Joe Maddon and the Cubs are going for it.
There's no more grace period with regards to development, no more preaching patience with guys who are underperforming.
Maddon proved that again Friday by filling out a lineup against the San Francisco Giants with Addison Russell at shortstop, Chris Coghlan at second base, Kyle Schwarber in left field and Starlin Castro on the bench.
The Cubs activated Miguel Montero from the disabled list Friday, meaning he and veteran David Ross are healthy enough to handle a large portion of the catching duties. Which means Maddon needs to find somewhere for Schwarber to play to get his bat in the lineup on a daily basis.
"Schwarber is obviously swinging the bat really well and so is [Coghlan]," Maddon said. "Just trying to be creative keeping the bats in the lineup right now. I told Starlin: It's not a day off. I want him to understand that up front.
"It's something that's going to be considered daily. I did not give him any promises regarding how he's going to be utilized other than just to stay ready off the bench. I didn't want to give him any kind of false promises whatsoever.
"He can be playing tomorrow. I'm not sure yet. I want to see how it plays today, but I wanted to be up front with him and let him know it's not a day off."
Again, this isn't Starlin Castro getting benched, necessarily. Maddon and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein drove that point home before Friday's game at Wrigley Field. They both acknowledged that this particular lineup is for Friday's game and everything will be evaluated on a daily basis moving forward.
Maddon also made sure to explain that this move isn't just because of Castro's rough season (.236 AVG, .575 OPS), but more a testament to just how good Schwarber and Coghlan have been at the plate.
"Schwarber is the impetus regarding this maneuver right now," Maddon said. "More than Starlin. We have to include Kyle right now. Then the next guy you have to include is [Coghlan]. You've got to based on their performance and our lack of offense."
As if to prove Maddon's point, Schwarber doubled into the gap in left-center in the first inning Friday and Coghlan immediately drove him home with a single through the infield.
That being said, Maddon admitted if Castro was playing up to his usual standards (career .278 AVG, .716 OPS), he probably wouldn't have been the one forced out of the lineup.
"I've defended this guy. I really like Starlin a lot. I think his work has been great," Maddon said. "He's done some really good things for us, even recently.
"But we're presented with a new set of circumstances based on personnel and you can't look away. None of this is punitive by any means. It's just trying to help us win today's game."
This unconventional move comes in the middle of what may be the Cubs' biggest series since 2009, with a four-game set against the Giants, the team they're currently battling for the second National League wild card spot.
Maddon wasted no time in yanking starting pitcher Jason Hammel from Thursday's series opener, replacing the veteran with nobody out in the fifth inning despite the fact Hammel had only given up two runs.
Maddon has the pedigree to make bold moves, as a two-time American League manager of the year who kept the small-market Tampa Bay Rays in contention season after season.
Epstein said Maddon does speak with the front office before making big moves, but that the celebrity manager also has freedom to go with the flow and "feel" of a game in progress.
"It's that time of year, no doubt about it," Epstein said. "The position that we're in, the manager has to have the unfettered ability to put the team on the field every single game, every single inning that he thinks puts the club in the best position to win.
"...This isn't a permanent thing or anything like that. It's just a recognition of where we are in the standings, how many good options I think we have with the players we have returning now and it's a nod to Joe's ability to push the right buttons to put the best lineup on the field on any given night."
Even with Montero back, Maddon said he does still want to fit in time for Schwarber at catcher. But he said there's no talk of moving Castro around the diamond right now.
Maddon talked with Castro before Friday's game and liked the way the 25-year-old shortstop handled the news.
"Very professional," Maddon said. "He listened, understood, he was not upset. I'm sure he's disappointed, but he was very professional about the whole thing."
Is Maddon concerned about losing Castro emotionally?
"There's always that concern and that's why you have to be two things - careful and honest," Maddon said. "You can't be cavalier about making moves like this and when you do, you have to be up front with the guy you're doing it with.
"You don't paint any kind of obscure picture that he has to read between the lines. You be very up front about it. He's a man. He can deal with it. We'll be better for it. He's going to be better for it, too.
"So yes, you're always concerned about the emotional component, but at the end of the day, it's about the Cubs winning."