Do Cubs Fans Know What They Have in Castro?

It hasn’t been the best week for Starlin Castro, or the Cubs for that matter.  In the past week Castro has attempted a stolen base and didn’t slide (you rarely see that), and more troubling forgot how many outs there were on a potential inning ending double play so he didn’t even attempt to turn it.  Some people say that it doesn’t matter because the guy would have beat the throw, wrong, it does matter, and it’s everything that Sveum, Theo, and the whole Cubs organization is trying to get rid of.  The result of this rough week was Dale Sveum putting Castro on notice, ““It’s something that’s obviously unacceptable at any time,” Sveum said. “Whether we could have turned the double play is irrelevant to not knowing how many outs there are in the most important part of the game. These things have to stop happening or we’re just going to stop playing [him]. These kind of things are things my son does in high school. Maybe …. I’ll have a good talking to him. It’s the last straw. If he wants to play, he better start getting his head in the game, period.”  Sveum has it exactly right, this can’t go on, and Sveum handled it correctly, something Cubs fans could learn from.

The overwhelming majority of Cubs fans be it on twitter, message boards, etc. are clamoring for Castro to be traded now.  The erroneous USA Today report claiming that Castro could be had for the right price was what planted the seed in the head of Cubs fans, like Inception.  Then Castro’s recent “brain farts” just made the thought of trading Castro make so much sense.  Any good General Manager listens to offers for every player because there is no way of telling what another team thinks your player is worth until you hear what they will give up.  That said, a great General Manager knows when to say no thanks, we will keep our superstar.  I can see the argument from fans, I really can, move Castro and get two great prospects in return.  I can see why some would say that, but I can’t see why a handful of mistakes from a 22-year-old are grounds to be traded.  That leads me to ask the question, do Cubs fans really know what they have in Starlin Castro?  My answer, no, they don’t.

Let’s break down the two different scenario’s that would be a reason to trade Castro.  First, let’s say that some team will offer the Cubs two A level prospects in return for Castro.  Seems like the perfect scenario for a rebuilding club that needs to get better in many areas.  Plus the Cubs have the likes of Junior Lake and Javier Baez, both shortstops for now, rising through the system.  Here is my problem with that.  Junior Lake is the same age as Starlin Castro, yet fans can’t get enough of Lake because he is “already” at Double-A Tennessee.  Guys, Starlin Castro received five Rookie of the Year votes in 2010, made the National League all-star team in 2011, and also received 23 MVP votes in 2011…. Junior Lake is in Double-A.  Javier Baez is the other kid that gets mentioned when the talk of moving Castro comes up.  You think Castro looks listless on the field, wait till you see Baez.  The kid knows he’s good, and when that happens they come across to the average fan as not caring about their craft.  Problem is the game is so easy for them and it has been for so long, kind of like it is for Castro right now.  Baez currently sits at Low-A Peoria, and he’s doing well, he’s 19 years old….Starlin Castro hit .300 at the Major League level when he was 20.  Seeing a trend here?  Any “prospect” is just that, a prospect, no one knows how they will develop, why take the chance of having a prospect become a good player when Castro already is and he could be great.  Same goes for what the Cubs would receive in one of these deals.  There is no guarantee that anyone received in a deal, no matter how highly praised they are, turn out to be anything close to Castro, it’s not worth the risk.

The second scenario where Cubs fans could justify moving Castro is his mental lapses on the field during games.  Think about that for a second, some Cubs fans are saying that an acceptable reason for saying goodbye to a 22-year-old shortstop that has 416 career hits in 338 career games is that he didn’t slide, or he forgot how many outs there were…. really?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making excuses for Castro, and I agree with the way Sveum is handling it by threatening a benching, but that’s it.  Sure Castro needs to start focusing a lot better when playing this game, but his lack of focus is not even close to an adequate reason for dealing Castro.  According to these fans then when Castro strolls into Wrigley five years from now (27 years old) and goes 4-for-5 with a home run, a triple, two stolen bases, and 4 RBI’s off of our still trying to figure it out pitcher it will be okay because he thought there was one out in an inning instead of two outs five years ago.

I have no problem with Cubs fans offering their opinion on what to do with Castro, but the fact that they think there is a need to do something with Castro other than sit back and watch him develop into an elite shortstop proves my point.  Cubs fans do not know what they have in Starlin Castro.  I know that the last thing fans need to see when a team is bad is a player that has repeated mental lapses.  It’s easy to take your frustration out on Starlin Castro, but what he does contributes more towards winning than losing.  Just remember who Castro’s influences at the Major League level have been.  Year one, Lou Piniella on his farewell tour.  Year two, Mike Quade who tried the approach that so many Cubs fans are right now, throw the best and youngest player on the team under the bus, we see how that worked out.  Both years, Aramis Ramirez, if we learned anything from Aramis it was how not to hustle, how not to field your position, and how to care less about the game.  Castro will get better with his focus, and with his production which is already terrific, if he doesn’t, he will sit down for a few games, but he will still be a Cub, and rightfully so.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Defense Getting Noticed, For All The Right Reasons

A lot has been made about the Cubs re-dedication, or should I say dedication to the defensive side of the game this Spring, but is it just all talk?  I know it’s early, but the numbers suggest that maybe the Cubs are on to something.  Through three spring training games last year the Cubs committed a whopping nine errors, this year, one.  The typical excuse used by many, including the coaching staff last year was that it was early, and mistakes will happen.  Well, maybe that’s why that coaching staff, well most of it, is now unemployed.  Ballplayers are ballplayers, and typically most of them learn the fundamentals at a very early age, that doesn’t mean that those players shouldn’t continue to practice them.  Half the battle with defense is a players desire to actually field a ball the correct way, for years Alfonso Soriano was allowed to hop when making catches.  Aramis Ramirez was allowed to ole balls left and right, and there was no consequence, more importantly it never changed, those days are over.

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New Look Cubs Begin to Take Shape

Lost in the hoopla surrounding the Cubs since the end of the season was the little matter of deciding Mike Quade’s future.  Even if we, and most Cub fans knew that Mike Quade was not Major League manager material, the Cubs brass

Dale Sveum is Introduced as the 52nd Cubs Manager

needed to make that official.  Shortly after the Cubs front office was completely re energized, the no brainer decision to let Mike Quade pursue other opportunities, most likely in the minors or outside of baseball was made.  We will give Epstein some credit here with the way he handled the process of letting Quade go, very professional.  He made multiple trips to meet with Quade, and had a number of conversations with him and others in the organization to see if he would be a good fit, not based on what he had done it the past, but where he thought, and wanted this team to go in the future.  Clearly, Quade’s idea’s did mesh with the idea’s of the new regime that was now in place, and he was let go from his two year deal that had one year remaining on it.  Epstein and company didn’t have to go far to find the 52nd manager of the Chicago Cubs, just a short trip up I-94 to Milwaukee to find Dale Sveum.  Sveum, serving as the third base coach in 2004 with the Red Sox, won a World Series title with Epstein.  Since 2006, Sveum was on the Brewers coaching staff with titles ranging from third base coach, to bench coach, and to most recently hitting coach.  Sveum did get a crack at the managerial position albeit a short one in 2008 when he took over for Ned Yost and led the Brewers to a 7-5 record down the stretch and a NL Wild Card berth.  Along with Sveum, the following coaches will be joining the Cubs this season...

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