By Matt Abbatacola–
CHICAGO (WSCR) – As I saw the lineup for Tuesday night’s game, it became clear to me that Mike Quade is going to continue to use another young player in a role he is not suited for.
He used pitcher, James Russell, as a starter because of an injury to Andrew Cashner despite the fact that he said. “in my heart of hearts”, he knew that Russell was best suited to come out of the bullpen.
Tuesday night, Starlin Castro, will bat third in Quade’s lineup. Castro may be a number three hitter eventually, but not now.
Castro’s numbers show right now that he should be locked into the lead-off spot.
As the lead-off hitter :
AVG .426 OBP .443 SLG .603 OPS 1.046 5 doubles and 2 triples
He has done that in 15 games with 68 at-bats – the most games played and the most plate appearances at any spot in the order. In those games, the Cubs are 8-7. For a team that is five games under .500, one game above is a significant difference. In victories, his numbers go up from there.
AVG .437 OBP .452 with 14 of his 18 RBI in those games
Ten of his season total 18 RBI have come from the lead-off spot.
The Cubs are 4-6 when he bats in the 2 hole and 3-8 when he bats in the 3 hole – where his numbers drop considerably.
Batting 2 :
AVG .256 OBP .273 SLG .302 OPS .575
Batting 3 :
AVG .182 OBP . 234 SLG .205 OPS .439
These numbers show me that the Cubs go as Castro, the lead-off hitter, goes.
When Castro doesn’t lead-off, Kosuke Fukudome is Quade’s choice at the 1 spot. Fukudome does have great numbers in the lead-off spot. They are not as good as Castro, but still great. The difference is, Fukudome is not an everyday player in Quade’s mind. He regularly sits against lefty starters. I won’t argue against Quade’s thought process there as Fukudome’s average drops 198 points against left-handed starters.
Fukudome can bat in the 6 or 7 spot – I don’t understand the shifting of Castro when 1) he is the best option to lead-off everyday 2) he is a young player who is a large part of the Cubs’ future. Fukudome will not be in a Cub uniform next year.
There are two things about baseball that I have observed this year. Ball players like consistency and consistency lends itself to confidence which generates success on the field.
I’m not sure there is another manager in baseball that would take an everyday lead-off hitter out of the lead-off spot that has Castro’s numbers and ability.
The good news is that the Cubs are only 39 games into the season – there’s plenty of time for Quade to get this corrected.
Last week, when Castro was batting sixth against the Cardinals, I asked Quade why that was … “Are you not happy with him batting sixth”? Replied the manager.
No, I’m not.