Starlin Castro pulled after his mental error allows a run to score

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Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided to remove shortstop Starlin Castro from the game after he forgot the number of outs in the top of the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Matt Carpenter hit a lazy fly ball to shallow left field where Castro ran it down. As he casually slowed down, Jon Jay on third base noticed his lackadaisical nature and raced home. Castro’s throw home was too late as the Cardinals went up 2-0.

Before the top of the sixth, Sveum told Castro to hit the showers. Donnie Murphy moved from third base to shortstop and Cody Ransom entered the game playing third base. The Cardinals would tack on two more runs that inning on a two-run home run by catcher Yadier Molina, upping their lead to 4-0.

It’s been a tough year for Castro. Playing for one of the National League’s worst teams, he is having his worst season by a mile. His adjusted OPS of 71 is well under his previous career-low of 100 (also the league average) set in his rookie season in 2010. According to Baseball Reference, going by WAR, Castro has been the third-least valuable position player for the Cubs with -0.5 WAR, ahead of only Brent Lillibridge (-0.6) and Scott Hairston (-0.6).

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.