Starlin Castro loses track of number of outs

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Starlin Castro is the Cubs’ best player, but his rookie mistakes aren’t so endearing now that he’s in his third season.

With the Cubs up 2-1 in the fifth inning of Monday’s game and the Giants having the bases loaded with one out, Brandon Crawford hit a grounder to second baseman Darwin Barney. Barney made the throw to Castro covering at second, only to watch in dismay as Castro merely tagged the bag and started jogging off the field.

As it was, the ball was probably hit too slowly to be turned into an inning-ending double play anyway. Still, Castro almost surely would have attempted to turn it had he known the number of outs. His gaffe, on a play on which the Giants tied the game, earned him a disgusted look from starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, and manager Dale Sveum wasn’t all that successful in covering up his own disappointment.

In Castro’s defense, he has seemingly cut back on the mental mistakes this season. He probably made more than any player in the league last year. Castro is just 22 and still has plenty of room to grow. The Cubs, though, are likely to be awfully upset if anything like this happens again anytime soon.

Mets sign Matt Purke to minors deal

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The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.

Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.

While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.