Notes: Double-play combo ranks with NL's best
CHICAGO – Manager Dale Sveum and the Cubs’ coaching staff have emphasized defensive positioning since Day One at spring training.
While the various defensive shifts and alignments have often worked this season, the Cubs have become especially efficient at turning double plays. They’ve turned 83 this season, third most in the National League. The Cubs’ three double plays in Saturday’s 4-1 win against the Diamondbacks marked their ninth consecutive game with at least one, their first nine-game streak since July 14-23, 1994.
“It's the preparation and the buying into some of the positioning, turning the double plays, pivot around the bag understand how important that is,” Sveum said. “But the preparation is more than anything. Buying into the positioning. I think they've really, all the infielders as well as the pitchers, have seen like, wow, this really makes a big difference when you put people in the spot.”
The double play tandem of shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney rates as one of the best in baseball. Barney is tied for first in the majors in defensive wins above replacement at 2.8, and Castro ranks fourth overall with a 2.0 dWAR.
“We're working hard, and we want to get better,” Barney said. “We still feel like we can be better as a whole. [First baseman Anthony] Rizzo kind of secures up that corner a little bit, making some tough plays look pretty easy. We're really happy with the way we're playing defense."
Draft process: The new collective bargaining agreement affected how major league clubs could spend during this year’s draft.
Because of a specified allotment to spend on draft picks in the first 10 rounds – going over the total incurs penalties – front offices across the league were in uncharted territory. General manager Jed Hoyer was pleased with the Cubs’ draft and their signing of 29 total picks including each of their first 20 given the new rules.
Hoyer said the signing deadline was less stressful this year since their money pool for the first 10 rounds and suggested bonuses for each slot helped the Cubs finish earlier than usual.
“Just going through this system for the first time I think every team would say that but I think we came through it really well,” Hoyer said. “It was enjoyable. Any time you have to do something new and think of the strategy involved it’s always an intellectual challenge and I think we all enjoyed it but it was certainly a learning process and we’ll take what we learned this year and go forward for next year.”
Santo’s induction: Coinciding with Ron Santo’s Hall of Fame induction, the Cubs created events for fans to celebrate the honor.
The Cubs are inviting fans to a viewing party at Wrigley Field’s Captain Morgan Club for Santo’s induction July 22, beginning at 11 a.m. They also will host Ron Santo Day on July 27 against the Cardinals.
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