Friday, July 25, 2008

It won't play in Peoria

The Peoria Chiefs (Cubs) were at the Dayton Dragons (Reds) last night and the game made the national news. That's almost never a good thing. When minor league teams make the national media, it's either because a player did something particularly unusual (there's the famous highlight of the right fielder literally running through the outfield wall to make a catch), or because the news is bad. More often than not, the big league team doesn't want to see their affiliates' names in the press unless it's in the context of, "Ortiz reported to the Sea Dogs for a rehab assignment."

Otherwise they're looking at news like Mike Coolbaugh's freak death, or Delmon Young's assault of an umpire.

The Cubs can't be happy this morning. And of the two teams, they're the ones that should have the most trouble from today's news. The roots of the incident were summarized in the AP report as -

Dayton pitcher Kyle Lotzkar hit Peoria's Nate Samson with a pitch in the top of the first. In the inning's bottom half, Castillo hit Dayton's Zack Cozart in the head with a pitch. Cozart fell to the ground, was helped to the dugout and didn't return.

Several batters later, Castillo hit Angel Cabrera, who angrily threw his bat and batting gloves toward his dugout before taking first. Dayton's next batter hit an infield grounder, and Cabrera made an aggressive slide into second to break up the double play.

Castillo followed that with a high-and-tight pitch to the next batter, Brandon Menchaca, prompting Dayton manager Donnie Scott to complain to the home plate umpire. Interim Peoria manager Carmelo Martinez came on the field to join the discussion.

That led to an argument between the two managers, and when Martinez pushed Scott, the benches emptied.
All of this led to Castillo, after the benches emptied, throwing a fastball at the opposing dugout which went into the stands and injured a fan. Castillo is currently facing charges for aggravated assault and, if you saw the footage, is likely facing jail time.

I want to dissect what happened here, because a lot of this should never have happened, and almost all of this can be laid at the feet of Martinez, the team's interim manager while Ryne Sandberg is in Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame ceremonies, and the umpires.

Lotzkar was a compensatory first round pick in the supplemental draft. On the season, according to he's 0-3 in four starts (16 innings pitched) with a 6.19 ERA, giving up 14 runs (11 earned) on 14 hits, and 15 walks with one hit by pitch (I don't know if that includes yesterday's game) and one wild pitch. Not a pitcher with the best control in the world.

Contrast that with Castillo who has appeared in six games with three starts over 22 innings and put together a 2.86 ERA with 22 hits and 10 walks.

Lotzkar, projected for the same number of innings gives up 19 hits and walks 21. Tell me, which of the two of these guys sounds like they have no trouble finding the strike zone? The one who has less than half the number of walks than hits allowed, or the one who has issued more free-passes than given up hits?

Yet, somehow Castillo hit the first batter in the head, then beaned another and nearly, according to reports, hits a third in the head.

After Castillo hit the first guy - considering he hit him in the head and the player didn't return - the ump should probably have tossed him then. At the very least a warning should have been issued and there's no way Castillo should have still been on the mound after the second batter was hit.

Given that the umps didn't do this, it was certainly understandable that Dayton manager Scott would want to talk to the umpire. What I don't understand is why Martinez felt he needed to be out there. There was no reason for him to be out there.

All Martinez did was escalate the issue, attacking the other team's manager when he shouldn't have been anywhere near the man.

The only way for this to be handled properly - Castillo needs to serve jail time and the Cubs need to can Martinez. I can't help but think that if Sandberg was sitting on the bench, at least some of this wouldn't have escalated the way it did.

If you missed it, here's the ESPN footage -


Suldog said...

Oh, man. Last year, I had a somewhat unstable pitcher on my fast-pitch softball team, and during a heated argument - lots of bench jockeying - he fired a fastball at their bench. Luckily, there is chain-link in front of the benches. Still...

Kevin Smith said...

I've played some sports against and with some hotheads, but this...