Cubs fans, you’re doing it wrong: Redux

As I said on Twitter this afternoon, I long for the day when Cubs fans care more about how a player performs on the field than how hard he “tries” or how good he is to the fans.  It’s been a frustrating week to be a Cubs fan. First the majority of the fanbase, including several media members, decided that it was a good idea to pile on Starlin Castro after a momentary brain freeze (and yes, there have been many) this weekend. Today, the fan base is weeping copious tears over the departure of serviceable stop-gap player David DeJesus.

Hey Cubs fans, you’re doing it wrong.

I order you to give this kid a break.

I order you to give this kid a break.

David DeJesus was a nice guy who had a hot wife and did a respectable job of playing center field while some of the youngins develop. His career line with the Cubs (.256/.340/.402/.731) is hardly irreplaceable, and looks good only in comparison to his Cubs teammates.  The fact that his wife interacted with fans and Twitter and that he held some charity drives speaks to his qualities as a human being, but not to his worth as a player. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of loving Reed Johnson far beyond what his baseball abilities merit, but I’ve never described myself as “shocked,” “blindsided,” or “devastated,” when he was moved, as some Cubs fans did today over DeJesus.

And lest everyone wants to claim that DeJesus was a “seasoned vet” who “showed the young guys how it’s done,” I’ll just direct you to DeJesus’s comments earlier this season about the young guys needing to be aggressive early in the count. I was not pleased to hear that this is what DeJesus had been talking to the kids about, and I’m guessing Jed and Theo weren’t all that thrilled with his comments, either.

So thanks for your time here, David DeJesus. Good luck and all that. You seem like a nice guy and I hope you have a chance to win somewhere else.  See how easy that was?

This brings me to my real problem with a fair amount of Cubs fans: We are way to quick to latch on to “grinders*” and not nearly supportive enough of the players who actually produce on the field. And there’s almost no tolerance for young players who fans think have had enough time to develop.

Let’s consider Starlin Castro’s tenure with the Cubs. .Since 2010, Castro’s line (. 285/.324/.408/.732) has been better than DeJesus’ in all but one category: on-base percentage. Now let’s consider that Starlin Castro is 23 years old, as opposed to DeJesus’ 33 years, and that he may have had DeJesus whispering in his ear that he needed to be more aggressive earlier in the count. Which of these players do you think is still developing? Which player has a higher ceiling? Which player is  more emotionally fragile? Which player is far from his family in a country where he doesn’t speak the language all that well? And which player do fans decide to jump on?

Yes, Castro makes a lot of errors. He spaces out and makes boneheaded mistakes. No one disputes that. But when has Starlin Castro ever played in a game that mattered? And sure, you can say that if you got the chance to play major league baseball, you’d care about every single game and give 100% all the time, even at the end of September when your team was 50 games out of first place because you’d remember every minute of the day that you are just so-so-so lucky to have that job. You might even believe it.

I don’t care who you are or what you do. If you feel like you go to the office every single day and nothing you do makes a difference, whether you’re a movie star, a major league baseball player, or an accountant, you’re going to get demoralized. I’m demoralized as hell and I only have to WATCH the games. And I suspect even major league baseball loses its glamour once you actually have to do it day in, and day out. And when it’s all you’ve ever done, when you don’t know how much it sucks to do other things, do you really think Starlin Castro wakes up every day and thanks his lucky stars he’s a baseball player? Do you think other players do?

I’m not sure when Starlin Castro was assigned the burden of all our unfulfilled baseball hopes and dreams, but it’s unfair to expect a 23-year old kid to be the one to lead by example and show everyone else how baseball is played. For crying out loud, his brain won’t even be finished developing until he’s 25. Most other teams have older, wiser veterans to take on the “here’s how it’s done” role, but the Cubs suck, so they don’t have those guys. That’s hardly Starlin’s fault. It’s also not his fault that he’s wasting the best years of his life playing for a team that is still years away from competing. If I were him, I’d not only be spacey, I’d be downright petulant.

The Cubs are back in action at Wrigley tonight to take on the David DeJesus and the Washington Nationals. I’m sure DeJesus will get a huge cheer, but how about one for Starlin Castro, too? After all, if DeJesus has earned it, so has he.

Jeff Samardzija (6-11, 4.29) v. Jordan Zimmerman (14-6, 3.02).

Lineup:

Lake CF
Barney
Navarro
Schierholtz
Castro
Murphy
McDonald
Ransom
Samardzija

First pitch is at 7:05 pm CT on CSN

*Grinder: A not-very talented baseball player who makes fans think he is talented because he dives for lots of balls, crashes into walls, and goes into 1B headfirst. Usually small and white and hitting below his body weight. See e.g.  Theriot, Ryan; Campana, Tony; Fuld, Sam.

 

20 thoughts on “Cubs fans, you’re doing it wrong: Redux

  1. Doc Blume says:

    If anything, it’s Nationals fans who should be scratching their head here. I don’t see much of any way DeJesus will get playing time. The Nats have a full outfield right now. They basically acquired DeJesus to pay him his $1.5 million buy out next season. That’s it. He’s not even a platoon option for them.

