It’s no secret that the Chicago Cubs love Starlin Castro, a 19 year old shortstop who was signed outside the draft a few years ago. But they apparently think they’ve got an Alex Rodriguez/Hanley Ramirez type on their hands, because they are seriously considering making room for him on the big team this year.
Castro isn’t on the 40-man roster, but he will get a spring training invite and an opportunity to break camp with the Cubs if he has an exceptional spring.
It’s a long shot, considering Castro began the season in Class A last April and doesn’t turn 20 until March 24. But the Cubs are so sold on his future that they already have told incumbent shortstop Ryan Theriot he might move to second base in the not-so-distant future.
How will the Cubs weigh the decision on whether Castro is ready?
By asking their newly designated “hitting guru.”
“Rudy has a great track record with hitters, and you have a young man here who has had only six to eight weeks in Double A,” general manager Jim Hendry said. “So you want to make sure everybody feels he has enough experience to make the jump.
“And once he gets here, you want to let him go. You don’t want to put expectations on him, that he has to be here by a certain day, that it has to be Opening Day or by the All-Star break. You let him dictate when he’s ready by the way he plays, the way he carries himself and how he adjusts. No one in house is worried about it because Theriot is a real good player and we’re certainly prepared to play without Castro, with Ryan coming back after a couple of successful years.” chicagotribune.com.
I hate to parse those statements to death, but when the GM is saying things like “we’re prepared to play without Castro,” the negative implication is that the team is expecting to play with him. Despite that expectation, it’s good to hear that the team will either go with him on Opening Day, or not at all, and then re-evaluate at the All-Star break. The greatest criticism lobbed at the Cubs when it comes to developing prospects is the constant yo-yo-ing – in and out of the lineup, up and down from AAA.
Most folks believe Ryan Theriot’s minus defensive ability could become a plus at second base, where his limited range and weak arm could be hidden a bit more. So if Castro establishes himself at shortstop, everyone will be pleased.
And fortunately, reports indicate that the Tigers are looking for cheap, ML-ready players in exchange for Curtis Granderson. And despite the immediately above paragraphs, Castro probably doesn’t qualify, strictly speaking, as “ML-ready.”