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.

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

The sports world woke up to some tragic news on Sunday morning.

Former major leaguer Andy Marte and Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura were both killed in separate car accidents in the Dominican Republic within an hour of each other, according to multiple reports. A Royals representative confirmed the death of 25-year-old Ventura.

The Cubs and White Sox took to Twitter to give their condolences:

Ventura was a member of the Royals from 2013-16 and won a World Series title in 2015 with Ben Zobrist and Wade Davis, who the Cubs acquired this offseason for Jorge Soler. Ventura also played with White Sox pitcher James Shields in 2013-14.

Marte, 33, played a majority of his seven-year career with the Cleveland Indians. He was teammates with Todd Hollandsworth (Atlanta 2005), Kerry Wood (Cleveland 2009-10), and Miguel Montero (Arizona 2014).

Why Cubs are excited for pitching prospect Dylan Cease: He's 'throwing lightning bolts'

Why Cubs are excited for pitching prospect Dylan Cease: He's 'throwing lightning bolts'

Theo Epstein's front office is heading into Year 6 with the Cubs and they're finally talking about a pitcher as one of the organization's most exciting prospects.

That's how senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod framed his Dylan Cease report to fans at the Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Grand Chicago last weekend.

It was a tongue-in-cheek summation from McLeod after he spent the previous few minutes fawning over Cease, the Cubs' sixth round pick in 2014.

Of course, McLeod and the Cubs can poke fun at the lack of impact pitching the farm system has developed when the homegrown position players like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber just helped lead the franchise to its first World Series championship in over a century.

Cease, however, has been one of the more intriguing Cubs prospects for years — a right-handed pitcher capable of touching 101 mph on the radar gun.

"This guy is throwing lightning bolts out of his arm," McLeod said. "It's really exciting. But we also understaned he's only in Low-A this year, so he's far away."

The Cubs expect Cease to pitch for Class-A South Bend in 2017 after spending last season pitching for short-season Eugene and the 2015 campaign working in the rookie league in Arizona.

Cease — who just turned 21 in late December — put up some impressive numbers at both stops in the Cubs system, posting a 2.36 ERA and 1.165 WHIP to go along with a whopping 91 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. He also only surrendered one homer and walked more batters (41) than reached via a basehit (39).

Control is obviously an issue for Cease, but the upside is evident.

"He's so far away," McLeod said. "He's gonna go into 2017 as a starter. As with a lot of young guys, it's gonna come down to command and depend on that third pitch and the ability to land them for strikes.

"It's a special arm. He can pitch 95-100 mph with a big power curveball. He's unlike anyone else we have in our system since we've been here in terms of pure stuff."

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One fan compared Cease to Carl Edwards Jr. in terms of their lanky build and high velocity, setting McLeod up for a layup joke.

"Well, Dylan is much stronger physically than CJ is...as is everybody in this room," McLeod said as the ballroom filled with laugher. "Don't tell [CJ] I said that. 

"They have different body types, obviously. Carl is long and lanky and Dylan has probably put on 20 pounds since we drafted him, so he's more like 6-foot-2, 190."

By comparison, Edwards — who goes by "The String Bean Slinger" for his slight build — is listed at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds.

Edwards was drafted in the 48th round in 2011 and spent his whole minor-league career as a starting pitcher until the Cubs converted him to a reliever in 2015.

Cease may eventually go down the same path, but the Cubs are going to give him every opportunity to make it as a starter first.

Cease was one of the top pitchers available in the 2014 draft, but his stock took a hit when he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow while at Milton High School in Georgia.

That scared off a lot of teams — as did the potential signability issues with college offers looming — but the Cubs took a chance and have now watched Cease soar to a top prospect in the system (No. 4 by Baseball America; No. 7 by FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus) despite the cautious approach and lack of innings in professional ball.

"We have to thank Kyle Schwarber, actually, as one of the main reasons we got to sign Dylan Cease," McLeod said. "Because we took Kyle fourth overall, we were able to save money on the selection with him, which gave us the resources to go get Dylan Cease.

"He was a Top 10 pick in the draft — a high school arm that got hurt, fell down to the fifth round and he had a commitment to Vanderbilt, I think it was, and we were able to use the money we saved from Kyle.

"Just another reason to love Kyle Schwarber."