21-year-old shortstop. He’s been calling out Castro for various things all season and deserved or not publicly criticizing one of the few productive, promising players on a team that’s on pace for 98 losses seems misguided at some point.

Of course, if the Cubs don’t turn things around down the stretch Quade might not be back in 2012 and his relationship with Castro will be a non-issue.

Report: Giants showed some interest in Phillies’ Maikel Franco at Winter Meetings

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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Giants were “sniffing around” on Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco at the recently completed Winter Meetings.

Franco, 25, would be a nice buy-low candidate for the Giants, who don’t have a reliable third baseman yet. Currently, Pablo Sandoval would get the lion’s share of starts at the hot corner. Franco was a consensus top-100 prospect going into the 2014 and ’15 seasons, but hasn’t lived up to the hype over the last two seasons. In 2017, he hit .230/.281/.409 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI in 623 plate appearances.

Moving Franco wouldn’t necessarily solve any problems for the Phillies. After signing first baseman Carlos Santana, Rhys Hoskins is expected to play in the outfield full-time. As a result, the Phillies have too many outfielders with Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, and Aaron Altherr. Technically, the Phillies could move Santana to third base as he has experience there, but he hasn’t played the hot corner since 2014.

Franco is arbitration eligible over the next four seasons, which might be the most attractive thing about him to other teams.