The other day in San Francisco Starlin Castro lost track of the number of outs and failed to complete the second half of what may or may not have been a double play. As you'd expect, Dale Sveum was quite unhappy about it.
"It's something that's obviously unacceptable at any time," Sveum said. "Whether we could have turned the double play is irrelevant to not knowing how many outs there are in the most important part of the game.
"These things have to stop happening or we're just going to stop playing [him]," Sveum said. "These kind of things are things my son does in high school — maybe."
Did Sveum consider benching Castro at that point?
"No," Sveum said. "I can't take him out. I'll have a good talking to him. It's the last straw. If he wants to play, he better start getting his head in the game, period."
It was Castro's second "brain fart" — as Sveum calls them — in the series. On Friday, the shortstop also tried to steal at the wrong time and didn't slide.
Based on these comments it's clear this type of thing has happened not once and probably not twice, but several times already this season. So what's the manager to do?
Rant Sports says the Cubs are handling Castro the wrong way. I'll only quote a little bit as the entire article is about the same thing.
I got on Mike Quade quite a bit last year, and this year I’m going to get on Dale Svuem. Stop calling out your ONLY star player in the media over mistakes!
I have issues with this comment. It's advantageous to a manager to call out his best player. It shows the rest of the team that even the best player has to keep his head in the game. I also argue that Starlin Castro is not the best player on the team, but that's another issue altogether.
Like this guy, I also disliked how Quade would get on Castro last season. It happened several times, but it was his first full season and I thought handling him in private, but also in front of the teammates would have been a better way to do it. At this point, I disagree. Castro has now been in the league for more than 2 years and while he's still young and still learning the game, he needs to be treated as if he's been in the league for 2+ years. If you aren't going to do that, at what point do you decide he's old enough to do so? Is it 23, 25 or 31?
I don't think age has anything to do with it. Starlin Castro remains the youngest player on the team, but he has more service time than Darwin Barney, Bryan LaHair, Steve Clevenger and Tony Campana. The only regulars with more service time than Castro are Ian Stewart, Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus. If you aren't going to take Castro's mistakes seriously, you cannot possibly take the mistakes of half of this team.
Sveum has a decision to make. Handle Castro as if he's been in the big leagues for long enough or handle half or more of this team by ignoring their mistakes. If the Cubs ignore his mistakes, we know exactly what will happen because we've seen it before. In a few years he'll keep making them and the fans will turn on him much like they did on Sammy Sosa and Carlos Zambrano. They'll complain that the Cubs never handled either of them correctly and so on and so forth.
Starlin Castro is an adult and he's been in the league for plenty of time now. At the end of the year he'll be eligible for arbitration and will begin to make millions of dollars. Now is the time to address his mistakes.
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