Starlin Castro wasn’t the only member of the Cubs who made mistakes in yesterday’s loss to the Reds at Wrigley Field. In fact, the Cubs committed five errors for the first time since 2006. But the 22-year-old was the focus after the game.
Castro, who has a history of mental lapses, committed a fielding error on a slow roller in the top of the third inning and was involved in a baserunning blunder in the bottom of the sixth. The gaffe on the basepaths was particularly facepalm-worthy. After Castro reached on a bloop single that nearly got him thrown out at first base for making a wide turn around the bag, he lost track of the ball on a single by Josh Vitters to right field and was thrown out at third base after being deked by Brandon Phillips at second base.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum initially didn’t rule out the possibility of benching Castro to send a message, but he was back in the lineup this afternoon following a closed-door meeting. Sveum wouldn’t really disclose what was said, but veteran outfielder Alfonso Soriano also met with Castro and told Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com that the young shortstop’s brain still needs to catch up with his obvious physical gifts.
“It can be hard (to be so young), but we play baseball because we love baseball and that’s what we do for a living; that’s our career,” Soriano said. “We have to prepare 100 percent. Like I said to him yesterday, it’s not only catch the ball and throw the ball and hit the ball. This game is more mental. You have to prepare mentally and physically too. Not just physical. You have to prepare yourself mentally and all those little errors mentally cannot happen in this game.”
“He’ll be fine, but like I said, he needed motivation,” Soriano said. “He has to concentrate more on the game because it’s only a 3-3½ hour game. After that you can do whatever you want. You have plenty of time.”
Castro, who is now in his third year in the big leagues, entered play Saturday with a .275/.305/.417 batting line to go along with 11 home runs, 56 RBI and a .723 OPS. He is just 18-for-28 in stolen base attempts (his 10 caught stealings are tied with Willie Bloomquist of the Diamondbacks for the major league lead) while his 17 errors tie him with Dee Gordon of the Dodgers for the major league lead among shortstops.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.