Through Both Lenses: Spraying To All Fields II

Posted: July 12, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Columns, Sports, Through Both Lenses
Tags: , , , , ,

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
twitter: @MRubio52

Let’s just get this out-of-the-way now. It absolutely chaps my ass when people make fun of anyone who struggles with English, especially when you can tell the person is seriously working on improving their English. Melky Cabrera got it on twitter a little bit after his interview on Fox and MLBTV.

He speaks some English, but needs an interpreter. Big fucking deal. Yeah, he’s been here for 10 years, but it’s not like he doesn’t speak ANY English, he just doesn’t feel comfortable enough in his ability to handle the language to speak it on a live broadcast to 10 million fans. Is it really that outlandish that he would prefer to speak through an interpreter? I know that if I lived in Germany for 10 years I would still request an interpreter for interviews and the like. I’ve found that if you really want to get great content, you have to make the person being interviewed as comfortable as possible. It’s obvious that his handle of Spanish is much better than his English skills, so wouldn’t it make sense that he’ll give you better content speaking his native tongue?

Starlin Castro redux

It seems that I could run a variation of this sentence every week, because for some reason a certain section of Chicago baseball fan refuses to see the improvement that Starlin Castro has made mid-season afield and in the batter’s box. The pitcher’s have repeatedly adjusted to Starlin Castro as the league has more tape on him, and he’s been adjusting back in a lot of ways. The questions about Castro are still legitimate, but instead of seeing an improvement in the player, certain radio personalities and fans refuse to acknowledge that fact and are deeply entrenched in the camp that only recognizes his flaws. Let’s run down the list:

  • He doesn’t walk enough – I agree. Starlin’s OBP and walk rate saw a mini collapse early in the season. At one point his errors doubled his walk total, 8-4. That’s just awful. However, why would you work around Castro carefully when you have the likes of Ian Stewart and Joe Mather hitting behind him for protection? Pitchers have attacked Castro, and he’s had to learn how to adjust to that. If you look at his splits you can see his boom months and his bust months. It sure looks like he’s on a downward trend by month, but look at the numbers over the past 28 days. 6 BB’s in 90 PA’s is an improvement. Now, it’s a tiny sample, but it’s something to be optimistic about heading into the second half. His walk rate is trending upwards as he makes the adjustments back to the league.
  • He makes too many errors – I loathe the error statistic. In the era of evolving statistics, we still live in an era where people rely on the simple ones to prove larger points. Yeah, he made a lot of errors early, but since then he’s improved in that department as well. Errors are in line with last years error count, but his fldg. percentage improved, his range factor improved, and above all, he looks more comfortable out there. He looks like he’s covering more ground, he looks like his throws are better, he looks like his footwork is better, he looks more comfortable at short.
  • Where’s his damn power? – His slugging percentage is down, but it looks like he traded some doubles for HR’s this year. He’s on pace to hit 14 HR’s as a 22-year-old. In the Majors. As a shortstop. Who’s main tool is the hit tool. Now, I don’t think he’ll ever hit over 30 HR’s, but mid 20’s isn’t out of the question down the line. The canned response to this is that he isn’t physically growing anymore so how can he develop more power? It comes with knowledge of the pitchers as well. Reps are important, and he’s getting his early developmental reps at the major league level.
Look, narratives are fun, and they can be a useful crutch. Above is the canned narrative of Starlin Castro. People won’t enjoy him until he becomes equal parts Ozzie Smith/A-Rod/Nomar/Jeter. That won’t ever happen. He is a kid that can hit. That’s it. He’s flashing improvement in his game even as the league has figured him out a bit. He’s still learning, and it’s showing in the results. I just wish more people looked instead of going off early season struggles.

White Hot White Sox

Heading into the second half, perhaps now is a good time to say I was wrong. I had this team pegged for 80 wins, and it’s still possible that they collapse and hit that mark, but it’s gone from likely to unlikely over the course of a season. I blame Alex Rios and his “every other year is good” bullshit act he likes to pull. And De Aza. That guy…

It’s the White Sox division to lose at this point, they have the second best run differential in all of baseball, a solidifying starting rotation, a bullpen that is requiring less heartburn medication by the day, and a really solid lineup. Konerko/Dunn/Rios/Youk is better than Miggy/Prince and friends. Now, Verlander is still the king pitcher, and it all depends on what the Tigers do at the deadline, but you know what, I think the White Sox might just pull this off.

I’ll save my Kudos for Kenny until after the season, but start getting excited Sox fans.

Summer Cultist

I’m a devout summer cultist, which expands far beyond the constrains of simply enjoying baseball. For me, baseball is love and life, but I’ve said that already. No, I enjoy it all, the summer grilling season is by far my favorite cooking time of the year. When you attend a cookout with a skilled grill master tending the meat, your nostrils get it first. I know that when Raul is working it, I can almost taste the meat as the spices hit the air and permeate his backyard, then the smell of meat hits and it’s a wrap. I love that smell.

If anything, the All-Star game is a brief pause at the midway point of Summer. It’s a gentle reminder that our time in the sun is halfway over. The days are getting shorter and our time with this baseball season is shortening as well. There’s more behind the season than there is in front. As a baseball fan, that fact cuts both ways. The baseball is going to get better as certain races start coming on down the stretch, but I know that it’s going away soon, and the sentimental bastard in me can’t help but look at the finish line.

It’s going to be exciting, in Chicago and in a host of other cities.

  • Will the Nats pull the plug on Stras? – Yeah, I think so. Whatever they decided was the innings cap should be the limit. They’ll have to be careful from here on out so they don’t ride him too hard. The White Sox pulled a good move with Sale, they are picking spots to skip him. I think the Nats are going to have to consider doing the same thing soon.
  • Will the Tigers bounce back in the second half? – Yeah, but I don’t know if it matters. The White Sox are a good team, and I think they can hang with the Tigers step for step. It would take a white hot stretch for the Tigers to wrestle the division away. If they get a decent starter, like Garza, then I can see the scales tipping in their favor, but as is, I don’t think they have enough.
  • Will you stop using lists in these posts? – Probably not. I like them.
  • Will Rizzo continue to hit in the second half? – Yeah, but don’t lose your shit if he slumps. It’s baseball, players have bad stretches. I believe in his bat, and he has a lot of acumen at first, which surprised me. I can see him having a really good career down the line.
  • Will the Red Sox make the playoffs? – No. I’m going to say no. I say the Rays and the Tigers are the two Wild Card teams. I don’t like this Red Sox team much. I don’t like the manager, I don’t like the pitching staff, I just don’t like it.
  • When will the Phils compete again? – I would say not soon. Old team got really old really quick. They’ve been bit by the injury bug and that offense is just awful. I think the window has closed shut on them and it’s got the alarm armed.

Baseball season is half over, that’s a blessing for certain Cub fans, but I’ll miss it when it’s gone. The Bears will take over Chicago soon and I’ll go back under my baseball rock for a moment and become a total meatball Bear fan (LINE STUNTS!). But for now, I’ll enjoy the summer while it lasts.

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