CINCINNATI -- Let's get one thing straight: Despite manager Dale Sveum's more than cryptic comments this past weekend in Milwaukee, the Chicago Cubs are not sending Anthony Rizzo or Starlin Castro or any other everyday player to the minors anytime soon.
If they do, it might mark the first time a team's core player was sent down strictly because of defense. Struggling mightily at the plate is one thing, playing shoddy defense is another. You don't go to the minors for that. You go to the bench.
Isn't the bench the first way to punish or teach or give a breather to a player? It's interesting that Sveum didn't mention this as the more logical answer. Maybe he meant it that way. Who knows, the guy was obviously not happy in Milwaukee where the Cubs committed six errors en route to getting swept by the Brewers.
Then again, benchings aren't part of Sveum's style of managing. This was his view in spring training when asked if Castro should play all 162 games in 2013 as he did last year.
"I'm old school that way," Sveum said. "If you have players that good, going into the season you want consistency and if the consistency is there then those guys play 162 games. That's why they get paid a lot of money and they're one of the best in baseball at their job."
Presumably Sveum was talking mostly about their offense. A huge slump at the plate might dictate a day off but maybe a fielding slump should as well. And hopefully the players take it for what it should be: a punishment. It's not like they're fatigued this early on. Make sure they know sitting for a game isn't doing what's best for them, it's doing what's best for the team. There is no better wake-up call then a benching.
And the excuses are over. Cold weather could have contributed to a few mistakes early on this year but Miller Park's roof was closed and still the Cubs couldn't field the ball.
Wake Castro or Rizzo up with a benching because even they don't believe they're going to the minors. But anyone can sit for a game – or more. That should be Sveum's first move.