    I don’t get it.

  2. Doc Blume says:

    Overall, DeJesus had an almost 3 WAR in his 1 3/4 seasons with the Cubs. That’s actually pretty good. That’s a little better than Starlin Castro over the same time.

    1. juliedicaro says:

      But that’s exactly my point. “Slightly better” than Starlin over the same period. And with 10 more years of experience and coaching.

      1. Doc Blume says:

        and about a 10th of the talent.

        1. Doc Blume says:

          Or so we are told.

          1. Dusty Baylor says:

            It’s a little better than Castro…because Castro is having a god-awful season. Castro’s WAR his first 3 seasons was 2.0, 3.2, 3.2….with a -.5 this year. DeJesus is a nice, solid veteran who can get on base a little, play all 3 OF spots, and is inexpensive with zero power.

  3. juliedicaro says:

    Eight runs?

    Woooooo. I’m going to schedule 7:30 meetings more often.

    1. Doc Blume says:

      See…David DeJesus was holding this team back.

      Good riddance to that clubhouse cancer.

      1. FrankS says:

        The Nationals have already placed DeJesus on waivers so maybe they have a trading partner already in place for him. If the Nats get more for him than Cubs got from the Nats, what does that say about our management team?

        1. Doc Blume says:

          Not likely the case…more likely is that the Nats put a claim on DeJesus when the Cubs put him through waivers and they didn’t expect the Cubs to actually follow through on giving him up.

          1. FrankS says:

            Don’t most teams put most of their roster through the waiver process on August 1st? This isn’t a waiver claim, it’s a trade. The Cubs are getting a PTBNL, though it is likely someone with little upside

            1. Doc Blume says:

              No…it was a waiver claim. The Nationals claimed DeJesus and then negotiated the PTBNL to complete the transaction. That’s how revocable waiver transactions usually work.

              1. Doc Blume says:

                I’ve also read that the Nationals didn’t expect the Cubs to accept the list of players they offered in the potential deal. I just feel kinda bad for DeJesus.

  4. FrankS says:

    People love to root for the underdog. We love it when a small school like Valparaiso or Butler does well in the NCAA tourney. And the same goes for individuals. We admire the people who work the hardest and get the most out of their talents. On the other hand, we look down upon people who appear to be squandering their gifts. Guess which category Starlin fits into right now.

    I still suspect he needs a prescription for Adderall. He definitely needs a mentor. So far the scrappy white guy manager isn’t working out in that role.

    1. Doc Blume says:

      One other theory is that Castro is just sick of being on a shitty team.

      He’s probably accustomed to winning ever since he was a kid and year after year after year of losing along with another season of teammates being traded away mid-year is probably making it difficult to stay motivated game to game…inning to inning…pitch to pitch.

      I know I’d be having a hard time staying focused in those conditions.

      1. FrankS says:

        You could be right. And Starlin isn’t the only Cub to make a stupid play this year. But for some reason he seems to have become the new lightning rod for Cub fan hate.

        Speaking of mentors, Ryan Theriot isn’t on an MLB roster this year. Perhaps he could be brought in as a coach? And, no, I’m not serious.

        1. Doc Blume says:

          On point 1, the reason he’s become a lightning rod is because the media has needed someone to pinpoint their focus on now that there is no one else left on this team. Also, as far as the fans are concerned, they say Javier Baez killing the ball in AA right now and are getting excited at seeing him.

          One other thing that may be irking Cubs fans is the fact that Castro has pretty much been a below replacement level player since he received that long term contract.

  5. dabirdguy says:

    I call bullshit.
    The kid has to FOCUS for considerably less than three hours a day for a little over 150 days a year.
    He only has to FOCUS while on the field and at bat.
    That isn’t that hard and for that he gets millions.

    And we should cut him slack because the team sucks?

    BULLshit.

    Yes, right now the games don’t matter. But the habits and demeanor he learns now will be reflected in the way he plays later, when it DOES count.

    The Cardinals had the same kind of player in Cory Rasmus. They shipped his lame ass out when he kept on messing up. Huge talent no head.
    THAT is what winning teams do when kids do not learn.
    Castro isn’t getting it, and he needs to go NOW before the rest of baseball figures that out and there are no takers.

    1. dabirdguy says:

      And Rizzo isn’t far behind on my manure-list. BOTH are regressing, not improving.

      1. Doc Blume says:

        Honestly, when you look at Rizzo’s collective work as a major leaguer (which isn’t very much) you really can’t say he’s regressed. If anything, you can say that Jed and Theo thought a little too highly of him (while other have thought he really wasn’t anything that special).

        Castro, on the other hand, was simply promoted too quickly. If the Cubs hadn’t sucked so bad in 2010, they wouldn’t have ever promoted him so soon. (Jed and Theo would never have moved him up to the majors that quickly.)

        When you look at comparable 20 year olds (and younger) who have been playing in the major leagues over the last few years, they were much more highly regarded prospects than Castro was. And they have had a far more impressive impact than Castro did when he was promoted.

        Perhaps now the Cubs are paying the price of rushing the kid.

        I don’t know…I’m grasping at straws right now.

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