8:02 AM CDT, August 20, 2013
Starlin Castro is the future of the Cubs.
If you count the prospects the Cubs will get for him when they trade him.
Not now, and maybe not this offseason. Castro’s trade value has dropped like his head on a popup with a man on third.
But I can see Castro getting traded after next season. I can see the Cubs and Castro giving themselves another year to fix his reputation and raise both his reliability and trade value.
Castro’s attention span has become an annual thing -- the Airhead and Wander Show. He’s appropriately contrite after such episodes, yet such episodes continue to happen. It might be that he hasn’t learned how to focus. It might be that he can’t. The Cubs haven’t figured it out, and obviously, neither has Castro.
Same goes for his .242 batting average and .620 OPS. Those numbers mark declines for the second consecutive season. Castro also has just seven homers and has never shown patience at the plate that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer want from their players.
I don’t know if Castro is hopeless, but you can see it from here. Nobody can possibly be sure about the shortstop who was supposed to be a sure thing. There’s a lot to solve and it might not be worth it.
Still, I can’t believe I’m not doing the kneejerk thing with a trade rant, but I don’t see urgency in doing such a deal now. I also don’t think the Cubs are looking to make a move now because it wouldn’t be smart.
“He made a very bad play the other day,’’ Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “He’s had a few of those. He has to stop doing that. I don’t think anyone is forgiving that.
“But how do we look at it? He’s having a down year. There’s no reason in the world to think he can’t get back to the way he played as a 21-year-old. We have to get to the bottom, as a staff, of why he hasn’t had a good year and how we can get him better.’’
Castro isn’t a bad actor, so the Cubs aren’t forced to get him out of the clubhouse. He has a friendly contract -- friendly for a top-of-the-order hitter threatening .300, anyway, but not a No. 7 hitter with an OPS far below pitcher Travis Wood’s.
Castro’s value at the plate and in the field are at a personal low. The Cubs wouldn’t get enough if they forced a move now or this offseason.
Again, what’s the hurry? The Cubs will take another mulligan next season to build a foundation. Even if you don’t want the Cubs to take another mulligan, they apparently will do it anyway.
Undoubtedly, part of that process will include a decision on Castro against the development of Javier Baez, who began the week with 14 homers and a .966 OPS in 40 games at Class AA Tennessee.
He has been killing it after getting promoted from Class A, a time when a lot of players fall out. Baez is making the case that he’s for real as when Castro is showing he might not be.
But you want to make sure Baez is ready as much as you want to give Castro the chance to get back to being an actual major league player. Or at least carry the kind of actual major league trade value that a young, athletic shortstop with a big arm and pop in his bat should carry.
So, there are several good reasons to give Castro another year. He's a house that needs to be rehabbed and flipped. The Cubs will need a year to create the curb appeal that suckers another team into giving the Cubs their top pitching prospect.
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