Castro In the Bottom Half of the Order? Darwin Barney Better than Ryan Braun? Volstad for the Win?

Some tidbits for the day…

  • Yesterday, Dale Sveum called Starlin Castro a 6th or 7th spot hitter in a good offense.  He has a point…for now.  The 22 year old Castro doesn’t take a lot of walks, does not stretch out many at bats, and is very aggressive at the plate.  That being said, Starlin has all of the makings of a very good number 2 hitter, as he can make good contact, runs well, and has shown he can drive the ball a little bit more.  Remember, Starlin is still developing.  As he does, he will hit for more power, and if he gains the patience to be more selective and drive his pitch, he could be the answer in a number of spots in the line-up.  Sveum’s comments probably

    Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune / July 30, 2012

    were not meant to be as critical as they may have been taken, as much as they were meant to be a reflection on where Starlin Castro is in his development.

  • I saw an interesting stat yesterday, which basically explains the subjectivity of some advanced metrics.  The WAR ( Wins Above Replacement) of 2B Darwin Barney is a very strong 4.6.  That of Brewers’ LF Ryan Braun: 4.5.  This is not to suggest that Darwin is a better player than the reigning NL MVP.  That is a silly statement in nearly every respect.   The only area where Darwin Barney is a clear upgrade over Braun is in his infield defense, where Braun was a disaster in his rookie year.  It does, however, go to show that when comparing players, some metrics are better left to compare players at the same position.  If Theo Epstein called Milwaukee and said, “Straight up, Darwin Barney for Ryan Braun,” the answer would be a clear “click” of the phone being put down followed by the dial tone.  All of this was spurred by ESPN’s Keith Law’s belief that Darwin Barney is not an everyday second baseman.  While I very much respect Keith Law and his opinion, I disagree with him on the prospect that Darwin Barney is not an everyday second baseman.  Among National League 2B, he is comparable to other everyday players in offensive categories, and is outstanding on defense.  He leads MLB in fielding percentage among 2B, is 4th in range factor and tied for 3rd in double plays turned.  His errorless streak of 100 games is a franchise record, and is within reach of the 113 game National League record.   Darwin is in his second full season as a second baseman and in the majors.  He is also only 26.  He has shown a tremendous amount of growth in this season.  It seems far too soon to write off Barney as, not only an everyday, but All-Star caliber 2B in the coming years.
  • Chris Volstad starts for the Cubs tonight against the Astros.  He comes into the game with an 0-8 win-loss record and a 6.94 ERA.  He has not won in over a year.  But, tonight could be the night.  First, the Astros are horrible, especially on the road.  Second, the 6’8″ right hander has been much better since coming back from Iowa after the flurry of trade activity at the deadline.  He is 0-1 with a 3.46 ERA this month, with his loss to the Dodgers being a 7 inning, 2 earned performance in which the Cubs failed to bring their bats.  If Chris Volstad has a night similar to his last two outings, and the Cubs have any sort of offensive showing tonight, Chris Volstad has a good chance of ending a painfully long winless streak.
  • The Cubs face Lucas Harrell tonight.  Collectively, the starting line-up is 1-1…an Alfonso Soriano single.  Of all of the position players, the Cubs are 1-2, adding a Luis Valbuena strike out.  This proves to be one of the oddities of two teams in a complete rebuild…a large number of young players who have no experience against each other at the major league level.
  • Today, Dale Sveum said on Cubs Corner that he “would be surprised of Garza pitched again this season.”  The cramp turned discomfort turned stress reaction seems like it is worse than anyone led on, or the team is being overly cautious about Matt Garza’s right arm.  Considering the team is completely out of it, the caution is warranted.  There is no sense in exposing his arm to significant injury.
  • First round pick Albert Almora was promoted to short season Boise, of the Northwest League.  He had started his professional career in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .347 with 1 HR and 13 RBI in 18 games for Mesa.

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