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.

Preview: Cubs open series with Pirates tonight on CSN

Preview: Cubs open series with Pirates tonight on CSN

The Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Catch first pitch at 6 p.m. with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Kyle Hendricks (15-8, 2.06 ERA) vs. Chad Kuhl (5-3, 3.73 ERA)

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David Ross helps Cubs edge Cardinals in regular season home finale

David Ross helps Cubs edge Cardinals in regular season home finale

CHICAGO — David Ross got fired up when Cubs manager Joe Maddon walked to the mound with two out in the seventh inning, ready to argue for Jon Lester to stay in the game.

Maddon and Lester had a different plan.

"Joe looked at him and said 'Have you ever been a part of where the catcher gets taken out of the game before the pitcher?'" Lester said, describing the scene with a big grin. "You can just see him, it's like the kid at the candy store when you tell him he can pick out whatever he wants.

"It was just like the disbelief in his face and slams his mask back over his face and all he can say is 'I love you guys. I love you guys. I love you guys.'"

Ross then walked off to another standing ovation from a raucous crowd of 40,859 at Wrigley Field, part of a heartwarming Sunday night for the backup catcher in his last season. He also hit his 10th homer and teamed with Lester for another scoreless performance, helping the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It was an amazing night," Ross said.

Ben Zobrist had three hits and scored two runs as Chicago finished with a major league-best 57-24 home record. It's the most home wins for the Cubs since they went 58-19 at the West Side Grounds in 1910.

The Cardinals lost for the third time in four games, wasting a chance to improve their playoff positioning. They remain a half-game back of San Francisco for the second NL wild card after the Giants lost 4-3 at San Diego earlier in the day.

"I think we're in a good position right now," pitcher Carlos Martinez said through a translator. "I also think we have a great shot at winning the World Series."

Ross, Lester's regular catcher, was greeted with a long standing ovation when he came to the plate in the second inning. St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina walked halfway to the mound, forcing the unassuming Ross to take in the moment, and he took off his batting helmet to acknowledge the cheering crowd.

Ross then struck out, but he got another chance in the fifth and drove Martinez's second pitch over the wall in left for 1-0 lead. Ross clapped his hands as he rounded first on his 10th homer and the cheers continued after he reached the dugout, prompting a curtain call.

"It was just fitting that David would hit a home run, isn't it?" Maddon said. "I mean it had to have happened tonight."

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Lester (19-4), one of the top candidates for the NL Cy Young Award, struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander allowed three hits and walked one while improving to 10-0 with 1.34 ERA in his last 13 starts.

It was Lester's idea to pull Ross in the middle of an inning.

"He's like a brother to me and for him to give me that was pretty cool," Ross said.

The Cardinals pulled within one on Jhonny Peralta's two-out RBI single in the eighth, but Brandon Moss flied to center with runners on the corners. Willson Contreras responded with an RBI single in the bottom half and Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his 16th save with the NL Central champions and No. 36 on the year.

Martinez (15-9), pitching with a heavy heart after the death of Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez in a boating accident, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked four.

"He had lots of juice," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's probably the hardest sinker I've ever seen him throw. A couple of those were 97 (mph). He was locked in. He wanted it bad today, and he was good enough for us to win."