The St Louis Cardinals received their World Series tittle rings on Saturday afternoon before facing the Chicago Cubs. Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum made it a requirement that the Cubs’ players watch the Cardinals’ players receive their rings. That was a classy move by Sveum. Say what you want about the Cubs and Cardinals rivalry, the players still respect one another. Though, when the Cubs are a team that is trending towards a youth movement, witnessing the ring ceremony could be a good experience for the young Cubs.
The Cubs already spoiled the Cardinals’ home opener and banner raising when the team beat the reigning World Series champion on Friday. The Cubs looked to play spoiler once again and rain on the Cardinals’ ring ceremony. Though unlike Friday, the Cubs’ offense was silent on Saturday as the team fell to the Cardinals 5 to 1.
Starlin Castro is one of the players that is being talked about after Saturday’s loss. Though Castro being in the new is for all the wrong reasons. The Cubs’ young shortstop committed two errors in Saturday’s loss to the Cardinals. Castro’s errors led to one unearned run for starting pitcher Chris Volstad, who gave up 4 runs in six innings pitched.
Castro’s defense has already been highlighted by many Cubs’ fans. The 22 year old shortstop is going to make a lot of money playing baseball, but the one thing that might be preventing Castro from making that step to being an elite shortstop is his defensive ability. It seems the common theme for Castro is saying that is a good player but he needs to improve upon his defense. If Castro improves upon his defense, then the opportunity would exist for Castro to be great.
The previous regime did not seem to offer much of a solution to Castro’s defensive struggles. Rather than working with Castro to fix his defensive problems, former manager Mike Quade would publicly criticize the young shortstop in addition to benching Castro for a brief stint during the latter portions of the 2011 season. The Jim Hendry led front office did not offer much help to Castro either. Rather the former regime seemed to be contemplating whether or not to move Castro to third base/
Under the Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod regime the idea of moving Castro to third base has been thrown out. Though, a potential move to second base has not been ruled out. Though, the Cubs are not close to reaching that point. For now at least, Sveum will likely continue to do what he has been doing since Spring Training. That is working with Castro on a daily basis, and developing a relationship with the Cubs’ shortstop. That is something that Quade did not seem willing to do.
Nonetheless, lets take a look at the game highlights.
What Went Right: Not much. The Cubs did not really put up much of an effort in Saturday’s 5 to 1 loss to the Cardinals. Though, both Castro and Alfonso Soriano had 2 hits with Castro driving in the sole run for the Cubs. Chris Volstad was solid for the most part, with the exception of the 4 run fourth inning. Volstad gave up 4 runs , 3 earned, on 6 hits while striking out 4 Cardinals’ batters.
What Went wrong: The Cubs offense. Other then Castro and Soriano, the rest of the Cubs’ lineup only had two hits. The team was a combined 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position while leaving 7 runners on base. The Cubs are not a team that is going to win a lot of games with their offense. If the Cubs are going to win this season, more times than not it will be because of the team’s pitching and defense. Though, it is impossible to ask for a team’s pitching staff to be perfect for the entire 162 game schedule. Marlon Byrd, who has contributed to the Cubs’ offensive struggles this season by only collecting two hits on the year, was 0 for 4 in Saturday’s game.
What was interesting: Not so much for this game, in overall, it is going to be interesting to see the contrast between the Cubs top half of their starting rotation and the bottom half. Starting pitchers Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, and Jeff Samardzija has put the Cubs in a position to win in their combined six starts this season. Meanwhile, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm have struggled. While Maholm has only made one start for the Cubs, Volstad has given up 6 runs on 11 hits in his first two starts this season. Maholm is making his second start of the season today for the Cubs after giving up six runs in his season debut against the Milwaukee Brewers last week.
The Cubs have Randy Wells and Travis Wood pitching in Tripe A- Iowa, and the pair of pitchers will not be with the Iowa Cubs for much longer if the bottom half of the Cubs’ rotation continues to struggle. Nonetheless, it still is too early to judge anyone’s performance this season.