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ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine Doesn't Care If Starlin Castro Faces The Outfield While Pitches Are Thrown, And Other Kubs Kulture Lunacies

His chat this week is just one more example of Kubs Kulture - it's not just the team that trafficks in it. Let's take a look.

Skysun Thomas: What are the chances of the Cubs getting rid of some players before the end of August?

LEVINE: Rid of, interesting way of putting it. Getting something back in return should be their objective. Would you like to get rid of Castro now? I love the fact that so many people have an opinion of this guy even though they haven't even talked to him. This is a quality young kid. He's 21 years old. What were you doing when you were 21? Think you made any mistakes. Thanks for letting me vent.


RHODES: Um, the question wasn't about Castro, Bruce, but let me vent anyway. Does a Cubs fan have to have talked to Castro to have an opinion about him? Does that mean only beat reporters are allowed to have opinions? We all saw the video.

Oh, and when I was 21 I was putting myself through college, working for the college newspaper as well as an off-campus job. I was also on the University of Minnesota's intramural championship softball team and let me tell you something: my mind was focused on every goddamn pitch.


Russell: Any chance of Bob Brenly becoming manager next year?

LEVINE: Not sure. Bob is a very good baseball man. But he didn't really get a lot of interest from teams last year for some reason. However Steve Stone is available. He's a very bright baseball guy and has been interested in seemingly every Cubs job that has come open.


RHODES: I don't know if Levine is being sarcastic about Stone, but Stone has clearly stated numerous times over the last few years that his neither interested in being a manager or a general manager. So Levine is seemingly wrong.


Darren: Castro looked bad and it was awful, no question, but didn't Bobby V go overboard saying Castro doesn't know how to play ML ball and is a cancer in the clubhouse?

LEVINE: Valentine astutely pointed out that Castro wasn't paying attention. He had the advantage of being 300 feet up but on ground level only Barney or Johnson or Ramirez would notice. When you're in the dugout you're not necessarily going to see that. This isn't Skokie youth league baseball here. I think a one-day benching and a fine is enough to get Castro's attention. Maybe he should be flogged with the noodle that used to be outside Wrigley.


RHODES: Um, you mean to tell me, Bruce, that the manager in the dugout can't see his shortstop? Shouldn't he be watching the game from the press box then? Of course he can see. And so can his first- and third-base coaches. And so can the players. And so can the fans, whom I will point out aren't 300 feet in the air either. Maybe you oughta go cover the Skokie youth league instead of the majors.

Besides that, Valentine didn't say Castro was a cancer in the clubhouse. He said this: "If those things are allowed to exist, then a cancer will form within the team."

Is he wrong? I mean, don't you think a player who is allowed to turn his back when pitches are thrown would create a toxic situation within a team?


Chad: With Quade's history of not playing a young guy in favor of getting wins (see Tyler Colvin), is there any real reason to bring up the obvious players from AAA like Brett Jackson here in September? What would be the point if they just get a spot pinch-hit or -run every other week?

LEVINE: That was former GM Hendry's point. If you bring up Jackson or Ryan Flaherty, the best thing to do would be to play them every day. Then it becomes chaotic for the manager who has to sit Byrd and Soriano. But in my mind player development comes first, but I don't have to deal with the millionaires who are upset with me except when I have to walk through the clubhouse.


RHODES: Okay, sort of getting the point, but in reverse. That was Hendry's point but Hendry was wrong. Your organization makes a decision and everyone has to live with it. Playing Reed Johnson - a better example, but Soriano works too because you can't seriously think he's gonna be with the team next year - over Colvin is inexcusable. Like Dusty Baker, Quade is playing out the string trying to win every game with his veterans instead of preparing the team's prospects for next year the way some other teams - such as Houston - are doing. The manager there, Brad Mills, is putting on clinics before each game, for godsakes.

Beyond that, though, what kids? They're all in Tampa.


Matt: Bruce, if the Cubs are going to shy away from the big free-agent contracts, who is the 1B next year? Hopefully not Pena, because then it is the same exact team on the field as this disaster season.

LEVINE: If Friedman is the GM he will let Pena go as a free agent and trade Garza. Kidding. Even though Pena has a low batting average there are other intangibles. Great defense is not to be underestimated. That depends on what he and his agent are looking for at age 34.


RHODES: Great defense is not to be overestimated either. John Dewan reports in his Stat of the Week that Pena is the "scoops leader" at first base thus far this year. Dewan notes, however, that Pena has mishandled nine throws from infielders this year - third most in the majors. "Pena has an 85% Scoop Percentage," Dewan writes. "That's above average, but not among the elite first basemen in 2011."


Jake: Do you feel Quade's response to the Castro situation has hurt or helped his chances of coming back next year? Does this situation really matter in that decision?

LEVINE: I think that's a pretty interesting question because if it was Ramirez or Soriano would the penalty have been the same as well as the commentary? All I know is that the Cubs had their best player on the bench and they scored no runs.


RHODES: Um, you kind of have it backwards there again, Bruce. First, the penalty should be the same. It's not that Castro shouldn't be penalized but that Ramirez and Soriano should be too. And the commentary? Well, did you just arrive on Planet Cub? The commentariot have complained for years about the lazy approaches of Ramirez and Soriano. (Also: remember a Cub named Carlos Zambrano?) Sitting Castro for one game at the cost of possibly scoring some runs is a small price to pay compared to enabling him into a career of lost potential.


LEVINE: We'll have more of the Castro story today, much ado about nothing.


RHODES: Let's have every Cub turn their back when the pitch is delivered, then. Stare at the night sky and take their glove off as the pitcher goes into his wind-up and reach for sunflower seeds as the pitch is delivered. After all, if it's much ado about nothing it can't do any harm.


Comments welcome.


1. From Steve Rhodes:

To add . . . the excuse that Castro is just 21 is also backwards. You'd think at age 21 you'd be so thrilled to be in the major leagues that you'd be focused on every pitch. It's more understandable that after a few years in the bigs - or as an aging veteran, particularly one on too many losing teams - your mind would wander. It's a grind. But not when you're 21.

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