Bricks & Ivy: Castro Fever Hits the Cubs

Bricks & Ivy: Castro Fever Hits the Cubs

Friday, May 7, 2010
5:52 PM

By Luke Stuckmeyer

Starlin Castro has been called one of the top 15 prospects in the Majors. The Cubs believe he's ready after hitting .376 in 26 games at Tennessee.

Remember Lou Piniella pointed out in spring training, "the great ones are ready at a young age."

Well, Castro is definitely young. We're about to find out about the other part.

He makes his Major League debut at the age of 20 years and 44 days. That makes him the Cubs youngest rookie since Oscar Gamble played his first game back in 1969. Gamble was only 19.

CSN Analyst Todd Hollandsworth believes that age is over-rated.

"Great players want to be challenged. Age does not matter at all. If a player is ready...a player is ready. Castro one of those rare players who's not defined just by his bat. He can change a game with his defense and speed," Hollandsworth said.

Over the last couple years, other young stars have thrived in Chicago. Gordon Beckham sparked the White Sox in 2009. Patrick Kane, Jonathon Toews and Derrick Rose were stars before they could even by a beer. It just seems that success happens a lot less frequently in baseball.

"There is a large part of the game that is played mentally. You can't get away with just athleticism. You have to understand how to play the game at the Major League level. There's no minor leagues for the NBA or the NFL," said Hollandsworth.

Castro isn't the only player who will have to make an adjustment on the fly. Ryan Theriot has to switch to 2nd base. Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker will have to prepare for roles off the bench. When he played with the Marlins, Hollandworth was replaced in the starting lineup by a 20 year old rookie named Miguel Cabrera.

"Theriot, Fontenot and Baker will all succeed in their new roles if they embrace it. If they look at this as a demotion, they will struggle. If they look at this as a challenge and as a way to improve the team, it can work."

So, get your 13 jerseys for the next homestand. Hollandsworth is wearing his lucky Cubbie Cufflinks. Now, let's hope its a lucky 13 for the Cubs top prospect.

Luke Stuckmeyer covers the Cubs for Comcast SportsNet. Follow him on Twitter @CSNStucky.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 32nd homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa victimized the Tigers pitching staff again on the next night, taking Brian Moehler deep in the 7th inning for a 400-foot solo blast.

The homer tied the game at 3, but the Cubs blew the lead in the bottom of the 7th when the Terrys (Adams and Mulholland) gave up 3 runs. The Cubs wound up losing 6-4.

The Cubs were putting together a really nice season in 1998 that ended with a trip to October. They entered the series with the Tigers with a 42-34 record, yet lost both games to a Detroit team that entered the series with a 28-45 record. The Tigers finished the season 65-94; the Cubs finished 90-73.

Fun fact: Luis Gonzalez was the Tigers left fielder and No. 5 hitter for both games of the series. He spent part of the 1995 season and all of '96 on Chicago's North Side. 1998 was his only year in Detroit before he moved on to Arizona, where he hit 57 homers in 2001 and helped the Diamondbacks to a World Series championship with that famous broken-bat single in Game 7.

Fun fact  No. 2: Remember Pedro Valdes? He only had a cup of coffee with the Cubs (9 games in 1996 and 14 in '98), but started in left field on June 25, 1998. He walked and went 0-for-1 before being removed from the game for a pinch-hitter (Jose Hernandez).