Upon reviewing the tape from Sunday night’s game against the Cardinals, manager Mike Quade has decided to give shortstop Starlin Castro a “mental day off” against the Braves on Monday.
In truth, it’s a benching.
Castro has been accused of a lack of focus several times during his age-21 season, and ESPN focused on it a couple of times last night, once pointing out how he had his back turned as James Russell was delivering a pitch.
ESPNChicago has the quotes:
“I was really disappointed and surprised, very surprised,” Quade said after watching the video of the game. “But it’s something from Day 1 focus-wise. It’s something, to be honest with you, that he has to work on. With his talent, that’s the toughest challenge for him.
“It’s simply not acceptable, not good. He feels terrible. I talked to him today, and we are giving him a day. After seeing last night, you have to make his concentration a priority. Getting him to concentrate pitch to pitch. He can do it, and we think he will. And we’ll make sure that happens.”
Castro figures to be back at shortstop tomorrow, and he’ll remain the Cubs’ shortstop long after Quade is gone as the team’s manager. Still, it seems like the right call from Quade here. For all of his talent, Castro still needs to have a few lessons pounded into his head.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.