Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Trading Starlin Castro

Today I have decided to be an imbecile.  I'm going to throw out an idea that may be completely insane...why not any consideration for trading Starlin Castro?

Just about everyone on the face of the earth believes that Castro is 'the' player that the Cubs hope to build around.  I happen to think that this is likely the case as well.  At the same time, I don't think it is a slam dunk that Castro is going to stick around long term for the Cubs, and there are some very interesting things I see as reasons for the possibility that Castro could be traded.

Coming soon?

1.  Lots of hits...very few walks.
Castro swings...and swings a lot.  His strikeout totals aren't horrible...he makes contact.  He gets hits and, as we all know, led the league in base hits last season.  The thing is, he doesn't walk very much.  His OBP is only about 40 points higher than his batting average in his first 2 seasons.  This really doesn't match up with how Theo and Jed would like their team to work and that leads into my second point.

2.  Quick trips to the plate.
Castro sees only about 3.6 pitches per plate appearance.  That is well below the league average of 3.8 pitches per plate appearance.  One of the first things that Theo Epstein mentioned when he talked about how he expects this team to work during his opening press conference was that this team would work that count and see lots of pitches.  Castro wants to hit the first pitch he sees.

3.  Baez.
The Cubs have another shortstop sitting in the minor leagues right now, Javier Baez.  Baez was only drafted last year, but he is thought of very highly and is already considered one of the Cubs top prospects.  It very well could be that in 2 or 3 more seasons, Baez might be ready to play in the big leagues.  He will also have spent a majority of his minor league working in the new "system" that is supposed to be teaching the Cubs prospects how to play baseball the "right way" (good luck with that).  At the same time, many people project Baez to move to third base by the time he might be ready for the big leagues...but still.

4.  Yoiks and away.
That's what happens when Castro throws over to first base.  You're never sure where the ball is going to land.  He's young and it is possible to improve his defense, but defense is again another one of those skills that Jed, Theo and Dale intend to stress heavily.  What if Castro continues to be a hack at shortstop?  Alfonso Soriano was a big time prospect with the Yankees, but was a hack at second base.  He had some very impressive seasons offensively before they traded him away to the Rangers for Alex Rodriguez.  Defense was one of the reasons that Soriano became dispensable.  Defense was a continual problem and by the time he got to the Nationals, they moved him from 2nd base to left field.  Obviously, it's not unprecedented that a middle infielder with great skill just never improves on defense and that could be the case with Castro.

5.  Not Jed Hoyer's (or Theo's) guy.
Jim Hendry tended to hold on to young players a little too long to the point they no longer had much of any value by the time he decided that he needed to get rid of them.  Many people felt Hendry held on to players that he either signed or drafted longer than he should have because they were "his guys".  This isn't a huge fault.  Most GM's do this.  But at the same time, when a GM takes over a team, they don't have the same attachment to these players and they are often shown the door.  Many of "Hendry's players" were sent away this past off-season with Andrew Cashner and Tyler Colvin biggest prospects sent to other teams.  Simply put, these weren't Jed's guys.  Castro isn't one of Jed's guys either.  If it appears that Castro doesn't quite fit the mold of what Jed Hoyer would like to build here, he's not going to have that overhead of having signed Castro.  There is no admitting of a making a mistake.


In the end, most of these reasons revolve around the fact that Castro might not be the type of player that the new Cubs management wants on the team right now.  Castro is still extremely young and he led the league in hits last year.  There is no evidence that there is any consideration that Castro is on the block.

The point of this exercise, though, is to show that there is enough reason for Jed and Theo to consider trading the kid.  Last year, Cashner and Colvin were being touted very highly along with Castro.  Both of those players are now gone.  The Cubs listened to offers for Garza as well.  These were some of the best young players the Cubs have available that were on the 25 man roster.  It might not be now, next week or next season, but Castro could very well be dangled about at some point too.  A lot hinges on this season.  It will be Castro's third year, and with him still having 5 seasons of team control, he is worth a fortune...if Jed doesn't see more patience and improved defense from Starlin this year, the likelihood that he might moved will increase significantly.