Chicago Cubs

Steve Stone's mailbag: Carlos Quentin's slump

Steve Stone's mailbag: Carlos Quentin's slump

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
5:45 PM

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag toanswer some of your questions about Carlos Zambrano, Sergio Santos, and more!

Question from Ryan - Chicago: Do you think there is something wrong physically with Carlos Zambrano? He doesn't seem like the same pitcher.

Steve Stone: Well I think a couple things come into play, I don't think he has had
the same stuff for a year, a year and a half or so that he had before. That being said, I think the Cubs would tell you he is 100 percent. I personally am not too sure about that, I think his arm angle changed somewhat. I also believe he will never excel as an 8th inning setup man because I don't think he will accept that. Acceptance is the first step
in excelling. I think that is not the case with Zambrano.
Question from Lee - Oswego: Should we be worried about Starlin Castro's defense? He's looked shaky so far to start his MLB career.

Stone: I think Starlin is going to be just fine in the majors. The only thing that troubled me was essentially walking after that ball after he made that third error in that debut at Wrigley. I think that was addressed and I think he will be a good solid shortstop for a long time. As far as defense, young kids make mistakes; they have more range to get more balls and they always look to make the spectacular play other than to make all the good plays, and the rare spectacular plays. I think he has a very bright future.
Question from Tracy - Mount Prospect: How hard is it going from a position player to a pitcher like Sergio Santos has done?

Stone: Well Sergio is not the lone ranger. Randy Wells, who won 12 games and has thrown very well for the Cubs this year, was also a position player as well as Carlos Marmol. The history of baseball is loaded with position players who figure they can't hit as well as they wanted and make that conversion. Although not easy, it's not unusual. The quality of his change up and his slider, you will see a lot of guys with strong fastball but you very rarely see them with a good a slider and change up as Sergio has shown early in his pitching career.

Question from Ricky - Chicago: What does Carlos Quentin need to do to get out of the slump he is in?

Stone: I truly believe if I knew that, much smarter baseball people than I would have already gotten him out of the slump. I just know what I see is from a pitching perspective. He is probably pulling off of the ball, trying to hit more home runs every time he hits one. Realistically you dig yourself out of a slump one bat at a time. For the Sox and Carlos' sake. this will turn around sooner rather than later. We are getting to the point now where 47 games have been played and Carlos has really struggled. One day the light will turn on and he will start hitting again. I am sure because no one is more intense than Quentin and no one works harder than he does.
Question from Michael - River Forest: Hey Steve, what's your favorite current MLB ballpark?

Stone: Well, the political answer would be I like both Chicago ballparks. If I were running for office, that would be my answer. I always liked Dodger stadium, I guess because I started the 1980 All-Star Game there and the fact that it was a pitchers park. As other National League parks are concerned, I haven't seen the new Mets stadium. I always thought that Pittsburgh happened to be nice but very few go to see it. San Diego is a beautiful stadium as is San Francisco. In the American League, Detroit's is a very pretty stadium as well as Baltimore's. Fenway has that classic baseball field much like the American's version of Wrigley. Minnesota's brand-new ballpark is great, so you get the idea that a lot of the new parks are terrific. But if I had to narrow it down to one in each league, I would probably say Yankee Stadium. They carried over some of the traditions and locker room facilities and things associated with the old Yankee Stadium and spent a billion and a half, so if you didn't have to play the Yankees there, it would be outstanding. In the National League, I would say that my favorite is Dodger Stadium.

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Theo Epstein’s embrace-debate management style means the Cubs are constantly running through different scenarios, trying to balance their win-now urges against what should be a very bright future in Wrigleyville.

The financials, the human intelligence and the analytics are all factored into the equation, which leads to this question for Epstein’s cabinet: Is there a point where the Detroit Tigers kick in enough money and the prospect cost becomes so low that Justin Verlander makes sense for the Cubs?

The Cubs haven’t definitively answered that question yet or completely ruled out the idea, a team source said Tuesday, cautioning that the defending World Series champs are still more likely to add a reliever before the July 31 trade deadline than acquire a frontline starting pitcher.

“Always looking to make the team better,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 7-2 win over the White Sox kept the Cubs in a virtual first-place tie with the Milwaukee Brewers. “Always. That’s what a GM and a president does. But I like our guys.”  

Verlander would obviously benefit from a move to the National League and feel energized in a pennant race. The Cubs could rationalize this as an immediate boost and a long-range solution while preparing for a 2018 rotation without Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.

Imagine the buzz from Kate Upton’s fiancée walking into the clubhouse and making his first start at Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform. Verlander and Upton have been spotted enough times at Chicago Cut Steakhouse that his no-trade power might be the easiest hurdle to clear in a deal of this magnitude.

Verlander’s overall numbers are ordinary this season (5-7, 4.50 ERA, 1.444 WHIP), but trending in the right direction. The Cubs would go into it knowing that they wouldn’t get the same guy who won 24 games and American League MVP and Cy Young awards in 2011.

The Tigers also can’t just give away a franchise icon who finished second in last year’s AL Cy Young voting and has a 3.39 ERA in 16 career playoff starts

The Cubs are trying to see around corners and anticipate what the team will look like in 2018 and 2019 – when Verlander will make $28 million guaranteed each season – and what might be available in trades and on the free-agent market during those transaction cycles. Verlander is also owed the balance of his $28 million salary this season and has a $22 million vesting option for 2020.

Even if the Tigers pay down some of that commitment, that’s still a ton of exposure with a guy who has roughly 2,500 innings on his odometer and will be 35 years old around the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training next season. That’s also when the Cubs will begin the second half of Jon Lester’s $155 million megadeal – for his age-34, -35 and -36 seasons.

After stunning the baseball world with that blockbuster White Sox trade during the All-Star break, Epstein talked about how Jose Quintana’s reasonable contract – $8.85 million next season plus team options for 2019 and 2020 worth $22 million combined – creates room for another star player.

As great as Verlander has been throughout his career, are the Cubs really ready to pour that money back into a player who was born in 1983? And meet Detroit’s asking price in terms of prospects?

And go against the buy-low philosophy that attracted the Cubs to Arrieta, as well as the ageism that makes them reluctant to reinvest in their own Cy Young Award winner? And potentially close off opportunities to sign free agents from the monster class coming after the 2018 season?

Probably not, but the Cubs haven’t shut down the Verlander discussion yet.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Jordan Bernfield (ESPN) and Mark Potash (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap to talk Game 2 of the Crosstown Series.

Later, the group previews Bears camp and what's going on with the Cavaliers.

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: