MILWAUKEE — Could the Cubs send Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo back to the minors for more grooming?
It doesn’t seem possible considering their status as part of the core of the rebuild, not to mention the seven-year contract extension Castro received last year.
But before Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Milwaukee gave the Brewers a series sweep, manager Dale Sveum, who lost his voice shouting at umpire Chris Guccione on Friday, hinted it was indeed possible.
“Find options,” Sveum said. “If people keep playing like that, you have to find options. Give people playing time at Triple-A to figure this stuff out.”
No one believes the Cubs would demote Castro, who is hitting .304. Ditto Rizzo, who is at .190 but leads the team with six home runs, including a two-run shot in the third off Wily Peralta to give the Cubs an early lead.
The Brewers trailed by one in the fifth when a two-out error by starter Scott Feldman preceded a three-run home run by Ryan Braun, giving Milwaukee a 4-2 lead.
Cubs pitchers have allowed 14 uneared runs in 17 games.
As for Rizzo and Castro, it’s their defense that has Sveum up in arms.
“You have to perform,” Sveum said. “You can’t not keep performing.”
Sveum was asked specifcially about those two because they’re the alleged core of the team.
“The bottom line is you have to perform,” Sveum said. “Whether you need more development or you decide all those kind of things. … There’s still that accountability. Many, many people throughout the history of the game (have been demoted).
“It’s a performance-laden occupation. That’s what makes the world go round. That’s what makes this country what it is.”
Sure. But the Cubs have marketed those two as “the future,” so perhaps they feel invincible.
“I don’t think anything is invincible if you’re not performing,” Sveum said. “That’s still the one main ingredient that has to happen to win baseball games. … It’s not about what we think can happen three or four years from now.
“Guys have played a lot of baseball. It’s time to perform on a consistent basis — not a good game and three bad ones. That’s not what we want. That’s why there is player development, guys are rushed to the big leagues and sometimes you see a lot of this stuff happen. That’s why it’s very important to play 500 minor league games.”
Sveum called Castro’s play at short “very average” thus far.
“There’ve been some mental mistakes that you don’t get to see much, but we see it, I see it,” he said. “So you’ve got to overcome all that and start becoming that prolific defensive shortstop that’s there. But it’s got to start happening on a consistent basis.”
Sveum said the Cubs’ players should be relaxed, knowing they’ll be in the lineup.
“When these things happen, the excuses start flying about certain things,” he said. “The bottom line is you have to perform.”