It’s official—after 17 games into his second season as manager of the Chicago Cubs, Dale Sveum has started to go insane. Can’t blame him. He kept his sanity longer than Mike Quade.
Demote Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo to Triple-A Iowa? According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, Sveum suggested that it’s a possibility. Despite their roles as the No. 2-3 hitters, Sveum demands better defense from both players. He wants both players to develop more consistency. Apparently, a trip down to the farm will help them.
Sveum must’ve been speaking out of frustration. Neither of those players would get sent down. It wouldn’t make sense.
According to The Cub Reporter, Castro has the right to refuse an outright assignment and elect free agency. Rizzo has an .842 on-base-plus slugging percentage (OPS). On Apr. 21, Rizzo and Castro combined for three of the team’s five hits. Rizzo was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer. Castro was 1-for-4 with a run.
Let’s assume that one of these players was demoted. Talk about a marketing nightmare. Imagine the puns that would come from a $60 million shortstop getting demoted to Triple-A—a $60 million shortstop with a .301 batting average and two career All-Star appearances before age 23. Even when they returned, many fans wouldn’t have as much faith in their potential.
Here’s what concerns me: these players do need to improve. But doesn’t Sveum believe that Castro and Rizzo can “develop” on the MLB roster? Why can’t Sveum and his cohorts figure out what’s wrong with them? Why send them down to Triple-A? They’re supposed to become MLB superstars, not Quadruple-A superstars. They need more at-bats and experience against MLB talent.
Now calm down on those empty threats. For Sveum, his responsibility is to get the most out of these cornerstone pieces. How Castro and Rizzo progress will go a long way in determining whether Sveum gets to manage Javier Baez and Jorge Soler when they’re promoted within the next two years.