If you think this is going to be an anti-Starlin Castro rant, think again. I feel bad for the kid after his three-error game last night, and you can't blame him for the Cubs' 4-2 loss to the Marlins -- most of that comes from leaving two runners on in the second and the bases loaded in the fourth inning, when the Cubs could have scored several runs and given Ted Lilly a cushion.
Same old story, right?
Booing Castro after he made his third error and then let the ball sit on the ground while Hanley Ramirez scooted to second base -- what's the purpose of that? It's not going to help him; there's no question that he realizes what he did, after Lou called him into his office for a talk after the game. I've linked that Paul Sullivan article because it contains this quote from Alfonso Soriano:
Soriano, who had three hits and two RBIs, is putting Castro up in his condo for a while. He said he'd talk to Castro when they got home.
"It's part of the game," he said. "He plays very good defense, but I think he was a little nervous with his first game in Chicago. It's normal. I had the same game my first game in New York. I understand him being nervous, because that's the dream of every player, to be in the big leagues."
Although Soriano did make six errors in 15 games in 2000 -- playing third base and shortstop -- before being sent back to the minor leagues (not to be recalled until September), he didn't have a single game during that time like the one Castro had yesterday. (In fact, the first game he started in Yankee Stadium on April 12, 2000 was errorless.) The last young player I saw at Wrigley who had a game that bad in the field was someone who may eventually go to the Hall of Fame -- Roberto Alomar, who made three errors on April 29, 1989. (Check out the team error totals for both teams that day!)
So the question I ask in the headline to this post is rhetorical, rather than any sort of demand to have Castro be sent back to the minor leagues. Jerking him back and forth between the minor leagues and the major leagues at this point, in fact, might be more detrimental to his development. He's going to have days like this -- and he's going to have more days like last Friday, when he dominates a game offensively. He's going to make spectacular plays in the field, too, with his range.
I'm cutting Castro some slack here, and I hope fans will tonight at Wrigley Field.
Not so much slack can be cut for the Cubs' offense, which looked just about as bad as it has most of the season. They left eight men on base and as I noted above, could have broken the game open in the early innings.
What bothered me more than that was the clear difference in fundamental baseball that the Marlins showed. Forget about the errors -- Marlins pitcher Nate Robertson laid down two perfect sacrifice bunts, the second of which helped lead to a run and Marlins baserunning was outstanding. Cody Ross took advantage of Ted Lilly's attempted pickoff of Cameron Maybin to steal home and give the Marlins a two-run cushion in the seventh inning after Ronny Paulino, who absolutely kills Ted (now 8-for-16 lifetime with two doubles and two HR), smacked a ball into the left field bleachers just below us.
The Cubs dropped to five games under .500 for the first time since June 23, 2007 -- but on that day, they had defeated the White Sox to get to 34-39 and were on their way up. This five-games-under is definitely going in the wrong direction. Last night, of the 38,266 announced, maybe 28,000 were in the house -- and that isn't going to increase unless the team starts winning. With 12 NL teams still within 5.5 games of each other, it's not too late.
But it needs to start tonight.