Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Say "Yes!" to Proposition Defense

Will pointed this article out to me today, coming from ESPN Chicago:
The Cubs have made nine errors in the first three games of spring training, but that fact hasn't upset Cubs manager Mike Quade the way it would during the regular season.

~snip~

Tyler Colvin and Blake DeWitt each have committed two errors. While Jeff Baker, Starlin Castro, Carlos Pena, Bobby Scales and Andrew Cashner have one error each.
Frankly, there are ominous clouds looming -- defensively -- for the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano has slowed considerable since his hamstring issues (thus his range is down); Starlin Castro has a combined 7,041 errors over the last MLB, winter league, and minor league calender year; and Aramis Ramirez continues to field third base with a bat instead of a glove.

HOWEVER: This team will not be this bad moving forward. In fact, there's every reason to anticipate ol' Starlin Castro -- still a very young man -- will blossom into a top-tier defender.

So it's right for Cubs manager Mike Quade to let these defensive gaffs slide -- but then again, what would he do? Resign at them? It's not like Quade has a choice whether or not to start Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, or even Starlin Castro. These guys have not only earned their roles from past seasons (or prospect status), but they are vastly superior to anyone behind them (with the possible exception of Marquez Smith playing 3B, who would still be a step down from Ramirez in all likelihood).

In the meantime, though, we should prepare ourselves for a general butchering of a season from the Cubs defensively, as per usual.

10 comments:

  1. I think they're making mountains out of molehills here. Maybe wait until two weeks from now and if they're still throwing balls away or getting handcuffed on short hops, then we'll start panicking hehehe.

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  2. Starlin Castro can't have 7,041 errors.

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  3. Phil Rogers actually said something smart today:

    "Starlin Castro had one of the Cubs' three errors on Tuesday, so people are talking about his fielding again. The one downside to his rookie season was 27 errors in 123 games, so there's plenty of room for improvement. But if you ask me, this is not one of the Cubs' problems. Factor in Castro's range and the plus arm that allows him to get outs on balls he gets to in the third-base hole and I'd argue he's actually a plus defender. I'd guess he'll make another 25-plus errors this season -- the total should slowly decline through the years -- and maybe one or two of them will cost Mike Quade games. But he'll make plays that win games too.This is what my eyes tell me, anyway. I tested my eyes against the defensive metrics tracked by websites like FanGraphs, and they largely backed up my beliefs. He was ranked 13th overall among shortstop regulars in Ultimate Zone Rating, sandwiched between veterans Erick Aybar and Marco Scutaro, and would have been higher if not for making more errors than anyone except the Nationals' Ian Desmond. Castro ranked fourth in FanGraphs' range calculation and 10th in its rating on turning double plays. And, yes, White Sox readers, Alexei Ramirez kicked his rear in every area -- second in UZR (to Brendan Ryan), second in range (to Cliff Pennington), seventh in turning double plays (with Pennington first and Ryan second). The bottom line is that Chicago has two good shortstops who should be in town for a long time -- a scenario that hasn't been in play since the Ozzie Guillen-Shawon Dunston era."

    He should be able to figure out release points and what not as he keeps getting reps at short.

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  4. @Kin: Yeah, I agree. We're like 3 games in -- nay, 3 exhibition games -- so there's little to worry about. We're not going to be the best defenders -- in fact, we've got a shot at being one of the worst -- but we won't be disastrously bad, just comparatively so.

    @Anon: :) Yes, I fully realize that. Like the master wordsmith I am, I was employing hyperbole.

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  5. Brad -
    How badly do you think Silva needs to pitch this Spring for Wells/Cashner to lock up the last two rotation slots? I know that the Cubs have said there is an open competition for those rotation slots, but I don't believe them. Mostly because Silva is being paid a lot of money, but also because they aren't a very bright organization.

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  6. Okay...after today's defensive fails and Silva blowing up...what do you think of the defense now?

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  7. @Eddie: Given today's tantrum, I think Silva has already lost the competition. Tomorrow, he will wake up in a Cubs-sanctioned crib and find himself in anger-managements classes.

    In all seriousness, I expect Wells to beat him, no matter what. I think Cashner has more of an uphill battle. But, if Silva implodes just one more time this ST (in his output, not even in a brawl), then it aught to be Cashner's for the taking.

    @Kin: I still think the defense will be among the worst in the league -- especially if Colvin displaces Fukudome in right -- but may improve as the season progresses (namely Castro and Colvin will improve).

    Soriano and Byrd are a year slower -- and Byrd is a huge regression candidate. Add in that DeWitt and Soto have never been defensive wizards, and POW! The team us suddenly one big Konerko Cocktail.

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  8. With all the passion in my heart, I hope that Fukudome convinces Quade that he is an ideal leadoff candidate and much better option in RF than Colvin.

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  9. Convince him? Frankly, Quade should retire if 'Dome's last three years don't convince him enough. He's got a good OBP and he runs the bases well.

    For the Cubs, that's phenomenal.

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  10. You assume that the Cubs operate through logic and intelligence. I fear that you are mistaken. I hope that I am the one who is mistaken about you being mistaken. I doubt anyone fires Quade for not batting Fukudome leadoff.

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